Archive for December, 2016

At the End of 2016

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

Another year has gone by, and very fast. Merry Christmas to all my readers.


I am glad to say that the number of followers of my blog has grown during 2016. This means that my blogs are not as boring as I thought they were.

As before, my blogs are classified under the following topics: Conferences and Other Events, Digital Resources, Education, Organizations and Groups, People in Parapsychology, Phenomena, Recent Publications, Voices from the Past, and Writing History. A few, such as the current one, are posted under Uncategorized.


Alvarado (in deep thought thinking about the next blog)

One of my favorite series of blogs is People in Parapsychology. During 2016 I posted various interviews with workers in parapsychology such as:

Alexander Moreira-Almeida

Alan Gauld

Elizabeth Roxburgh

Stephen E. Braude

Stanley Krippner

Other series of blogs are Author interviews, Recent Articles About the Histories of Spiritualism and Psychical Research, and Historical Notes About Out-of-Body Experiences. The latter has included postings about the writings of Hector DurvilleRobert Dale Owen, and Eugène Osty.



Eugène Osty

In addition, I have reported on important projects, such as parapsychology MOOCS, the Parapsychology Foundation’s YouTube channel, and the Psi Encyclopedia, produced by the Society for Psychical Research.


Some recent blogs about articles have been: Recently Published Articles About Mediumship, New Study of Electroencephalographic Detection of ESP, Recent Articles About Poltergeists, Table Phenomena in Argentina, Survey About Synchronicity, and Statistical Power in Experimental Parapsychological Research.

Other blogs have been about particular books. Some, such as Hereward Carrington’s Eusapia Palladino and Her Phenomena, are about publications from the old days of psychical research. But others are about recently published books, such as Transcendent Mind, by Imants Barušs and Julia Mossbridge.


In my secret identity I also work on other projects, many of which are sponsored by the Parapsychology Foundation. Two blogs about this are Third Parapsychology Foundation Book Expo,  and Parapsychology Foundation Forum: Physical Mediumship.

I also write scholarly articles, many of which are generously supported by grants from the Society for Psychical Research. These have been mainly articles about various aspects of the history of psychical research. Some blogs posted in 2016 about this work include:

Albert de Rochas, Psychic Forces and Doubles

New Article About William James and Leonora E. Piper


Leonora E. Piper

Psychic Messages About Other Planets

Joseph Maxwell on Mediumistic Personifications

Parapsychology and the Study of the Mind: Changing the Historical Record

It has given me great satisfaction to write for the above mentioned Psi Encyclopedia,  an online project ably edited by Robert McLuhan. Several of my articles have been posted in the Encyclopedia during 2016. To date I have only posted one blog about this work. This is about Sylvan J. Muldoon and Hereward Carrington’s The Phenomena of Astral Projection.


As for the 2017, I plan to continue along the lines that I have followed during 2016, hoping to continue to inform my readers about serious developments in parapsychology around the world and about the history of the field.

Once again, my best wishes for the Holiday Season.


Blog Staff


Nancy L. Zingrone and Carlos S. Alvarado


Spotty (left) and Pinky (right). Master proofreaders.


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

In one of my last published articles, “Classic Text No. 107: Joseph Maxwell on Mediumistic Personifications” (History of Psychiatry, 2016, 27, 350-366, I will send a pdf reprint on request,, I discuss changes of personality in mediums as discussed by French jurist and physician Joseph Maxwell. The article is basically a reprint of an excerpt published by Maxwell in his book Metapsychical Phenomena: Methods and Observations (London: Duckworth, 1905; translated from Les Phénomènes Psychiques: Recherches, Observations, Méthodes. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1903).


Joseph Maxwell (on right) and Albert de Rochas in a seance with Eusapia Palladino in 1895


Here is the abstract:

“The study of mediumship received much impetus from the work of psychical researchers. This included ideas about the phenomena of personation, or changes in attitudes, dispositions and behaviours shown by some mediums that supposedly indicated discarnate action. The aim of this Classic Text is to reprint passages about this topic from the writings of French psychical researcher Joseph Maxwell (1858–1938), which were part of the contributions of some psychical researchers to reconceptualize the manifestations in psychological terms. Maxwell suggested these changes in mediums were a production of their subconscious mind. His ideas are a reflection of previous theorization about secondary personalities and a particular example of the contributions of psychical researchers to understand the psychology of mediumship.”



