Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation
Many articles, and a few books, have appeared about various aspects of the historical relationship between psychology and parapsychology. This includes many of my papers.
This paper reviews the Society for Psychical Research’s (SPR) work on dissociation carried out between 1882-1900. The work of such SPR researchers and theorists as Edmund Gurney and Frederic W.H. Myers on hypnosis and mediums was part of nineteenth-century efforts to understand dissociation and the workings of the subconscious mind. It is also argued that the SPR’s openness to these phenomena represented the first institutionalized attempt in Britain to study dissociation in a systematic manner. An analysis of the dissociation papers published in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research shows that hypnosis was the most frequently discussed phenomena. Attention to the contribution of psychical researchers will expand our understanding of the factors that have affected the development of the concept of dissociation and of the subconscious mind.
While there was much conflict during the 19th century between psychology and psychical research, the latter was occasionally discussed in psychology journals. The purpose of this paper is to provide a guide to existing discussions of psychical research and related topics in the American journal Psychological Review. Many of the discussions were authored by individuals favorably disposed to psychical research, such as William James and James H. Hyslop, but also by such skeptics as James McKeen Cattell and Joseph Jastrow. With a few exceptions, the majority of the authors were critical of psychical research. This reflected the hostility on the topic shown by many psychologists at the time.
During the nineteenth century such individuals as Alfred Binet (1857–1911), who is the author of this Classic Text, conducted clinical and research work that led to the development and refinement of ideas about the subconscious mind and dissociation. The work concentrated on hysterical blindness, hypnosis, spontaneous somnambulism, and double and multiple personality. Another phenomenon that focused thinking on the topic was mediumship. The Classic Text is an excerpt from Binet’s writings that illustrates how a representative of French abnormal psychology used mediumship to defend his particular ideas about the mind. The excerpt is taken from the English language translation, published in 1896, of Binet’s Les Altérations de la personnalité (1892).
Alvarado, C.S. (2012). Psychic phenomena and the mind-body problem: Historical notes on a neglected conceptual tradition. In A. Moreira-Almeida and F.S. Santos (Eds.), Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship (pp. 35-51). New York: Springer Science+Business Media.
Although there is a long tradition of philosophical and historical discussions of the mind–body problem, most of them make no mention of psychic phenomena as having implications for such an issue. This chapter is an overview of selected writings published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries literatures of mesmerism, spiritualism, and psychical research whose authors have discussed apparitions, telepathy, clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, and other parapsychological phenomena as evidence for the existence of a principle separate from the body and responsible for consciousness. Some writers discussed here include individuals from different time periods. Among them are John Beloff, J.C. Colquhoun, Carl du Prel, Camille Flammarion, J.H. Jung-Stilling, Frederic W.H. Myers, and J.B. Rhine. Rather than defend the validity of their position, my purpose is to document the existence of an intellectual and conceptual tradition that has been neglected by philosophers and others in their discussions of the mind–body problem and aspects of its history.
Alvarado, C.S. (2014). Mediumship, psychical research, dissociation, and the powers of the subconscious mind. Journal of Parapsychology, 78, 98–114.
Since the 19th century many psychiatrists and psychologists have considered mediumship to be related to the subconscious mind and to dissociative processes produced mainly by internal conventional processes of the medium’s mind. However, some psychologists and psychical researchers active between the last decades of the 19th century and the 1920s expressed a different view. Individuals such as Théodore Flournoy, Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Morselli, Frederic W. H. Myers, Julian Ochorowicz, Charles Richet, Eleanor Sidgwick, and Eduard von Hartmann, argued that some mediums combined dissociation with supernormal phenomena such as knowledge acquired without the use of the senses, and the production of physical effects seemingly beyond the normal bodily capabilities. Depending on the theorist, other issues such as pathology and discarnate agency were also part of the discussions. The supernormal was never accepted by science at large and today is rarely mentioned in the dissociation literature. But ideas related to the supernormal were part of this literature. A complete history of dissociation, and of the subconscious mind, should include consideration of this body of work.
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.
Alvarado, C.S. (2017). Telepathy, mediumship, and psychology: Psychical research at the International Congresses of Psychology, 1889–1905. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 31, 54-101.
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.
Alvarado, C.S., & Krippner, C.S. (2010). Nineteenth century pioneers in the study of dissociation: William James and psychical research. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 17, 19-43.
