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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

In recent years many surveys of psychic experiences have been published. Here I present the first part of a list of references and abstracts that will give you a good idea of the types of studies that have been published.

Fach, W., Atmanspacher, H., Landolt, K., Wyss, T., & Rossler, W. (2013). A comparative study of exceptional experiences of clients seeking advice and of subjects in an ordinary population. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 65.  doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00065

Exceptional experiences (EE) occur frequently within the populations of many countries and across various socio-cultural contexts. Although some EE show similarities with mental disorders, it would be a mistake to identify them in general as disorders. In fact, the vast number of individuals reporting EE includes subclinical and completely healthy subjects. We conducted a comparative empirical study of several characteristics of EE for two samples – one from ordinary population and the other from clients seeking advice. We found surprisingly similar phenomenological patterns of EE in both samples, but the frequency and intensity of EE for clients seeking advice significantly exceeded those for the ordinary population. Our results support the hypothesis of a continuous spectrum between mental health and mental disorder for the types of experiences analyzed.

McClennon, J. (2013). A community survey of anomalous experiences: Correlational analysis of evolutionary hypotheses. Journal of Parapsychology, 77, 55-78.

A questionnaire, administered to a predominantly African-American sample in Northeastern North Carolina (N = 965), surveyed incidence of anomalous experience, psychological symptoms, psychological variables related to shamanism, scales pertaining to psychological well-being, and demographic variables. Multidimensional scaling analysis allowed evaluation of hypotheses drawn from sheep, goat, and “black-sheep” theories. Sheep theories predict that paranormal experiences provide direct survival advantages, derived from psi. Goat theories argue that psi does not exist; anomalous experiences are associated with psychopathology and provide no direct evolutionary benefit. A “black sheep” theory has sheep and goat elements; it portrays a psychosis-spirituality continuum, with benefits derived from spirituality, psi may exist but does not provide direct evolutionary benefits sufficient to overcome psychopathological costs. Within the black sheep paradigm, the ritual healing theory argues that shamanic variables and associated genotypes facilitated coping skills and hypnotic/placebo effects. Study findings provide mixed support for sheep and goat hypotheses but fully support black sheep hypotheses.

Dr. Fatima Regina Machado

Dr. Fatima Regina Machado

Machado, F.R. (2010). Experiências anômalas (extra-sensório-motoras) na vida cotidiana e sua associação com crenças, atitudes e bem-estar subjetivo [Anomalous (extrasensory-motor experiences in daily life and their association with beliefs, attitudes and subjective well-being]. Boletim Academia Paulista de Psicologia, 30, 462-483.

The aims of this research were to verify the prevalence and psychosocial relevance of anomalous extrasensory-motor experiences (or psi experiences); to compare psi experiencers (EXPs) and non experiencers (NEXPs) on demographic variables, practices, beliefs, religiosity and levels of subjective well-being; and to examine attributions of causality that EXPs give to their experiences and the implications of these attributions. Method: Cross-sectional survey. Instruments: Questionnaire of Psi Prevalence and Relevance (QPRP) developed for and semantically validated in this research; Albuquerque and Tróccoli’s Scale of Subjective Well-Being (EBES). Participants: 306 university students and/or workers/businessmen (ages ranging from 18 to 66) who study and/or work in Greater São Paulo (convenience sample). Results: 82.7% of participants claimed at least one psi experience and the great majority indicated that their experiences influenced their attitudes, beliefs and decision making processes. This influence is related to causal attributions that participants related to their psi experiences and are consistent to EXPs’s beliefs, religious identity and religiosity. No significant differences were found between EXPs and NEXPs in terms of sex, income, marital status, religion, religiosity and whether they had gone in search for mental health professionals. Specific significant differences between NEXPs and EXPs in terms of beliefs and practices indicate that EXPs are more open to psi experiences than NEXPs. EXPs tended to score significantly higher on “negative affect” than NEXPs, suggesting that EXPs have a lower level of subjective well-being than NEXPs. Results are not conclusive but indicate tendencies that should be taken into account in their clinical practice by psychologists as well as investigated in future studies.

Dr. Alejandro Parra

Dr. Alejandro Parra

Parra, A. (2011). Examen correlacional entre experiencias anómalo/paranormales, disociación, absorción y propensidad a la fantasía: Exploracion sobre una muestra de estudiantes [Correlationsl study of anomalous/paranormal experiences, dissociation, absorption and fantasy proneness: Explorations with a student sample]. Revista Iberoamericana de Diagnóstico y Evaluación, 1, 77-95.

Three hypotheses are tested. People who have a number of paranormal/anomalous experiences have a higher capacity for dissociation, absorption, and fantasy proneness than non-experients. These hypothesis were supported, the mean for experients was significantly higher than for non experients. Five hundred sixty undergraduate students, 76% females and 24% males (age range 17-57), completed four scales: the Dissociative Experiences Scale, Tellegen Absorption Scale, Creative Experiences Questionnaire, and Paranormal Experiences Questionnaire. Experients scored higher on dissociation, absorption and fantasy proneness than non experients. Probably the present findings are reasonably representative of people who are not actively interested in paranormal phenomena, but many of these kind of experience reach predictable emotional reactions such as amazement, surprise, curiosity and puzzlement, and fear. On the other hand, some people are disturbed by psychic experiences and may need counseling, such as precognitive dreams, telepathy, poltergeist, perception of lights, out-of-the-body experiences, past lives memories, spiritual contacts, and mediumship. This study demonstrated the viability of adopting a psychological approach to better understand the anomalous/paranormal experiences.

Dr. Thomas Rabeyron

Dr. Thomas Rabeyron

Rabeyron, T., & Watt, C. (2010). Paranormal experiences, mental health and mental boundaries, and psi. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 487–492.

Previous research has suggested that paranormal beliefs and experiences are associated with thinner mental boundaries and traumas during childhood. This paper examines more thoroughly the relationship between paranormal experiences, mental health and boundaries, and psi abilities. One hundred and sixty two participants completed questionnaires about paranormal experiences (AEI), mental health (MHI-17), mental boundaries (BQ-Sh), traumas during childhood (CATS) and life-changing events (LES). A controlled psi experiment was also conducted. Significant correlations were found between paranormal experiences and mental boundaries, traumas and negative life events. The overall results were non-significant for the psi task and no significant correlation was found between psychological variables and psi results. These findings suggest that mainly mental boundaries concerning unusual experiences and childlikeness are associated with paranormal experiences. They also highlight the importance of association between emotional abuse and paranormal experiences, and that paranormal experiences occur especially frequently after negative life events.

Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore

Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore

Simmonds-Moore, C. (2009-10). Sleep patterns, personality, and subjective anomalous experiences. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 29, 71-86.

