Category: People in Parapsychology

Erlendur Haraldsson (1931-2020)

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

I recently received the sad news that my friend, and well-known parapsychologist Erlendur Haraldsson, passed away. Here is a short biography of his background:

Erlendur Haraldsson

“Erlendur Haraldsson was born in Iceland in 1931. He studied philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (1955-1956) and the University of Freiburg (1956-1958), later studying psychology at Freiburg (1963-1966) and the University of Munich (1966-1969). In 1969-1970 he spent a year with Dr. J. B. Rhine at his Institute of Parapsychology in Durham, North Carolina, and in 1970-1971, he did an internship in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where he met Dr. Ian Stevenson, leading to a life-long association and the publication of joint papers. From 1971-1973 he worked with Dr. Karlis Osis at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York. He received a doctorate in psychology from the University of Freiburg in 1972, and became a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Iceland in psychology in 1973; in 1989 he became a full professor, and in 1999, an emeritus professor. His research and publications have covered a wide range of religious and psychological topics, including mediums, reincarnation, and deathbed phenomena” (online here). More details about his life appear in an autobiography published in Icelandic. The parapsychological content of this book will be published in English around March by White Crow Books.

One thing that I always admired about Erlendur was his interest in many areas of parapsychology. Few people in the field have shown such wide interests, particularly when it comes to research. I always felt that his contributions to the investigation of mediumship and deathbed visions were very important, and reminded us of the issue of spontaneous cases and survival of death.

This is evident in his bibliography, which includes such areas as ESP experiments, deathbed visions and apparitions, recollection of previous lives, mediumship, Sathya Sai Baba, and other topics. A few examples of publications appear below.

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Experimental Work

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1970). Subject selection in a machine precognition test. Journal of Parapsychology, 34, 182-191.

Martin Johnson and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1984). The Defence Mechanism Test as a predictor of ESP scores. Journal of Parapsychology, 48, 185-200.

Joop M. Houtkooper, Loftur R. Gissurarson and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1988-89). Why the ganzfeld is conducive to ESP. A study of observational theory and the percipient-order effect. European Journal of Parapsychology, 7, 169-192

Erlendur Haraldsson and Joop M. Houtkooper. (1992). The effects of perceptual defensiveness, personality and belief on extrasensory perception tasks. Personality and individual differences, 13, 1085-1096.

Erlendur Haraldsson, Joop M. Houtkooper, Rainer Schneider and Martin Bäckström (2002).Perceptual  defensiveness  and ESP performance: Reconstructed  DMT-ratings and psychological correlates in the first German DMT-ESP experiment. Journal of Parapsychology, 66, 249-270.

Deathbed Visions and Apparitions

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1977). At the hour of death. Avon Books. (There are later editions)

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1977). Deathbed observations by physicians and nurses: A cross-cultural survey. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 237-259.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1987). The Iyengar-Kirti case: An apparitional case of the by-stander type. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 54, 64-67. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1988-89). Survey of claimed encounters with the dead. Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying, 19, 103-113. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2009). Experiences of encounters with the dead: 337 new cases. Journal of Parapsychology, 73, 91-118. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2012). The Departed Among the Living: An Investigative Study of Afterlife Encounters. White Crow Books.

Recollections of Previous Lives

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1995). Personality and abilities of children claiming previous-life memories. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183, 445-451.

Erlendur Haraldsson, Patrick Fowler and Vimala Periyannanpillai. (2000). Psychological characteristics of children who speak of a previous life: A further field study in Sri Lanka. Transcultural Psychiatry, 37, 525-544. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2000). Birthmarks and claims of previous life memories II. The case of Chatura Karunaratne. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 64, 82-92. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2003). Children who speak of past-life experiences: Is there a psychological explanation? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice, 76, 55-67. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2012). Persistence of ‘‘past-life’’ memories in adults who, in their childhood, claimed memories of a past life. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200, 985-989. (Full text)

Erlendur Haraldsson and James G. Matlock. (2017). I Saw a Light and Came Here: Children‘s Experiences of Reincarnation. White Crow Books.


Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1974). An experiment with the Icelandic medium Hafsteinn Björnsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 68, 192-202. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1975). A communicator of the “drop in” type in Iceland: The case of Gudni Magnusson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 69, 245-261. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Ian Stevenson (1975). A communicator of the “drop in” type in Iceland: The case of Runolfur Runolfsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 69, 33-59. (Full text)

Erlendur Haraldsson, J.G. Pratt and Magnus Kristjansson. (1978). Further experiments with the Icelandic medium Hafsteinn Bjornsson. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 72, 339-347. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur R. Gissurarson (2015). Indridi Indridason the Icelandic Physical Medium. White Crow Books.

Sathya Sai Baba

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. (1976). Out-of-body experiences in Indian swamis: Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Dadaji. Research in Parapsychology 1975. Scarecrow Press, 147-50.

Sai Baba and Haraldsson (seated)

Erlendur Haraldsson and Karlis Osis. (1977). The appearance and disappearance of objects in the presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 33-43.

Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson (1979). Parapsychological phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Christian Parapsychologist, 3, 159-163.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1987). “Miracles are my visiting cards”: An investigative report on psychic phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Century-Hutchinson.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1990). The miraculous and the Sai Baba Movement. Religion Today: A Journal of Contemporary Religions, 6(1), 6-9.

Other Psychic Experiences

Erlendur Haraldsson (1978). Þessa heims og annars. Könnun á dulrænni reynslu Íslendinga, trúarviðhorfum og þjóðtrú. Bókaforlagið Saga.

Erlendur Haraldsson and Orn Olafsson (1980). A survey of psychic healing in Iceland. The Christian Parapsychologist, 3, 276-79.

Erlendur Haraldsson. (1985). Representative national surveys of psychic phenomena: Iceland, Great Britain, Sweden, USA and Gallups multinational survey. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 53, 145-158. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson and Joop M. Houtkooper. (1991). Psychic Experiences in the Multi-National Human Values Survey. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 85, 145-165. (Full text).

Erlendur Haraldsson. (2011). Psychic experiences – third of a century apart: Two representative surveys in Iceland. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 75, 76-90. (Full text)

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Although I first saw Erlendur at the 1979 convention of the Parapsychological Association held at Moraga, California, I met him in the early 1980s when I was working at the University of Virginia as a research assistant for Ian Stevenson. Stevenson assigned me to help Erlendur finish his book about Sathya Sai Baba. Erlendur asked me to find cases in the spiritualistic and psychical research literature of phenomena similar to those produced by this person. In later years he returned and I continued having long talks with him. I learned much from him (I was new in the field) and once he told me he saw me as a colleague, not as an assistant. This is one of the most satisfying moments of my early career in psychical research.

Nagato Azuma. Carlos S. Alvarado, and Erlendur Haraldsson at the Division of Parapsychology, University of Virginia (early 1980s)

In later years, when he visited us again in Charlottesville, I continued having many conversations with him, and he stayed with me and with my wife, Nancy Zingrone, and used one of my cars. He also stayed with us briefly in Virginia Beach.

I greatly enjoyed his book Indridi Indridason the Icelandic Physical Medium (written with Loftur R. Gissurarson, 2015). I felt honored that he asked me to write an introduction to the book, and also felt he acknowledged my interest in the old psychic literature.

Although he conducted much research showing that psychic phenomena were related to psychological variables in the laboratory, I feel that Erlendur contributed greatly to expand the importance of seeing the phenomena outside of the confining experimental walls. Without rejecting laboratory work, he reminded us of personal experiences, the phenomena of mediums, and of the richness and implications of powerful experiences such as deathbed visions and apparitions, and later, recollections of previous lives.

Erlendur stated he was affected by figures in the field such as J.B. Rhine, Karlis Osis, and Ian Stevenson. I think many of us, myself included, were also positively affected by Erlendur, both personally and professionally.

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

Over the years I have seen Dr. Roger Nelson at various conventions of the Parapsychological Association and of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and had the pleasure of publishing an interview with him in this blog in 2014. During that period he worked at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research  laboratory and presented many papers reporting experiments about psychokinesis.

Roger Nelson 3

Roger Nelson

Roger held the position of Coordinator of Research at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory located at Princeton University (1980-2002). Since 1997 he has been the director of one of the most exciting research programs in parapsychology, the Global Consciousness Project, which is the topic of the book discussed here.

The book, Connected: The Emergence of Global Consciousness (Princeton, NJ: ICRL Press, 2019; available via Amazon), is about the development and results of  The Global Consciousness Project (see also a shorter article, a slide presentation, and a video), which postulates the possibility that human consciousness can interact with physical systems at a global level, when we respond synchronously to specific events, negative and positive.

Nelson Connected

As Roger has stated elsewhere: “The Global Consciousness Project . . . is an international collaboration of scientists and engineers that tests the claim, insisted on by sages throughout history, that there exists a unified field of human consciousness. The project looks for evidence that thoughts, emotions and perceptions may potentially cohere in response to major world events, producing detectable effects. Data collected from a worldwide network of random output devices has been found to show small but statistically significant deviations that suggest this is indeed the case.”

The book has 28 chapters that appear in four parts: Part 1 The Egg Story (chapters such as: Starting Points, Interconnections, Development, Encouraging Results); Part 2 The Instrument (Chapters such as: Intention Affect RNGs [Randon number generators], The FiedREG Experiment, The Egg Network, Suitable Measures); Part 3 The Results (Chapters such as: Terror Attacks and Wars, Natural Disasters, Compassion and Empathy, Modelling and Theory); and Part 4 Interpretation and Meaning (Chapters such as: Extracting Meaning, Implications of the Evidence, What We Can Do, Love to Earth).


