Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center
Well, another year has gone by. Thanks are due to those of you who have followed my posts (you know who you are), and particularly to those who have sent comments and who have indicated they liked the posts.
This is my last blog for 2013. But do not fear, I plan to continue writing during 2014. Those of you who have followed my blogs are aware of my interest in the history of parapsychology and related areas. Having reached the end of the year I would like to mention some of the work on this topic I have published in 2013.
I was the third author in a paper with Pascal Le Maléfan and Renaud Evrard entitled “Spiritist Delusions and Spiritism in the Nosography of French Psychiatry (1850-1950)” (History of Psychiatry, 2013, 24, 477-491). Here is the abstract:
“At the turn of the twentieth century there was a wave of delusions which had a direct link to spiritism in their form and content. These so-called spiritist or mediumistic delusions were the object of detailed study, and clinicians assigned them a place in nosography, especially in France. This work of classification was carried out as a function of the convictions and paradoxes that these delusions aroused; it also made it possible to question the relationship between pathology and belief. It is therefore important to emphasize certain ideological views of psychiatry on para-normality. We observed both a reductionist discourse concerning these domains, and at the same time their utilization in the construction of psychiatric knowledge.”
Another article about mediumship was “Mediumship and Psychical Research,” published 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, 2013). Here I briefly discussed the importance of mediumship to psychical research, and to some aspects of psychology. First, it was argued that mental and physical mediumship provided an important topic of study to psychical researchers. But these phenomena, like hysteria and hypnosis in other contexts, provided the opportunity for the development of methodology and theoretical ideas which significantly affected psychical research. This included the development of statistical techniques to assess veridical elements in mental mediumship, as well as of ideas about survival of death, the subconscious mind, and unorthodox concepts of force.
An Italian translation of a paper I presented in Portugal at the 9th Bial Foundation Symposium on “Sleep and Dreams,” held in March of 2012, was also published recently. The paper, “Gli Studi sulla ESP nei Sogni Prima del Maimonides: Rasegna Sugli Anni 1880-1960” [Dream ESP Studies Before Maimonides: An Overview, 1880s-1950s] was published in Quaderni di Parapsicologia (2013, 45, 27-48). In the article I presented a review of trends in the study of spontaneous ESP dreams published before the well-known Maimonides experimental dream studies.
Because some of my efforts are devoted to reminding the parapsychological community of their historical roots, something neglected by many, during 2013 I wrote two short articles about Italian student of psychic phenomena Ernesto Bozzano (1862-1943; “Ernesto Bozzano and Psychic Phenomena.” Mindfield, 2013, 5, 101-105) and William James (1842-1910; “Remarks on William James and Psychical Research.” Mindfield, 2013, 5, 52-57). These were published in Mindfield the online bulletin of the Parapsychological Association.
I also prepared a note entitled “Théodore Flournoy on Veridical Hallucinations: A Reprint and Historical Note,” which was published in the online publication Psypioneer Journal (2013, 9, 163-170). Here I translated and presented a short but neglected contribution of Flournoy to psychical research.
Finally, two other papers published in 2013 have been commented on in this blog before. One provides suggestions for the future study of the life and work of the above mentioned Italian student of psychic phenomena Ernesto Bozzano (“Studying Ernesto Bozzano: Suggestions for Future Historical Studies.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2013, 77, 147-163), and the other provides brief comments about the concept of “Od,” a universal force postulated to exist by Karl Ludwig von Reichenbach’s (1788-1869) (“The Influence of Reichenbach’s Concept of Od.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2013, 27, 111-115).
I hope to publish in 2014 other papers about such topics as Flournoy’s contributions to psychical research, James H. Hyslop and deathbed visions, and G. Stanley Hall’s negative views about psychic phenomena. In addition, I have papers on non-historical topics that I hope will appear next year as well. These includes essays about auras, mental mediumship, and veridical out-of-body experiences.
My best wishes to my readers for the next year.