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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.

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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.

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

As I write these lines the Parapsychological Association is holding its annual convention in Athens, Greece. I was not able to attend, but I am glad that I participated as part of the Program Committee. Here I would like to present the titles of the papers, as presented in the convention’s abstracts of papers. The photos i have posted were recently taken  at the convention.

 

PA 2017 Logo

PA 2017 Group Photo

Conference Attendees

 

Papers Presented at the Convention

The “Vienna Circle” and Parapsychology

by Peter Mulacz

PA 2017 Peter Mulacz Photo by Renaud Evrard

Peter Mulacz (photo by Renaud Evrard)

Freud as a Psychical Researcher: The Impossible Freudian Legacy

by Evrard Renaud, Claudie Massicotte & Thomas Rabeyron

The Creation and Validation of the Belief in the Supernatural Scale

by Malcolm B. Schofield, Ian S. Baker, Paul Staples & David Sheffield

Anomalistic Psychology, Parapsychology, Psychology of Magic, and Psychology of Religion: An Integration Proposal to Deal with the Complexity of the Paranormal

by Leonardo Martins

Training Anomalous Cognition in a Motor Task with Subliminal Auditory Feedback

by John Palmer

Do Changes of Thermodynamic Entropy at a Remote Site Enhance the Quality of Anomalous Cognition?

by Edwin C. May, Lory Hawley & Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

PA 2017 Ed May Photo by Renaud Evrard

Ed May (photo by Renaud Evrard)

Exploring the Effect of a Contingent Cash Based Reward on the Precall of Arousing Images

by David Vernon

Exceptional Experiences under Placebo God Helmet Conditions

by Christine Simmonds-Moore, Donadrian Rice & Chase O’Gwin

A Test of Morphic Resonance using Urdu Words

by Kate Archer & Rachel Cooper

Scientific Evidence of Telekinetic Effects on a Spinning Mobile: A Scientific Attempt to Detect and Study Telekinetic Effects even in a Non-Confined Environment

by Eric Dullin & David Jamet

Implicit Psi in a Stimulus Detection Task: Can PK and Precognition Affect Perceptual Performance? [Research Brief]

by Jacob Jolij & Dick Bierman

The Selfield: A Precognitive Study using an Immersive Display System

by Mario Varvoglis, Peter Bancel, Djohar si Ahmed, Jocelyne Boban & Jean-Paul Bailly

PA 2017 Mario Varvoglis Photo by Renaud Evrard

Mario Varvoglis (photo by Renaud Evrard)

Descriptive Analyses of Various Anomalous Experiences of Nurses and Carers: Personality, Perceptual and Cognitive Factors Associated with Anomalous/Paranormal Experiences  Reported by Nurses

by Alejandro Parra

The Bélmez Faces: An Investigation of a Supposedly Strong Case [Research Brief]

by Gerhard Mayer

PA 2017 Gerhard Mayer Photo by Rachel Evenden

Gerhard Mayer (photo by Rachel Evenden)

“Logic is Only Half the Equation”: Exploring Psychedelic Drug Usage and Transformations of Identity, Spiritual Awakening, the Transcending of Ordinary States of Consciousness and Enlightenment Experiences Following LSD Consumption

Lesley-Ann Smith, Johnny T. Ryan & Rachel E. Evenden

Content Analysis of Spontaneous Cases of Psi included in the Alister Hardy Religious Experiences Research Centre Database

Chris A. Roe & Rebecca Linnett

PA 2017 Chris Roe 2017 Photo by Rachel Evenden

Chris Roe (photo taken by Rachel Evenden)

The Relation of Psi and Alterations of Consciousness in Ganzfeld and Hypnosis Contexts

by Etzel Cardeña & David Marcusson-Clavertz

Dreamy States and Cosmic Wanderings: An Autoethnographic Narrative of Spiritual Experiences in Epilepsy

by Louise N. King, Chris A. Roe & Elizabeth C. Roxburgh

Transformative Features of the Psychedelic Drug Experience: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Ayahuasca Users in Britain

by Johnny T. Ryan, Lesley-Ann Smith & Rachel E. Evenden

The Star Gate Archives: Reports of the US Government Sponsored Psi Program: 1972-1995. An Overview

by Sonali Bhatt Marwaha & Edwin C. May

Exploring the Model of Pragmatic Information: Implications for the Classification and Explanation of Psi

by Bevis Beauvais

Open Data in Parapsychology: Introducing PSI Open Data

by Adrian Ryan

Panel Discussion

A Tribute to Gerd Hövelmann (1956-2017)

