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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Many individuals involved in parapsychology today are not well read on the past literature of their field. Some are newcomers while others are not interested in historical studies but in conducting research on the phenomena and speculating about their importance. Nonetheless there are many benefits that current workers may obtain from the old literature. This includes a better understanding of the reason for and development of theories, methodologies, and controversies, the social factors that have influenced the field, and the persons involved in its development, including researchers, facilitators, mediums and psychics. In addition, the past literature of the field (somewhat different from its history), is particularly useful to develop hypothesis for research, not to mention putting current results in the context of previous findings and ideas.

Because this literature is not generally within the purview of parapsychologists, and others, I would like to present here some reading suggestions to help current workers in the field find information about the work of previous generations. These consist of various secondary sources that will be of help to locate the important primary literature of the field. Due to my interests in the field I will focus on information sources about developments between the late 19th century and the 1930s.

Overviews

A good way to start is to check some of the old overviews of psychical research, which summarize much about research findings, theories, and controversies. Some examples are William Barrett’s (1911) Psychical Research (New York: Holt), Hereward Carrington’s (1930) The Story of Psychic Science (London; Rider), A.C. Holms’ (1927) The Facts of Psychic Science and Philosophy Collated and Discussed (Jamaica, NY: Occult Press), Frank Podmore’s (1897)  Studies in Psychical Research (London: G.P. Putnam’s), Charles Richet’s (1922) Traité de Métapsychique (Paris: Félix Alcan; and the English translation of the

Barrett Psychical Research

Holms The Facts of Psychic Science

Podmore Studies in Psychical Research 2

second edition, (1923) Thirty Years of Psychical Research. New York: Macmillan), Emilio Servadio’s (1930) La Ricerca Psichica ([Psychical Research]. Rome: Cremonese); and René Sudre’s (1926) Introduction à la Métapsychique Humaine (Paris: Payot, 1926; and a later revised edition, Treatise on Parapsychology (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960, original work published in French 1956). 

Richet Traite de metapsychique 4

Sudre Introduction 4
An informative reference source is Fanny Moser’s (1935) treatise Der okkultismus: Tauschungen und Tatsachen (Occultism: Deception and Fact. 2 vols. Munich: Von Ernst Reinhardt). The book opens with discussions about positive and negative views about psychic phenomena, and some early investigations (e.g., the work of the London Dialectical Society, William Crookes, Cesare Lombroso, and the Society for Psychical Research). It also has a section about deception and facts in which Moser has chapters about the subconscious mind, sleep and dreams, and other psychological topics. Furthermore, this work has chapters about telepathy, clairvoyance, physical mediumship, and animal magnetism.

Moser Okkultismus

Also useful are book chapters such as  Harvey J. Irwin and Caroline Watt’s (2007) “Origins of Parapsychological Research” (An Introduction to Parapsychology (5th ed.) Jefferson, NC: McFarland) and Nancy L. Zingrone and Carlos S. Alvarado’s (2016) “A Brief History of Psi Research” (In E.C May & S.B. Marwaha (Eds.), Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science: Vol. 1: History, Controversy, and Research (pp. 35-79). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger).

For years I have been publishing articles covering aspects of the old psychical research literature. Some of them include:

(1987). (Second author, with N.L. Zingrone). (1987). Historical aspects of parapsychological terminology. Journal of Parapsychology, 51, 49‑74.

(1989). ESP displacement effects: A review of pre-1940 concepts and qualitative observations. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 83, 227‑239.

(2001). (first author, with E. Coly, L. Coly, and N.L. Zingrone). Fifty years of supporting parapsychology: The Parapsychology Foundation (1951-2001). International Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 1-26.

(2009). Early and modern developments in the psychological approach to out-of-body experiences. In C. D. Murray (Ed.), Psychological Scientific Perspectives on Out-of-Body and Near-Death Experiences (pp. 1-22). New York: Nova Science.

(2012). Dream ESP studies before Maimonides: An overview, 1880s-1950s.  Aquém e Além do Cerebro: Behind and Beyond the Brain (pp. 77-101). Porto, Portugal: Fundação Bial.

(2012). Psychic phenomena and the mind-body problem: Historical notes on a neglected conceptual tradition. In A. Moreira-Almeida and F.Santos (Eds.), Exploring frontiers of the mind-brain relationship (pp. 35-51). New York: Springer.

 (2013). Mediumship and psychical research. In C. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Vol. 2, pp. 127-144). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

(2014). Mediumship, psychical research, dissociation, and the powers of the subconscious mind. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 98–114.

(2014). Classic Text No. 98: ‘Visions of the Dying,’ by James H. Hyslop (1907). History of Psychiatry, 25, 237-252.

(2016). Psychic phenomena and the brain hemispheres: Some Nineteenth-Century publications. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 30, 559–585.

Many authors have published articles about other topics. A few examples are:

Evrard, R. (2017). Institut Métapsychique International. Psi Encyclopedia.

Evrard, R., & Rabeyron, T. (2012). Les psychanalystes et le transfert de pensée:Enjeux historiques et actuelles [Psychoanalysts and thought-transference: Historical and current issues]. L’Evolution Psychiatrique, 77, 589-598.

Gissurarson, L. R., & Haraldsson, E. (2001). History of parapsychology in Iceland. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 29-51.

Hacking, I. (1988). Telepathy: Origins of randomisation in experimental design. Isis, 79, 427-451.

Hunter, J. (2015). Anthropology and Psi Research. Psi Encyclopedia.

Machado, F.R. and Zangari, W., (2017). Psi Research in Brazil. Psi Encyclopedia

Matlock, J.G. (2017). Reincarnation Accounts Pre-1900. Psi Encyclopedia.

Nisbet, B. (1973). Table turning: A brief historical note mainly for the period 1848-1853. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 47, 96-106.

Parra, A. (1995). Parapsychology in Argentina: Brief history and future possibilities.
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 60, 214-228.

Rhine, J. B. (1977). History of experimental studies. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of
Parapsychology (pp. 25-47). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Rhine, L. E. (1971). The establishment of basic concepts and terminology in parapsychology. Journal of Parapsychology, 35, 34–56.

Rogo, D.S. (1988). Experimental parapsychology before 1900. Parapsychology Review, 19(4), 11-16.

Stokes, D. M. (2002). A history of the relationship between statistics and parapsychology. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 96, 15-73.

Other topics will be covered in later comments.