Maxwell saw personification as “the presentation of statements and behaviours apparently representing foreign beings or personalities.” His work is discussed in the context of developments in Spiritualism and the study of changes of personality, such as double and multiple personality cases. “This included the cases of Mary Reynolds . . . , Félida X. . . . and Ansel Bourne . . . , among many others . . . French student of dissociation Pierre Janet . . . became known for his observations of secondary personalities appearing during hypnosis . . . This literature included much about the effects of suggestion on personation, such as Richet’s . . .  induction of dramatizations of various characters using suggestion.”


Ansel Bourne

“Articulating previous ideas from writings about hypnosis, secondary personalities and mediumship, Maxwell insists that personifications do not depend on spirit influence, but are a function of the unconscious mind. Furthermore, he argues that such personifications depend on the beliefs of the circle surrounding the medium, and thus are a collective production, as argued by others before him . . . But Maxwell does not limit his discussion to the psychological nature of the personification. He also sees these imaginal characters as a necessary part of mediumship in the sense that researchers needed to work with, and not against them. To some extent, these personages are the assistants of researchers wishing to study mediums, and should not be contradicted while, at the same time, not be granted the status of a real being.”

However, not everyone agreed with Maxwell that mediumistic personalities were psychological creations of the medium. This was particularly the case with those that believed in discarnate agency.

One of the reasons behind my motivation to write this article was that Maxwell is not well known among English speaking researchers, even those interested in mediumship. But his work of Maxwell was an influential contribution to the psychology of mediumship, particularly in France. More broadly, Maxwell’s ideas “show not only that psychical research was concerned with psychological issues as a subject of study, but also that the ideas developed in such context contributed much to the study and theoretical conceptions of the hidden levels of the mind prevalent in the last quarter of the nineteenth-century and beyond, something documented in various ways by writings about the history of psychiatry and psychology appearing in the last decades.”

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

Many were the phenomena produced by Eusapia Palladino. She was well known for her physical phenomena, things such as table levitations and materializations, but her repertoire also included many other effects, among them changes in temperature, imprints on substances such as clay, and luminous manifestations.


Eusapia Palladino

Less discussed were the medium’s mental phenomena. This included, among others, trances and personality changes.

One of the medium’s researchers, Italian psychiatrist Enrico Morselli (1852-1929), listed and classified Palladino’s phenomena in his book Psicologia e “Spiritismo” (Turin: Bocca, 1908, vol. 2, pp. 507-521).


Enrico Morselli


Here is Morselli’s list of phenomena, showing this was a rich case of mediumship. He used the words “subjective” and “objective” to refer to mental and physical phenomena. Morselli wrote: “The phenomenology of E.P. is varied and intense in the physical sphere, [but] very poor in the intellectual [one]”(vol. 2, p. 507). His classification, he admitted, was somewhat artificial because many phenomena combined mental and physical components.

Here is his a brief version of Morselli’s classification and list of phenomena:


1. Modifications of the state of consciousness (e.g., diminution of normal consciousness)

2. Modifications of the physiological state (e.g., changes in sensory and motor functions)

3. Radiations from the body of the medium (e.g., luminous effects) [unclear why this is included here, maybe Morselli is emphasizing the subjective perception of light]

4. Auto-hypnosis (e.g., trance, catalepsy)


Palladino in trance

5. Amnesia from the period of “trance”

6. Exteriorization of sensibility (dubious spontaneous and experimental clairvoyance) [the term is generally used to refer to the projection of tactile sensations from the body]

7. Exteriorization of motricity (parakinesis: movement of objects with slight contact with object; telekinesis: movement of objects without contact) [unclear why this is included here]