Can you give a brief summary of the book?

Connected documents the Global Consciousness Project (GCP) in depth, including its history and sources, descriptions of technology and examples of results. More than enough technical and analytical detail, some discussion of notional explanations, and finally some chapters on interpretation and implications. It builds on research showing that human intention can change random number generator (RNG) behavior, and that group consciousness, when it is coherent and resonant, can change random sequences. A network of RNGs around the world was designed to ask whether we can see effects of a global consciousness responding to great events in the world. The answer suggests that when large numbers of people share emotions stimulated by major tragedies or great celebrations there is a small but meaningful effect on the GCP network. The implication that we are interconnected at an unconscious level poses the next question — what might happen if we work consciously to understand and strengthen these connections?

What is your background in parapsychology, and with the topic of the book specifically?

I’m a cognitive psychologist with long interest in “alternative” psychologies. I came to Princeton in 1980 to join the PEAR research group, to develop experiments in remote perception (RV) and mind-matter interaction (MMI). My interest in broader applications of the MMI technology led to “fieldREG” experiments studying group consciousness, and to the next level of integrated or shared consciousness effects in the Global Consciousness Project, which I created in 1997.

What motivated you to write this book?

The GCP is a major research project that I wanted to document in an accessible, relatively linear fashion. Its findings and implications offer insight into the extraordinary reach of human consciousness, and suggest that we are not only capable of but responsible for conscious evolution.

Why do you think your book is important and what do you hope to accomplish with it? 

We are at a time in history when collaboration and cooperation are essential to address global issues. Millions of us understand that we must come together as one, and this book speaks of a potential to become a noosphere — a sheath of intelligence for the earth. Consciousness, as I wrote in the book. “is not just a secondary emanation from the brain, but instead is both part of and independent of the physical substrate of neurons and synapses protected by the skull. Mind has a real and participatory role in the world” (p. 12).

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

Dr. Sonali Bhatt Marwaha has been working in parapsychology for several years in India. Her academic degrees include an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, an M.Phil. and a PhD in Psychology. She is the recipient of the J. B. Rhine Biennial Research Award from Andhra University.

Sonali Marwaha

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

Sonali, who I know only via correspondence, works frequently with Dr. Ed May and is a research associate at his Laboratories for Fundamental Research. With May, she is co-editor, of Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science (2 vols.). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications, 2015, and Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing Research and Theory. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.

May Extrasensory

May Anomalous Cognition 2

Later in 2017, her important work (with May) presenting reports of the Star Gate Program will appear: The Star Gate Archives: Reports of the US Govt. Sponsored Psi Program. (1972-1995). Volume 1: Remote Viewing (1972-1984), Volume 2: Remote Viewing (1985-1995), Volume 3: Psychokinesis, Volume 4: Government Memorandums and Reports. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. 2017 (for information to obtain these books click here and here).


How did you get interested in parapsychology?

Reincarnation, post-mortem-survival, astrology, palmistry, sages and seers, are part of the Indian cultural milieu that I have been born and brought up in. For the most part, these are cultural givens and part of conversational language. As an avid reader from my younger days, my reading repertoire has been varied, from fiction to philosophy. I hold a Masters in clinical psychology, with neuropsychology as my thesis option for the MPhil degree (a two year pre-PhD research program) from the S.N.D.T. Women’s University, Mumbai. I enrolled for a PhD in psychology at the Department of Psychology and Parapsychology, Andhra University, and was introduced to parapsychology as an academic discipline. While my thesis addressed belief systems and concept of self and emotions, parapsychology was still not within my sphere of interest.

After my PhD, I began working with Prof. K. Ramakrishna Rao (former Executive Director, Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, Durham; founder of Dept. of Psychology and Parapsychology, Andhra University) at his newly established Institute for Human Science and Service (now closed), here in my hometown Visakhapatnam. Knowing that Prof. Rao held a dualist position, I made it clear to him when we first met that I held a physicalist position. He welcomed me on board his team. Over the eight years that I worked with him, I was introduced to the field of research parapsychology both from the Western and Eastern perspective. Theoretically, the Eastern perspective was at the center-stage, as that is the direction of Prof. Rao’s work. However, this did not appeal to me as it did not address the many unformulated questions in my mind.

In 2006, Prof. Rao organized a three week workshop on parapsychology, for which he invited Drs. Edwin C. May, Roger Nelson, Mario Varvoglis, Suitbert Ertel, and Jerry Solfvin, and a few weeks later, on behalf of Prof. Rao, then President of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, I hosted Dean Radin. This was my formal introduction to the field of research parapsychology. Meeting these stalwarts from the field provided me with a wide angle view on the research and the theoretical viewpoints in the field.

At this workshop, I had the opportunity to learn from Ed May about the Star Gate program and his later work at the Laboratories for Fundamental Research. Introducing himself as a skeptic, he was willing to pay attention to my question “How does psi work?” Later, he sent me the AIR Report on the Star Gate program, which I read in full. Over the years, he sent me more research psi literature, and over time I became more intrigued with the field, especially since there was a proper scientific structure in the investigation of the phenomena. From the literature—particularly the Star Gate literature—I learnt that there was evidence, there were doubts, and there were theoretical perspectives. The question “How Does Psi Work?” became the paramount question in my mind, and has charted my journey into this field.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

One of the biggest gaps in the psi literature is the 20 year Start Gate data. Thus, Ed May and I embarked on the project of bringing to the research community the entire Star Gate Archives. The four volume Star Gate archives collection published by McFarland include: Volume 1: Remote Viewing, 1972-1984 (2017); Volume 2: Remote Viewing, 1985-1995 (2017); Volume 3: Psychokinesis (2017); and Volume 4: Government Memorandums and Reports (release date to be determined).

I was on a steep learning curve in the course of going through the Star Gate material. I found informational psi (precognition/remote viewing) very fascinating. Aside from the question how does it occur, it leads to several more questions such as free will vs determinism, actual vs probable futures, nature of time, nature of information, why isn’t every one “psychic”, how does information get from there/then to here/now?

I have placed upfront in my mind Joe McMoneagle’s submarine remote viewing (McMoneagle, 2015) as a prime example that has to be accommodated by any theory of psi. Over substantial discussions Ed May and I realized that we were asking/addressing questions and putting road blocks to ideas from the domains of our expertise—physics and psychology respectively. This led us to examining the process of psi from the perspective of each domain: the physics domain, which is the information-centric perspective, without concern for how psi is perceived and experienced; and the neuroscience domain, which is the person-centric perspective addressing how the putative psi-signal is perceived by the sensory mechanism, processed, and manifested. This led to the development of the testable Multiphasic Model of Precognition (Marwaha & May, 2015a,b,c) Presented below is the abstract of the MMPC.

We define precognition as an atypical perceptual ability that allows the acquisition of non-inferential information arising from a future point in spacetime. The Multiphasic Model of Precognition (MMPC) identifies two distinct phases: The first is the physics domain, which addresses the question of retrocausation and how it is possible for information to traverse from one spacetime point to another. We suggest that the solution might be found within entropic considerations. The second is the neuroscience domain, which addresses the acquisition and interpretation of retrocausal signals. We propose that this occurs across three stages: (a) perception of signals from an information carrier, based on psychophysical variability in a putative signal transducer; (b) cortical processing of the signals, mediated by a cortical hyper-associative mechanism; and (c) cognition, mediated by normal cognitive processes, leading to a response based on retrocausal information. The model is comprehensive, brain-based, and provides a new direction for research requiring multidisciplinary expertise.

In the process of developing this model, we were able to explore several fundamental aspects of the problem at hand. In the decision augmentation theory, May, Utts, and Spottiswoode (1995) had established that micro-PK was informational psi rather than causal psi. Like other psychologists, such as Richard Broughton, we arrived at the conclusion that precognition is the only form of psi. This led to the paper: Precognition: The Only Form of Psi? (Marwaha & May, 2016). The abstract of this paper reads:

Based on empirical evidence we discuss the nature of precognition, and address the questions whether retrocausation/precognition violates causality, whether precognition implies determinism, the questions of actual or probable futures, from where does the information arise, and other observed properties of precognition. This is followed by a discussion on the primacy of precognition by examining the various categories of psi. In our analysis, precognition is most likely the only form of psi, subsuming within it clairvoyance, telepathy, micro-PK, and the survival hypothesis. In this paper, we examine the various arguments for this assertion, the primary one being that it is impossible to close the precognition door.

This paper was followed by A Refutation of the Dualist Perspective in Psi Research (Marwaha & May, 2015d), which argues against the dualist and QM based perspectives of psi. While the validity and reliability of first person experience as a basis for understanding any experience is amply discussed in the cognitive sciences literature, in this paper the refutation of the dualist view is primarily from the point of (1) the definition of non-material, providing a possible definition of non-material, and (2) the absence of the role of consciousness in quantum mechanics. We conclude that these criteria are sufficient to reject a dualist perspective in the analysis of psi data, until the validity of all possible physicalist views have been exhausted.

Our physicalist signal-based model is premised on psi being normal and atypical, the dualist/panpsychist models are premised on psi being supernormal and universal.

Thus, my work focuses on theoretical aspects of the problem. This work is complemented by Ed May, one of the best experimenters in the field, and a physicist to boot, supplementing my inexpertise in this domain.

