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

I recently presented a webinar in Spanish about “Psychical Research and Psychology: The Importance of Historical Perspective.” (To watch the video click here). This was organized by Drs. Wellington Zangari and Fatima R. Machado in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Inter Psi, a research and teaching unit at the University of Sao Paulo.

Here is the summary of the presentation:

This presentation is about the importance of the history of psychical research to understand the development of some aspects of psychology. The first part of the presentation is about modern historical studies that show the influence of psychical research on the development of ideas in psychology such as dissociation and the unconscious mind. This includes the publications of Henri Ellenberger, Régina Plas, Andreas Sommer, Eugene Taylor, and my articles on the subject. The second part is about the usefulness of the old psychical research literature, which is important today to understand phenomena such as mediumship and ESP. This includes the work of individuals such as Edmund Gurney, Frederic W.H. Myers, Eugène Osty, Charles Richet, Eleanor Sidgwick, and others.

Edmund Gurney

Edmund Gurney

Frederic Myers 4

Frederic W.H. Myers

Charles Richet 10

Charles Richet

Eleanor Sidgwick 2

Eleanor M. Sidgwick

 Some Relevant Publications

Alvarado, C.S. (2002). Dissociation in Britain during the late Nineteenth Century: The Society for  Psychical Research, 1882-1900. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 3, 9-33.

Crabtree, A. (1993). From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic sleep and the roots of psychological healing. New Haven: Yale University Press.

 Crabtree From Mesmer to Freud 2

Evrard, R., Pratte, E.A., & Cardeña, E. (2018). Pierre Janet and the enchanted boundary of psychical research. History of Psychology, 21, 100-125.

Graus, A. (2019).  Ciencia y espiritismo en España, 1880-1930. Granada: Comares.

Le Maléfan, P. (1999). Folie et Spiritisme: Histoire du discourse psychopathologique sur la pratique du Spiritisme, ses abords et ses avatars (1850-1950). Paris: L’Harmattan.

Plas, R. (2000). Naissance d’une science humaine: La psychologie: Les psychologues et le “merveilleaux psychique.” Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.

Plas Naissance

Sommer, A. (2012). Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino. History of the Human Sciences, 25, 23–44.

Sommer, A. (2013). Normalizing 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.