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

I recently published a summary and overview of the famous work of Nandor Fodor, Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science:

Carlos S. Alvarado, Early Psychical Research Reference Works: Remarks on Nandor Fodor’s Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2020, 34(4), 717–754. []

Abstract—Some early reference works about psychic phenomena have included bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and general over­view books. A particularly useful one, and the focus of the present article, is Nandor Fodor’s Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science (Fodor, n.d., circa 1933 or 1934). The encyclopedia has more than 900 alphabetically arranged entries. These cover such phenomena as apparitions, auras, automatic writing, clairvoyance, hauntings, materialization, poltergeists, premoni­tions, psychometry, and telepathy, but also mediums and psychics, re­searchers and writers, magazines and journals, organizations, theoretical ideas, and other topics. In addition to the content of this work, and some information about its author, it is argued that the Encyclopaedia is a good reference work for the study of developments from before 1933, even though it has some omissions and bibliographical problems.

This is a classic work that has been reprinted several times. Before I review Fodor’s work about psychic phenomena, methodology, and various aspects of spiritualism and psychical research,  I have sections about: Reference Works Covering Pre-1930 Developments, Psychical Research During the 1930s, and Nandor Fodor.

I wrote: “Fodor published much about psychic topics over the years, including These Mysterious People (Fodor, 1934b), Haunted People (Carrington & Fodor, 1951), On the Trail of the Poltergeist (Fodor, 1958), The Haunted Mind (Fodor, 1959a) . . . , Mind Over Space (Fodor, 1962), Between Two Worlds (Fodor, 1964), The Unaccountable (Fodor, 1968), and Freud, Jung, and Occultism (Fodor, 1971). He also worked as a psychoanalyst in New York and published on the subject and on various psychological matters . . . Fodor was also interested in theory, as can be seen in his articles about apports and materialization phenomena . . . But most of his writings in this area were about psychoanalytic ideas.”

Most of my comments are about the contents of the Encylopaedia, which had more than 900 entries. “Many of the entries included by Fodor were about phenomena. A few examples were: Apparitions, Apports, Auras, Automatic Writing, Bilocation, Clairvoyance, Direct Voice, Emanations, Fire Immunity, Haunting, Levitation, Luminous Phenomena, Materialisation, Obsession, Premonitions, Psychometry, Raps, Retrocognition, Table Turning, and Telepathy. Some of these entries were quite long, covering many aspects of the phenomena. For example, the Haunting one had sections about specific cases, and other topics, among them the “laying of the haunters” . . . “premonitory haunting” . . . , and “speculations of the early S.P.R. researchers.”

Nandor Fodor - Wikipedia
Nandor Fodor

There were also entries about investigators, mediums and psychics, famous cases, theoretical ideas, journals and magazines, frauds, and organizations. “A few entries were about the movements of Mesmerism, Spiritualism, and Psychical Research. The discussion about Spiritualism had sections about the phenomena of the movement, Spiritualism and religion, and short overviews of its history in various countries.”

There were also devices used in many investigations. “Biometer of Baraduc, Communigraph, Dynamistograph, Ouija Board, Psychic Telephone, and Sthenometer. The latter was an instrument invented by French physician Paul Joire to measure the exteriorization of nervous force from the human body, a topic covered as well in Emanations.”

Paul Joire’s Sthenometer

There were also many discussions of mediumistic communications: “He included topics such as ‘The Play of the Subconscious—Deceiving Spirits’ . . . , and ‘The Personal Character—Difficulties and Complications of Communications’ . . . The latter topic reminds me of James H. Hyslop’s . .  discussion of what he referred to as the pictographic process in mediumistic communications.”

Although there was much useful information, there were also some problems about lack of details about references to some facts, and precise information about individuals information about psychic phenomena.

In my view the Encyclopaedia was useful if used as the first aspect to obtain information about psychic phenomena. “Fodor provided us with a wide canvas that has proved to be very valuable in presenting the claims and ideas that characterized psychical research before the Encyclopaedia was published.” Fodor may be questioned in various ideas, but provided good information about the psychic literature. His Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science can be very useful to understand the ideas about psychic phenomena before Fodor published his work.

The rest of my comments are about the critics and opinions used by Fodor.