Chair: Renaud Evrard

Gerd Hovelmann 2

Gerd Hövelmann (1956-2017)

Gerd H. Hövelmann or the ‘Amicus Curiae’ of Parapsychology: A personal appreciation

by Eberhard Bauer

Gerd H. Hövelmann: Some Personal Recollections

by Peter Mulacz

From Responsible Scepticism to Reflexive Anomalistics: A Selection of Quotes from Gerd Hövelmann

by Renaud Evrard

Posters

An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of After-Death Communication in the Bereavement Process of Professed Sceptics

by Miruna M. Bara & Callum E. Cooper

Spontaneous Post-Death Phenomena and their Positive Impact on Experients

by Callum E. Cooper, Chris A. Roe & Graham Mitchell

A Pilot Study of Floatation Tanks and Sensory Isolation in Producing Psi Conducive Imagery

by Callum E. Cooper & David T. Saunders

Medical Diagnosis and Death Detection: A Replication of Reading Faces through Photographs

by Marcelo Eremián

How do RNGs Detect Psychokinesis? The Proposed CAW Model (Coupling, Analog Signal Anomaly, and Wave-Like Field Model) as a Mechanism of Detecting PK

by Hideyuki Kokubo

What about Parapsychology and Anomalistics? Results of a WGFP and GfA Member Survey

by Gerhard A. Mayer

Therapeutic Approaches towards Integrating Near-Death Experiences

by Erika A. Pratte

PA 2017 Erka Pratte Photo by Renaud Evrard

Erika Pratte (Photo by Renaud Evrard)

Exploring the Parapsychological and Transpersonal Dimensions of the Psychedelic Drug Experience: A Mixed Methods Analysis

by Johnny T. Ryan, Chris A. Roe & Lesley-Ann Smith

Individual Difference Correlates of Psi Performance in Forced-Choice Precognition Experiments: A Meta-Analysis (1945-2016)

Marco Zdrenka & Marc S. Wilson

Special Presentations

Presidential Address

Withering Skepticism: Inclusive Criticism, or Hackneyed Mantras and Extraordinary Standards?

by Chris A. Roe

J.B. Rhine Banquet Speech

Invisible World and Modern Astrophysics

by Efstratios Theodosiou

Schmeidler Award Address

A Brief History of Psionics

by Michael Tremmel

Exhibitions and Live Performance

Pythia: An ancient musical instrument exhibition and live performance

Nikolaos Koumartzis, Iordanis Koumartzis, Theodore Koumartzis & George Saratsis

The Greek History of Psychical Research: A Photo-Exhibition

Nikolaos Koumartzis

PA 2017 Niko Koumartzis Tanagras Display Photo by Annalisa Ventola

Niko Koumartzis photo exhibit (photo by Annalisa Ventola)

 

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

In 1908 Italian physician Enrico Imoda published a short report of of Palladino’s attempt to influence an electroscope: “The Action of Eusapia Paladino on the Electroscope” (Annals of Psychical Science, 1908, 7, 410–412). He was later known for his séances with materialization medium Linda Gazzera.

Enrico Imoda

Enrico Imoda

Imoda wrote:

“At the mediumistic séance held with Eusapia Paladino, on the evening of April 10th, 1908, at the house of the engineer, M. F., I experimentally obtained a phenomenon which appears to demonstrate that radiations resembling those of radium and the cathodic rays of Crookes emanated from the medium. The phenomenon consisted in the rapid discharge of an electroscope without contact.”

“At the end of the séance, and when I she was completely aroused from her trance condition, I asked Madame Paladino to stand beside a table on which I had placed a charged electroscope, the dielectric portion of which was made of pure sulphur, so that the insulation might be perfect. I got her to stretch her hands forward to a distance of about four inches from the electrode. Her hands were watched by a friend of mine, so that there was no possibility of her touching the electroscope, whilst I attentively observed every movement of the gold leaves, separated by the charging of the electroscope.”

“For perhaps two minutes no visible effect was produced, but after that the leaves began to fall together, very slowly, but perceptibly; at length, after three or four minutes more, the gold leaves of the electroscope suddenly came together, showing that the electroscope was discharged.”