*Most of the information presented here appeared first in Alvarado, C.S. (2016-2017). The history of parapsychology: A brief bibliography. Mindfield, 8(3), 105-109;  9(1), 14-17. Mindfield is the bulletin of the Parapsychologicl Association.

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Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

In a recent article in History of Psychiatry that I wrote with Massimo Biondi we presented an excerpt of Cesare Lombroso’s writings about pathology in the medium Eusapia Palladino (Alvarado, C.S., & Biondi, M. Classic Text No. 110: Cesare Lombroso on Mediumship and Pathology. History of Psychiatry, 2017, 28, 225–241).

Massimo Biondi 3

Massimo Biondi

Here is the abstract: “During the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, students of pathology such as Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), the author of the excerpt presented here, became involved in observing, investigating and theorizing about the phenomena of Spiritualism, and mediumship in particular. The Classic Text presented here consists of an excerpt from Lombroso’s writings which focus on the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854–1918), who greatly influenced Lombroso’s beliefs. Lombroso illustrates neglected theoretical ideas combining the interaction of pathology and what seem to be real psychic phenomena that have not received much attention in historical studies.”

Cesare Lombroso circa 1890

Cesare Lombroso

Eusapia Palladino 16

During the Nineteenth-Century, as well as later, several physicians and others postulated that mediumship was a pathological condition and that mediumistic phenomena were explained solely by dissociation, automatisms, fraud, and other conventional means (click here). Lombroso represents a different group within those that pathologized mediumship. He believed in real mediumistic phenomena, in the sense of veridical communications and the occurrence of physical phenomena such as movement of objects and materializations. In other words, Lombroso admitted what we refer to as “the coexistence of both pathology and the supernormal.”

As Biondi and I discussed in our introduction to the excerpt such an idea was defended by others during the period in question. We also argued that Lombroso was no stranger to the process of pathologizing various non-mediumistic behaviors: “Lombroso proposed that there were born criminals and that they presented particular inherited physical and mental signs of degeneration and atavism, some of which included common facial bone structure, as well as abnormal tactile sensibility and arterial pressure. Furthermore, they showed abnormalities in their bones, especially the skull, and left-handedness, all of which he considered to be clear marks of atavism and degeneration . . . Women and geniuses did not escape Lombroso’s schema. In fact, he associated genius with pathology, pointing out that there had been frequent examples of geniuses going insane.”

Lombroso L'Uomo Delinquente

Lombroso Ferraro Donna

In 1891 Lombroso had sittings with Palladino, which convinced him that her telekinetic and materialization phenomena were genuine . . . Because of Lombroso’s international fame, his conversion received a great deal of publicity, thereby attracting the interest of others to this medium. Soon afterwards, she was studied by a group of scholars and scientists in Milan, the first important investigation of her phenomena involving various conditions and scientific instruments . . .  This was followed by several other investigations published in the 1890s . . . and the following decade . . .” (for examples click here and here).

Eusapia Palladino 9

Eusapia Palladino

Lomboso’s most important and best known publication on psychic phenomena was Ricerche sui Fenomeni Ipnotici e Spiritici (1909), a book that was translated into English as After Death – What? Spiritistic Phenomena and their Interpretation (1909). The translation, from which we took the excerpt about Palladino, is somewhat different from the original Italian edition. After Death – What? Has 14 chapters some of which are entitled: Hypnotic Phenomena, Experiments with Eusapia, The Power and Action of Mediums, Limitations of the Power of the Medium, Phantasms and Apparitions of the Dead, and Haunted Houses. In this book Lombroso stated that he felt some phenomena were the product of discarnate agency.

Lombroso Ricerche

 Lombroso After death WhatHowever, as we wrote, Lombroso also discussed Palladino’s phenomena assuming “an exteriorization of nervous force . . . caused by her unusual pathological state, similar to that of hysterics and the hypnotized. To some extent, but in a highly unorthodox way, the ideas of pathology presented in the excerpt were an extension of Lombroso’s ideas about criminals, the mentally ill and women.”

In the excerpt we present in this article Lombroso lists many phenomena he believed were hysterical symptoms presented by Palladino.  For example, he wrote: “She has the hyperaesthesic zone, especially in the ovary. She has the bole in the oesophagus that women with hysteria have, and general weakness, or paresis, in the limbs of the left side . . . She passes rapidly from joy to grief . . . has strange phobias (for example, the fear of staining her hands), is extremely impressionable and subject to dreams in spite of her mature age. Not rarely she has hallucinations, frequently sees her own ghost. As a child she believed two eyes glared at her from behind trees and hedges. When she is in anger, especially when her reputation as a medium is insulted, she is so violent and impulsive as actually to fly at her adversaries and beat them.”

In our conclusion we stated: “Our introduction, and Lombroso’s excerpt, is but a reminder of the complexity of ideas about pathology and psychic phenomena. While most of those who pathologized mediumship in the past reduced mediumistic phenomena to abnormal functioning as well as to conventional explanations of different sorts, Lombroso exhibited a variant position defending the existence of the supernormal nature of the phenomena (the actual occurrence of telekinesis and materializations) while accepting that the medium presented psychopathological symptoms. To make the topic even more complex, Lombroso eventually accepted the action of discarnate spirits as an explanation of mediumship. This reminds us that in the historical study of ideas about mediumship we need to consider such complex interactions between pathology, and human and spirit agency.”

“Lombroso’s speculations included ideas, based on his own and others’ concepts, about the nature of women . . . In summary, Lombroso’s discussion of Palladino contains much from his previous ideas. In his writings, the medium took the role of the criminal, the mentally ill and women in general. That is, the medium provided him with a further opportunity to defend some of his ideas, while at the same time he was extending the materialistic paradigm that inspired them. Lombroso’s work represents a particularly rich example of the blending of ideas from psychiatry, criminal anthropology and psychical research, and about the materialistic and the spiritual.” 

Photos of Palladino in After Death—What?

Eusapia Palladino in Trance from Lombroso 1909

Palladino in Trance

Eusapia Palladino older

PALLADINO 1892 MILANO

Table Levitation, 1892

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

An interesting article has been published in a psychiatry journal about topics related to this blog. Its title is: “Research on Experiences Related to the Possibility of Consciousness Beyond the Brain: A Bibliometric Analysis of Global Scientific Output,” by Jorge Cecílio Daher, Rodolfo Furlan Damiano, Alessandra Lamas Granero Lucchetti, Alexander Moreira-Almeida, and Giancarlo Lucchetti (Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2017, 205, 37-47).