Following recent trends in the historiography of psychology and psychiatry we argue that psychical research was an important influence in the development of concepts about dissociation. To illustrate this point, we discuss American psychologist and philosopher William James’s (1842-1910) writings about mediumship, secondary personalities, and hypnosis. Some of James’s work on the topic took place in the context of research conducted by the American Society for Psychical Research, such as his early work with the medium Leonora E. Piper (1857-1950). James Following recent trends in the historiography of psychology and psychiatry we argue that psychical research was an important influence in the development of concepts about dissociation. To illustrate this point, we discuss American psychologist and philosopher William James’s (1842-1910) writings about mediumship, secondary personalities, and hypnosis. Some of James’s work on the topic took place in the context of research conducted by the American Society for Psychical Research, such as his early work with the medium Leonora E. Piper (1857-1950). James’s work is an example of the influence of psychical research on several aspects of psychology such as early models of the unconscious and of dissociation’s work is an example of the influence of psychical research on several aspects of psychology such as early models of the unconscious and of dissociation.
In this paper we review the main contributions of Swiss psychologist Théodore Flournoy (1854–1920) to psychical research. Flournoy always advocated the scientific study of psychic phenomena as an important area that should not be ignored. After a short discussion of Flournoy’s attitudes to psychic phenomena we focus on his main work, his study of Hélène Smith (1861–1929) published in Des Indes à la Planète Mars (1900), in which he summarized communications about previous lives in France and India, as well as those coming from the planet Mars, which Flournoy attributed to subconscious abilities involving imagination and cryptomnesia. In addition, we review his other investigations of mental mediums, observations of physical mediums, and writings about telepathy and precognition. We argue that Flournoy’s work with mental mediums made him a significant contributor to the study of the capabilities of the subconscious mind, work that was important to the theoretical concerns of both dynamic psychology and psychical research.
Brancaccio, M.T. (2014). Enrico Morselli’s Psychology and “Spiritism”: Psychiatry, psychology and psychical research in Italy in the decades around 1900. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 48 (Part A), 75-84.
This paper traces Enrico Morselli’s intellectual trajectory from the 1870s to the early 1900s. His interest in phenomena of physical mediumship is considered against the backdrop of the theoretical developments in Italian psychiatry and psychology. A leading positivist psychiatrist and a prolific academic, Morselli was actively involved in the making of Italian experimental psychology. Initially sceptical of psychical research and opposed to its association with the ‘new psychology’, Morselli subsequently conducted a study of the physical phenomena produced by the medium Eusapia Palladino. He concluded that her phenomena were genuine and represented them as the effects of an unknown bio-psychic force present in all human beings. By contextualizing Morselli’s study of physical mediumship within contemporary theoretical and disciplinary discourse, this study elaborates shifts in the interpretations of ‘supernormal’ phenomena put forward by leading Italian psychiatrists and physiologists. It demonstrates that Morselli’s interest in psychical research stems from his efforts to comprehend the determinants of complex psychological phenomena at a time when the dynamic theory of matter in physics, and the emergence of neo-vitalist theories influenced the theoretical debates in psychiatry, psychology and physiology.
Charet, F. X. (1993). Spiritualism and the Foundations of C.G. Jung’s Psychology. Albany: State University of New York Press.
“Charet uncovers some of the reasons why Jung’s psychology finds itself living between science and religion. He demonstrates that Jung’s early life was influenced by the experiences,beliefs, and ideas that characterized Spiritualism and that arose out of the entangled relationship that existed between science and religion in the late nineteenth century. Spiritualism, following it inception in 1848, became a movement that claimed to be a scientific religion and whose controlling belief was that the human personality survived death and could be reached through a medium in trance. The author shows that Jung’s early experiences and preoccupation with Spiritualism influenced his later ideas of the autonomy, personification, and quasi-metaphysical nature of the archetype, the central concept and one of the foundations upon which he built his psychology.” (from http://www.sunypress.edu/p-1417-spiritualism-and-the-foundation.aspx)
Coon, D. J. (1992). Testing the limits of sense and science: American experimental psychologists combat spiritualism, 1880–1920. American Psychologist, 47, 143–151.
American psychologists faced great difficulty at the turn of the century as they tried to erect and maintain boundaries between their science and its “pseudoscientific” counterparts—spiritualism and psychic research. The public solicited their opinions regarding spiritualism, and a few psychologists wanted to conduct serious investigations of spiritualistic and psychic phenomena. However, many psychologists believed that such investigation risked the scientific reputation of their infant discipline. Because they could not readily avoid the topic, some psychologists studied spiritualistic and psychic phenomena in order to prove them fraudulent or explain them via naturalistic causes, and others developed a new subdiscipline, the psychology of deception and belief. This article argues that psychologists used their battles with spiritualists to legitimize psychology as a science and create a new role for themselves as guardians of the scientific worldview.
