Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation
I just presented a talk at the 2016 conference of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies held at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The talk was entitled “The ‘Science of the Soul’: Ernesto Bozanno, Psychic Phenomena and Survival of Death,” a topic I have discussed elsewhere (click here and here).
The presentation was a short overview of aspects of the work of Italian student of psychic phenomena Ernesto Bozzano (1862-1943), who conducted many studies of psychic phenomena consisting of analyses of published cases. His purpose was to show the existence of a spiritual aspect in human beings, their survival of death, and to illustrate various features of the phenomena. He studied practically all manifestations of psychic phenomena, including death-related death-bed visions, and other phenomena such as hauntings, premonitions, and “transcendental” music.
Below are the title pages of various books mentioned in the talk:
Other books published by Bozzano included the following:
Bozzano, who started his studies of psychic literature in the 1890s, did not have any formal education. He published mainly in French and in Italian. His untranslated work (over 90% of his writings) is generally unknown to English speakers. Examples are the following articles that appeared in the Italian publication Luce e Ombra.
1907: Simbolismo e fenomeni metapsichici
1908: Per la identificazione personale dei defunti
1912: Dei fenomeni premonitori
1914: In tema di reincarnazione
1916: Dei fenomeni d’infestazione
1920: Gli enigmi della psicometria
1925: Medianità chiaroveggente e psicometria
1926: Dei fenomeni di ossessione e possessione
In his article “Des cas d’identification spirite” (Annales des Sciences Psychiques, 20, 302–308) Bozzano affirmed that the discarnate agency explanation had stood the test of time, “far from showing weakness or defeat . . . it appears like a lighthouse pointing to the port for sailors who are lost in the ocean of life.” In his view all phenomena converge to demonstrate survival of death. This demonstration included both incarnate and discarnate sources of phenomena. Both sources, Bozzano believed, had a common origin, the action of the human spirit. This is what he called animism and Spiritism.
Bozzano’s work consisted mainly of analyses of published cases taken from both the spiritualist and the psychical research literatures. In his analyses of cases he presented various classifications of cases, in which he emphasized both types of cases as well as gradations of phenomena. His findings always supported the reality of the phenomena, and the idea of discarnate agency. He emphasized the principle of convergence of proof, arguing that different phenomena and types support each other in a spiritualistic interpretation.
Example of Bozzano’s Classification of Deathbed Visions in a 1906 article
*Apparitions of people known to have died (seen only by the dying)
*Apparitions of people not known to have died (seen only by the dying)
*Apparitions seen by dying and surrounding persons
*Apparitions with information coinciding with mediumistic communications
*Apparitions seen only by persons around the dying
In his study of what he referred to as “bilocation,” or what he belied were manifestations of an etheric body, Bozzano argued for the importance of this principle to support the spiritual nature of human beings. He discussed various phenomena to support this idea (phantom limb sensations, autoscopy, out-of-body experiences, apparitions of the living, bystander perceptions around deathbeds).
Interestingly, in his 1983 study of Bozzano, Giovanni Iannuzzo believed that Bozzano had an old conception of science that separated him from many psychical researchers, explaining in part his over-reliance on classification.
Although my paper was mainly historical, that is, my purpose was to show the work of a sometimes forgotten figure, I mentioned at the end the relevance of this work today. In addition to observations and arguments supporting survival of death, this included a reminder that Bozzano’s work reminded us of the richness of the features of psychic phenomena, and provided us with an index to find cases in the pre-1940 literature.
Suggested Readings in English
(for references in Italian click here)
Alvarado, C.S. (2013). Studying Ernesto Bozzano: Suggestions for future historical studies. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 77, 147-163. Abstract