An opportunity sample comprising 281 participants completed a battery of questionnaires, which included questions on sleep, the Anomalous Experience Inventory [1], the STA scale (for measurement of positive schizotypy) [2], the Complex Partial Epileptic-like signs scale of the Personal Philosophy Inventory [3], Hartmann’s Short Boundary Questionnaire (BQ) [4], and the revised Transliminality scale [5]. There was no difference between long and short sleepers on anomalous experiences. All personality variables correlated positively with anomalous experiences. A significant difference was found between short and average and average and long sleepers on positive schizotypy. No other personality variables related to sleep variables. A regression path analysis indicated that the strongest predictors of anomalous experiences were personality factors (in particular, Transliminality and Temporal lobe lability). Reduced sleep quality was also a direct predictor. Reduced sleep need was found to be an indirect predictor of anomalous experiences. Findings support the idea that anomalous experiences could be associated with reduced sleep quality, but not sleep length. The relationship between personality and anomalous experiences may be partially modulated by sleep variables. Further research is needed in this area.

Woodward, F.J. (2012). A phenomenological study of spontaneous spiritual and paranormal experiences in a 21st-century sample or normal people. Psychological Reports, 110(1), 173-132. 

This paper presents a phenomenological study using the methodology of Woodard’s phenomenological and perceptual research. This method examines individuals’ internal meanings during spontaneous spiritual and paranormal experiences, as described from their point of view. A group of 40 adults was phenomenologically interviewed after they responded to a newspaper announcement in New Hampshire asking for volunteers who had had spiritual and paranormal experiences. Using the method, Six Individual Situated Structures and a General Structure were identified and examined. Nine major themes were explicated during the participants’ spontaneous experiencing: unexpectedness, contrariness to belief, certainty, contradictory experiencing, language as a barrier to expression, external influences, internal dialogue, evil as separateness, and some social psychological influences. Several themes observed in hypnotic experiencing, such as the characteristics of the Adequate Personality in Perceptual Psychology, are interpreted and discussed. This research illustrates how subjective experience can be adequately researched in a qualitative manner outside the confines of the laboratory setting. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are given.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

My last paper just came out: “Mediumship, Psychical Research, Dissociation, and the Powers of the Subconscious Mind” (Journal of Parapsychology, 2014, 78, 98–114). It is an overview of ideas about the aforementioned topics from the old days of psychical research. Here is the abstract:

“Since the 19th century many psychiatrists and psychologists have considered mediumship to be related to the subconscious mind and to dissociative processes produced mainly by internal conventional processes of the medium’s mind. However, some psychologists and psychical researchers active between the last decades of the 19th century and the 1920s expressed a different view. Individuals such as Théodore Flournoy, Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Morselli, Frederic W. H. Myers, Julian Ochorowicz, Charles Richet, Eleanor Sidgwick, and Eduard von Hartmann, argued that some mediums combined dissociation with supernormal phenomena such as knowledge acquired without the use of the senses, and the production of physical effects seemingly beyond the normal bodily capabilities. Depending on the theorist, other issues such as pathology and discarnate agency were also part of the discussions. The supernormal was never accepted by science at large and today is rarely mentioned in the dissociation literature. But ideas related to the supernormal were part of this literature. A complete history of dissociation, and of the subconscious mind, should include consideration of this body of work.”

William Mackenzie

William Mackenzie

The article  has sections entitled: Mediumship in Context: Spiritualism, Psychical Research, and Psychiatry; The Influential Writings of Frederic W. H. Myers and Eduard Von Hartmann; Speculations on the Mediumship of Leonora E. Piper; Speculations on the Mediumship of Eusapia Palladino; and Further Speculations on Mediumship. I discuss in the article several theoreticians generally neglected in the English-language literature of mediumship such as Joseph Maxwell, Enrico Morselli, William Mackenzie, Julian Ochorowicz, René Sudre, and Eduard von Hartmann.

Julian Ochorowicz

Julian Ochorowicz

René Sudre

René Sudre

Leonora Piper

Leonora Piper

Many discussions centered on medium Leonora E. Piper. While some were survival-oriented, others were not. These included the speculations of English classical scholar and banker Walter Leaf, English educator Eleanor Sidgwick, and German philosopher Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich.

Leaf “argued that in the medium’s ‘abnormal state there is a quite exceptional power of reading the contents of the minds of sitters; but that this power is far from complete’ . . . The thought transference process suggested by Leaf was one related to sitters’ subconscious minds, that is, content not consciously recollected at the time of the séance.This gave the impression that a spirit was communicating. Sidgwick argued that telepathy could provide the ‘material necessary to successful personation’ . . . This assumed that a dissociative process (the trance and the personation accompanying it) could incorporate telepathic information.” “Oesterreich suggested that Mrs. Piper’s veridical communications involved ‘an elaboration by the creative imagination of Mrs. Piper’s telepathically-acquired knowledge and by her telepathic faculty working in conjunction with the minds of others’ . . . ”

Eleanor Sidgwick

Eleanor Sidgwick

Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich

Traugott Konstantin Oesterreich

Eusapia Palladino

Eusapia Palladino

Regarding Palladino I summarized the ideas of Italian psychiatrist Enrico Morselli, presented in his 1908 book Psicologia e “Spiritismo”: “According to Morselli . . . the low intellectual content of these effects [physical phenomena] was indicative of psychological disaggregation (or separation of mental processes) because the medium’s ‘inferior personality’ . . . manifested at a low intellectual level.” Morselli believed “that she could project a biopsychic force from her body, a force that could join with other forces coming from the other persons in the mediumistic circle . . . This force could be imprinted with the ‘oniric or subconscious thought of the medium’ . . . , which constituted the principle guiding telekinesis and shaping materializations. Morselli . . . believed that the subconscious thought and will of the medium directed the phenomena . . . However, their uniformity and repetitive nature suggested to him that Palladino had ‘fixed ideas,’ or delusional dominant ideas affecting both actions and thought. These ideas probably helped the production of the phenomena by her subconscious mind and also suggested hysteria . . .”

Morselli Psicologia

In conclusion, I wrote that “ideas of the supernormal as regards dissociation and the subconscious were not integrated into the psychology and psychiatry of the times discussed in this paper. Although most medical men held a closed model of the mind (and of dissociation) in which the phenomena were explained mostly by internal resources and a few external influences such as suggestion, few accepted a more open model of mind, such as the one some psychical researchers upheld based on powers that extend sensory and motor capacities beyond the confines of the body . . .” Furthermore, I argued that discussions of the functions of the subconscious mind “are incomplete without consideration of the psychical research perspective.”

“In the period discussed here, psychical researchers considered that the functions of the subconscious went beyond memory, pathology, creativity, and imagination. In the case of mediumship, psychical researchers extended current ideas about dissociation (in this case trance and personation) by adding the supernormal to the equation.”

“It is my hope that the material discussed in this paper will remind current students of mediumship of aspects of a past forgotten by many. Furthermore, I hope that my writings and those of others will influence the general historiography of psychiatry and psychology . . . Currently most of this work refers to the ‘closed’ model of the mind and of dissociation . . . But to limit historical analysis in this way produces an incomplete picture of the past, the details of which are ignored or dismissed by many historians as well as by psychiatrists and psychologists.”