Why do you think parapsychology is important?

Since, in my view, informational psi/precognition is the only form of psi, it is important because it addresses the fundamental nature of time, causality, and information. The varieties of psi experiences are different manifestations of this fundamental form of psi.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

There are several problems that plague psi research:

  • The term “parapsychology” is an impediment as it conjures up ideas of the supernatural. This leads to the several misperceptions and misconceptions of the problem under study for the lay persons and those uninitiated into the basic problem that psi research addresses. Additionally, it restricts the field to psychology, when the questions raised by psi phenomena need to be addressed by physics, information theories, cognitive psychology, and the cognitive neurosciences.
  • The emphasis on a dualist perspective, and the role of quantum mechanics (in essence, a physicalist theory) to explain psi, i.e., an undefined “consciousness” as an information carrier via QM correlation and entanglement is a problem. Although psi data is provided as evidence for dualism, it fails to provide testable hypotheses to support the view, or a definition for the key term consciousness. This perspective has led to an opposition against the physicalist sciences, without first ruling out a physicalist basis for psi.
  • The lack of a clear statement on the fundamental issues related to psi experiences, is a matter of concern, as all types of experiences/events are clubbed under “parapsychology.”
  • Points 1-3 above, lead to the hesitancy of a new crop of scientists adopting psi as an area deserving scrutiny. This is cause for concern, as much of the advances in psi research need expertise from disciplines such as physics, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

These issues affect the funding available for psi research.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

Currently we are in the process of wrapping up the four-volume Star Gate Archives. In the pipe line are some theoretical papers on the nature of psi and related issues, and putting to test some of the stated hypotheses of the multiphasic model of precognition.


McMoneagle, J.W. (2015) Evidence for precognition from applied remote viewing, in E.C. May, & S.B. Marwaha (eds.) Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume I — History, Controversy, & Research (pp. 285-316). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

May, E. C., Utts, J. M., & Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (2014/1995). Decision augmentation theory: Toward a model for anomalous mental phenomena. In E.C. May, & S.B. Marwaha, (Eds.). Anomalous cognition: Remote viewing research and theory (pp. 222-243). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.


Anthologies and Books

May, E.C. & Marwaha, S.B. (Eds.) (2017). The Star Gate Archives: Reports of the US Govt. Sponsored Psi Program. (1972-1995). Volume 1: Remote Viewing (1972-1984), Volume 2: Remote Viewing (1985-1995), Volume 3: Psychokinesis, Volume 4: Government Memorandums and Reports. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

May, E.C., & Marwaha, S. B. (Eds.). (2015). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume I — History, Controversy, and Research. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

May, E.C., & Marwaha, S.B. (Eds.). (2015). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume II — Theories of Psi. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

May, E.C., & Marwaha, S.B. (Eds.) (2014). Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing Research and Theory. Foreword by Richard Broughton. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Marwaha, S.B. (2006). Colors of Truth: Religion, Self, and Emotions. Foreword by Prof. Girishwar Misra. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Co.

Rao, K.R. and Marwaha, S.B. (Eds.) (2005). Towards a Spiritual Psychology: Essays in Indian Psychology. New Delhi: SAMVAD India Foundation.


Marwaha, S.B. (2017). Response to: Brief Comments on »Siddhis and Psi Research: An Interdisciplinary Analysis«. Confluence.

Marwaha, S.B. (2016). Siddhis and psi research: An interdisciplinary analysis. Confluence, 4(1), 33-58.

Marwaha, S.B., & May, E.C. (2016). Precognition: The only form of ESP? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 23(3–4), 76–100.

Marwaha, S.B., & May, E.C. (2015). Rethinking extrasensory perception: Towards a multiphasic model of precognition. SAGE Open, January-March 2015, 1–17. DOI: 10.1177/2158244015576056.

Marwaha, S.B., & May, E.C. (2015). Multiphasic model of precognition. pp. 145-170. In E. C. May and S. B. Marwaha (Eds.). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume II — Theories of Psi. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

Marwaha, S.B., & May, E.C. (2015). The multiphasic model of precognition: The rationale. Journal of Parapsychology, 79(1), 5–19.

Marwaha, S.B., & May, E.C. (2015). A refutation of the dualist perspective in psi research. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 22(5-6), 70-95.

Marwaha, S.B. & May, E.C. (2015). Fundamentals for psi theorists. In E. C. May and S. B. Marwaha (Eds.). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume II — Theories of Psi (pp. 1-17). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

May, E.C. & Marwaha, S.B. (2015). The fundamentals of psi. In E. C. May, & S. B. Marwaha (Eds.). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume I — History, Controversy, & Research (pp. 1-31). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

May, E.C. & Marwaha, S.B. (2015). Next Step—Process-oriented research: Guidelines for experimenters. In E. C. May and S. B. Marwaha (Eds.). Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science, Volume II — Theories of Psi (pp. 329-354). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publications.

Marwaha, S.B. (2013). Roots of Indian materialism in Tantra and pre-classical Sāṃkhya. Asian Philosophy, 23(2), 180-198, April 2013, DOI:10.1080/09552367.2013.777582

Marwaha, S.B. (2013). K. Ramakrishna Rao’s Trident (Triśūla) Model (T-M) of Body-Mind-Consciousness. In K. R. Rajani, & K. R. Rao (2013). Mind and consciousness: Some contemporary perspectives. New Delhi: Akansha Pub. House.

May, E.C., Marwaha, S.B., & Chaganti, V. (2011). Anomalous cognition: Two protocols for data collection and analyses. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 75, 191-210.

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

Dr. Everton de Oliveira Maraldi is a Brazilian psychologist who I first met in Brazil, and who I have also seen at conventions of the Parapsychological Association. He has a PhD in social psychology from the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and is currently a post doctoral researcher at the Institute of Psychology of the University of São Paulo. Everton won an award from the São Paulo Academy of Psychology for the best dissertation for 2013-2015 period. In addition, he is a Member of Inter Psi – Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology and Psychosocial Processes at USP, and the coordinator of the Group of Studies  of Alterations and Anomalies of Identity of Inter Psi.

Everton Maraldi

Everton de Oliveira Maraldi

Everton’s main areas of interest are the social psychology of religion, spirituality, religion and health, dissociation, trance and dissociation in religious context, the psychosocial self and its identity, and anomalous experiences in general. He has published psychological work with Brazilian mediums.

In addition, Everton is very interested in the history of psychical research. I worked with him in three articles about Swiss psychologist Théodore Flournoy. Two of these have been published (Alvarado, C.S., Maraldi E. de O., Machado, F.R., & Zangari, W. Théodore Flournoy’s contributions to psychical research. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2014, 78, 149-168, click here; Maraldi E. de O., Alvarado, C.S., Zangari, W., & Machado, F. R. Dissociação, crença e criatividade: Uma introdução ao pensamento de Théodore Flournoy [Dissociation, belief and creativity: An introduction to Théodore Flournoy’s thought]. Memorandum: Memória e História em Psicologia, 2016, No. 30, 12-37), and another one has been submitted for publication (Maraldi and Alvarado, Théodore Flournoy and the construction of mediumistic romances).


How did you get interested in parapsychology?

I was raised in a very religious environment. My mother became a medium when I was only a kid. She was very influenced by spiritist and Umbanda beliefs about mediumship (Umbanda is a Brazilian religion derived from the syncretism of Catholicism, Spiritism, and Indigenous and African traditions). When I was 16-years-old, she founded a spiritist center and asked me to collaborate with her by delivering spiritist lectures. At that time, I became very interested in the philosophical aspects of Spiritism and started to read Allan Kardec’s writings, as well as the work of other spiritist and spiritualist writers, such as Léon Denis and Ernesto Bozzano. Bozzano, in particular, had a huge influence on me, because of his detailed discussion of the scientific evidence for survival after death. It was also at that time that I came to know the work of the Brazilian parapsychologist Hernani Guimarães Andrade, especially for his book Parapsicologia Experimental (Experimental Parapsychology).

When preparing for college, I decided to apply for psychology. I was still very influenced by the naïve and lay conception of psychology as the “science of the soul.” During the college years, I became more skeptical in relation to the Spiritist doctrine, mainly because of the influence of psychoanalytic ideas and interpretations concerning religious experiences. But my interest in parapsychology and the study of paranormal and spiritual experiences never disappeared. In 2007, I was invited by a friend to participate at one of the Inter Psi meetings. I instantly became fascinated with the groups’ ideas and rigorous approach to the study of paranormal phenomena, which contrasted with the ideological and religious perspectives of Oscar Quevedo (a famous Brazilian parapsychologist and Catholic priest) and Andrade (whose work was pretty much influenced by the spiritist doctrine).

At that time, the Inter Psi Laboratory of Anomalistic Psychology was based in the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (now it is based in the Institute of Psychology, at the University of São Paulo). Founded by Wellington Zangari and Fatima Regina Machado, the group aims to study anomalous experiences from a scientific (psychological and social) perspective. Wellington and Fatima have always been open to the possibility of anomalous processes or phenomena; nevertheless, they argue for the importance of considering the available (psychological, biological, social) explanations first, before any speculation regarding the existence of paranormal processes. Their work has always been based on dialogue with the mainstream areas of science, such as social psychology and cognitive sciences, what was crucial to the establishment and “normalization” of this field of study in Brazil. I was then encouraged by prof. Wellington (now my post-doc supervisor) to follow a career in this area of research.