8. Hypno-magnetic susceptibility (difficult to hypnotize, easy to magnetize using mesmeric passes)

9. Exogenous susceptibility (e.g., verbal suggestion, perceptions)

10. Monodeism (fixed ideas; e.g., obsessions, beliefs)

11. Hallucinatory dream phenomena (e.g., flying and fearful dreams)

12. Automatisms (dissociative: sensory and motor)

13. Mental regression (dissociative: primitive, infantile, playful ideas)

14. Personifications (secondary personalities)

15. Communications and messages in Italian

16. Communications in languages other than the medium’s

17. Pseudodivination of thought (use of sensory means simulating telepathy)

18. Cryptopsychism (use of mental material from memory and surrounding ideas)

19. Artificial mental suggestion (various phenomena produced via suggestion)

20. Lucidity, clairvoyance, second sight (Morselli stated that the medium was incapable of this)

21. Intrahuman telepathy (spontaneous communication with distant persons)

22. Hyperhuman telepathy (communication with spirits, disbelieved by Morselli)


1. Parakinesis (phenomena with physical contact, e.g., meaningless and intelligent table movements, raising of table)


2. Telekinesis (e.g., movements without contact, e.g., movement of tables, curtain, and various objects)

3. Weight phenomena (e.g., changes in the weight of various objects and medium’s body)

4. Thermic-radiant phenomena (temperature changes, cold breezes)

5. Acoustic phenomena (e.g., raps, sounds from musical instruments, voices)

6. Hyloplastic phenomena (phenomena producing marks or tracings on matter at a distance: e.g., writing, imprints)


Imprints on clay

7. Zollnerian phenomena (molecular phenomena: e.g., appearance of knots in cords, apports)

8. Tangible teleplasty (apparent living form presenting consistency: e.g., touches, limbs)

9. Simple telephany (luminous phenomena: e.g., clouds, luminous points)

10. Visible, active and tangible teleplasm (organized forms: e.g., clear, unclear and human forms, limbs)


Sketch of materialized figure


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

May I congratulate the Parapsychology Foundation (PF) for its 65th anniversary? Today, on the 14th of December. the PF was chartered, and the PF was officially constituted. Congratulations are also due to the PF’s President Lisette Coly.



Lisette Coly

 Those of you who are not familiar with the PF should check an article written by the officers of the organization, published in 2001. More recently, I wrote a shorter version of this paper and mentioned some recent developments. This will appear soon in the Psi Encyclopedia, a project of the Society for Psychical Research.

As many of you know the PF was the brain-child of medium-author-entrepeneur Eileen J. Garrett who, together with congressman (she did not like to be called congresswoman) Frances P. Bolton, developed the Foundation from 1951 to later years. After Garrett died her daughter Eileen Coly, took the reigns and continued the work.


Eileen J. Garrett



Frances P. Bolton

I became a consultant for the PF in 1998, and then in 2000, my wife and colleague Nancy L. Zingrone and I moved to New York City to work with Mrs. C. (Eileen Coly) and with Lisette, who wanted to hire us to develop various projects. Those of us who worked with Mrs. C. cannot help feeling sad celebrating a PF anniversary without her. She was vital to the PF, and many are the recollections I have of her character, sense of humor, and management style. Those who knew her beyond her public persona will be aware of the richness of her personality.


Eileen Coly


Eileen Coly with Carlos S. Alvarado and Nancy L. Zingrone

Lisette, already the Executive Director, became President when we lost Mrs. C. and continues the work to this day. Nancy and I  recently met with her and were recollecting our work together, and planning for the future. Lisette is a fountain of creativity and our meeting was never dull or without something to be said. Thanks to her the PF keeps developing in new ways, such as an active online presence unrivaled in current parapsychology. This includes posting online a variety of materials in YouTube. This includes many old and new lectures, recent forums, the Book Expo (in which authors and editors discuss their books about psychic topics), and our unique ParaMOOC, consisting of many high level online lectures, most of which are presented by doctoral level researchers via the WizIQ system.

