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

In the past there have been many discussions about the relationships between psychology and parapsychology. An example is Gertrude R. Schmeidler’s Parapsychology and Psychology: Matches and Mismatches (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1988). I have discussed aspects of this topic recently in “Psychology and Parapsychology” (In R. McLuhan [Ed.], Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research).

Gertrude Schmeidler 2

Gertrude Schmeidler

The purpose of the article is to discuss the interrelationship of both fields in terms of psychological research findings, psychological theories, and various contributions of parapsychology to psychology. “Psychic phenomena,” I wrote, “manifest dynamic aspects, and personality and cognitive variables, suggesting they are part of normal psychological processes.”

In two sections I covered correlates of ESP experiments. This includes various personality and cognitive variables, as well as attitudes. “Experimental studies suggest that ESP is associated with relaxed states . . . Laboratory dream studies and ganzfeld experiments have also shown evidence for ESP . . . Some believe that the partial sensory deprivation produced by ganzfeld conditions favors ESP. Others are less convinced of this, arguing that factors other than ASCs are involved . . . – something that must be generally considered in research with psychological variables.” 

Regarding survey studies “ESP experiences, and sometimes other phenomena such as seeing apparitions and auras, have been reported to be related to fantasy proneness . . . The same may be said of other psychological constructs: absorption; . . . boundary thinness; an openness to experiences such as emotions, intimacy and daydreaming; . . . dissociation; . . . emotional empathy; . . . hypnotic susceptibility; . . . transliminality; and a predisposition for experiencing emotions, imagery, thoughts or other psychological material from the unconscious regions of the mind . . .”  Research with other phenomena such as OBEs and mediumship is also briefly discussed.

I also summarize several psychological concepts and theoretical models developed to make sense of psychic experiences. “The idea that ESP is processed unconsciously has a long history . . . Myers . . . thought that telepathy was handled by the subliminal regions of the mind, and this idea can be seen in different ways in the writings of researchers to the present day.” The work of Carpenter, Eysenck, Irwin, and Stanford is mentioned. Summarizing James Carpenter’s ideas, I wrote: “James Carpenter . . . has proposed the most detailed psychological model to date, which he calls First Sight. The model assumes that psi is working continuously, but unconsciously, and that it is the initial contact our minds have with the world: first sight, so to speak. Such psi processes, like sensory and motor ones, are part of our usual cognitive processes, directed by unconscious intentions and mediated by goals, needs and dispositions. They interact with and make use of psychological resources such as memory, creativity, and conscious and unconscious perception. They are expressed primarily by inadvertent but potentially accessible experiences and behaviors. All behavior and experience are thought to begin at the psi level of transaction, even if we are not aware of it. The process is not seen as a special ability, but rather as a basic aspect of human beings, and perhaps of all sentient creatures.”

Jim Carpenter 2

James C. Carpenter

 

Carpenter First Sight

I argue, as have others before me, that parapsychology has made many contributions to psychology. For one. It has helped to extend the range of human experiences.

There have also been contributions regarding conventional explanations of various phenomena. “Certain influential psychological explanations of OBEs have been developed in the context of parapsychology, notably by Blackmore . . . Irwin . . . and Palmer . . ., contributing to the orthodox view of mind’s potential to generate hallucinatory experiences.”

Another area of contributions has been that of clinical issues. This includes ESP phenomena in the context of psychotherapy, and the difficult issue of differential diagnosis. Some work has been conducted in relation to trauma and schizotypy, but this area is in need of more detailed empirical explorations.

The study of psychic phenomena has also contributed to the concept of personal transformation, as seen in worth conducted with near-death experiences. The same may be said about human potential: “To accept some of the phenomena of parapsychology would have clear implications for human potential, greatly expanding our ideas about our capabilities. ESP implies that we can perceive future events, information hidden at a distance, and the thoughts or intentions of a distant person. Furthermore, to accept that such phenomena have no conventional explanation carries conceptual implications about the nature of consciousness.”