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Kai Muegge

Kai Muegge

Much has been said about the physical phenomena of the Felix Circle, also known as Felix Experimental Group, which centers on medium Kai Muegge. Up to now the published material about this circle has consisted of informal Web articles, many of which have appeared in the Circle’s page. However, the first detailed reports of investigations of the materialization and other physical phenomena of the Circle have just appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration ,  reports that mention what the authors believe is evidence for fraud in the case. The reports are authored by Dr. Michael Nahm and Dr. Stephen Braude, who is also the editor of the journal.

Dr. Michael Nahm

Dr. Michael Nahm

 

Dr. Stephen E. Braude

Dr. Stephen E. Braude

Braude wrote in his editorial:

“As I mention in my paper in this issue, I don’t yet consider the FEG phenomena, and in particular the conditions of observation, to meet the standard set by the best cases from the heyday of Spiritualism. And of course the recent evidence of at least occasional fraud has tarnished the case as a whole. Nevertheless, on some of the occasions described in this issue’s reports, the controls were far from negligible . . . Moreover (thanks in part to those controls), some FEG phenomena have not yet been discredited and remain very difficult to discount . . . And I believe it’s fair to say that Nahm agrees with me on this point. Where we disagree is on the issue of whether at least the strongest FEG phenomena are perhaps worth pursuing further. Nahm seems inclined to disagree. I’m not so sure . . . And as I hope will become clear both from the foregoing considerations and the reports in this issue, the evidence gathered so far can’t be dismissed simply by the all too familiar and unacceptably glib and sweeping rejection of eyewitness testimony.”

Here are the abstracts of the papers.

The Development and Phenomena of a Circle for Physical Mediumship 

Michael Nahm

Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2014, 28, 229-283.

“The present paper describes the development and the phenomena of a circle for physical mediumship, based predominantly on my own observations. Over the course of four and a half years, I have participated in 21 sittings. Typical phenomena include unusual movements of a table, raps on the room walls and the ceiling, various luminous and psychokinetic phenomena, the generation of supposed ectoplasm, and apports. I will describe the controls applied during the sittings and my personal involvement in accompanying the development of the phenomena, and explain why I finally arrived at the conclusion that considerable parts of the phenomena were produced by fraudulent means.”

Investigations of the Felix Experimental Group: 2010–2013

Stephen E. Braude

Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2014, 28, 285–343.

“This paper chronicles my introduction to and subsequent investigation of the Felix Experimental Group (FEG) and its exhibitions of classical physical mediumship. It’s been nearly a century since investigators have had the opportunity to carefully study standard spiritistic phenomena, including the extruding of ectoplasm, and the FEG is the only current physical mediumistic circle permitting any serious controls. The paper details a progressively stringent, personally supervised series of séances, culminating in some well-controlled experiments with video documentation in a secure and private location belonging to one of the investigators. Regrettably, recent indications of fraud (explored also by Michael Nahm in this issue) have tarnished the case as a whole. However, it remains unclear how extensive the fraud has been. Accordingly, this paper evaluates the arguments both for and against the paranormality of the phenomena displayed under the author’s supervision.”

The discussions of the suspicious incidents are too detailed to be presented here. The reader is encouraged to study the reports, which may be obtained from the authors.

Nahm believes there was fraud in some phenomena, but that it is a matter of speculation how much of the whole performances are fraudulent. Consequently, he presents several methodological suggestions for further research in his report.

Braude believes that at the moment not everything can be explained via fraud. But he writes in his paper: “It seems clear that if Kai wants to salvage or rehabilitate his reputation, he must now voluntarily submit to—and succeed under—many test conditions he’s so far resisted. In fact, he at least has to try. So long as Kai continues to resist better conditions of illumination and observation, especially those in which other carefully investigated mediums have succeeded, his mediumship will be tainted and remain an easy object of skeptical suspicion, even if some of his phenomena remain hard to doubt.”

It is difficult to disagree with Nahm and Braude’s recommendation for further research. The question is, would they be allowed to study this medium further after what they have written? Hopefully their skepticism will not be considered an inhibiting influence on the circle and used as an excuse to keep them out the séance room. Regardless of the possible negative effects of skepticism, we need to remember that many mediums in the past were able to perform even under extreme disbelief. As the matter stands, we may not be able to explain everything normally, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to have serious doubts. If future phenomena are not forthcoming under much better conditions of control the case is certainly destined, as that of so many other mediums of the past, to be dubious.

Those wishing to get the issue of the journal can write to Elissa Hoeger at ssemembership@gmail.com. The issue, Vol. 28, No. 2, costs $20 for members and $24.95 for non-members.

Journal of Scientific Exploration

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center (http://Rhine.org)

There is a resurgence of studies of mediumship from different perspectives. Some examples are the following papers published during the last five years (2010-2014). I have limited the coverage to empirical studies (quantitative or qualitative) published in peer-reviewed journals, and to perspectives from psychology, psychophysiology and parapsychology.

Dr. Arnaud Delorme

Dr. Arnaud Delorme

Delorme, A., Beischel, J., Michel, L., Boccuzzi, M., Radin, D., & Mills, P.J. (2013). Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased. Frontiers of Psychology, 4, fpsyg.2013.00834

During advanced meditative practices, unusual perceptions can arise including the sense of receiving information about unknown people who are deceased. As with meditation, this mental state of communication with the deceased involves calming mental chatter and becoming receptive to subtle feelings and sensations. Psychometric and brain electrophysiology data were collected from six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions. Each experimental participant performed two tasks with eyes closed. In the first task, the participant was given only the first name of a deceased person and asked 25 questions. After each question, the participant was asked to silently perceive information relevant to the question for 20 s and then respond verbally. Responses were transcribed and then scored for accuracy by individuals who knew the deceased persons. Of the four mediums whose accuracy could be evaluated, three scored significantly above chance (p < 0.03). The correlation between accuracy and brain activity during the 20 s of silent mediumship communication was significant in frontal theta for one participant (p < 0.01). In the second task, participants were asked to experience four mental states for 1 min each: (1) thinking about a known living person, (2) listening to a biography, (3) thinking about an imaginary person, and (4) interacting mentally with a known deceased person. Each mental state was repeated three times. Statistically significant differences at p < 0.01 after correction for multiple comparisons in electrocortical activity among the four conditions were obtained in all six participants, primarily in the gamma band (which might be due to muscular activity). These differences suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination.

Evenden, R.E., Cooper, C.E., & Mitchell,G.  (2013). A counseling approach to mediumship: Adaptive outcomes of grief following an exceptional experience. Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology, 1(2).