Under Lisette, many of these projects continue in the spirit of the old PF. It is good to see that, in addition to the old projects, such as the famous 1953 conference held at Utrecht, new events are still organized by the Foundation. As before there is a strong interest in helping the field by providing educational resources, and an equally strong interest in keeping a truly international perspective.


First International Conference of Parapsychological Studies, Utrecht, 1953


Keep in touch because, more is coming soon from the PF.

Once again, I congratulate the PF and Lisette Coly for never abandoning their legacy or their vision. Happy anniversary.


Eileen and Lisette Coly at the PF’s Eileen J. Garrett Library, Greenport, Long Island


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

One of my most recent publications is an article about Sylvan J. Muldoon and Hereward’s Carrington’s The Phenomena of Astral Projection that appeared in the online encyclopedia of the Society for Psychical Research (The Phenomena of Astral Projection (1951). In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2016. The book, a modern classic about what today is generally referred to as out-of-body experiences, was published in 1951 and  consisted of discussions of the “doctrine of astral projection,” and of presentations of cases.


Today there are many books about out-of-body experiences, but this was not the case when The Phenomena of Astral Projection appeared. Muldoon and Carrington’s work became an important reference work that presented many cases.

As I wrote: “Muldoon and Carrington believe ‘astral projection’ implies that the mind is independent of the physical body, something that supports the idea of an etheric brain. This, they write, ‘certainly seems but a short step to the acceptance of an etheric body, separate and apart from the physical, which body we may inhabit at death, and which constitutes the vehicle of the mind in astral projections.’ ”


Sylvan J. Muldoon


Hereward Carrington

Muldoon and Carrington discussed evidence for the existence of a subtle body:

“First, there is the massive weight of human belief and testimony, from the earliest times to our own day, in all parts of the world, and among civilized and uncivilized peoples. Second, we have those cases of apparitions in which the phantom-form seems to exhibit a mind of its own—often imparting information unknown to the seer at the time, but afterwards verified. Third, we have those cases in which material effects are apparently produced by the phantom, or its image appears upon photographic plates. Fourth, we have instances of materialization, at séances… Fifth, we have cases of astral projection, in which the subject sees his own phantom body, and is occasionally seen by others. In these last instances especially, we have evidence that the phantom form possesses a mind of its own, separate and distinct from the physical brain and body, which latter may be seen resting upon the bed. The cumulative mass of such testimony is, we submit, most impressive, and gives us the right to believe that such a ‘spiritual body’ exists—as St. Paul long ago stated.”

The authors present many cases classified as those of deliberate  projections, and those that took place while using drugs, in emotional conditions, as well as during accidents, various illnesses, sleep, and during physical activity, a topic I have discussed before.

One of the physical activity cases they presented was the following:

“I was conscious of rising higher and higher, with each gliding step, until I ‘levitated’ about the height of a one-storey building…I was dumbstruck to see ‘myself’ left behind some distance… Looking down at my physical body… I had a great pity for it… I was…fully conscious in my astral body…and saw the eyes in my physical body moving and scrutinizing ‘me’ with a look of wonderment… A moment later my consciousness suddenly shifted to my physical body and, looking through its eyes, endeavouring to figure out the situation, I saw my astral body in space… This occurred several times…”

They also had a chapter entitled “Projections at the Time of Death” in which they presented the testimony of people around deathbeds that saw lights, mista and subtle bodies come out of the body of the dying persons. There is also a chapter with cases in which spirits were seen.

Muldoon and Carrington felt that the cases they presented supported the idea of survival of death:

“The universe seems to be, at basis, rational and spiritual in nature, and there is assuredly a narrow gulf between these phenomena and death itself. As Myers expressed it years ago, ‘death is but the irrevocable projection of the spirit.’ In the one case it is temporary; in the other permanent. But death is no more ‘terrible’ and no more ‘miraculous’ than these projection phenomena, and we have seen that, in many of these cases, the experience proved so delightful that the subject did not want to return to earth life at all! The transition into the spiritual world proved both easy and pleasant, while the experience in that world was little less than ‘blissful.’ ”