Jorge Daher

Jorge Cecílio Daher

Abstract

“This study aims to conduct a search of publications investigating experiences commonly associated with the possibility of the existence of a consciousness independent of the brain held on the main scientific databases (Pubmed, Web of Knowledge, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and Scopus). Of the 9065 articles retrieved, 1954 were included (598 near-death experiences, 223 out-of-body experiences, 56 end-of-life experiences, 224 possession, 244 memories suggestive of past lives, 565 mediumship, 44 others). Over the decades, there was an evident increase in the number of articles on all the areas of the field, with the exception of studies on mediumship that showed a decline during the late 20th century and subsequent rise in the early 21st century. Regarding the types of articles found, with the exception of past-life memories and end-of-life experiences (mostly original studies), publications were predominantly review articles. The articles were published in journals with an impact factor similar to other areas of science.”

In the discussion the authors state:

“Each area was discussed separately to promote a better understanding of each area of the field and its respective gaps. The NDE area yielded the most specific articles and, in absolute terms, had the largest number of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. This area of the field, although recent, had greater scientific consolidation an more prospective studies, largely promoted by studies related to cardiology and intensive medicine and strong media interest . . .”

“The OBE area had articles in common with the NDE area, being a potential component of NDE, but was also studied as a spontaneous occurrence . . . Given the numerous studies in different areas, it can be concluded that this area of the field has a reasonable number of studies whose objective was not the assessment of the possibility of autonomy of consciousness in relation to the brain.”

“The possession area includes a large number of investigative articles of mental disorders and many eminently descriptive anthropological investigations. These studies, although investigating associated experiences, often do not investigate the issue of survival of the consciousness per se . . .”

“Regarding the mediumship area, we found a large number of case reports with mediums, analyzing a range of different manifestations such as the truthfulness of information or neurophysiological aspects . . . After the 2000s, investigations into mediums adopted more rigorous methodological criteria, with results that have yet to be fully accepted.”

“The reincarnation (past-life memories) area was associated with a substantial number of cross-sectional studies. This area is characterized predominantly by results obtained from reports by study participants and analysis of their truthfulness . . . There is also an extensive debate on whether these cases can be explained by fantasy, false memories, and hypnosis . . .”

“The ELEs [end-of-life experiences] area, although a relatively recent with fewer articles, showed greater growth in the past decade. This rise was likely attributed to the increase in studies on palliative care and spirituality . . . “

 

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Dr. David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich has just published a book about psychedelics and exceptional experiences: Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (London: Muswell Hill Press, 2017).

Luke Otherworlds

More information about David can be found in an interview that appeared in this blog.

David Luke

David Luke

Interview

Can you give us a brief summary of the book?

The book is a collection of papers researching the use of psychedelics and exceptional human experiences, with a particular focus on parapsychological experiences but including syanaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, sleep paralysis, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and, well, even a little bit of lycanthropy.

The chapters range from comprehensive literature and research reviews of specific topics, such as psi research with psychedelics, through essays exploring topics like possession and psychedelics, to more speculative and personal explorations, such as entity encounter experiences with the naturally occurring endogenous dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Given the nascent nature of this field of enquiry this book takes a multidisciplinary approach to build a coherent picture and spans several disciplines, sourcing material from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, paranthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies and cultural history. A good amount of my own data can also be found within.

What is your background in parapsychology, and with the topic of the book specifically?

My career has been strongly rooted in parapsychology but has broadened over the years into a multidisciplinary exploration of exceptional human experiences and altered states of consciousness, with a particular focus on psychedelics, although I have also researched dreams, meditation, mediumistic states, darkness, yoga, shamanic practices, floatation tanks and other altered states.

I did my PhD on luck and psi among other parapsychology researchers at the University of Northampton when it was probably the leading academic institution in the world for such research, and have continued doing parapsychology research for the last 17 years. My main experimental subject throughout has been precognition, and I have conducted numerous studies testing this under different controlled conditions, but I have also conducted numerous surveys, case studies, dabbled in anthropology and ethnography and even ran a clinical drug trial with LSD partially exploring experimental psi. My work has also been greatly informed by field research and travels around the world exploring mediumship, shamanism and mystical practices from India to Ecuador.

What motivated you to write this book?

My main motivation to write this book was to bring together the various strands of my research into exceptional experiences with psychedelics, given that there is currently no coherent thrust within the academy, either from within parapsychology or elsewhere, to explore this rich subject. There are currently something like 32 million people in the US alone that have used psychedelics, and probably half of those or more have had at least one exceptional experience under the influence, so the topic of this book covers a genuine lacuna in the academic literature that deserves serious attention.

Why do you think your book is important and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

Given the lack of coordinated research programmes on this broad subject this book is probably the first of its kind to specifically explore psychedelically-induced exceptional experiences, including those of a parapsychological nature. I optimistically hope that having a text dedicated to this subject matter will give other researchers a useful resource and a clear platform from which to systematically explore these colourful experiences. Ultimately, I hope that this book will provide the starting point to examine the exotic and yet relatively common experiences that occur with these substances now that the revival of serious psychedelic research has finally begun after a 50-year hiatus. I also think that even non-researchers, such as the interested psychonaut or the parapsychology enthusiast will find much of interest in this book too.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Lance Storm and Patrizio E. Tressoldi have just published a meta-analysis of experimental ESP studies that have examined the sheep-goat effect. The article’s title is “Gathering in More Sheep and Goats: A Meta-Analysis of Forced-Choice Sheep-Goat ESP Studies, 1994–2015” (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2017, 81, 79-107).

Lance Storm 2

Lance Storm

Patrizio Tressoldi 5

Patrizio Tressoldi

Here is the abstract:

The terms ‘sheep’ and ‘goat’ were introduced by Gertrude Schmeidler — sheep are those who accept the possibility of ESP occurring under given experimental conditions, while goats are those participants who reject the possibility. In statistical tests of psychic ability, Schmeidler found that sheep tended to score above chance, while goats (rather than scoring at chance) tended to score below chance. This scoring differential is known as the sheep-goat effect (SGE). This study is a meta-analysis of the SGE in forced-choice literature, being a continuation from where Lawrence (1993) left off. The period of analysis was 1994 to 2015. The authors retrieved 49 studies reported by 43 investigators. The mean ES for ESP = .045, mean z = 0.75, Stouffer Z = 5.23 (p = 8.47 × 10-8), and the mean trial-based SGE = 0.034, mean z = 0.24, Stouffer Z = 1.67 (p = .047). Thus, our SGE is on par with Lawrence’s reported “r = 0.029”. There was no relationship between study quality and ESP effect or SGE, but there was a significant incline in the SGE over a period of 22 years. The SGE did not vary significantly with belief measure used. Bayesian analysis of the same dataset yielded results supporting the ‘frequentist’ finding that the null hypothesis should be rejected. These and other findings are generally comparable to Lawrence’s, altogether indicating a “belief-moderated communications anomaly” in the forced-choice ESP domain that has been effectively uninterrupted and consistent for almost 70 years.