Crabtree, A. (1993). From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic Sleep and the Roots of Psychological Healing. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
“The discovery of magnetic sleep—an artificially induced trance-like state—in 1784 marked the beginning of the modern era of psychological healing. Magnetic sleep revealed a realm of mental activity that was not available to the conscious mind but could affect conscious thought and action. This book tells the story of the discovery of magnetic sleep and its relationship to psychotherapy. Adam Crabtree describes how in the 1770s Franz Anton Mesmer developed a technique based on “animal magnetism,” which he felt could cure a wide variety of ailments when the healer directed “magnetic fluid” through the body of the sufferer. In 1784 Mesmer’s pupil the marquis de Puysegur attempted to heal a patient with this method and discovered that animal magnetism could also be used to induce a trance in the subject that revealed a second consciousness quite distinct from the normal waking state. Puysegur’s discovery of an alternate consciousness was taken up and elaborated by practitioners and thinkers for the next hundred years. Crabtree traces the history of the discovery of animal magnetism, shows how it was brought to bear on physical healing, and explains its relationship to paranormal phenomena, hypnotism, psychological healing, and the diagnosis and investigation of dissociative phenomena such as multiple personality. He documents how the systematic investigation of alternate consciousness reached its height in the 1880s and 1890s, fell into neglect with the appearance of psychoanalysis, and is now experiencing renewed attention as a treatment for multiple personality disorders that may arise from childhood sexual abuse.” (from: http://yalebooks.com/book/9780300055887/mesmer-freud)
Fodor, N. (1971). Freud, Jung and Occultism. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books.
An overview of Freud and Jung’s ideas of and involvement with psychic phenomena.
Junior, A. S., Araujo, S. de F., & Moreira-Almeida, A. (2013). William James and psychical research: Towards a radical science of mind. History of Psychiatry, 24, 62–78.
Traditional textbooks on the history of psychiatry and psychology fail to recognize William James’s investigations on psychic phenomena as a legitimate effort to understand the human mind. The purpose of this paper is to offer evidence of his views regarding the exploration of those phenomena as well as the radical, yet alternative, solutions that James advanced to overcome theoretical and methodological hindrances. Through an analysis of his writings, it is argued that his psychological and philosophical works converge in psychical research revealing the outline of a science of mind capable of encompassing psychic phenomena as part of human experience and, therefore, subject to scientific scrutiny.
Le Malefan, P. (1999). Folie et Spiritisme: Histoire du Discourse Psychopathologique sur la Pratique du Spiritisme, ses Abords et ses Avatars (1850–1950). Paris: L’Hartmattan.
The author documents the appearance of syndromes of spiritist delusions in French psychiatry, thus showing how Spiritism affected the study of mental health during the 19th century, and part of the 20th.
Le Maléfan, P., & Sommer, A. (2015). Léon Marillier and the veridical hallucination in late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century French psychology and psychopathology. History of Psychiatry, 26, 418-432.
Recent research on the professionalization of psychology at the end of the nineteenth century shows how objects of knowledge which appear illegitimate to us today shaped the institutionalization of disciplines. The veridical or telepathic hallucination was one of these objects, constituting a field both of division and exchange between nascent psychology and disciplines known as ‘psychic sciences’ in France, and ‘psychical research’ in the Anglo-American context. In France, Leon Marillier (1862-1901) was the main protagonist in discussions concerning the concept of the veridical hallucination, which gave rise to criticisms by mental specialists and psychopathologists. After all, not only were these hallucinations supposed to occur in healthy subjects, but they also failed to correspond to the Esquirolian definition of hallucinations through being corroborated by their representation of external, objective events.
Mauskopf, S.H., & McVaugh, M.R. (1980). The Elusive Science: Origins of Experimental Psychical Research. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
A study of the development of J.B. Rhine’s research in the United States. There is much information about his interaction with psychologists.
Miranda, P. (2016). Taking possession of a heritage: Psychologies of the subliminal and their pioneers. International Journal of Jungian Studies, 8, 28-45.
