As usual, the journalistic report doesn't even consider that anything paranormal (as distinguished from abnormal) could be involved. It's just "news of the weird."
Though she has not undergone a full battery of neurological tests, Butler, by all appearances, is suffering a rare disorder called foreign accent syndrome. The condition affects only about 100 people worldwide.
“When I talked to my doctor, he said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’ ” Butler told Vieira. “No loss of motor skills, no problem with my eyes.”
Butler and her husband, Glen, are not only taking it in stride — they’re actually enjoying it. “We’ve had more fun with this than anything else,” Glen Butler said. ... Butler is in no hurry to see her distinctive accent altered. In fact, she sort of enjoys it the way it is. “It’s just like a new toy,” she said.
The TV interview above shows how our juvenile-mentality media reduce a tantalizing clue about alternative realities to a feel-good "bonding" story. And I disagree with the reporter who says that the two women are not really speaking in accents, just suffering from "speech defects."If they are suffering from speech defects, it is so only by definition.
As the video narration says, medical science has a simple explanation for foreign accent syndrome: brain injury. It's a "don't bother me" write-off, typical of our age's dominant paradigm of materialist reductionism. But think about it. What kind of brain event would cause a person to start speaking in a foreign accent? Or in Mrs. Butler's case, a brain event that can't be detected?
Granted there are possible explanations that don't involve paranormality. Psychiatrists, especially those with a psychoanalytic bent, might ascribe it to unconscious memories of foreign accents heard long ago and forgotten welling up into consciousness because of crossed wiring in the brain. Or, if the symptom seems to "take over," the diagnosis can be "multiple personality disorder" -- a name but not an explanation.
It's theoretically conceivable that Mrs. Butler or the other plus-or-minus 99 people with the syndrome are faking. But it is hard to believe many would go to that much trouble for a few minutes of attention (which, apparently, is in short supply from orthodox scientists anyway), or that they could keep the sham going consistently for long.
Another possible -- and, I suggest, not unreasonable -- explanation is that some or all of these newly acquired foreign accents represent the influence of disembodied spirits manifesting through a kind of "open door" in minds that have been affected by a brain injury or abnormality.
Of course most people in our culture think that idea absurd, and that anyone who presents it a very cracked pot. If you believe that the universe consists exclusively of material forces acting on matter, including physical nervous systems, there is no place for spirits of those formerly living on earth or any other kind.
There is actually a great deal of evidence from psychical research for non-corporeal spirits, which on occasion do "drop in" and occupy the minds of the living ... sometimes far more completely than Mrs. Butler's. Here is where, as in other postings on this site about the paranormal, I run into the problem that understanding the evidence requires a willingness to be open-minded, and to take time and effort to study and evaluate the literature on the subject. And that is what skeptics, from the most hard-headed materialistic scientists to the "man on the street," will not do: why waste time on something so patently silly?
So I won't even try to "make the case," which would require a post so long that neither you nor I would have the patience for it. I'll give a few links for those who want to check it out for themselves. Colin Wilson has explored the subject in several of his books, and he is no easy pushover for occult belief systems. I recommend him for a fairly succinct overview.
Although no ardent skeptic will take them seriously, most mediums believe spirits can attach themselves to the living. While mediumship involves its own problems, and no one should naively accept everything that is said via mediums, the evidence from mediumship as a whole is worth factoring in.
And then there's as close as we have to the "smoking gun" -- the case of Lurancy Vennum of Watseka, Illinois. See here and here. Or read the original report, by Dr. Stevens, who treated Mary Roff/Lurancy Vennum.
Many paranormal phenomena, like many cases of psychopathology, are extreme versions of things that happen to most people in milder form. (The obvious retort is that paranormal phenomena are psychopathology, but intellectual growth involves learning to make distinctions between superficially similar things.) Don't we all have moods come over us occasionally for no known reason? Behave sometimes in uncharacteristic ways ("He's not himself today")? It isn't necessary to be possessed by spirits to be influenced by them.
Happily, being occupied by a spirit or spirits usually lasts a short time, and even especially sticky spirits can be persuaded to loiter somewhere else if treated civilly.