In the last few decades there has been much corroborative research suggesting that exceptional experiences (EEs) during bereavement lead to improved coping and a healthy recovery from a negative emotional state . . . Aside from ‘spontaneous’ exceptional experiences and their impact on the bereaved . . . , ‘sought’ experiences such as mediumship can be an equally rewarding and positive experience for the bereaved. Few links have been explored regarding the counseling nature of mediumship with regards to bereaved individuals, and therefore this paper addresses such issues using a counseling approach and qualitative design. Results suggest that those who experience mediumistic counseling produced a high sense of agency, resulting in adaptive coping. Additionally, the findings suggest that areas of counseling, clinical studies and positive psychology would benefit from forming links with the findings of parapsychological research, with regards to the bereaved and their experiences.

 

Dr. Emily Kelly

Dr. Emily Kelly

Kelly, E. W., & Arcangel, D. (2011). An investigation of mediums who claim to give information about deceased persons. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 199, 11–17.

Growing public interest in the phenomenon of mediumship, particularly among bereaved persons, suggests the need for renewed controlled studies of mediums, both to provide potential clients with criteria for judging mediums and to help researchers learn whether they can produce specific and accurate information to which they have had no normal access and, if so, under what conditions. Two research studies were conducted in which mediums provided readings about particular deceased persons to a proxy sitter. The real sitters then blindly rated the reading that was intended for them along with several control readings. In the first study, the results were not significant. In the second, much larger study the results were highly significant (z = 3.89, p < 0.0001, 2-tailed). The authors discuss 2 possible weaknesses of the successful study and indicate some directions for further research.

Maraldi, E. de O. (2014). Medium or author? A preliminary model relating dissociation, paranormal belief systems and self-esteem. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 78, 1-24.

One of the main characteristics of the automatic writing and automatic drawing observed at Brazilian spiritist centros is the attribution of authorship to external sources, usually of an allegedly spiritual kind. For many spiritist mediums, as for the ones the author has studied for two years, the final result of their productions is conceived as a (sometimes confused) mixture of personal and spiritual elements. Nonetheless, their graphic and pictorial material seems to be very interesting in psychological terms. In this paper, I propose a psychosocial model relating dissociation, paranormal beliefs and self-esteem that would better account for the qualitative data gathered at two spiritist institutions from 2009 to 2011. Participants were 11 mediums (9 women and 2 men, M = 47 years old, range = 29–65). It seems that some dissociative practices at the centros functioned, in many ways, as psychological elaboration of diffuse or impulsive emotions experienced in early childhood, in contexts of lack of affection, reppresive education and low socio-economic status, factors that could have helped undermine the medium’s self-esteem. Due to a lack of stimulation and encouragement to develop individual capacities, these individuals felt disconnected from their own potentials and creativity, which could have fostered the eruption of latent potentials in the form of automatisms and dissociative phenomena attributed to spiritual entities. Other factors like religious affiliation and level of paranormal belief could be involved in the process of causal attribution.

Maraldi, E.O., & Krippner, S. (2013). A biopsychosocial approach to creative dissociation: Remarks on a case of mediumistic painting. NeuroQuantology, 11, 544-572.

A category of religious experience that still preserves much of the original blurring and fusion between art and religion is mediumistic or spirit painting. Performed by spiritualist mediums in different locations around the world, this form of religious experience is characterized by the supposed ability of an individual to serve as an instrument for deceased artists to continue to perform their works. Little scientific research has been conducted concerning this topic. We present a brief analysis of painting activity performed by Jacques Andrade, a Brazilian medium. Born in 1945, Andrade, who has been active in the Brazilian Kardecist movement for many years, has dedicated most of his religious life to mediumistic painting at his center (The Leonardo da Vinci Salon of Mediumistic Art). Data about the medium were collected on several different occasions, from 1998 to 2013, and include psychophysiological measures (hand temperature, heart rate, bilateral skin conductance, muscle tension, and electrical brain activity), psychological measures (Dissociative Experiences Scale, Tellegen Absorption Scale, Revised Transliminality Scale, and Childhood Trauma Questionnaire), artistic material, observational data (photographs of paintings, observations of the medium in action), and some basic socio-demographic and biographical information. Basically we sought to evaluate: a) general aspects of the painting technique and style employed by the medium, b) the main features of his pictorial production, and c) the general behavior shown by the medium during the mediumistic activity. In an effort to combine and integrate our findings about this case, we propose a biopsychosocial approach to the study of what might be called creative dissociation.

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

 

Dr. Stanley Krippner

Dr. Stanley Krippner

Maraldi, E.O., Machado, F.R., & Zangari, W. (2010). Importance of a psychosocial approach for a comprehensive understanding of mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 24, 181–196.

[From the text] An exploratory study conducted by the Brazilian psychologist Everton de Oliveira Maraldi is offered here as the first step in a larger research project focused on psychosocial aspects of mediumship in Brazil. His study aimed to understand the use and meaning of mediumship and the paranormal beliefs connected to it in the formation of the psychosocial identity of Kardecist Spiritists. The research program draws on the theory of identity proposed by Ciampa . . . According to Ciampa, identity is in a constant state of transformation and metamorphosis, passing through different moral or cognitive stages of development. He also recognizes identity as a predominantly social phenomenon, that is all individuals contribute to the actualization of a group’s identity even if it is only in a potential way. Individual particularities reproduce universal particularities. Thus, group identity and individual identity are not disconnected.[The cases of two Brazilian mediums were analyzed by the first author considering mediumship as a life project (search for meaning), as a way to veil or unveil identity (how mediumship was masked or manifested), and as an ideology (manifesting Spiritist ideology)].

Dr. Julio Peres

Dr. Julio Peres

Peres, J. F., Moreira-Almeida, A., Caixeta, L., Leao, F., and Newberg, A. (2012). Neuroimaging during trance state: A contribution to the study of dissociation. PLoS ONE 7:e49360. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049360

Despite increasing interest in pathological and non-pathological dissociation, few researchers have focused on the spiritual experiences involving dissociative states such as mediumship, in which an individual (the medium) claims to be in communication with, or under the control of, the mind of a deceased person. Our preliminary study investigated psychography – in which allegedly “the spirit writes through the medium’s hand” – for potential associations with specific alterations in cerebral activity. We examined ten healthy psychographers – five less expert mediums and five with substantial experience, ranging from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing and 2 to 18 psychographies per month – using single photon emission computed tomography to scan activity as subjects were writing, in both dissociative trance and non-trance states. The complexity of the original written content they produced was analyzed for each individual and for the sample as a whole. The experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left culmen, left hippocampus, left inferior occipital gyrus, left anterior cingulate, right superior temporal gyrus and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The average complexity scores for psychographed content were higher than those for control writing, for both the whole sample and for experienced mediums. The fact that subjects produced complex content in a trance dissociative state suggests they were not merely relaxed, and relaxation seems an unlikely explanation for the underactivation of brain areas specifically related to the cognitive processing being carried out. This finding deserves further investigation both in terms of replication and explanatory hypotheses.

Rocha, A.C., Paraná, D., Freire, E.S., Neto, F.L., & Moreira-Almeida, A. (2014). Investigating the fit and accuracy of alleged mediumistic writing: A case study of Chico Xavier’s letters. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, published online, June 14.