Today, I have a masters and a doctorate in Social Psychology, with a series of publications on dissociation, mediumship, and paranormal beliefs, all topics related to anomalistic psychology. More recently, I have been collaborating with other research centers as well, such as the ProSER (Program of Spirituality, Religion, and Health at the Institute of Psychiatry of the University of São Paulo) and the Brain, Belief, and Behavior research group at Coventry University, UK.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

My main areas of interest include the role of dissociative experiences in religious rituals and practices; cross-cultural and historical perspectives on dissociation and related phenomena (such as mediumship and possession); anomalous creative experiences (such as mediumistic painting and writing); implications of anomalous experiences to our understanding of self and identity; the psychological correlates of paranormal and religious beliefs and experiences; anomalous experiences and mental health. I am also interested in the psychological study of atheism and paranormal disbelief.

I do not think I have given a significant scientific contribution to the development of anomalistic psychology or parapsychology (at least not yet!). But I am proud to have participated (along with Wellington, Fatima, and other Inter Psi members) in the establishment and expansion of this field of study in Brazil, as well as in the development of a psychosocial perspective towards anomalous experiences. I have dedicated many of my publications to a discussion of the life histories, meanings and belief systems of the experiencers (such as mediums), as well as the sociocultural and religious context in which they are immersed. These aspects are not only “alternative explanations” for anomalous experiences (such conception would constitute a reduction of these experiences to psychological and social processes). Even if we consider that anomalous phenomena (such as telepathy) are ontologically valid, the variables mentioned above would still be necessary to understand the way these experiences occur in (and affect) people’s lives. It is essential to consider not only the phenomenon per se but also the individual and his / her biographical and social contexts. And this is something I frequently emphasize in my work.

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

I consider parapsychology as the study of phenomena that, if demonstrated as valid, apparently lie on the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Without parapsychology, one could never seriously explore the possibility of other forms of human perception or unusual and far-reaching potentials such as psychokinesis and precognition. But this is a secondary function. Actually, parapsychology is important for investigating curious (and sometimes dramatic) experiences that people report very often, but for which they do not always have a satisfactory and rational explanation.

Parapsychology did not begin with the collection of certain statistical anomalies; It started, in fact, from people’s accounts of their paranormal experiences. The first reason why we study parapsychological phenomena is that people sometimes transform their lives based on them, for better or worse. These events do not seem to be random natural processes. They convey meanings, symbols, and are differently molded by individuals and cultures. They may occur as part of common situations, but usually, they are deeply rooted in our fears, our dreams, our needs and the emotional and affective bonds we establish with other people. These experiences may also have implications for psychotherapy and psychiatric and diagnostic criteria.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

I think one of the great problems of parapsychology is the difficulty in finding a consistent theory about parapsychological phenomena. There are many hypotheses and theoretical models available, but there is also much diversity regarding results, and the data do not always support a given theoretical model. In what concerns the field of mediumship studies, I would say that the greatest challenge is to find a way to differentiate the survival hypothesis from the super-psi hypothesis (if there is any convincing way to do so). Both perspectives are precarious, in my opinion. The super-psi hypothesis assumes almost unlimited powers that go far beyond what experimental research has sometimes held about psi phenomena. The biggest problem with the survival hypothesis resides in its religious and cultural implications. Survival researchers do not always consider that their views of life after death are biased toward the concept of personal survival. The spirits of the deceased are not the only metaphysical explanation of mediumistic phenomena. In Brazilian culture, for example, some mediumistic groups believe in Orixás or other entities that are not dead people. There are a plethora of beliefs about metaphysical entities or spiritual forces, and many different doctrines in various places around the world describe a spiritual world.

These religious and esoteric groups would probably think that their interpretation of such spiritual dimension is better (or more accurate) than other available explanations. Who decides which belief system is to be preferred? How to handle all the multiple and contrasting possibilities experimentally? How can be we sure, scientifically, that it is the spirit of a deceased person, instead of other invisible or incorporeal beings? Does the veridical and accurate information provided by mediums suffice for these specific purposes?

Can you mention some of your current projects?

I recently had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease reviewing Brazilian studies on dissociation and dissociative disorders and analyzing them from a cross-cultural perspective. The aim of the article is to discuss Brazilian research on the topic of dissociation, highlighting its contributions to the understanding of dissociative experiences in nonclinical populations (including mediums and other religious participants), as well as for the validity and relevance of dissociative disorders in the contexts of psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy.

I am currently working on a series of studies (including longitudinal data) evaluating the correlations between dissociative experiences, childhood trauma, explicit and implicit paranormal beliefs, reports of spiritual/paranormal experiences and social desirability (acknowledgments to São Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP grant number 2015/05255-2).

I am also collaborating in many other studies with other colleagues, such as a systematic review of the adverse effects of meditation, and a paper on the contributions of Théodore Flournoy, a pioneer of scientific psychology, to the study of mediumship and dissociative experiences.



MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. Evidências de validade da Escala de Experiências Dissociativas (DES) em uma amostra não clínica. Avaliação Psicológica, v. 15, p. 93-104, 2016.

MARALDI, E. O.; ALVARADO, C. ; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina. Dissociação, crença e criatividade: uma introdução ao pensamento de Théodore Flournoy. Memorandum: Memória e História em Psicologia, No. 30: v. 30, p. 12, 2016.

MACHADO, Fátima Regina ; ZANGARI, W. ; MARALDI, E. O. ; MARTINS, L. B. ; SHIMABUCURO, A. H. . Contribuições da psicologia para a compreensão das relações entre a espiritualidade, a religiosidade e as experiências anômalas. Clareira – Revista de Filosofia da Região Amazônica, v. 3, p. 2, 2016.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. . ‘Em transe’: um estudo quali-quantitativo sobre o papel das experiências dissociativas e somatoformes nas crenças e rituais religiosos. Boletim Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 35, p. 382-408, 2015.

MARALDI, E. O.. Medium or author? A preliminary model relating dissociation, paranormal belief systems and self-esteem. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, v. 78.1, p. 1-24, 2014.

ALVARADO, C. ; MARALDI, E. O. ; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina . Théodore Flournoy’s contributions to Psychical Research. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, v. 78, p. 916, 2014.

MARALDI, E. O.. Resenha do livro ‘Hallucinations’ (A mente assombrada) de Oliver Sacks. Boletim – Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 33, p. 497-501, 2013.

MARALDI, E. O.; KRIPPNER, S. ; EVRARD, R. . Une approche biopsychosociale de la dissociation créative: remarques sur un cas de peinture médiumnique. Bulletin Métapsychique, v. 15, p. 7-8, 2013.

MARALDI, E. O.; KRIPPNER, S. . A Biopsychosocial Approach to Creative Dissociation: remarks on a case of mediumiistic painting. NeuroQuantology, v. 11, p. 544-572, 2013.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. . Individual and group dialectics in the study of mediumship: a psychosocial perspective. The Paranormal Review, v. 66, p. 14-18, 2013.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. . Funções projetivas e terapêuticas das práticas dissociativas em contexto religioso. Boletim – Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 32, p. 424-452, 2012.

MARALDI, E. O.. Resenha do livro ‘Religion for Atheists’ de Alain de Botton. Boletim – Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 32, p. 497-501, 2012.

MARALDI, E. O.. Jung e as experiências mediúnicas. Junguiana (Sao Paulo), v. 29, p. 39-49, 2011.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina . A Psicologia das Crenças Paranormais: Uma Revisão Crítica. Boletim – Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 31, p. 394-421, 2011.

MARALDI, E. O.; MACHADO, Fátima Regina ; ZANGARI, W. . Importance of Psychosocial Approach for a Comprehensive Understanding of Mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, v. 24, p. 181-196, 2010.

ZANGARI, W. ; MARALDI, E. O. . Psicologia da Mediunidade: do intrapsíquico ao psicossocial. Boletim – Academia Paulista de Psicologia, v. 77, p. 233-252, 2009.

Book Chapters

ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina ; MARALDI, E. O. ; MARTINS, L. B. . Extraordinary religious / anomalous cases from Brazil and the Fortean approach. In: Jack Hunter. (Org.). Damned facts: Fortean essays on religion, folklore and the paranormal. 1ed.Konia, Cyprus (Grécia): Aporetic Press, 2016, v. 1, p. 41-53.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina . Estudio de la sobrevivencia: consideraciones metodologicas y epistemologicas. In: Alejandro Parra. (Org.). Ojos invisibles – La cruzada por la conquista del espíritu: Una neurociencia de las experiencias paranormales. 1ed.Buenos Aires: Antigua, 2015, v. 1, p. 115-142.

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina ; KRIPPNER, S. . Anomalous mental and physical phenomena of Brazilian mediums: a review of the scientific literature. In: Jack Hunter; David Luke. (Org.). Talking with the spirits: Ethnographies from between the worlds. 1ed.Brisbane (Australia): Daily Grail Publishing, 2014, v. 1, p. 259-301.

ZANGARI, W. ; MARALDI, E. O. ; MARTINS, L. B. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina . Estados Alterados de Consciência e Religião. In: João Décio Passos e Frank Usarski. (Org.). Compêndio de Ciência da Religião. 1ed.São Paulo: Paulinas / Paulus, 2013, v. , p. 423-435.

Online publications

MARALDI, E. O.; ZANGARI, W. ; MACHADO, Fátima Regina . Mediumnidad en Brasil: aspectos históricos e investigación científica. E-Boletín Psi: Boletín Electrônico del Instituto de Psicologia Paranormal, Argentina, 10 set. 2015.