The latter brings us to the issue of nonphysicality. Traditionally ESP and other phenomena have been interpreted by many as evidence of the independence of the mind on the physical body. An acceptance of such conclusion, and this is still debatable, would have great implications about the nature of human beings.

Psychology cliparts

“Work on near-death experiences, reincarnation cases, mediumship and related topics has tended to promote ideas of transcendence . . . It should be pointed out that parapsychology embraces diverse views, and the ideas summarized here are not necessarily all shared by its practitioners . . . But they have in common a tendency towards the view that mind is more than the physical body – a classic problem of psychology.”

For bibliography click here, here, and here.

 

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

Journals

The journals related to psychical research are particularly important and should be studied with care. Unfortunately most of them are not indexed in modern databases for the period emphasized in my comments (19th century to 1930s). Some important journals are: Journal of Parapsychology,  Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, Annales des Sciences Psychiques, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Luce e Ombra, Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Psychic Science, Psychische Studien, Revue Métapsychique, Rivista di Studi Psichici, and  Zeitschrift fur Parapsychologie.

Annales des Sciences Psychiques 1891
Journal of the SPR 1885-1886

image of page 675
Zeirschrift fur Parapsychologie 
 Many other journals also have valuable and interesting information about topics such as apparitions and mediumship. This is the case of: Banner of Light, Light, Religio-Philosophical Journal, Revue Spirite, Spiritual Magazine, and The Spiritualist (title changed). Some of the journals mentioned in this section are available at the website of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals.

image of page 1

Religio Philosophical Journal February 15 1879 Front Page

Revue Spirite 1858 2

Classics

There are also many classic works that are highly recommended. I have included in this section a few examples of major classics, and some minor ones. One example of a major classic in the sense of being highly influential, is William Crookes’ (1874) Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism (London: J. Burns). Here Crookes reported experiments conducted with medium D.D. Home, and his famous observations of materialization phenomena by Florence Cook. The book is also instructive regarding how Crookes was criticized, and how he defended himself, showing similarities to more recent controversies.

Crookes Researches cover

Other works include:

Gurney, E., Myers, F.W.H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living (2 vols.). London: Trübner.

Aksakov, A. (1890). Animismus und spiritismus [Animism and spiritism]. Leipzig: Oswald Mutze.

Flournoy, T. (1900). From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnambulism. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Flournoy From India 2

Myers, F. W. H. (1903). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols.). London: Longmans, Green.

Morselli, E. (1908). Psicologia e “Spiritismo:” Impressioni e Note Critiche sui Fenomeni Medianici di Eusapia Paladino [Psychology and “Spiritism:” Impressions and Critical Notes About the Mediumistic Phenomena of Eusapia Paladino] (2 vols.). Turin: Fratelli Bocca.

Geley, G. (1920). From the Unconscious to the Conscious. Glasgow: William Collins. (First published in French in 1919)

Geley From the Unconscious

Schrenck-Notzing, A. von (1920) Phenomena of Materialisation. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Trübner.

Warcollier, R. (1921). La Télépathie: Recherches Expérimentales. Paris: Félix Alcan.

Osty, E. (1923). Supernormal Faculties in Man: An Experimental Study. London: Methuen.

Osty Supernormal

Geley, G, (1927). Clairvoyance and Materialisation: A Record of Experiments. London: T. Fisher Unwin.

Rhine, J. B. (1934). Extra-Sensory Perception. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research. 

Pratt, J. G., Rhine, J. B., Smith, B. F., Stuart, C. E., & Greenwood, J. (1940). Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years. New York: Henry Holt.

Pratt ESP 60 Title Page 

*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.

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

I have received this announcement from Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone, about new online presentations sponsored by the Parapsychology Foundation.

“The Parapsychology Foundation is presenting the fourth in its series of PF Book Expos on WizIQ. The live sessions of the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, December 2nd, 2017. You can self-enroll in the course by following the link: http://pflyceum.wiziq.com/course/201514-parapsychology-foundation-book-expo-fall-2017 . You’ll need to set up a free WizIQ account if you haven’t got one already (choose “student” when it asks you what type of account you’d like). The live sessions will start at 11:00am Eastern on Saturday December 2nd and continue through 6:00pm Eastern. Enrollment will be open from November 29th through December 31st, 2017. If you can’t join us for the live sessions, the recordings will be up in the event space within a few hours. PowerPoints and chat logs from each session will be available by Sunday afternoon. You will have access as long as you have your WizIQ membership, and you can encourage colleagues to enroll through the end of the year.”