 

 

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

If you are interested in learning about studies of ESP during the Nineteenth-Century you will find much relevant information in Frank Podmore’s Apparitions and Thought-Transference (London: Walter Scott, 1894, available here and here). I have recently summarized the book here: Podmore’s ‘Apparitions and Thought-Transference’ (In R. McLuhan, ed., Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2017).

Podmore Apparitions and Thought-Transference 2

Frank Podmore

Frank Podmore

I start the article quoting Podmore’s goals for the book: “The thesis which these pages are designed to illustrate and support is briefly: that communication is possible between mind and mind otherwise than through the known channels of the senses. Proof of the existence of such communication, provisionally called Thought Transference or Telepathy (from tele = at a distance, and pathos = feeling), will be found in a considerable mass of experiments conducted during the last twelve years by various observers in different European countries and in America.”

Telepathy experiments are discussed under these headings: “transference of simple sensations in the normal state; simple sensations with hypnotized participants; induction of movements and other effects such as anesthesia; and other effects at a distance, such as images and induction of trance.” This includes studies published by many researchers, such as Max Dessoir, Edmund Gurney, Pierre Janet, Oliver Lodge, Charles Richet, and Albert von Schrenck-Notzing.

Max Dessoir

Max Dessoir

Oliver Lodge younger

Oliver J. Lodge

Albert von Schrenck Notzing

Albert von Schrenck Notzing

But in addition to experiments, Podmore discussed spontaneous incidents similar to those presented in the classic work Phantasms of the Living (1886, click here), by Edmund Gurney, Frederic W.H. Myers, and Frank Podmore. There are also chapters about coincidental dreams, collective hallucinations and induced telepathic hallucinations.

Phantasms of the Living vol 2

Here is a case cited by Podmore from Phantasms of the Living:

“In the spring and summer of 1886 I often visited a poor woman called Evans, who lived in our parish… She was very ill with a painful disease, and it was, as she said, a great pleasure when I went to see her; and I frequently sat with her and read to her. Towards the middle of October she was evidently growing weaker, but there seemed no immediate danger. I had not called on her for several days, and one evening I was standing in the dining-room after dinner with the rest of the family, when I saw the figure of a woman dressed like Mrs. Evans, in large apron and muslin cap, pass across the room from one door to the other, where she disappeared. I said, ‘Who is that?’ My mother said, ‘What do you mean?’ and I said, ‘That woman who has just come in and walked over to the other door.’ They all laughed at me, and said I was dreaming, but I felt sure it was Mrs. Evans, and next morning we heard she was dead.”

I wrote: “The phenomena of telepathy, Podmore states, have no explanation. He says earlier that this lack of knowledge about the telepathic process, ‘is not a defect which in the present state of experimental psychology can be held seriously to weaken the evidence…’ Podmore concludes that we only know about the mental aspects, not about physical forces behind the process:”

Podmore continued: “To begin with, there is no sense-organ for our presumed new mode of sensation; nor at the present stage of physiological knowledge is there likelihood that we can annex any as yet unappropriated organ to register telepathic stimuli… In lacking an elaborate machinery specially adapted for receiving its messages and concentrating them on the peripheral end of the nerves, telepathy would thus seem to be on a par with radiant energy affecting the general surface of the body. But the sensations of heat and cold are without quality or difference, other than difference of degree; whereas telepathic messages, as we have seen, purport often to be as detailed and precise as those conveyed by the same radiant energy falling on the organs of vision.”

Podmore also discussed clairvoyance and the mediumship of Leonora E. Piper. The medium, he wrote, “stated facts which were not within the conscious knowledge of any person present, and which could not conceivably have been discovered by any process of private inquiry.”

Leonora Piper 2

Leonora E. Piper

The article ends with a summary of how the book was received. For example, and representing a negative review: “The British science fiction writer HG Wells . . . [complained]  that the evidence it offered fell far below the standards of mainstream science, a view he held about psychical research works in general.”

H.G. Wells 2

H.G. Wells

 

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Blanco, S., Sambin, M., & Palmieri, A. (2017). Meaning making after a near-death experience: The relevance of intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics. Death Studies, 27, 1-12.

This study aims to investigate the processes used by individuals to integrate a near-death experience (NDE) and to discuss the use of a meaning-making component to help people who have had such experiences. A psychotherapist interviewed six individuals who reported having had a NDE. Transcripts of the interviews were coded using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. The authors identified intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics implicated in the individuals’ meaning-making processes, and the problems encountered during their integration of the experience. Meaning-based approaches are a feasible theoretical framework for shedding light on the NDE and providing support for people who have lived through them.

Chandradasa, M., Wijesinghe, C., Kuruppuarachchi, K. A. L. A., & Perera, M. (2017). Near-death experiences in a multi-religious hospital population in Sri Lanka. Journal of Religion and Health, 1-17.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are a wide range of experiences that occur in association with impending death. There are no published studies on NDEs in general hospital populations, and studies have been mainly conducted on critically ill patients. We assessed the prevalence of NDEs and its associations in a multi-religious population in a general hospital in Sri Lanka. A randomised sample of patients admitted to the Colombo North Teaching Hospital was assessed using the Greyson NDE scale and clinical assessment. Out of total 826 participants, NDEs were described by 3%. Compared to the NDE-negative participants, the NDE-positive group had a significantly higher mean for age and a ratio of men. Women reported deeper NDEs. Patients of theistic religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) reported significantly more NDEs compared to patients from the non-theistic religious group (Buddhism). NDE-positive patient group had significantly higher reporting of a feeling ‘that they are about to die’, the presence of loss of consciousness and a higher percentage of internal medical patients. This is the first time that NDEs are assessed in a general hospital population and NDEs being reported from Sri Lanka. We also note for the first time that persons with theistic religious beliefs reported more NDEs than those with non-theistic religious beliefs. Medical professionals need to be aware of these phenomena to be able to give an empathic hearing to patients who have NDE.