This essay explores some of the theoretical repercussions of the debate concerning the growth-oriented dimension of the personality that took place in the late nineteenth-century psychologies of transcendence. This terminology refers to the various practitioners of depth psychology who emphasised multiple realities, psychic phenomena, supernormal powers, the mythopoetic function of the unconscious, and transformative mystical experiences. The French–Swiss–English–American psychotherapeutic axis, A name given by the scholar Eugene Taylor to an earlier tradition characterised by the Paris, Cambridge, Geneva/Zürich, and Boston connection, which flourished from about the 1880s to the 1920s. a ‘loose-knit alliance’ of cutting-edge scientists, investigated occult and paranormal phenomena ranging from somnambulism, hypnotic trance states, double consciousness, and multiple personalities to mediumship and pathological schizophrenic fantasies. Their insights into the complex phenomena of psychic dissociation posited a subliminal region that was not only a reservoir of trauma, but also source of a potentiality beyond normal consciousness, a notion which was continued and developed in Jung’s psychology.
Pimentel, M.G., Klaus Chaves Alberto, K.C., & Alexander Moreira-Almeida, A. (2016). As investigações dos fenômenos psíquicos/espirituais no século XIX: Sonambulismo e espiritualismo, 1811-1860. História, Sciência, Saúde-Manguinhos, 16, 1113-1131. http://www.scielo.br/pdf/hcsm/v23n4/0104-5970-hcsm-S0104-59702016005000010.pdf
In the early nineteenth century, investigations into the nature of psychic/spiritual phenomena, like trances and the supposed acquisition of information unattainable using normal sensory channels, prompted much debate in the scientific arena. This article discusses the main explanations offered by the researchers of psychic phenomena reported between 1811 and 1860, concentrating on the two main movements in the period: magnetic somnambulism and modern spiritualism. While the investigations of these phenomena gave rise to multiple theories, they did not yield any consensus. However, they did have implications for the understanding of the mind and its disorders, especially in the areas of the unconscious and dissociation, constituting an important part of the history of psychology and psychiatry.
Plas, R. (2000). Naissance d’une Science Humaine: La Psychologie: Les Psychologues et le “Merveilleux Psychique.” Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
“At the end of the 19th century in France . . . psychology became autonomous, declared it was a science and obtained the creation of chairs. Laboratories, and journals. However, official history is very discrete about the active participation of is better known psychologists, such as Alfred Binet or Pierre Janet, in research that, in our days, is excluded from academic psychology and belongs to parapsychology” (loose translation from http://www.pur-editions.fr/detail.php?idOuv=598)
During the last third of the 19th century, the ‘new’ French psychology developed within ‘the hypnotic context’ opened up by Charcot. In spite of their claims to the scientific nature of their hypnotic experiments, Charcot and his followers were unable to avoid the miracles that had accompanied mesmerism, the forerunner of hypnosis. The hysterics hypnotized in the Salpeˆtrie`re Hospital were expected to have supernormal faculties and these experiments opened the door to psychical research. In 1885 the first French psychology society was founded. The research carried out by this society may seem surprising: its members – Charles Richet in particular – were interested in strange phenomena, like magnetic lucidity, ‘mental suggestion’, thought-reading, etc. Very quickly, psychologists applied themselves to finding rational explanations for these supposedly miraculous gifts. Generally, they ascribed them to unconscious or subconscious perceptual mechanisms. Finally, after a few years, studies of psychical phenomena were excluded from the field of psychology. However, during the 4th International Congress of Psychology, which took place in Paris in 1900, the foundation of an institute devoted to the study of psychical phenomena was announced, but Pierre Janet and Georges Dumas founded within it the Société Française de Psychologie, from which psychical research was excluded. As for Charles Richet, disappointed by the psychologists, he devoted himself to the development of a new ‘science’ which he called ‘Métapsychique’. Several hypotheses have been put forward to account for this early research undertaken by the French psychologists, pertaining as much to parapsychology as to scientific psychology.
Largely unacknowledged by historians of the human sciences, late-19th-century psychical researchers were actively involved in the making of fledgling academic psychology. Moreover, with few exceptions historians have failed to discuss the wider implications of the fact that the founder of academic psychology in America, William James, considered himself a psychical researcher and sought to integrate the scientific study of mediumship, telepathy and other controversial topics into the nascent discipline. Analysing the celebrated exposure of the medium Eusapia Palladino by German-born Harvard psychologist Hugo Münsterberg as a representative example, this article discusses strategies employed by psychologists in the United States to expel psychical research from the agenda of scientific psychology. It is argued that the traditional historiography of psychical research, dominated by accounts deeply averse to its very subject matter, has been part of an ongoing form of ‘boundary-work’ to bolster the scientific status of psychology.