MARALDI, E. O.. El caso del medium Chico Xavier: una interpretación psicológica. E-Boletín Psi – Boletín Electrônico del Instituto de Psicologia Paranormal, 15 jan. 2013.

MARALDI, E. O.. Un estudio exploratorio sobre la mediumnidad y la identidad psicosocial. E-Boletín Psi – Boletín Electrônico del Instituto de Psicologia Paranormal, , v. 4.

People in Parapsychology: XXXII: Michael Nahm

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

I am glad to present an interview with Dr. Michael Nahm, who obtained his PhD with work about physiological responses of beech trees to droughts. In recent times he has worked on forestry science and on various parapsychology-related topics, among them terminal lucidity.

Michael Nahm 3

Michael Nahm

Michael is the author of two books: Wenn die Dunkelheit ein Ende findet. Terminale Geistesklarheit und andere Phänomene in Todesnähe [When Darkness Comes to an End: Terminal Lucidity and other Phenomena in Near-Death States] (Amerang: Crotona, 2012), and Evolution und Parapsychologie [Evolution and Parapsychology] (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2007).

Nahm Terminal Lucidity Book


Nahm Evolutiom Parapsychologie

Although I have never met Michael personally, I have had email contact with him and we have published papers together: Alvarado, C.S., Nahm, M., & Sommer, A. (2012). Notes on early interpretations of mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 855-865; and Alvarado, C.S., & Nahm, M. (2011). Psychic phenomena and the vital force: Hereward Carrington on “Vital Energy and Psychical Phenomena.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 75, 91-103.

For more about his work check Michael’s website Exploring Frontiers of Biology.


How did you get interested in parapsychology?

When I was a teenager, I was already interested in philosophical issues. This interest was fostered by a fantastic biology teacher at high school. Apart from teaching us the basics of biology according to the course of instruction, he also introduced us to various philosophers, and to biological problems such as the origin of life, and concerns regarding random mutations in the genome. Of the philosophers he introduced to us, I was especially impressed by Arthur Schopenhauer. In the 1990s, I came across the books of Rupert Sheldrake. I was enthralled by the way he aimed at pushing the limits of established science. I contacted him and tried to jump on the experimental train, searching for dogs that know when their owners are coming home, experimenting with ants and crystal growth, and with being woken up in the night telepathically by somebody else. In the end, however, all my attempts to contribute to research into morphic fields remained inconclusive or failed. I also met Rupert in 1997 at a seminar he gave at Schumacher College in Totnes, where we had many stimulating talks. Summing up, I owe Rupert the confidence that one can contribute to researching so-called anomalies also privately without belonging to the in-group of responsible experts, and without affiliation to a relevant academic institution.

My interest in parapsychology increased considerably during the writing of my first book on unsolved riddles of evolution (Nahm 2007), because I recognized that psychical phenomena are one of the most important stumbling blocks for the materialistic and neo-darwinistic interpretation of biological processes including evolution. Ever since then, my fascination for parapsychology remained on a high level and I delved into several different lines of psi research. Yet, professionally, I stayed in a different academic setting (chiefly, forestry research), and I pursue my psi-related occupations in my private time, which, much to my regret, is always too limited.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

My main interests in the field are varied, and they also vary with time. This is what I love about parapsychology: There is an enormous amount of highly interesting literature which is often hardly known, and it can be very exciting to dive into a given field of research, unearthing strange and rare literature, or into the biography of a largely forgotten pioneer of parapsychology and its bordering areas. In the recent years, I contributed to topics such as the implications of psi-phenomena for biology and unsolved riddles of evolution, the history of parapsychology, cases of the reincarnation type, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), near-death experiences (NDEs) and other end-of-life experiences.

I suppose most people will have read my name in connection with “Terminal Lucidity”, which can be defined as the unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death. Cases of particular interest involve patients whose brains were destroyed by diseases such as tumors, strokes, or Alzheimer’s disease, but who seemed to recover shortly before death with their memory being intact. Such experiences were reported since antiquity and especially throughout the 19th century, but they continue to surface until present. Yet, especially the older accounts of terminal lucidity are widely scattered and often difficult to obtain. Hence, I attempted to collect and systemize them, and to publicize the results of this literature survey together with colleagues active in the field of near-death studies (for a short overview, click here to see my article in the Psi Encylopedia.

Moreover, I am fascinated by mediumship, both mental and physical, and published several articles about it. Some might have followed the controversy about the alleged physical medium Kai Mügge, who attracted quite some interest in the parapsychological community. After I was eagerly following and documenting the development of his supposed mediumship for several years in person, I finally discovered that Mügge used fraudulent practices during his séances (see also this article).

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

When we look at nature, and try to understand it better by applying means of natural sciences, we always need to take the context and the level of organization of the phenomena we intend to study into account. First, for studying classical physics, more or less linear biochemical reactions and chain reactions, the framework of reductionist materialism is the appropriate context. Second, for studying more complex systems like protozoons, interacting cells, tissues, or organs, perhaps also ecosystems, a systemic approach sometimes called “organicism” is the appropriate framework. Yet, third, when it comes to studying even more complex living systems, including human beings, the unfolding of consciousness, psi, postmortem survival, or possibly evolution as a whole, I think that ultimately, only a kind of neo-vitalistic and dualistic approach is appropriate. Finally, when we look at the fundamental levels of reality with a metaphysical slant, we might apply a holistic and monistic approach in which the dualistic properties present on lower levels of biological organization are regarded as complementary and as originating in an initially unified source at the heart of being. Of course, there is no clear-cut border between all these levels of existential organization, they intersect. But when we intend to study the last two levels of organization mentioned, parapsychology is the silver bullet.

Along with Arthur Schopenhauer, biologist and philosopher Hans Driesch (1867-1941), and several other pioneers in our field, I consider parapsychology the most appropriate and most important empirical research discipline for studying these levels of existence – simply because parapsychology takes also so-called “anomalies” and strange properties of the human psyche into account, and thus, offers pathways for the most realistic descriptions and interpretations of existence available.

On a personal level, the occupation with parapsychology and its research results leads to intensification of my self-awareness, and to lots of amazement about the world I live in – what more could you ask for?

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

I think that some of the problems that parapsychology faces have not much to do with parapsychology itself. First, the presently prevailing “Zeitgeist” in the mainstream sciences is very conservative and “anti-paranormal”, so that even strongly positive results in parapsychology would most likely not lead to an acceptance of psi-phenomena in the academic setting and among funding agencies. I don’t think this is the fault of parapsychology or parapsychologists, it is a consequence of other socio-political, historical and scientific developments.

Second, I suppose that the decreasing funds and possibilities to work parapsychologically in an academic setting are partially due to natural cycles that many scientific disciplines undergo. In the beginning, they flourish and attract (relatively) many interested researchers, then follows a fruitful period of research, and then, when much of the scientific approaches that can possibly be performed have already been performed, the interest declines again, or the discipline splits up in increasing numbers of subdisciplines. I think that this is where we are now, and in case of parapsychology, we have to face a decline of interest rather than creating subdisciplines. However, I can well imagine that parapsychology will face a renewed cycle of interest after several decades, which will then perhaps take place in a more psi-friendly and supportive scientific environment. Perhaps, this might be triggered by research into near-death experiences and other death-related phenomena in medical settings – an approach that I consider very promising. Anyway: Psi will never go away, and there will always be people who will study it in one way or another.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

At present, Bruce Greyson, David Rousseau, and I try to publish the results of a literature survey concerning unusual brain lesions or disorders that don’t seem to be reflected in the mental state of the affected persons, and on certain aspects of the savant syndrome. These topics pose largely neglected, but very interesting questions for standard models of memory processing and neural plasticity. We try to publish this paper in a mainstream medical journal, and are curious whether we will succeed. Apart from that, I am currently occupied with three projects related to parapsychology.

First, other colleagues and I evaluate data that we obtained from three online-surveys about NDEs, Exceptional Experiences following NDEs, and OBEs. One aim of these surveys among German-speaking NDErs was to find specifically gifted persons who are able and willing to induce OBEs at will, and to experiment with them regarding veridical perceptions from the OBE-state. However, although four persons stated that they can induce OBEs at will frequently, or even always, none of them was willing to participate in such tests.

Second, together with two like-minded sympathizers of Hans Driesch, who was also an influential theoretical parapsychologist, I began writing a German book about this remarkable man. Presently, his neo-vitalistic philosophy is regarded as outdated. Yet, we think this appraisal is premature. Rather, similarly to the writings of Frederic Myers, William James, Henri Bergson, and other pioneers who built bridges from parapsychology to natural sciences, psychology and philosophy, I consider his philosophical concepts still important and topical.

Third, I translated the most important parts of an elaborate and very interesting Hungarian book about studies into apport phenomena (Elemèr Pap of Chengery: Új Látóhatárok Felé [Toward New Horizons], 1938), and started to write an English summary and commentary about it. Every now and then, when time permits it, I write a few lines.

However, time is always running and passing much too quick, and there are many, many more exciting topics that I’d like to trail! You can follow my psi-related activities on my website.

Giraffe Nahm

Photo taken by Michael Nahm


Selected bibliography


Nahm M (2012). Wenn die Dunkelheit ein Ende findet. Terminale Geistesklarheit und andere Phänomene in Todesnähe [When Darkness Comes to an End: Terminal Lucidity and other Phenomena in Near-Death States]. Amerang: Crotona. 286 pp.