Kinsella, M. (2017). Near-death experiences and networked spirituality: The emergence of an afterlife movement. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 85, 168–198.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) were first introduced to the public in 1975. Shortly thereafter, an entire field of near-death studies emerged that began outlining an NDE-based spirituality. This spirituality draws heavily upon an aspect of NDEs known as the “life review,” which involves the reliving or witnessing of significant autobiographical events, either from one’s own perspective or that of others. Near-death studies have contributed to the rise of what I have termed an “afterlife movement”: a loosely organized collective utilizing NDE narratives and practices modeled after the life review to transform behaviors and attitudes toward death, dying, and end-of-life care. By presenting findings from the first ethnography ever to be conducted on the sharing and study of NDE reports in group settings, this article describes this growing movement at the local level.

Lake, J. (2017). The evolution of a predisposition for the near-death experience: implications for non-local consciousness. Journal of Nonlocality, 5.

Near-death experiences (NDE) raise important questions about the nature of human consciousness, the relationship between brain function and consciousness, the perceptual information that is available to consciousness in moments before death, the role of physical and biological mechanisms associated with altered states of consciousness, and relationships between consciousness, space-time and phenomenal reality. Challenges posed by efforts to define the NDE, claims of anomalous experiences associated with NDEs, the problem of “timing” of NDEs with respect to brain function, recent findings from neuroscience are reviewed, along with emerging evidence for quantum models of consciousness that may help elucidate the nature of NDEs.

Lawrence, M. (2017). Near-death and other transpersonal experiences occurring during catastrophic events. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 34, 486-492.

The purpose of this article is to describe examples of near-death and other transpersonal experiences occurring during catastrophic events like floods, wars, bombings, and death camps. To date, researchers have limited their investigations of these transpersonal events to those occurring to seriously ill patients in hospitals, those dying from terminal illnesses, or to individuals experiencing a period of grief after the death of a loved one. Missing is awareness by first responders and emergency healthcare professionals about these transpersonal experiences and what to say to the individuals who have them. Some responders experience not only deaths of the victims they assist, but also deaths of their colleagues. Information about these transpersonal experiences can also be of comfort to them. The examples in this article include a near-death experience during the Vietnam War, an out-of-body experience after a bomb explosion during the Iraq War, a near-death visit to a woman imprisoned at Auschwitz, and two after-death communications, one from a person killed in Auschwitz and another from a soldier during World War I. Also included are interviews with two New York City policemen who were September 11, 2001 responders. It is hoped the information will provide knowledge of these experiences to those who care for those near death, or dying, or grieving because of catastrophic events, and encourage researchers to further investigate these experiences during disasters.

Martial, C., Charland-Verville, V., Cassol, H., Didone, V., Van der Linden, M., & Laureys, S. (2017). Intensity and memory characteristics of near-death experiences. Consciousness and Cognition, S1053-8100(16)30380-4. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.06.018.

Memories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) seem to be very detailed and stable over time. At present, there is still no satisfactory explanation for the NDEs’ rich phenomenology. Here we compared phenomenological characteristics of NDE memories with the reported experience’s intensity. We included 152 individuals with a self-reported “classical” NDE (i.e. occurring in life-threatening conditions). All participants completed a mailed questionnaire that included a measure of phenomenological characteristics of memories (the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire; MCQ) and a measure of NDE’s intensity (the Greyson NDE scale). Greyson NDE scale total score was positively correlated with MCQ total score, suggesting that participants who described more intense NDEs also reported more phenomenological memory characteristics of NDE. Using MCQ items, our study also showed that NDE’s intensity is associated in particular with sensory details, personal importance and reactivation frequency variables.

Martial C, Cassol H, Antonopoulos G, Charlier T, Heros J, Donneau A-F, Charland-Verville V and Laureys S (2017) Temporality of features in near-death experience narratives. Frontiers of Human Neuroscences, 11:311. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00311

Background: After an occurrence of a Near-Death Experience (NDE), Near-Death Experiencers (NDErs) usually report extremely rich and detailed narratives. Phenomenologically, a NDE can be described as a set of distinguishable features. Some authors have proposed regular patterns of NDEs, however, the actual temporality sequence of NDE core features remains a little explored area. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features (globally and according to the position of features in narratives) as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of features. Methods: We collected 154 French freely expressed written NDE narratives (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score ≥ 7/32). A text analysis was conducted on all narratives in order to infer temporal ordering and frequency distribution of NDE features. Results: Our analyses highlighted the following most frequently reported sequence of consecutive NDE features: Out-of-Body Experience, Experiencing a tunnel, Seeing a bright light, Feeling of peace. Yet, this sequence was encountered in a very limited number of NDErs. Conclusion: These findings may suggest that NDEs temporality sequences can vary across NDErs. Exploring associations and relationships among features encountered during NDEs may complete the rigorous definition and scientific comprehension of the phenomenon.

Martial, C., Charland-Verville, V., Dehon, H., & Laureys, S. (2017). False memory susceptibility in coma survivors with and without a near-death experience. Psychological Research, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0855-9

It has been postulated that memories of near-death experiences (NDEs) could be (at least in part) reconstructions based on experiencers’ (NDErs) previous knowledge and could be built as a result of the individual’s attempt to interpret the confusing experience. From the point of view of the experiencer, NDE memories are perceived as being unrivalled memories due to its associated rich phenomenology. However, the scientific literature devoted to the cognitive functioning of NDErs in general, and their memory performance in particular, is rather limited. This study examined NDErs’ susceptibility to false memories using the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm. We included 20 NDErs who reported having had their experience in the context of a life-threatening event (Greyson NDE scale total score ≥7/32) and 20 volunteers (matched for age, gender, education level, and time since brain insult) who reported a life-threatening event but without a NDE. Both groups were presented with DRM lists for a recall task during which they were asked to assign “Remember/Know/Guess” judgements to any recalled response. In addition, they were later asked to complete a post-recall test designed to obtain estimates of activation and monitoring of critical lures. Results demonstrated that NDErs and volunteers were equally likely to produce false memories, but that NDErs recalled them more frequently associated with compelling illusory recollection. Of particular interest, analyses of activation and monitoring estimates suggest that NDErs and volunteers groups were equally likely to think of critical lures, but source monitoring was less successful in NDErs compared to volunteers.

Moore, L., & Greyson, B. (2017). Characteristics of memories for near-death experiences. Consciousness and Cognition, 51, 116–124.