Context: The study of mediumship is important because if mediumistic abilities are real, they would provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of the mind, thus having major implications to our understanding of the mind-brain relationship. This study investigated the alleged mediumship of Chico Xavier, a very prolific and influential ‘medium’ in Brazil. Objective: To investigate the accuracy of the information conveyed in Xavier’s ‘psychographed’ letters (i.e., letters allegedly authored by a deceased personality) and to explore the possible explanations for it. Method: After a systematic search for Xavier’s psychographed letters we selected one set of 13 letters allegedly written by a same spiritual author (JP). The letters were initially screened for the identification of items of information that were objectively verifiable. The accuracy of the information conveyed by these items and the estimated likelihood of the Xavier’s access to the information via normal means were rated using Fit and Leak scales based on documents and interviews carried out with the sister and friends of JP. Results: We identified 99 items of verifiable information conveyed on these 13 letters; 98% of these items were rated as ‘Clear and Precise Fit,’ and no item was rated as ‘no Fit.’ We concluded that normal explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were only remotely plausible. These results seem to provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of consciousness.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2011). A survey of dissociation, boundary-thinness, and psychological well-being in Spiritualist mental mediumship. Journal of Parapsychology, 75, 279–299.

The purpose of this study was to explore the personality and psychological wellbeing of Spiritualist mental mediums compared to nonmedium Spiritualists. A total of 159 Spiritualists (mediums = 80, nonmediums = 79) parlicipated in a nationwide cross-sectional survey and completed measures of dissociation, boundary-thinness, psychological wellbeing, fantasy-proneness, and personality. Mediums scored significantly higher than nonmediums on psychological wellbeing, t = 3.80, p <.001, and reported lower psychological distress, t = 3.25, p = .00 1, but no significant differences were found between the groups on dissociation or boundary-thinness. Secondary analyses revealed significant differences for extraversion, t = 2.01, p = .046, neuroticism, t = 3.59, p = .001, and openness to experience, t = 3.21, p = .002, but not for fantasy-proneness, agreeableness, or conscientiousness. Findings suggest that mediumship is not associated with a reported incidence of dissociative experiences or pathology. Results are discussed in relation to previous research that has proposed the mediumship role may serve a therapeutic function.

Roxburgh, E.C. & Roe, C.R.(2014). Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 17, DOI:10.1080/13674676.2014.894007

Throughout different civilisations and historical epochs, anthropological and religious texts have been replete with accounts of persons who have reported anomalous experiences in the form of visions or voices. In these contexts, such experiences are considered to be a “gift” that can be spiritually enriching or life enhancing. One such group of individuals are mediums who claim to receive information from spirits of the deceased in the form of auditory or visual perceptions. This study explores how mediums come to interpret their experiences as mediumistic and how they describe their relationship with spirit voices. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 Spiritualist mediums using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three themes were identified: “Childhood anomalous experiences”, “A search for meaning: Normalisation of mediumship”, and “relationship with spirit”. These themes illuminated aspects of the mediumistic experience that have therapeutic implications for individuals who have similar experiences but become distressed by them.

Dr. Elizabeth Roxburgh

Dr. Elizabeth Roxburgh

 

Dr. Chris Roe

Dr. Chris Roe

Roxburg, E.C., & Roe, C.A. (2014). “Say from whence you owe this strange intelligence”: Investigating explanatory systems of Spiritualist mental mediumship using interpretative phenomenological analysis. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 32, 27-42.

Walsh and Vaughan (1993) defined transpersonal experiences as those “in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos” (p. 203). One population who regularly report such experiences are mediums. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten spiritualist mediums to explore their lived experience, such as how they communicate with the deceased, the meaning of spirit guide phenomena, and the role of mediumship, regardless of the actual ontology of mediumship. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) identified three themes: explanatory systems of mediumship, spirit guides as transcendental beings versus aspects of self, and the purpose of mediumship. These themes illuminated aspects of the mediumistic experience that have implications for an understanding of states of consciousness, transcendence, and the Higher Self.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

It is well known that many of the early psychologists were negative about the existence of psychic phenomena, preferring to explain them via conventional principles such as fraud, suggestion, hallucination, and other ideas. Individuals such as Alfred Binet, Joseph Jastrow, and Hugo Münsterberg are examples of this tradition. In a paper I recently published I discuss a prominent example of this, namely the work of American psychologist G. Stanley Hall .

G. Stanley Hall

G. Stanley Hall

The paper, “G. Stanley Hall on ‘Mystic or Borderline Phenomena’ “(Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2014, 28, 75–93; available from the author: carlos@theazire.org) was not meant to be a detailed overview of Hall’s critical work, but an introduction to a little known paper of his about psychic phenomena. Here is the abstract:

“G. Stanley Hall (1844–1924) was one the most prominent of the early American psychologists and an outspoken skeptic about the existence of psychic phenomena. This article presents a reprint of one of his critiques on the topic, a little-known paper entitled ‘Mystic or Borderline Phenomena’ published in 1909 in the Proceedings of the Southern California Teacher’s Association. Hall commented on some phenomena of physical mediumship, as well as on apparitions, telepathy, and mental healing. In his view all could be explained via conventional ways such as trickery and the workings of the unconscious mind. The paper is reprinted with an introduction and annotations providing biographical information about Hall and additional information and clarification of the points he made in the paper. It is argued that Hall’s paper represents an instance of boundary-work common at the beginning of organized psychology, representing an attempt to give authority to the discipline over fields such as psychical research.”

American Journal of Psychology

Hall's Review of Psychical Research Publications in the First Volume of the American Journal of Psychology (1887)

Hall’s Review of Psychical Research Publications in the First Volume of the American Journal of Psychology (1887)

 

Hall's Article in Appleton's Magazine, 1908

Hall’s Article in Appleton’s Magazine, 1908

I argue in the paper: “In addition to Hall’s unquestionable importance for the development and history of American psychology, I had several . . . reasons to choose this article. The paper is a good summary of Hall’s negative views about psychic phenomena and psychical research and represents the opinion of other psychologists at the time . . . Hall’s paper is an example of the attempts of many early psychologists to separate their emerging field from psychical research . . . I am also presenting Hall’s paper as a reminder of the importance of remembering critics and criticism in our discussions and understanding of the past developments of psychical research. This is because many historical articles published by workers in the field tend to focus on proponents of, or on defenses of, the ‘reality’ of psychic phenomena.”

Phantasms of the Living vol 2Unfortunately Hall misrepresented psychical researchers several times in his paper. For example, he assumed they needed to know something about topics such as hallucinations and hypnotism. But Hall knew better than this, as he had read Gurney, Myers and Podmore’s Phantasms of the Living (1886) and he knew about Myers writings which covered much of abnormal psychology. In fact, I believe that Hall could have learned much about these topics from the psychical researchers.