Nahm M (2007). Evolution und Parapsychologie [Evolution and Parapsychology]. Norderstedt: Books on Demand. 400 pp.

Articles and Book Reviews in Journals

Nahm M (2016). Book review: Sabine Mehne: Der Große Abflug [The Great Takeoff]. Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, 16, 484-488.

Ludwiger I von, Nahm M (2016). Apport phenomena of medium Herbert Baumann (1911-1998): Report on personal experiences. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 30, 337-358.

Nahm M (2016). Albert Heim (1849-1937): The multifaceted geologist who influenced research into near-death experiences and suggestion therapy. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 12, 256-258.

Nahm M (2016). Letter to the editor: The role of animals as co-percipients of apparitions in the work of Emil Mattiesen (1875-1939). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 80, 119-121.

Nahm M (2016). Further Comments about Kai Mügge’s Alleged Mediumship and Recent Developments. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 30, 56-62.

Nahm M (2015). Mysterious ways: The riddle of the homing ability in dogs and other vertebrates. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 79, 140-155.

Nahm M (2014). Book review: Timon Kuff: Okkulte Ästhetik – Wunschfiguren des Unbewussten im Werk von Albert von Schrenck-Notzing [Occult Aesthetics. Wish-Figures of the Unconscious in the Work of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing]. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 78, 172-173.

Nahm M (2014). Commentary on the Essay Review „William Jackson Crawford on the Goligher Circle“ by Michael Tymn. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 345-349.

Nahm M (2014). The development and the phenomena of a circle for physical mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 28, 229-283.

Nahm M, Greyson B (2013-2014). The death of Anna Katharina Ehmer. A case study in terminal lucidity. Omega, 68, 77-87.

Nahm M, Navarini AA, Kelly EW (2013). Canities subita: A Reappraisal of Evidence Based on 196 Case Reports Published in the Medical Literature. International Journal of Trichology, 5, 63-68.

Alvarado CS, Nahm M, Sommer A (2012). Notes on early interpretations of mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 855-865.  

Nahm M (2012). The sorcerer of Cobenzl and his legacy: The life of Baron Karl Ludwig von Reichenbach, his work and its aftermath. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 381-407.

Nahm M, Greyson B, Kelly EW, Haraldsson E (2012). Terminal lucidity: A review and a case collection. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 55, 138-142.

Alvarado CS, Nahm M (2011). Psychic phenomena and the vital force: Hereward Carrington on “Vital energy and psychical phenomena”. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 75, 91-103.

Nahm M (2011a). Reflections on the context of near-death experiences. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25. 453-478.

Nahm M (2011b). The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Its history and controversial aspects of its contents. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 29, 373-398.

Nahm M (2011c). Book review: Göran Brusewitz: Conscious connections. About Parapsychology and Holistic Biology. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 407-411.

Nahm M, Hassler D (2011). Thoughts about thought bundles: A commentary on Jürgen Keil’s paper “Questions of the reincarnation type”. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 305–318.

Nahm M (2010a). Book review: Janice M. Holden, Bruce Greyson und Debbie James: The handbook of near-death experiences. 30 years of investigation. Journal of Parapsychology, 74, 182-189.

Nahm M (2010b). Book review: Anabela Cardoso: Electronic voices: Contact with another dimension? Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, 10, 176-181.

Nahm M (2010c). Book review: Gerda Lier: Das Unsterblichkeitsproblem. Grundannahmen und Voraussetzungen [The Problem of Immortality. Basic Assumptions and Preconditions]. Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, 10, 136-144.

Nahm M (2010d). Letter to the editor [On mediumistic communications by living agents], Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 74, 53-56.

Nahm M, Nicolay J (2010). Essential features of eight published Muslim near-death experiences: An addendum to Joel Ibrahim Kreps’s “The search for Muslim near-death experiences”. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 29, 255-263.

Nahm M (2009a). Terminal lucidity in people with mental illness and other mental disability: An overview and implications for possible explanatory models. Journal of Near-Death Studies 28, 87-106.

Nahm M (2009b). Four ostensible near-death experiences of Roman times with peculiar features: Mistake cases, correction cases, xenoglossy, and a prediction. Journal of Near-Death Studies 27, 211-222.

Nahm M (2009c). Book review: Forward ever, backward never? Betrachtungen zum Tagungsband „Charting the future of parapsychology“. Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, 9, 216-237.

Nahm M, Greyson B (2009). Terminal lucidity in patients with chronic schizophrenia and dementia: A Survey of the Literature. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 197, 942-944.

Book chapters

Nahm M (2015). Außerkörperliche Erfahrungen [Out-of-Body Experiences]. In: G Mayer, M Schetsche, I Schmied-Knittel, D Vaitl (eds). An den Grenzen der Erkenntnis. Handbuch der wissenschaftlichen Anomalistik. Stuttgart: Schattauer. (pp. 151-163).

Nahm M (2013). Terminale Geistesklarheit und andere Rätsel des menschlichen Bewusstseins [Terminal Lucidity and other Enigmas of Human Consciousness]. In: A Serwaty, J Nicolay (eds). Nahtoderfahrung und Bewusstseinsforschung. Goc

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

Those of you familiar with the history of the Parapsychology Foundation (PF, click here and here) are aware of the rich heritage this organization has and of its contributions to parapsychology. Usually the emphasis of discussions about the PF is its founder, Eileen J. Garrett,  and secondarily, with its second President, Eileen Coly.



Eileen J. Garrett, PF Founder and First President


Eileen Coly, Second PF President

My emphasis here, however, is on the organization’s third and current President, Lisette Coly  (granddaughter of Garrett and daughter of Coly). I have known Lisette for many years. The first time I met her was in one of the Parapsychological Association conventions. My wife Nancy L. Zingrone and I worked for the Parapsychology Foundation (PF) since 1999, and we came to New York City to work at the Foundation when Lisette was its Vice-President and Mrs. Eileen Coly was its President.


Mrs. Coly with Her Daughter Lisette Coly. Video Still From Susan MacWilliams’ The Only Way to Travel

Many were the projects Nancy and I worked on at the PF, some things we are still doing now. In the process, we greatly enjoyed the working relationship Mrs. Coly and Lisette had. I have written elsewhere about Mrs. Coly. Here I would like to place on record the great energy and creativity Lisette always showed, something that she continues to show to this day. There is no question that she is the moving force within the PF today, a force that keeps a balance between PF tradition and new developments, and that is sensitive to the ideas of those around her.


Lisette Coly

I think this interview is appropriate considering the recent anniversary of the PF. Readers will appreciate the achievements of the PF from an article all of us wrote together a few years back. I asked Lisette in the interview to comment on some of these aspects.


1. Please summarize the history of PF before you became President.

The PF literally started as a hypnagogic revelation when Eileen J. Garrett describes in her book, Many Voices, that on the periphery of sleep  she heard a voice telling her to get well and build an edifice that would honor the subject that she had devoted her life.  She set to work and in December 1951 the PF came to life. Its early days saw her trying to corral researchers and academicians from diverse disciplines to work in the science of parapsychology.


With a publications program and an international conference program and building the library that came to be named for her, I believe she did just that and over the years these programs have been augmented and for the most part exist today. For more information about the “wonders” of Parapsychology Foundation I would urge going to our main website.

2. How did you start working at the PF.

It surprises me that I have in hindsight spent my lifetime at PF while  immersed in parapsychology. The immersion is understandable having grown up in my grandmother Eileen J. Garrett’s orbit. As a child and teen the house was invariably full of Garrett’s friends and associates such as Eric Dingwall, Aldous Huxley, Emilio Servadio, never forgetting  PF’s co-founder,  the Honorable Frances P. Bolton,  who was like a second grandmother to me.


Frances P. Bolton

Frequent visits to the then PF offices at 29 West 57th Street while growing up cemented cherished life-long relationships with others such as Drs. Lawrence LeShan, Ian Stevenson,   and the Rhine family.  My attendance and later coordination of our then  annual PF international  conferences afforded me the benefit of good counsel and revered  friendship with  Drs.  Charles Tart, William Roll, Robert Van de Castle, Stanley Krippner, and with so many others that I have been fortunate to count on for support as I grew to maturity and assumed greater responsibilities.

While at university I was interested in pursuit of a career in  the diplomatic service but had my head turned by sojourns and travels with Garrett in Europe and in the South of France at the then PF  European headquarters at Le Piol in St. Paul de Vence the home of many of PF’s  international conferences.


PF Meeting at Le Piol in St. Paul de Vence, France

She urged me to leave my classes and take business courses and hone secretarial skills and then with those tools at hand just dig into something that interested me. Garrett seemingly set her net well as I became ensnared by my own interest in the field and recognition that the PF was of value. Garrett envisioned me to be of assistance to my mother, Eileen Coly, who she worried might well be left “holding the bag” in administering the PF at her death with an eye to PF’s continual operation.

I started on staff as the Editorial Assistant but in reality was the grunt of the office in February 1969 with a myriad of chores such as  manning the PBX telephone board—if anyone remembers that relic—as well as taking dictation from Garrett and Allan Angoff, along with tasks such as library book  shelving, filing and stamping mail, all the while working the mimeograph machine and, more often than not, covered in purple ink.

At Garrett’s death in 1970, stating always that I was leaving in six months-time, I realized the value of my education as I was trying to hold my own with academicians and researchers the world over and hence went on to get my BA from Hunter College while working at the PF.  Those were early heady days for me getting to know the leading lights of parapsychology and personalities such as Salvador Dali and assorted other visitors vying for face time with Garrett.  In retrospect perhaps I did assuage my interest in international diplomacy albeit in parapsychology.