Near-death experiences are vivid, life-changing experiences occurring to people who come close to death. Because some of their features, such as enhanced cognition despite compromised brain function, challenge our understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the question arises whether near-death experiences are imagined rather than real events. We administered the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire to 122 survivors of a close brush with death who reported near-death experiences. Participants completed Memory Characteristics Questionnaires for three different memories: that of their near-death experience, that of a real event around the same time, and that of an event they had imagined around the same time. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire score was higher for the memory of the near-death experience than for that of the real event, which in turn was higher than that of the imagined event. These data suggest that memories of near-death experiences are recalled as ‘‘realer” than real events or imagined events.

Royse, D., & Badger, K. (2017). Near-death experiences, posttraumatic growth, and life satisfaction among burn survivors. Social Work in Health Care, 56, 155-168.

Survivors of large burns may face positive and negative psychological after-effects from close-to-death injuries. This study is the first to examine their near-death experiences (NDEs) and posttraumatic growth (PTG) and life satisfaction afterwards. With an available sample of 92 burn survivors, half met the criteria for an NDE using an objective scale. Those who indicated religion was a source of strength and comfort had high scores on life satisfaction, PTG, and the NDE Scale. Individuals with larger burns reported greater PTG than those with smaller total body surface area burned (TBSA). There were no significant differences on life satisfaction, PTG, or NDEs when examined by gender or years since the burn injury. Elements of the NDE most frequently reported were: An altered sense of time, a sense of being out of the physical body, a feeling of peace, vivid sensations, and sense of being in an “other worldly” environment. Social workers and other health providers need to be comfortable helping burn survivors discuss any NDEs and process these through survivors’ spirituality and religious belief systems as they recover.

Tassell-Matamua, N., & Lindsay, N., Bennett, S., Valentine, H., & Pahina, J. (2017). Does learning about near-death experiences promote psycho-spiritual benefits in those who have not had a near-death experience? Journal of Spirituality and mental Health, 19, 95-115.

Research has revealed a consistent pattern of positive aftereffects in those who report a near-death experience [NDE]. Beneficial outcomes are also possible for those who have not had a NDE, but instead learn about them, although much of this research has been conducted on therapeutic populations. Using a sample of 143 participants randomly assigned to either an intervention or non-intervention group, we investigated whether learning about NDEs generated the same psycho-spiritual benefits having a NDE does. Results revealed significant changes in appreciation for life, spirituality, and appreciation for death, in the intervention group after learning about NDEs.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

In previous blogs i have discussed the Psi Encyclopedia, an online reference work sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research (Click here and here).  The encyclopedia, which is work in progress, keeps growing.

I am glad to see that one of the areas that is growing is experimental parapsychology. Here are some recent entries (posted in 2017) about this area:

DMILS in Distance Healing Research (by Marilyn Schlitz)

Marilyn Schlitz

Dr. Marilyn Schlitz

Experimental Parapsychology in Europe (Michael Duggan)

Experimenter Effects (John Palmer)

John Palmer 3

Dr. John Palmer

Ganzfeld (Adrian Parker)

Meta-Analysis in Parapsychology (Lance Storm)

Remote Viewing (Stephan Schwartz)

Stephan Schwartz

Stephan Schwartz

Experimental Parapsychology in the UK (Michael Duggan)

In future posts i will present information about other topics covered by this reference work.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Alberti, G. (1974). Psychopathology and parapsychology: Some possible contacts. In A. Angoff & B. Shapin (Eds.), Parapsychology and the Sciences (pp. 225-233). New York: Parapsychology Foundation.

Belz, M. (2009). Aussergewöhnliche Erfahrungen [Exceptional Experiences]. Göttingen: Hogrefe. (Summary in German)

Belz Außergewöhnliche Erfahrungen

Belz, M., & Fach, W. (2015). Exceptional experiences (ExE) in clinical psychology. In E. Cardeña, J. Palmer, & D. Marcusson-Clavertz (Eds.), Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century (pp. 364-379). Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland.

Carpenter, J. C. (1986). Some thoughts on the relation between clinical psychology and parapsychology. In K.R. Rao (Ed.), Case Studies in Parapsychology (pp. 63-73). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Coly, L., & McMahon, J.D.S. (Eds.) (1993). Psi and Clinical Practice. New York: Parapsychology Foundation.

Devereux, G. (Ed.). (1953). Psychoanalysis and the Occult. New York: International University Press.

Devereux Psychoanalysis and the Occult

Ehrenwald, J. (1955). New Dimensions of Deep Analysis: A Study of Telepathy in Interpersonal Relationships. New York: Grune and Stratton.

Ehrenwald, J. (1978). The ESP Experience: A Psychiatric Validation. New York: Basic Books.

Eisenbud, J. (1970). Psi and Psychoanalysis: Studies in the Psychoanalysis of Psi-Conditioned Behavior. New York: Grune and Stratton.

Eisenbud, J. (1984). Parapsychology and the Unconscious. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Evrard, R. (2013). Psychopathologie et expériences exceptionnelles: Une revue de la littérature [Psychopathology and exceptional experiences: A review of the literature]. L’évolution psychiatrique, 78, 155–176. (Abstract)

Evrard, R. (2014). Folie et Paranormal: Vers une Clinique des Expériences Exceptionnelles [Madness and the Paranormal: Towards a Clinic of Exceptional Experiences]. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. (Abstract in French)

Evrard Folie et Paranormal

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 of Psychology, 4

Ferguson, M.W. (1987). Problems in diagnosis concerning psychopathology and psychic phenomena. ASPR Newsletter, 13(3), 23-25.

Gomez Montanelli, D., & Parra, A. (2005). ¿Las experiencias paranormales son psicológicamente perturbadoras? Una encuesta comparando estudiantes universitarios y aficionados a temas paranormales [Are paranormal experiences psychologically disturbing? A survey comparing university students to those interested in paranormal topics]. Revista Interamericana de Psicología/Interamerican Journal of Psychology, 39, 285-294.

Greyson, B. (2007). Near-death experiences: Clinical implications. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, 34(supplement 1), 49-57.

Hastings, A. (1983). A counseling approach to parapsychological experience. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 15, 143-167.

Irwin, H. J. (1995). Clinical approaches to psi. EHE News, 2, 22-26.

Kennedy, J.E., & Kanthamani, H. (1995). An exploratory study of the effects of paranormal and spiritual experiences on peoples’ lives and well-being. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 89, 249-265.

Kramer, W., Bauer, E., & Hövelmann, G. (2012). Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology : An Introductory Reader. Bunnik: Stichting HJBF.