Hall’s paper was also not fair to psychical researchers when he wrote: “There is almost nothing tricks cannot do, aided by skill and practice. There are many codes: for instance, reading cards can be done by two confederates, one of whom catches the heart rhythm as the toe or a crossed leg moves, and counts off the suit and the card, marking the beginning of the count by any rustle or noise of the foot, hem, sniffle, or any other sign, which the observers never detect. Probably hundreds of these tricks are well known and are found in the copious literature on this subject . . . My contention is that every investigator should know what are the resources of sleight of hand.”

But as I comment in my article: “Here, as in other writings, and in other parts of the article, Hall presents his comments without acknowledging that psychical researchers were aware of the issue of fraud and of techniques of fraud from the beginning of the movement . . . Hall had a tendency to offer advice and issue recommendations under the apparent assumption that his points had not been considered before. While this may have been true among some, such as members of the general public . . . , it did not apply to most psychical researchers.”

Consequently Hall’s writings need to be critically assessed. 

On Hall’s contributions to psychology see:

Arnett, J. J. (2006). G. Stanley Hall’s Adolescence: Brilliance and nonsense. History of Psychology, 9, 186–197.

Bringmann, W. G. (1992). G. Stanley Hall and the history of psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 281–290.

Hogan, J. D. (2003). G. Stanley Hall: Educator, organizer, and pioneer. In In G. A. Kimble & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology (Volume 5, pp. 19–36), Mahwa, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hulse, S. H., & Green, B. F. (Eds.) (1986). One Hundred Years of Psychological Research in America: G. Stanley Hall and the Johns Hopkins Tradition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.

Rosenzwig, S. (1992). Freud, Jung, and Hall the King-Maker: The Historic Expedition to America (1909), with G. Stanley Hall as Host and William James as Guest. St. Louis, MO: Rana House Press.

Ross, D. (1972). G . Stanley Hall: The Psychologist as Prophet. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sokal, M. M. (1990). G. Stanley Hall and the institutional character of psychology at Clark 1889–1920. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 26, 114–124.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

There has been some speculation about the use of ESP for stock market predictions. Here is a recently published study about this topic. It is a paper authored by Christopher Carson Smith, Darrell Laham, and Garret Moddel entitled “Stock Market Prediction Using Associative Remote Viewing by Inexperienced Remote Viewers” (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2014, 28, 7-16; for a reprint click here).

Here is the abstract:

Ten inexperienced remote viwers attempted to predict the outcome of the Dow Jones Industrial Average using associative remote viewing. For each trial in the experiment, each participant remotely viewed an image from a target set of two images, one of which he or she would be shown approximately 48 hours from that time. Of the two images in the target set, one corresponded to whether the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) would close up, while the other corresponded to whether it wouldclose down at the end of the intervening trading day. For feedback, the viewers were shown only the picture actually associated with the actual market outcome. In aggregate, the participants described the correct images, successfully predicting the outcome of the DJIA in seven out of seven attempts (binomial probability test, p < .01). Investments in stock options were made based on these predictions, resulting in a significant financial gain.

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Journal of Scientific ExplorationWhile parapsychology journals generally carry book reviews, few of them publish reviews of old books generally considered classics or important publications, many of which have been almost forgotten by the current generation, except perhaps by the historically minded. Fortunately the Journal of Scientific Exploration  (JSE), edited by Steve Braude , sometimes publishes such reviews.

The reviews consists mainly of publications that appeared before the 1950s. But there are also reviews of more recent books, some of which were discussed from more recent editions. The reviews, which appeared during P.D. Moncrieff’s tenure as Book Review Editor of the journal, include, but are not limited to the following:

Ahmed, D.S. (2011). Review of Notre Sixième Sens, by C. Richet. JSE, 25, 583-590.

Richet Notre sixieme sens

Ahmed, D.S. (2011). Review of La Télépathie: Recherches Expérimentales, by R. Warcollier. JSE, 25, 767-778.

Warcollier Telepathie

Alvarado, C.S. (2010). Review of Phénomènes Psychiques au Moment de la Mort, by E. Bozzano, and Deathbed Visions, by W.F. Barrett. JSE, 24, 358-364.

Bozzano Phenomenes Psychiques Mort

Alvarado, C.S. (2010). Review of Traité de Métapsychique, by C. Richet. JSE, 24, 535-541.

Richet Traite de metapsychique 2

Alvarado, C.S. (2010). Review of Eusapia Palladino and Her Phenomena,  by H. Carrington. JSE, 24, 126-133.

Eusapia Palladino title page

Delanne Apparitions MaterialiseesAlvarado, C.S. (2011). Apparitions of the living: The views of William H. Harrison and Gabriel Delanne (Review of Spirits Before Our Eyes, by W.H. Harrison; and Les Apparitions Matérialisées des Vivants & des Morts. Vol. 1: Les Fantômes de Vivants [Materialized Apparitions of the Living and of the Dead. Vol. 1: Phantoms of the Living], by G. Delanne. JSE, 25, 365-374.

Harrison Spirits before our Eyes

 

Alvarado, C.S. (2011). Unorthodox concepts of force and psychic phenomena (Review of Les Radiations Humaines [Human Radiations], by R. Montandon; Laboratory Investigations into Psychic Phenomena, by H. Carrington; Le Magnétisme Animal [Animal Magnetism], by A. Baréty; L’Extériorisation de la Sensibilité [The Exteriorisation of Sensibility], by A. de Rochas; L’Ame Humaine [The Human Soul], by H. Baraduc; L’Evolution Animique [Animic Evolution], by G. Delanne. JSE, 25, 121-130.

De Rochas Exteriorisation Sensibilite

 

Delanne Evolution Animique

Alvarado, C.S. (2012). Bottazzi and Palladino: The 1907 seances (Review of Mediumistic Phenomena: Observed in a Series of Sessions with Eusapia Palladino, by F. Bottazzi). JSE, 26, 159-167.

Durville Les Fantome des VivantsAlvarado, C.S. (2011). On doubles and excursions from the physical body, 1876–1956 (Review of “On the Trans-Corporeal Action of Spirit,” by W.S. Moses, Human Nature, vol. 10; Posthumous Humanity, by A. D’Assier; Le Fantôme des Vivants  [The Phantom of the Living], by H. Durville; The Case for Astral Projection, by S.J. Muldoon; Les Phénomènes de Bilocation  [The Phenomena of Bilocation], by E. Bozzano; The Phenomena of Astral Projection, by S.J. Muldoon and H. Carrington; “ESP Projection: Spontaneous Cases and the Experimental Method,” by H. Hart. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, vol. 48; “Six Theories about Apparitions,” by H. Hart and collaborators. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. 50). JSE, 25, 563-580.

Bozzano Les Phenomenes

Arnette, J.K. (2012). Review of Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation, by M.B. Sabom. JSE, 26, 207-211.

Bova, M. (2013). Review of The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist: Toward a General Theory of the Paranormal, by L. LeShan. JSE, 27, 128-129.