“Since the conditions under which the phenomenon was obtained (the room was lighted by six small oil lamps, with red glasses) precluded the possibility that Eusapia had touched the instrument, it seems to me possible to argue that the discharge was due to the surrounding air having become a conductor of electricity, just as if I had approached to the electroscope a radium salt or a Crookes’ bulb. But there was one difference between the action of the radium and that of the medium—viz., that whilst the discharge of the electroscope by the approach of a radium salt produces an instantaneous effect as soon as the radium is brought close to it, in the case of Eusapia the discharge did not take place until after several minutes, as though the body of the medium, previously passive, suddenly projected a jet of these radiations. That is to say, the emission of the mediumistic rays appeared not to be continuous, but by shocks, as, perhaps, is the case with the electrical discharge of the gymnotus and torpedo.”

Imoda Palladino Electroscope

“If we compare this phenomenon of the mediumistic discharging of an electroscope with the phenomena already certified by myself and others, such as impressions on photographic plates tightly sealed up in paper or wooden boxes, the hypothesis that radium emanations, cathodic rays, and mediumistic rays are one and the same thing appears to gain in probability.”

“One other phenomenon equally well vouched for by myself and others as occurring in mediumistic séances, appears to support this hypothesis; namely, that a small white cloud, floating like a vapour, and resembling a slightly luminous fog, is frequently seen above the surface of the table during séances. In one instance I saw, surrounding the head of Professor Lombroso, a thick cloud of white vapour, the medium having asked us to blow our breath in that direction.” [On this medium and Lombroso click here]

“We know that one of the properties of the cathodic rays is precisely that of causing the formation of a fog when they pass through a layer of air saturated with moisture. It would be interesting to ascertain whether mediumistic radiations, as well as cathodic rays and the emanations of radium, have the property of phenomenon, equally rendering phosphorescent a screen of platino-cyanide of barium placed in their track; up to the present I have not had the opportunity of trying this experiment.”

“The phenomenon of the discharge of the electroscope, taken by itself, would not, for me, be an absolute proof that the surrounding air had become a conductor of electricity, because the phenomenon can be explained in another way.”

“We have only to suppose that a materialised limb had placed the hand of the medium in direct contact with the instrument, and that this small degree of materialisation, sufficient to discharge the electroscope, but not to make an impression on my retina, had remained invisible to me. We know, in fact, positively, that the lower degrees of materialisation are not visible to the physical eye, while they may be sufficiently powerful to impress a photographic plate, even by reflected light.”

“But this hypothesis, reasonable in other respects, is contradicted by the two classes of phenomena mentioned above: The cloud of vapour and the impression on the covered photographic plate. Therefore, the former one seems to me more probable—viz., that the mediumistic radiations are able of themselves to render air a conductor of electricity, and that, in consequence, the radiations of radium, the cathodic radiations of the Crookes” bulb, and mediumistic radiations, are fundamentally the same.”

“I would strongly urge experimenters to undertake researches in pursuance of this idea; for if we can definitely establish the identity of all these radiations, one of the mysteries of an obscure and complex problem—that is, the physical nature of mediumistic force—would begin to be cleared up.”

Eusapia Palladino 16

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

I finally published a paper I have been working on for a long time. It is an examination of the presence of psychical research at the international congresses of psychology for the period 1889-1905 (“Telepathy, Mediumship, and Psychology: Psychical Research at the International Congresses of Psychology, 1889–1905.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2017, 31, 255–292).

Congres Psychologie 1889
Congress Psychology 1892

Here is the abstract:

“The development of psychology includes the rejection of concepts and movements some groups consider undesirable, such as psychical research. One such example was the way psychologists dealt with phenomena such as telepathy and mediumship in the first five international congresses of psychology held between 1889 and 1905. This included papers about telepathy and mediumship by individuals such as Gabriel Delanne, Léon Denis, Théodore Flournoy, Paul Joire, Léon Marillier, Frederic W. H. Myers, Julian Ochorowicz, Charles Richet, Eleanor M. Sidgwick, and Henry Sidgwick. These topics were eventually rejected from the congresses, and provide us with an example of the boundary-work psychologists were engaging in during that period to build their discipline. The height of such presentations took place at the 1900 congress, after which there was a marked decline in discussion on the topic which mirrored the rejection science at large showed for psychical research during the period in question.”