PF logo

“One author and two editors will talk about their recent books, touching on the content, the goals of their books, why they got involved in the process, what they learned along the way, and more. And in a new feature of the PF Book Expo Series, some classic books in the field will also be reintroduced to participants. Each talk will be followed by a question and answer session involving the registrants. All of the books are aimed at the intelligent reader, serious researchers in, and students of consciousness and parapsychology. The day will begin with a welcoming session at 11am Eastern and end with a wrap up session at 5:30pm Eastern.”

PF Book Expo Fall 2017 Logo

“Guest lecturers at the Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo Fall 2017:”

“Seasoned journalist and New York Times best-selling author Leslie Kean will present Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife published by Crown Archetype in March of 2017. Kean’s book is a well-researched and thorough overview of wide-ranging evidence that supports the theory that consciousness survives death. From near-death experiences to children’s anomalous memories of previous lives and mediumship research, Kean not only presents the results of her own research but includes chapters from the scientists and scholars from four countries who have provided the best of the evidence.”

Leslie Kean

Leslie Kean

Kean Surviving Death

“Physicist, former head of the US Department of Defense’s Stargate Program (1975-1995) Dr. Edwin C. May will present Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing and Theory published by McFarland Publishing in 2015.The volume edited by May and his colleague neuropsychologist Dr. Sonali Bhatt Marwaha, has chapters on every aspect of the Stargate Program, many of which have never been published before.”

Ed May 2

Ed May

Sonali Marwaha

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

May Anomalous Cognition 2

“Anthropologist Jack Hunter will present Damned Facts: Fortean Essays on Religion, Folklore and the Paranormal published by Aporetic Press in 2016. Like Charles Fort’s books which ranged over all many of experiences and phenomena that pushed the envelope of what is real, Hunter and his collaborators examine a wide variety of topics from different perspectives, providing thoroughly researched accounts providing evidence for facts that conventional wisdom has long hoped to ignore.”

Jack Hunter

Jack Hunter

Hunter Damned Facts

“PF Research Fellow Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado will present a number of classic texts from the history of psychical research and parapsychology, four in some depth and the others less so, in an effort to highlight earlier books that deserve a closer look from the modern audience of researchers, students and scholars in the field.”

Carlos S. Alvarado 9jpg

Carlos S. Alvarado

Crookes Researches cover
Myers Human Personality 3

The Parapsychology Foundation Fall 2017 Book Expo is aimed at individuals who are interested in scientific parapsychology, its theory and phenomena, and in consciousness, near-death experiences, and the history of the field. You don’t need any particular level of education to enjoy the Expo, just curiosity about the topics.”

“The Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo series is the only place on the internet where you can get a “meet the author/meet the editor” experience for recommended academic and popular books on the topics of scientific parapsychology. So if you’re a student hoping to do research in near-death experiences, a new researcher or experiencer with an interest in consciousness theory and research, or just someone who is fascinated by the history of global efforts to understand this difficult subject, then the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 is for you.”

“Each individual will have a PowerPoint that will be uploaded as a tutorial in WizIQ. Each live lecture will also be recorded and besides being available on WizIQ, will be edited and uploaded to the PF’s YouTube Channel. (If you like what you see on the PF YouTube Channel don’t forget to subscribe and to click the “bell” after subscribing so that you get notifications of new uploads to the Channel.”

“By attending you will meet the authors and editors of books we think are among the best published in recent years on their topics.”

“While the course doesn’t prepare registrants for any certification or exams, the PF Book Expo Fall 2017 will acquaint you with some really good books that can help you in your quest to learn more!”