Sommer, A. (2013). Formalizing the Supernormal: The Formation of the “Gesellschaft Für Psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), c. 1886–1890. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 49, 18–44.
This paper traces the formation of the German “Gesellschaft für psychologische Forschung” (“Society for Psychological Research”), whose constitutive branches in Munich and Berlin were originally founded as inlets for alternatives to Wundtian experimental psychology from France and England, that is, experimental researches into hypnotism and alleged supernormal phenomena. By utilizing the career trajectories of Max Dessoir and Albert von Schrenck-Notzing as founding members of the “Gesellschaft,” this paper aims to open up novel perspectives regarding extra-scientific factors involved in historically determining the epistemological and methodological boundaries of nascent psychology in Germany.
Sommer, A. (2013). Spiritualism and the origins of modern psychology in late nineteenth-century Germany: The Wundt-Zöllner debate. In C.M. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Vol. 1, pp. 55-72). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Sommer, A. (2013). Crossing the Boundaries of Mind and Body: Psychical Research and the Origins of Modern Psychology. PhD thesis, University College of London.
This dissertation examines the co-emergence of psychical research and modern professionalized psychology in the late nineteenth century. Questioning conservative historical accounts assuming an inherent incompatibility of these disciplines, this thesis argues that from the early 1880s to ca. 1910, it was often difficult if not impossible to draw a clear distinction between psychology and psychical research. Chapter 1 forms the integrative framework of the thesis through a historiographical review of changing attitudes to ‘occult’ properties of the mind in natural philosophy from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Chapter 2 provides a study and comparison of concerns and epistemological presuppositions of the instigators and leading representatives of psychical research in England, France, Germany and the USA. Chapter 3 outlines competing methodological maxims in early experimental psychology, explores the work of the Society for Psychical Research in England and psychological societies conducting psychical research in Germany, and discusses the active involvement of the ‘father’ of modern American psychology, William James, in psychical research. Formulations of transcendental-individualistic models of unconscious or subliminal cognition by Carl du Prel in Germany and Frederic W. H. Myers in England, which informed the mature psychological thought of James in America and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland, are discussed as landmarks in the history of concepts of the unconscious. Chapter 4 presents case studies of early professional psychologists repudiating psychical research from the territories of fledgling psychology, identifies recurring rhetorical patterns in these controversies, and connects them to wider cultural and historiographical developments studied in Chapter 1.
Takasuna, M. (2012). The Fukurai affair: Parapsychology and the history of psychology in Japan. History of the Human Sciences, 25, 14-164.
The history of psychology in Japan from the late 19th century until the first half of the 20th century did not follow a smooth course. After the first psychological laboratory was established at Tokyo Imperial University in 1903, psychology in Japan developed as individual specialties until the Japanese Psychological Association was established in 1927. During that time, Tomokichi Fukurai, an associate professor at Tokyo Imperial University, became involved with psychical research until he was forced out in 1913. The Fukurai affair, as it is sometimes called, was not documented in textbooks on the history of Japanese psychology prior to the late 1990s. Among earlier generations of Japanese psychologists, it has even been taboo for discussion. Today, the affair and its after-effects are considered to have been a major deterrent in the advancement of clinical psychology in Japan during the first half of the 20th century.
Taves, A. (2014). A tale of two congresses: The psychological study of psychical, occult, and religious phenomena, 1900–1909. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 50, 376-399.
In so far as researchers viewed psychical, occult, and religious phenomena as both objectively verifiable and resistant to extant scientific explanations, their study posed thorny issues for experimental psychologists. Controversies over the study of psychical and occult phenomena at the Fourth Congress of International Psychology (Paris, 1900) and religious phenomena at the Sixth (Geneva, 1909) raise the question of why the latter was accepted as a legitimate object of study, whereas the former was not. Comparison of the Congresses suggests that those interested in the study of religion were willing to forego the quest for objective evidence and focus on experience, whereas those most invested in psychical research were not. The shift in focus did not overcome many of the methodological difficulties. Sub-specialization formalized distinctions between psychical, religious, and pathological phenomena; obscured similarities; and undercut the nascent comparative study of unusual experiences that had emerged at the early Congresses.