Congress Psychology 1896

Congres Psychologie 1900

The congresses took place in 1889 (Paris), 1892 (London), Munich (1896), 1900 (Paris), and 1905 (Rome). Some of the papers presented, as published in the conference proceedings, were:

Bager-Sjögren, Dr. (1897). Ist es möglich, durch eine internationale Hallucinations-statistik einen Beweis zu erbringen für die Existenz telepathisher Einwirkungen? In Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, Munich: J. F. Lehmann, pp. 394–402.

Courtier, J. (1906). Sur quelques effets de passes dites magnétiques. In Atti del V Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia edited by S. De Sanctis, Rome: Forzani, pp. 536–540.

Dariex, Dr. [X] (1901). De divers expériences sur les mouvements d’objets matérieles provoqués sans contact par une force psychique agissant a distance. In IVe Congrès International de  Psychologie edited by P. Janet, Paris: Félix Alcan, pp. 632–638.

Dariex Paper 1900 Psychology Congress 1900

Flournoy, T. (1897). Quelques faits d’imagination subliminale chez les médiums. In Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, Munich: J. F. Lehmann, pp. 419–420.

Flournoy Paper 1896 Psychology Congress

Marillier, L. (1890). Statistique des hallucinations. In Congrès International de Psychologie Physiologique, Paris: Bureau de Revues, pp. 44–47.

Marzorati, A. (1906). Le origini e lo sviluppo del pensiero religioso in rapporto ai fenomeni psichici ed alla facoltà supernormali. In Atti del V Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia edited by S. De Sanctis, Rome: Forzani, pp. 461–462.

Richet, C. (1892). L’avenir de la psychologie. In International Congress of Experimental Psychology. London: Williams & Norgate, pp. 24-26.

Sidgwick, H. (1892). Statistical inquiry into hallucinations. In International Congress of Experimental Psychology, London: Williams & Norgate, pp. 56–61.

van Eeden, F. (1901). Quelques observations sur les phénomènes dits spiritiques. In IVe Congrès International de Psychologie edited by P. Janet, Paris: Félix Alcan, pp. 122–131.

Statistique des Hallucinations (1890). In Congrès International de Psychologie Physiologique, Paris: Bureau de Revues, pp. 151–157.

Rather than recounting a history of success, this episode in the history of psychical research is one of failure in the sense of rejection from psychology. “The eventual rejection of psychical research from the international congresses of psychology is an example of the field’s rejection and ambivalent position within psychology . . . Psychologists’ attempts at professionalization led them to separate themselves from other knowledge claims and perspectives that they felt threatened their status. They engaged in boundary-work, where there is an active defense of practice, methods, and concepts “for the purpose of drawing a rhetorical boundary between science and some less authoritative residual non-science” (Gieryn 1999 . . .) . . .”

Congress Psychology 1905

“The fact that some papers on topics such as veridical hallucinations and mediumship were admitted to the congresses, and that the 1892 congress had Sidgwick and Myers as its President and Secretary, shows some level of acceptance, or tolerance, by the establishment. But it is clear that acceptance of papers in the congress did not mean acceptance of the reality of phenomena beyond conventional principles. The objections presented at the third and fourth congress are an example of this. These discussions show that psychical research was far from being accepted as a part of psychology during the nineteenth century and later . . .”

Henry Sidgwick 3

Henry Sidgwick

 

by Eveleen Myers (nÈe Tennant), albumen print, late 1890s

Frederic W.H. Myers

In addition to the professionalization of psychology, it is possible that the rejection of psychic phenomena from the congresses may have been related to the threat these phenomena may have had for some against the current materialistic paradigm.

But all this psychic work amounted to more than rejection from the congresses. This work presented contributions to the development of the concept of dissociation. Furthermore: “The SPR [Society for Psychical Research] study of hallucinations . . .  was a significant contribution to the furthering of empirical knowledge on the prevalence and phenomenology of hallucinations, regardless of the rejection of the telepathic component . . .  Other contributions to psychology and psychiatry came from the study of mediumship, as seen in Flournoy’s studies of subliminal imagination, and from other observations leading to specific diagnoses and the concept of automatisms . . . This is instructive in that it illustrates how marginal movements, the periphery, or what has been rejected, can have an impact on the mainstream, or the core of a field such as psychology.”