Lazar, S.G. (2011). Knowing, influencing, and healing: Paranormal phenomena and implications for psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry: A Topical Journal for Mental Health Professionals, 21, 113-131. (Abstract)

Mintz, E. E., with Schmeidler, G.R. (1983). The Psychic Thread: Paranormal and Transpersonal Aspects of Psychotherapy. New York: Human Sciences Press.

Mintz The Psychic thread

Moreira-Almeida, A., Lotufo Neto, F., & Greyson, B. (2007). Dissociative and psychotic experiences in Brazilian Spiritist mediums. Psychotherapy and  Psychosomatics, 76, 57-58.

Morris, F. (1970). Emotional reactions to psychic experiences. Psychic, November-December, 26-30.

Parra, A. (Ed.). (2006). Psicología de las Experiencias Paranormales. Buenos Aires: Akadia. (Summary in Spanish)

Pasricha, S.K. (2011). Relevance of para-psychology in psychiatric practice. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 53, 4-8.

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

Rogo, D.S. (1986). ESP and schizophrenia: An analysis from two perspectives. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 51, 329-342.

Rosenbaum, R. (2011). Exploring the other dark continent: Parallels between psi phenomena and the psychotherapeutic process. Psychoanalytic Review, 98, 57–90.

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

Scimeca, G., Bruno, A., Pandolfo, G, La Ciura, G, Zoccali, R.A., Muscatello, M.R. (2015). Extrasensory perception experiences and childhood trauma: A Rorschach investigation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 203, 856-63. (Abstract)

Simmonds-Moore, C. (Ed.). (2012). Exceptional Experience and Health: Essays on Mind, Body and Human Potential. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. (Summary)

Simmonnds Moore Exceptional Experiences and Health

Ullman, M. (1977). Psychopathology and psi phenomena. In B.B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of Parapsychology (pp. 557-574). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

West, D. J. (1960). Visionary and hallucinatory experiences: A comparative appraisal. International Journal of Parapsychology, 2, 89-100.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Another interesting report about Palladino’s phenomena was authored by a group of Italian scientists: Aggazzotti, A., Foà, C., Foà, P., & Herlitzka, A. (1907). The experiments of Prof. P. Foà, of the University of Turin, and three doctors, assistants of Professor Mosso, with Eusapia Paladino. Annals of Psychical Science, 5, 361–392.

Aggazzotti Palladino Annals 1907

In the first  page of the report it was stated that these were séances  “held in Turin by Doctors Herlitzka, Charles Foà and Aggazzotti, the assistants of Prof. Mosso, the eminent physiologist, whose works on fatigue, puberty, etc., now looked upon as classics, are universally known. Another Professor of the same University, Dr. Pio Foà, Professor of Pathological Anatomy, Director of the Anatomical Museum, General Secretary of the Academy of Sciences in Turin, was present at the second and most remarkable seance.”

In a section of the article before the description of the first séance the authors describe an instrument they used as follows:

“In order to register objectively the movements that might be made by the medium, we had prepared a cylinder which revolved around a vertical axis, making a complete circuit in six hours. Round the cylinder is rolled a sheet of glazed paper, covered with a layer of lamp-black. This surface is touched by a needle, which, as the cylinder moves, carries away the lamp-black, and makes a horizontal white line on the paper.”

“If the point is moved from above downwards, it makes a little vertical line on the paper. The writing-lever could be put in motion by a small electro-magnet (Desprez signal) connected.with an accumulator and a telegraphic key. The revolving cylinder with the Desprez signal is under a glass bell placed on a solid wooden stand. The bell, which at its lower extremity has a thick rim, was fixed to the wooden stand by means of a string which passed through three eyelet holes formed of little ribbons attached to the wooden stand by seals; the string passed round the bell just above the thick rim.”

“Through two holes bored in the wood conducting wires leading from the signal issued from the bell, passing immediately into tubes of glass, so as to prevent contact, either intentional or accidental, occurring between them, and consequently the closing of the electric circuit. One of the wires terminated at the accumulator, and the other ended at the telegraphic key, from which a third wire, also insulated by a glass tube, led to the other pole of the accumulator. All the parts of the wires which could not be insulated by means of glass (the connecting wires of the accumulator) were surrounded by an insulating cord covered with ribbon, sealed with our seal. The key itself was closed in a card-board box, nailed to the stand, and secured by means of two ribbons crossed and sealed. Two little holes in the box admitted the glass tubes containing the conducting wires. The accumulator and the key were fixed on the same stand on which was the revolving cylinder. By this arrangement, a mark could only be made on the cylinder when the key had been depressed. Consequently, if we had found a mark on the cylinder, that would have proved conclusively that the key had been depressed, and if the seals were found intact, there would be absolute proof that no trick had been perpetrated.”

Here is the report of their first séance.

“The first seance took place on the evening of 20th February [1907], at the house of Count Verdun. We thank the Count and Countess, not only for their warm hospitality, but also for allowing us to examine the room minutely, without taking ofence at our, certainly ill-concealed, mistrust.”

“The seance took place in a dining-room, which occupied a corner of the house on the ground floor. One of the outer walls has two windows; the adjacent wall has one only. In front of the two windows is a big sideboard, beside which is a door which communicates with the vestibule; the fourth wall has two doors, the first leads to a little room and remained closed during the seance; the second leads to a small office; between the two doors is a chimney-piece surmounted by a mirror. All the windows were closed. One of them, the angle of which was intended to serve as the medium’s cabinet, was closed with shutters without any openings, which opened from the inside only and were barred with two strong iron bars which crossed each other and were fastened into a ring in the wall. The shutters were attached to each other by a band of gummed paper. The angle of the window, where the cabinet was arranged, was enlarged by a wooden canopy enclosed in front by two black woollen curtains. In the cabinet were two small tables, on one of which had been placed our apparatus and some pieces of cardboard on which were gummed the sheets of smoked paper. On the other table various toys were placed; under the table was a child’s piano.”

“There were present at the seance, besides the owners of the house and the undersigned, Dr. Imoda, Chevalier Rostain and a lady.”

“At the beginning of the seance the two of us who took the control were Dr. C. Foà and Dr. Herlitzka. The seance began in full light, and whilst the medium was still quite conscious, movements at first slight, then stronger, began in the seance-table, which raised three of its feet. In full light the slight outward movements of the curtain on the left were observed. The medium asked by means of the table (five raps) that the light might be lessened; this was done rather slowly, and the strong red light, reflected by the mirror on the mantelpiece, fell directly on to the medium’s eyes, which occasioned in her a fit of hysteria; she wept and cried out as if demented, hitting her face repeatedly with her fists. This was a genuine fit of hysteria, and every doctor at all familiar with these attacks could not fail to recognise it as such. The tears of Eusapia fell on the hands of those seated near her . . .”