Evrard, R. (2010). Review of De l’inconscient au conscient, by G. Geley. JSE, 24, 541-546.

Geley De l'Inconscient

 

Gasperini, L. (2012). Review of Metapsichica Moderna: Fenomeni Medianici e Problemi del Subcosciente, by W. Mackenzie. JSE, 26, 911-922.

Mackenzie Metapsichica Moderna

Grosso, M. (2011). Extreme phenomena and human capacity (Review of Herbert Thurston’s The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism). JSE, 25, 131-152.

Laursen, C. (2013). Review of The Poltergeist, by W.G. Roll. JSE, 27, 570-572.

Kinsey, L., & Holden, J.M. (2012). Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon—Survival of Bodily Death, by R.A. Moody, Jr.  JSE, 26, 199-202.

Moody Life After Life new edition

Matlock, J.G. (2011). Ian Stevenson’s Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation: An historical review and assessment. JSE, 25, 789-820.

Playfair, G.L. (2011). Review of The Night-Side of Nature: Or, Ghosts and Ghost-Seers, by C. Crowe. JSE, 25, 177-181.

Crowe Night Side of Nature

Price, L. (2011). Miracles and Modern Spiritualism: A re-review (review of A.R. Wallace’s Miracles and Modern Spiritualism). JSE, 25, 781-787.

Wallace Miracles

Rabeyron, T. (2010). Review of La Connaissance Supranormale, by E. Osty. JSE, 24, 351-357.

Tymn, M.  (2011). Review of Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations: Demonstrating the Existence of Spirits and Their Communion with Mortals, by R. Hare. JSE, 25, 172-177.

Hare Experimental Investigations cover

Tymn, M.E. (2013). Review of Communication with the Spirit World of God: Its Laws and Purpose, Extraordinary Experiences of a Catholic Priest, by J. Greber. JSE, 27, 726–734.

Crawford ExperimentsTymn, M.E. (2013). William Jackson Crawford on the Goligher Circle (Review of Crawford’s The Reality of Psychic Phenomena; Hints and Observations for Those Investigating the Phenomena of Spiritualism;  Experiments in Psychical Science; The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle). JSE, 27, 529-539.

Crawford Reality Psychic Phenomena

Crawford Psychic Structures Cover

Williams, B.J. (2011). Review of Phantasms of the Living (2 vols.), by E. Gurney, F.W.H. Myers, and F. Podmore. JSE, 25, 367-384.

Phantasms of the Living vol 2

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Hathi TrustAnother good digital library for the old literature is Hathi Trust Digital Library. According to the website: “HathiTrust began in 2008 as a collaboration of the universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California system to establish a repository to archive and share their digitized collections. HathiTrust has quickly expanded to include additional partners . . .  The initial focus of the partnership has been on preserving and providing access to digitized book and journal content from the partner library collections. This includes both in copyright and public domain materials digitized by Google, the Internet Archive, and Microsoft, as well as through in-house initiatives. The partners aim to build a comprehensive archive of published literature from around the world . . . The primary community that HathiTrust serves are the members (faculty, students, and users) of its partners libraries, but the materials in HathiTrust are available to all to the extent permitted by law and contracts, providing the published record as a public good to users around the world.”

Journal du Magnetisme 1845The library has many useful journals in different languages, among them: Annales des Sciences Psychiques, Annals of Psychical Science, L’Hermès: Journal du Magnétisme Animal, Journal du Magnétisme Animal, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Psychical Review, Revue Spirite, and Sphinx.

Psychical Review

JASPR 1907 Cover

Revue Spirite 1858 2

There are also many books about mesmerism, spiritualism and psychical research. More than other digital libraries, Hathi Trust has titles published after 1922. Here are some examples:

Allison, L.W. (1929). Leonard and Soule Experiments in Psychical Research: Also Experiments with Sanders, Brittain, Peters and Dowden. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research.

Allison Leonard and Soule Experiments

Bennett, E.N. (1927). Apollonius; or, The Present and Future of Psychical Research. New York: E. P. Dutton.

Carrington, H. (1937). The Psychic World. New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Carrington The Psychic World

Chaney, R.G. (1946). Mediums and the Development of Mediumship. Eaton Rapids, MI: Psychic Books.

Cross, H.H.U. (1939). A Cavalcade of the Supernatural. New York, E. P. Dutton.

Cross Calvacade of the Supernatural

Dunninger, J. (1935). Inside the Medium’s Cabinet. New York: David Kemp.

Fodor, N. (1958). On the Trail of the Poltergeist. New York: Citadel Press.

Fodor On the Trail of the Poltergeist

Garland, H. (1936). Forty Years of Psychic Research. New York: Macmillan.

Hankey, M. (1963). James Hewat McKenzie: Pioneer of Psychical Research: A Personal Memoir. New York: Helix Press.

Holms, A.C. (1927). The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy. Jamaica, NY: Occult Press.

Holms The Facts of Psychic Science

Lambert, H.C. (1928). A General Survey of Psychical Phenomena. New York: Knickerbocker Presss.

Loehr, F. (1959). The Power of Prayer on Plants. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Morgan, S.R. (1950). Index to Psychic Science. Swathmore, PA: N.p.

Morgan Index to Psychic Science

Osborne, A.W. (1961). The Future is Now: The Significance of Precognition. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books.

Osis, K. (1961). Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses (Parapsychological Monographs, No. 3). New York: Parapsychology Foundation.

Osis Deathbed Observations

Pratt, J.G., Rhine, J.B., Smith, B.M., Stuart, C.E., & Greenwood, J.A. (1940). Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years: A Critical Appraisal of the Research in Extra-Sensory Perception. New York: Holt.

Prince, W.P. (1928). Noted Witnesses for Psychic Occurrences. Boston, MA: Boston Society for Psychic Research.

Prince Noted Witnesses

Prince, W.F. (1930). The Enchanted Boundary: Being a Survey of Negative Reactions to Claims of Psychic Phenomena, 1820-1930. Boston, MA: Boston Society for Psychic Research.

Rhine, J.B. (1935). Extra-Sensory Perception. Boston: Bruce Humphries.

Rhine, J.B., & Pratt, J.G. (1957). Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind: A Survey of the Field, the Methods, and the Facts of ESP and PK Research. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas

Rhine Pratt Parapsychology 2

Soal, S.G., & Bateman, F. (1954). Modern Experiments in Telepathy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Taylor, W.G.L. (1936).  Katie Fox, Epochmaking Medium and the Making of the Fox-Taylor Record.  Boston: Bruce Humphries.

Thomas, J.F. (1937). Beyond Normal Cognition: An Evaluative and Methodological Study of the Mental Content of Certain Trance Phenomena. Boston: Bruce Humphries.

Thomas Beyond Normal Cognition

Walker, B. (Ed.). (1995). Out of the Ordinary: Folklore and the Supernatural. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press.

