Archive for October, 2017


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 . . . “

 

 

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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.