“When the attack was over, Eusapia was no longer in her normal state of consciousness, and no longer spoke in the first person; she spoke as if she were John King, remaining in her well-known state of delirium. The medium advised the controllers to fix their attention on her head and one of them, Dr. C. Foà, saw a dark ill-defined profile like a head in a Capuchin-hood, which disappeared and afterwards appeared again at his request. M. Foà  liberated his hand from that of his neighbour to seize the head, but the latter withdrew. The others present did not see the apparition.”

“In the meanwhile, the table on which the toys had been placed, and which we will call No. I, made a noise in the interior of the cabinet, from which it at last came out completely. Then there began to arrive on the séance table many objects from table No. I: a sheet of paper, a little wooden sheep and a mandoline; the latter was accompanied by the curtain which covered the handle; the curtain, being pushed back by M. Foà, came back and covered the handle of the mandoline, and a hand, which was not that of the medium or of the sitters, pulled the hair of the person who had pushed back the curtain. At the same time we heard a scratching on the strings of the mandoline.”

“The little piano, in its turn, issued from under the table, we heard the sound of the keys being depressed of themselves and causing the strings to vibrate. We lit up, and observed that the objects which had arrived were really on the table; nothing abnormal was noticeable in the cabinet behind the curtain.”

“Dr. Foà now gave up his control to M. Rostain, whilst, in full light, table No. I made strong movements which synchronised with the movements of the medium’s hand.”

THE WORK OF THE UNKNOWN FORCE UPON THE APPARATUS
INVENTED BY THE EXPERIMENTERS

“The light was lowered. A peacock’s feather which was on the toy table rose up in the air from the table and stroked several of the sitters. In the meantime—addressing ourselves always to John King, in order to humour the delirium of the medium—we began to express the desire that our apparatus might be set in motion. Then we heard the table, on which the apparatus was standing, moving towards us behind the curtain, and we perceived that some continuous operation was going on round the card-board box; immediately afterwards some fragments of sealing-wax were thrown outside the curtain on to the séance table. After a pause, one of us having taken out his pocket handkerchief and replaced it in his pocket, someone remarked jokingly that he must take care that his handkerchief was not carried off; at once he felt and saw the handkerchief taken out of his pocket, without being able to observe whether it was done by a hand or not. The handkerchief was unfolded and carried to the nose of the owner: then it disappeared behind the curtain and was afterwards thrown upon the seance table.”

“After this interlude, the operations round our apparatus were begun again and a ribbon was thrown on to the table with the wax seal. We lit up immediately, and one of us hastened into the cabinet holding in his hand a little lighted electric pocket lamp, but he observed nothing indicative of trickery. He observed that the card-board box containing the key was unfastened, that a glass tube was broken, and that one of the ribbons which fastened the box was missing. There was no mark on the cylinder; the bell was still sealed. We assured ourselves by opening the box that the key acted all right, then we closed it again, sealed it afresh and lowered the light.”

Eusapia Palladino 5

Eusapia Palladino

“The work began again round the apparatus; we heard the seals being torn off, and the lid of the card-board box being removed. We asked that the instrument might be carried through the air on to the seance-table, and the lid at once approached us, accompanied by something white, which everyone saw but no one could identify.”

Dr. Herlitzka asked permission to seize the lid; the medium consented, through the table, which rapped three times, and Dr. Herlitzka stretched out his hand and touched the lid, but the curtain advanced and it was rapidly removed.”

“At the same time Dr. Herlitzka felt himself pulled by the ear, and received a blow on his shoulder which was heard by all the sitters. The lid again appeared in the air, was thrown on the table and was taken into the hands of some of us.”

“We then asked that the key of the apparatus might be pressed down. Eusapia replied, pronouncing the words very indistinctly:”

“The key is uncovered and as I can do this, I can also press the key down.”

“When she said the word this Dr. Herlitzka felt a finger press strongly on his shoulder. Eusapia’s hands were at this moment firmly held by her two neighbours.”

“A few minutes later several raps on the key were heard at intervals of a minute or so from one another. At the same time, the seance-table rose up and one of the controllers felt his arm seized by an unknown hand. Dr. Herlitzka also felt himself touched on the shoulder, and felt the curtain pressed against his nose; he had the impression that a hard spherical body was behind it.”

“We asked that the lid of the box should be replaced and at once a white luminosity which several of us saw, but which no one could identify as a hand, felt about on the table for the lid. It could not find it and, as if annoyed, it rapped forcibly two raps on the table and disappeared. Supposing that the lid was too far outside the “ sphere of activity,” one of us placed it nearer to the medium; immediately the curtain advanced on to the table, enveloped it and carried it away. It is needless to repeat that the medium continued under strict control. Dr. Herlitzka saw the usual white form come out from the curtain and make the action of throwing something; and at once a piece of ribbon bearing a wax seal was thrown forcibly on the hand of Dr. Imoda, who was at some distance, opposite the medium.”

“The table with the toys was then pushed completely outside the cabinet.”

“The medium, sighing and groaning, managed to ask, uttering the words indistinctly, whether she might make an apport of the glass bell. We did not consent, fearing that the marks registered on the smoked paper would be smudged, and we said that the bell was sealed; the medium laughed ironically, and the table rapped twice as a sign of negation.”

“Then seven raps informed us that the medium wished to terminate the seance. Before we lit up, Eusapia was carried by the experimenters into an adjoining dark room, where she gradually came to herself.”

“Then we examined the field of operation of the unknown force, and we found that the cardboard lid was lying imperfectly on the box, and that the ribbon which surrounded the bell had been removed. On the smoked paper of the cylinder, we found the marks made by the pressure on the electric key. The diagram was fixed, signed by the sitters, and preserved.”

“The window was closed and barred, there was no indication of trickery in the little room, which had been under constant supervision.”

The report of this séance was signed by Drs. A. Herlitzka, C. Foà, and  A. Aggazzotti.

As in other séance reports, there were several mentions of movement of objects, mainly the table, but also of other objects such as a sheet of paper, a mandoline, the cabinet curtain, and a handkerchief. In addition some musical instruments were played, some sitters felt things (pull of an ear, blow on shoulder), there were raps, and a luminous form and the profile of a head were seen. Also interesting was the fit the medium had, and possesson by her control John King.