3. How would you describe the work that EJG and EC did at the PF?

To answer that question I think it easiest to view the body of work that each accomplished while leading the PF along with a comparison of their personalities which is very telling.  Eileen J. Garrett was the flamboyant multi-faceted trance medium, author and entrepreneur who with her magnetic personality was able to not only draw people to the subject, but thanks to our co-founder Frances P. Bolton’s generosity, to support her vision not only for the organization but truly for the entire field.  I have heard her described in a multitude of ways  referred to as “catnip” or as a python who, once in her presence, rendered her audience positively groggy and eager to join what for her was a crusade to have psychical research taken out of the murky often suspect séance room and out into the clean air of scientific exploration.  She was on the vanguard of parapsychological research coming out of post World War II’s aftermath and she set the agenda and tone for what PF would grow to become.


My mother, Eileen Coly, came to serve as President in l970 at the death of her mother, in the midst  of the flowering  of the so-called Occult/New Age Movement which was problematic to say the least. As Eileen Coly often laughingly remarked, creative whirlwinds, referencing Garrett, are exciting and dynamic but incredibly messy to clean up after. I believe it took my cool, unflappable and highly practical mother to calmly take the reins and set PF on a secure and structured path. Impartial, as the PF holds no corporate views, Coly was intensely interested in the plight of our researchers who for the large part are sadly unfunded and unrecognized. At heart she was most interested in education, both academic to grow the future of the science, but  also education to  inform  the public at large, who is often misled and confused by misrepresentations as to what the psychic world and parapsychology really define, to promote a better understanding of the psychic elements inherent  in our lives.

These two highly individual personalities not only benefited the growth and continuance of the Parapsychology Foundation  but  also  my own attempts at leadership, as I have been able to draw upon their diverse leadership styles and skill sets while currently managing the organization.  Eileen Garrett certainly gets the credit for creating PF, but Eileen Coly who served as our President much longer than our founder, is the one who has done the most to support the field during her tenure. Both Presidents held fast to the mission of the PF which I myself attempt to maintain.

4. What do you do as PF President?

Simply put I do a little of everything and act as the guardian of the PF flame. Whereas it is understandable that I would seek to continue a tradition maintaining the organization established by my grandmother as in justifiable pride in a family endeavor, I am at heart committed as those who went before me to get answers to the questions raised by psychic functioning that continue to elude us.  In finding if not answers at least a greater understanding of the psychic elements in our lives, it is imperative that our researchers, academicians and students of all rank be supported if not purely financially but in any manner open to us.

Following the financial reverses which very nearly saw the demise of the organization in 2008  I was forced to cut back drastically and very regretfully on our programs. A difficult time,  in hindsight, it was  productive to be forced to really examine our past and determine where and how to best lead the organization in the future. Technology has played a large part in the changes in “how” the PF continues our mission of remaining a worldwide forum for the exploration of psychic phenomena, but the founding vision remains true.

It is a labor of love, well worth the effort, to maintain the Garrett Research Library in Greenport, New York.  It is difficult but rewarding for me to drive the two hours to Greenport from New York City to open the facility to inquiring minds by appointment and to continue to grow the already extensive  collection. The summer months are easier as I maintain a home on the North Fork with the library hours extended. I have found that our patrons, students and researchers, in being forced to focus their energies due to time constraints of availability benefit from a more intense use of the facility.


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

As I am continually searching for financial support, should the Foundation’s financial health improve, it would be our intention to expand access to the library. The advent of electronic  communication has improved our outreach with our constituents tremendously. The ability to provide immediate feedback is a big improvement from my early days at PF while waiting for the US Postal Service. Making connections and contacts for our constituency is much easier and more immediate, which was not the case years back when people had to travel to visit. Now by pressing “send” they are able to benefit from the PF’s longstanding  position  as a clearinghouse for quality information.


Unidentified User of the PF Library at Greenport, NY

I have had a large learning curve to appreciate and assimilate the online potential for education and conferences. PF and I owe massive amounts of gratitude to Research Fellows, Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone and Dr. Carlos S.  Alvarado who literally have pushed me kicking and screaming into the internet while holding my hand literally and figuratively as I now grasp its potential for PF’s future activities.

5. What have you accomplished recently at PF?

During PF’s celebratory 65th anniversary in 2016 I was  primarily concerned with the  overhaul, reinstatement and rededication of PF’s programs as well as the addition of new directives. Our revered Perspectives Lecture Series, which was launched in 1998, is now back on occasion in real time and on the internet. We have formalized our PF Lyceum Academy on the WizIQ Platform. Our PF International Affiliate program is thriving having held two recent Affiliate conferences (click here and here ), with Dr. Dean Radin added to its roster representing the USA. We have launched a new online program, “PF’s Book Expo”,  (click here, here, and here) having sponsored three such events to date.


In addition, we are sponsoring a parapsychology MOOC, and various forums on interest. All of these events are free.



Our social media presence is growing with our PF Facebook page and that of our Psychic Explorer page along with  Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Our five websites are being slowly converted to mobile ready access and being retooled to be more user friendly.

We have formalized both a Research Fellow program with current Fellows, Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado,  Dr. Kathy Dalton, Dr. James Matlock, and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone, and added  a Research Associate program in which we were pleased to welcome Gonçalo Veiga. I am extremely proud to have introduced PF’s YouTube Channel  which we have been adding to on a weekly basis posting a treasure trove cache of  Classic Perspective Lectures, Face to Face interviews and the recordings of our various Book Expo presentations, Lyceum Forums and conferences –to date totaling over 70 items (for an already dated progress report click here).

6. What are your plans for the future of PF?

Plans for the future of PF are to stay the course set back in 1951 and to continue to offer quality information, direction and support for those interested in parapsychology around  the world. I am most proud to announce a modest return to our Scholarship and Award program later this year, as without support of newcomers to the field parapsychology’s  future will not shine  bright. The PF You Tube channel will be augmented with more of our classic materials but also with new series such as “PF on the Move” and others in development.

I am enthused to welcome a fourth generation to PF which was not envisioned to be a family foundation but seems to have evolved as such. My daughter, Anastasia Damalas, is presently serving her apprenticeship in much the same way as Eileen Coly and myself were introduced to the field. She is bringing her skills in social marketing and film to the benefit of PF. She too understands as I do the enormous body of work that has gone before us coupled with a deep appreciation for our colleagues and students of the paranormal. We pledge to rededicate in this our 66th year to the advancement of parapsychological research and ask for your support.


Anastasia Damalas, PF Staff and Daughter of Lisette Coly


Lisette Coly

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation
I recently participated, via Skype, in Alexandre Sech Junior’s doctoral defence of a thesis about William James and psychic phenomena. I was delighted by the quality of the thesis and the responses Alexandre gave to my questions. The degree was granted by the Health Program of the School of Medicine of the Federal University of Juiz de For a (Minas Gerais, Brazil).


Dr. Alexandre Sech Junior

Alexandre, who I met in Brazil some years back, and with whom I have corresponded, has a masters degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana. He is a member of the Nucleo de Pesquisa em Espiritualidade e Saude (Group of Research in Spirituality and Health), which is part of the Federal University of Juiz de For a. Alexandre is the main author of an article about James that I mentioned before in this blog (click here), and has been active in other ways.

Here is the summary of his thesis, which is in Portuguese.

The Occult in the Works of William James and its Influence in the Conception and Development of the Concept of Stream of Consciousness

“This study deals with the occult expressed through exceptional mental phenomena – mediumistic trances, mystical experiences, automatisms and anomalous experiences of healing – and their relations to the works of psychologist and philosopher William James (1842-1910). Therefore, it is limited to the English and American context of science in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. In its first phase, the research gave priority to the exegesis of primary sources, such as: The Principles of Psychology, Psychology: Briefer Course, The Varieties of Religious Experience and A Pluralistic Universe. I also analyzed articles from works of the collection The Works of William James such as Essays in Psychology, Essays in Psychical Research, Essays in Radical Empiricism and Essays, Comments, Reviews.”


William James



“Furthermore, this study deals with secondary sources related to the life and thought of William James and of medium Leonora Piper (1857-1950), as well as other scholars that somehow were associated to his work. The second phase consisted of searching for new archival evidence from the William James Papers kept at Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, USA, and also from the Society for Psychical Research Papers preserved at Wren Library and at Cambridge University Library in Cambridge, England. Letters, journals, notebooks, private notes, lecture notes, marginalia, manuscripts and rough drafts of scientific observations and reports of William James and research associates who might have been present at the séances arranged by him have been photographed, categorized and analyzed, totaling almost 2,000 documents. I present this thesis in a threefold manner and although it is not a biographical study, this research adopted a chronological approach to present William James’s writings. The first part presents various concepts of the occult through history up to their relation to the exceptional mental phenomena within the context of this inquiry. The second part establishes the importance of the occult in the life and works of William James arguing the relevance of their phenomena for the definition and scope of a radical science of mind envisioned by him. The third and last part presents indications and evidence, which indicates that James might have put his project into practice. New and not yet published documents indicate the possibility of a direct influence of the occult in the conception and development of James’s important concept called Stream of Consciousness, leading this thesis to the conclusion that Jamesian tradition in psychology owes more to the occult than history currently admits. My main conclusions are that James’s interest in the occult was more than mere eccentricity; his many years of interest and dedication to occult phenomena had an important role in the development of his project of psychology. This means that in order to understand the works of William James in a thorough manner, one must consider the interface between his psychology and the occult; and finally, that phenomena deemed as paranormal which involve exceptional aspects of mental life may represent a legitimate way to understand human nature to its fullest extension.”