Here is the schedule:

December 2, 2017

11:00am Eastern time: Introduction: Nancy L. Zingrone and Lisette Coly

11:30am Eastern time: Leslie Kean, Surviving Death

1:00pm Eastern time: Carlos S. Alvarado, Classic and Important Books About Psychic Phenomena

2:30pm Eastern time: Ed May, Anomalous Cognition

4:00pm Eastern time: Jack Hunter, Damned Facts

5:30pm Eastern time: Closing Session, Nancy L. Zingrone

 

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

Here is a metanalysis of dream ESP experiments: On the correspondence between dream content and target material under laboratory conditions: A meta-analysis of dream-ESP studies, 1966-2016, by Lance Storm, Simon J. Sherwood, Chris A. Roe, Patrizio E. Tressoldi, Adam J. Rock, and Lorenzo Di Risio (International Journal of Dream Research, 2017, 10, 120-140; for reprints write to the first author: lance.storm@adelaide.edu.au).

Lance Storm 2

Lance Storm

Simon Sherwood

Simon Sherwood

Chris Roe 2

Chris Roe

Patrizio Tressoldi 5

Patrizio Tressoldi

Adam Rock

Adam Rock

Lorenzo Di Risio

Lorenzo Di Risio

 

Here is the abstract:

In order to further our understanding about the limits of human consciousness and the dream state, we report meta-analytic results on experimental dream-ESP studies for the period 1966 to 2016. Dream-ESP can be defined as a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) in which a dreaming perceiver ostensibly gains information about a randomly selected target without using the normal sensory modalities or logical inference. Studies fell into two categories: the Maimonides Dream Lab (MDL) studies (n = 14), and independent (non-MDL) studies (n = 36). The MDL dataset yielded mean ES = .33 (SD = 0.37); the non-MDL studies yielded mean ES = .14 (SD = 0.27). The difference between the two mean values was not significant. A homogeneous dataset (N = 50) yielded a mean z of 0.75 (ES = .20, SD = 0.31), with corresponding significant Stouffer Z = 5.32, p = 5.19 × 10-8, suggesting that dream content can be used to identify target materials correctly and more often than would be expected by chance. No significant differences were found between: (a) three modes of ESP (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition), (b) senders, (c) perceivers, or (d) REM/non-REM monitoring. The ES difference between dynamic targets (e.g., movie-film) and static (e.g., photographs) targets was not significant. We also found that significant improvements in the quality of the studies was not related to ES, but ES did decline over the 51-year period. Bayesian analysis of the same homogeneous dataset yielded results supporting the ‘frequentist’ find­ing that the null hypothesis should be rejected. We conclude that the dream-ESP paradigm in parapsychology is worthy of continued investigation, but we recommend design improvements.”

It is concluded:

“Our review has shown that dream ESP remains a promis­ing, if somewhat neglected, area for parapsychological research. Combined effect sizes for both Maimonides and post-Maimonides studies suggest that judges may be able to use dream mentations to identify target materials cor­rectly more often than would be expected by chance.”

“Sherwood and Roe (2013) concluded that the Maimonides studies were more successful than the post-Maimonides studies, and attributed that difference to “procedural differ­ences rather than improvements in security” (p. 72). This may not be entirely true. Our results do not support claims of MDL success over non-MDL studies, though we do con­cede that other test findings suggest the MDL series may have been superior.”

“Our meta-analysis has identified key issues and key con­cerns to do mainly with methodological quality and process-oriented factors that covary with study outcomes. However, the database may prove to be too heterogeneous, some­times with too few studies in subsets, for such analyses to provide reliable insights.”

Finally, in the author’s view “dream ESP is (i) a demonstrable effect; (ii) not governed by experimenter, or laboratory, or historical context; (iii) inde­pendent of (a) psi modality; (b) REM monitoring; (c) target type; and (d) agent and perceiver arrangements; and (iv) perhaps independent of the number of choices in a target set. Some of these findings conflict with what we find to be evident of the free-response paradigm (including Ganzfeld) and the forced-choice paradigm, and it remains to be seen if our conclusions are premature, or dream ESP is, in a num­ber of ways, an ESP sub-type different in degree or kind.”

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.

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