Timms, J. (2012). Phantasms of Freud: Nandor Fodor and the psychoanalytic approach to the supernatural in interwar Britain. Psychoanalysis and History, 14, 5-27.
The paper examines the appearance of “psychoanalytic psychical research” in interwar Britain, notably in the work of Nandor Fodor, Harry Price and others, including R. W. Pickford and Sylvia Payne. The varying responses of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones to the area of research are discussed. These researches are placed in the context of the increasingly widespread use of psychoanalytic and psychological interpretations of psychical events in the period, which in turn reflects the penetration of psychoanalysis into popular culture. The saturation of psychical research activity with gender and sexuality and the general fascination with, and embarrassment about, psychical activity is explored.
This article describes the relations between academic psychology and psychical research in Britain during the inter-war period, in the context of the fluid boundaries between mainstream psychology and both psychical research and popular psychology. Specifically, the involvement with Harry Price of six senior academic psychologists: William McDougall, William Brown, J. C. Flugel, Cyril Burt, C. Alec Mace and Francis Aveling, is described. Personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors in their collaboration are discussed. It is suggested that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. Their interaction is typical of the boundary work performed at this transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.
Zingrone, N. L. (2010). From Text to Self: The Interplay of Criticism and Response in the History of Parapsychology. Saarbrücken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.
The thesis examines the history of criticism and response in scientific parapsychology by bringing together the tools of history, rhetoric of science, and discursive psychology to examine texts generated in the heat of controversy. Previous analyses of the controversy at hand have been conducted by historians and sociologists of science, focusing on the professionalisation of the discipline, its philosophical and religious underpinnings, efforts of individual actors in the history of the community, and on the social forces which constrict and restrict both the internal substantive progress of the field and its external relations with the wider scientific community. The present study narrows the problem domain from the English-language literature —- an extensive database of over 1500 books and articles —- to the following: (1) a brief history of the development of the field in the U. K. and the U. S. that includes a survey of previous reviews of the controversy; (2) a specific controversy that extended over a 10-year period in the mid-twentieth century; and (3) a solicited debate on parapsychology with two target articles, 48 commentaries, and 3 responses published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. The thesis is comprised of eight chapters. In Chapter 1, the goals and methods of the thesis are described, previous considerations of controversy and closure in science studies are reviewed, the notion of closure is discussed, and the thesis content is described. In Chapter 2, a brief history of the field is provided which emphasises the broad structure and content of the field rather than specific methodology, results, or theory. In Chapter 3, previous reviews of the controversy are examined to provide a sense of the controversy terrain and to examine the extent to which what Gilbert and Mulkay (1984) have called ‘‘contingent’’ and ‘‘empiricist’’ repertoires have been used in criticisms and response. In Chapter 4, case studies on parapsychology that appeared in the science studies literature are reviewed. Rhetoric of science is introduced as a domain from which analytic tools for the present research are drawn. In Chapter 5, a case study tests the hypothesis that differences in style and structure in the two volumes that bracket the most important controversy in the history of American experimental parapsychology may have contributed to the scope and persistence of the controversy. The controversy extended from 1934 to 1944, beginning with the publication of the monograph Extra-sensory Perception (Rhine, 1934) and ending with the publication of Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years (Pratt, Rhine, Smith, Stuart & Greenwood, 1940). In Chapter 6, I justify a turn towards the methodology of discourse analysis by reviewing both the antecedents of modern discursive psychology, and methods that are currently in use. I also review Mulkay’s (1985) The Word and The World as a prelude to the case study in the next chapter. In Chapter 7, a subset of the methods available in discourse analysis, particularly the concepts of formulation, category entitlement and footing are used to analyse a target article, 48 commentaries and two responses to the commentaries that center on James Alcock’s contentions that parapsychology is the search for the soul and that dualism as a philosophical position is incommensurate with science. I show how Alcock’s use of the contingent repertoire in characterising science practise in parapsychology undermines his authority as a scientific interlocutor, and obscures, to some extent, the substantive message he intended his target article to carry. Chapter 8 concludes the thesis by restating the findings of the three methods used, examining the limited use of the methods in this thesis and outlining what a more extended study with the same and/or related materials would look like, while describing other potentially fruitful research that might be done. How these methods should and may contribute to science practise in parapsychology is also discussed with a particular emphasis on the multidisciplinary nature of the discipline and the need for a more complete reflexivity.
*I dedicate this series of blogs to the memory of Gerd H. Hövelmann, whose bibliographies of current publications have inspired many of us.