Walker, K. (1961). The Extrasensory Mind. New York: Emerson Books.

Warrick, F.W. (1939). Experiments in Psychics: Practical Studies in Direct Writing, Supernormal Photography and Other Phenomena, Mainly with Mrs. Ada Emma Deane. New York: Dutton.

Warrick Experiments in Psychics

Westwood, H. (1949). There is a Psychic World. New York: Crown.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

One of the most important recent publications about mediumship is Talking With the Spirits: Ethnographies From Between the Worlds (Brisbane, Australia: Daily Grail Publishing, 2014), a collection of essays edited by Jack Hunter  and David Luke .  The authors of the chapters discuss mediumship from different parts of the world, among them Africa, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, and Great Britain.

Talking to the Spirits

Jack Hunter

Jack Hunter

Dr. David Luke

Dr. David Luke

The book is described by the publisher as follows:

“Talking With the Spirits is a cross-cultural survey of contemporary spirit mediumship. The diverse contributions to this volume cover a wide-range of ethnographic contexts, from Spiritualist séances in the United Kingdom to self-mortification rituals in Singapore and Taiwan, from psychedelic spirit incorporation in the Amazonian rainforest, to psychic readings in online social spaces, and more. By taking a broad perspective the book highlights both the variety of culturally specific manifestations of spirit communication, and key cross-cultural features suggestive of underlying core-processes and experiences. Rather than attempting to reduce or dismiss such experiences, the authors featured in this collection take the experiences of their informants seriously and explore their effects at personal, social and cultural levels.”

Here is the list of chapters and authors.

Talking with the Spirits: Ethnographies from Between the Worlds by David Luke and Jack Hunter

Believing Impossible Things: Scepticism and Ethnographic Enquiry by Fiona Bowie

Dr. Fiona Bowie

Dr. Fiona Bowie

An Agnostic Social Scientific Perspective on Spirit Medium Experience in Great Britain by Hannah Gilbert

Spirits in the City: Examples from Montreal by Deirdre Meintel

Mediumship and Folk Models of Mind and Matter by Jack Hunter

Cyber Psychics: Psychic Readings in Online Social Spaces by Tamlyn Ryan

Tamlyn Ryan

Tamlyn Ryan

Spirit Possession in East Africa by Barbara Stöckigt

Developing the Dead in Cuba: An Ethnographic Account of the Emergence of Spirits and Selves in Havana by Diana Espirito Santo

Dr. Diana Espirito Santo

Dr. Diana Espirito Santo

Mediumship in Brazil: The Holy War Against Spirits and African Gods by Bettina Schmidt

Psychedelic Possession: The Growing Incorporation of Incorporation into Ayahuasca Use by David Luke

Anomalous Mental and Physical Phenomena of Brazilian Mediums: A Review of the Scientific Literature by Everton de Oliveira Maraldi, Wellington Zangari, Fatima Regina Machado, and Stanley Krippner

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

Spirit Mediums in Hong Kong and the United States by Charles Emmons

Vessels for the Gods: Tang-ki Spirit Mediumship in Singapore and Taiwan by Fabian Graham

Fabian Graham

Fabian Graham

The book is highly recommended, particularly to those who want to obtain a view of mediumistic manifestations from different cultures. In addition to anthropology, the essays have much to offer to students of parapsychology, psychology, and sociology. Furthermore, the authors of the essays say much about the various manifestations of mediumship, illustrating the complexity of the phenomenon. The diversity of mediums discussed may allow, as the editors point in the introduction, “for discernment to emerge on what might be universal or near-universal features of mediumship, such as, for example, the role of a control spirit and the use of an altered state of consciousness, respectively.”

There is also much to learn from the essays regarding the attitudes the researcher can take to the study of what some see as extraordinary phenomena. This includes belief, skepticism, and various other middle points, not to mention the bracketing of the reality of the paranormal to focus on purely anthropological concerns.

Talking with the Spirits is a welcome and much needed addition to the current literature about mediumship that will help us expand our views of the various manifestations of this fascinating phenomenon.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

History of Psychiatry December 2013My last published paper just appeared in History of Psychiatry, a journal published by Sage: “Classic Text No. 98 ‘Visions of the Dying’, by James H Hyslop (1907)” (History of Psychiatry, 2014, 25, 237–252; for a PDF reprint write to me at: carlos@theazire.org). It is a reprint of a 1907 paper  written by American philosopher and psychical researcher James H. Hyslop  (1854-1920) about deathbed visions. The paper appeared in a section of the journal devoted to texts from the past.

James H. Hyslop

James H. Hyslop

Abstract

Deathbed visions have been of interest to psychical researchers and others since the nineteenth century. This Classic Text presents a reprint of an article on ‘Visions of the Dying’ published in 1907 in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research by philosopher and psychical researcher James H. Hyslop (1854–1920). The article was Hyslop’s attempt to define the topic as one belonging to the agenda of psychical research and to request additional cases for further study. An introduction to this Classic Text sets it in the context of previous writings on the subject, of Hyslop’s psychical research work, and of his writings about deathbed visions after 1907.

* * * * *

As I stated in the article “Hyslop’s paper was influential in bringing the topic to the attention of psychical researchers, as well as psychologists and others. As such, the work contributed to the establishment of deathbed visions as a type of experience needing research, particularly for those interested in parapsychological and spiritual aspects of the phenomenon.”

First page of Hyslop's 1907 article, "Visions of the Dying."

First page of Hyslop’s 1907 article, “Visions of the Dying.”

 “Similar to the large literature about apparitions . . . discussions on the topic fell into two main camps: authors who explained deathbed visions via conventional processes (hallucinations based on such processes as imagination and brain pathology) and those who were open to the potentially spiritual aspects of the experience (that is, the idea that when experiencers were close to death they actually perceived the deceased) . . . . Those who reduced deathbed visions to hallucinations were working within the nineteenth century tendency to explain all sorts of visions as the function of human imagination or nervous pathology . . . This, in turn, was part of a nineteenth-century movement to medicalize, and explain away, old ideas about the soul and other unusual experiences.”

Edward Hammond Clarke

Edward Hammond Clarke

The first group included individuals such as English physician Samuel William Langston Parker (1803–1871) and American physician Edward Hammond Clarke (1820–1877). The latter group had English poet and spiritualist Thomas Shorter (1823–1899) and Irish social reformer and writer Frances Power Cobbe (1822–1904) as representatives.

 

Frances Power Cobbe

Frances Power Cobbe

Hyslop’s work took place in the context of psychical research, some of which workers were redefining the very concept of a hallucination. “That is, some psychical researchers argued that hallucinations could have aspects that could not be reduced to imagination or pathology because the apparitions perceived included verifiable information not known to the perceiver . . . To some extent the article by Hyslop reprinted here was an extension of this regarding some deathbed vision cases, and it was a protest against the acceptance by physicians and others of a purely intrapsychic model of visionary experience.”

James H. Hyslop

James H. Hyslop

 

 

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