Leonora E. Piper


Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1909, 23, 2–121.

I hope we will see soon publications based on this fascinating study.

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

I first met Alexander Moreira-Almeida, M.D., PhD, in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he came to attend a conference about mediumship sponsored by the Parapsychology Foundation. Alexander is a psychiatrist from Brazil that works at the University of Juiz de Fora. I visited him in Brazil with my wife an colleague Nancy L. Zingrone, and met several of his graduate students, many of whom were working on projects related to mediumship and other topics.


Dr. Alexander Moreira-Almeida

Alexander currently holds various positions, among them: Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Federal University of Juiz de Fora [UFJF], School of Medicine, Director of the Research Center in Spirituality and Health (NUPES) at UFJF, Chair of the World Psychiatric Association Section on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry, and Chair of the Section on Spirituality of the Brazilian Psychiatric Association.

Alexander’s dissertation was about the relationship between mental mediumship and psychopathology. Over the years he has published on the subject and his general results do not support the idea that mediums suffer from mental problems.


How did you get interested in parapsychology?

I grew up in a family, like many others in Brazil, with strong and mixed religious/spiritual interests. I was exposed mainly to Catholicism, Umbanda (an African-Brazilian religion), Spiritism, and to a variety of esoteric/spiritualist movements. At the same time, since an early age, I had a strong interest in natural sciences and philosophy. I was also influenced by Spiritism and its proposal of using a rational and scientific approach to spiritual issues, of reconciling religion and science.

So I became interested in exploring and understanding anomalous experiences from a rational/scientific perspective. In 1995 I was a medical student at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Brazil. In the same week, two articles were published in national press media covering psychic surgery. It was the first time I heard about John of God.  What intrigued me the most was the fact that the two articles had totally opposing views of psychic surgery. One presented it as quackery and the other as a real and effective treatment. At that time it became clear to me that both articles had preconceptions about the subject, since none presented clear evidence to support their claims.  Then, I asked myself why someone did not simply start by checking if the “surgeries” were real or fake. So, with another colleague, and under supervision of a Pathology Professor of my medical school, we developed a study on the spiritual healing and surgeries performed by John of God, my first study on issues related to spirituality or parapsychology (click here).

During my residence in psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, I started more in depth studies of spiritual experiences. I was especially interested in studies on the origins, the sources, of spiritual experiences and how to differentiate them from mental disorders. With another resident and two psychiatry professors, we founded the NEPER (Center for the Study of Religious and Spiritual Problems) of the Institute of Psychiatry – USP, a multidisciplinary research group in religion/spirituality and health that includes psychiatrists, neurologists, pharmacist, psychologists, a historian, an anthropologist and a philosopher. This was first research group in spirituality and health in a medical school in Brazil. During that time I got to know the studies on anomalous/spiritual experiences performed by Ian Stevenson, Bruce Greyson, Stanley Krippner and Etzel Cardeña.  At the same institution, I obtained a PhD in Health Sciences (2004) with the doctoral dissertation: “Phenomenology of Mediumistic Experiences, Profile and Psychopathology of Spiritist Mediums.”

After my PhD, I was a posdoctoral fellow (2005-6) at Duke University (USA) under supervision of Prof. Harold Koenig. During that time, in addition to perform studies in epidemiology of religion, I also became familiar with the Parapsychological Association, the Parapsychology Foundation and the Rhine Research Center, what allowed to met many good researchers in parapsychology that were very supportive of my work.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

My main research interests involve the exploration of the association between religiosity and health, empirical studies of spiritual experiences as well as the methodology, history and epistemology of this research. My main focus now is on spiritual experiences, especially on their differentiation from mental disorders and their implications to mind-brain relationship.

We have performed several epidemiological studies with clinical (bipolar, dialysis patients, rehabilitation) and general population (elderly, college students,  pregnant women on the impact of religion and spirituality (R/S) on health outcomes (depression, anxiety, quality of life, pain, substance use/abuse etc). In order to foster new studies about R/S in Brazil, we have translated and validated, or developed in Portuguese three different scales (click herehere, and here).

Interdisciplinary studies of spiritual experiences are essential to advance the scientific understanding of them. Most of my studies on spiritual experiences have been focused on mediumship. I started with my PhD investigating the phenomenology and the mental health of 115 spiritist mediums in São Paulo, Brazil. Our findings have shown that mediums, despite having many anomalous experiences that have been called “psychotic” and/or “dissociative,” have good mental health. Actually, there were  correlations of the frequency of full trance and hearing spirits with better social adjustment and lower psychiatric symptoms. I have been involved with studies and discussions in the international psychiatric community (through conferences and papers) about the distinction between spiritual experiences and mental disorders (click here; see video).

I have become more focused on the investigation of the sources of spiritual experiences and their implications for mind-brain relationship, especially regarding the evidence if mind is or not reducible to brain activity (click here). In collaboration with Andrew Newberg MD and Julio Peres, PhD, we have been involved in neurofunctional imaging studies of mediumistic experiences. We performed a study at the University of Pennsylvania, USA that was published in PlosONE in 2012, and two at Aachen University, Germany (with Julio Peres, PhD, Ute Habel, PhD and Alessandra Mainieri, PhD). We have just ended a study on the evidence of survival provided by the Brazilian medium Chico Xavier.

We have promoted international conferences in Brazil and symposia in international congresses such as (American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and World Psychiatric Association) to discuss mind-brain relationship and also the clinical, research and theoretical implications of studies with anomalous experiences.

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

It is important because it fosters research in several sorts of human experiences that are often neglected in other fields of science. If we wish to have a comprehensive picture of the universe and of the human nature we cannot afford  neglecting and ignoring any aspect of human experience.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

I believe that naïve acceptance of materialist scientism and myths about the history and epistemology of the relationship between science and religion/spirituality are two major blocks. The materialist perspective of human being and the universe is a worldview, a metaphysical assumption and not a scientific fact. It is important to show that most founding fathers of modern science and psychology were not adept of materialism. Currently I am involved in historical studies on the studies of mediumship performed by William James.

I discussed some of these problems in the paper “Reflections on the Future of Scientific Investigations of Psi Phenomena”, published at the Special Issue Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Journal of Parapsychology (2012, 76, 33-35, supplement). I will answer with some ideas I developed there. Parapsychology has also suffered from past sterile controversies inside the field of parapsychology (e.g. between laboratory and natural observations, and between ESP and survival research), and between this field and mainstream science.

Parapsychology often assumed positivist and naïve inductivist views of science. This illusory ideal included overvaluation of measurements and laboratory experiments, even in intrinsically qualitative issues, as well as the quest for the unreachable scientific goal of finding the perfect evidence or developing a crucial experiment.  This epistemological stance also favored an “anti-theoretical” approach, in the belief that mere collection of more and more refined experimental data would lead to complete scientific knowledge. This is a major factor which has been impairing theoretical development. In contrast, I believe that research should be conducted within the framework of what philosophers of science have called “scientific research programms” or “paradigms.”

Finally, another current development that may have impact in the future of the field is the recent economic and scientific flourishing in many countries not belonging to the axis Europe-North America. This widening of the range of participants in the scientific game is expected to enhance international collaboration, to foster creativity, and to generate new insights, hypothesis and research strategies. Diversity and creativity, allied with intellectual rigor and impartiality, are, I believe, essential ingredients in the scientific exploration of psi phenomena.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

Our research group (NUPES – Research Center in Spirituality and Health, School of Medicine, Federal University of Juiz de Fora – UFJF, Brazil) is currently composed by researchers from several areas (Psychiatry, Geriatrics, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Philosophy, History, Psychology, and Statistics). We are currently involved in several exciting projects. There is multidisciplinary research (neuroimaging, psychiatry, neuropsychology) comparing hallucinatory experiences between mediums and patients with schizophrenia. Another study, using a controlled and blind protocol, investigates the obtention of anomalous information by mediums.  Another project is the “Mind-brain debate in contemporary psychiatry” (click here , funded by Oxford University and Templeton Foundation. This project engages a wide range of disciplines (psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, and history of science) in order to: 1) increase interest and awareness by general and academic audiences on the state of art of academic discussions on MBP; 2) stimulate new and well informed studies; 3) encourage networking  and the establishment of new research groups of MBP. As part of the project we promoted the “1st Mind-Brain International Symposium” in São Paulo, Brazil. We had more than 500 attendees and speakers from several disciplines. In March/2017 we will promote the 2nd Mind-Brain Symposium. Several videos on the subject have been produced and at available at TV NUPES, a bilingual – English-Portuguese – YouTube Channel. The project also involves research, a Facebook Page, and an award for an essay competition “The mind-brain debate and its controversies”.

Currently I am also chairing the Sections on Religion, Spirituality and Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and of the Brazilian Psychiatric Association. In order to promote research and education on the interface between spirituality and psychiatry, the WPA released recently a Position Statement.

Selected Publications


2012 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Santos, Franklin S. (Eds.) Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship. New York, EUA: Springer.


2015 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Araujo, S. F. Does brain produce mind? A survey of psychiatrists’ opinions. Archives of Clinical Psychiatry v.42, p.74 – 75.

2015 Silva, Cristiane Schumann; Lucchetti, Giancarlo; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Validation of the Portuguese version of the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS-P) in clinical and non-clinical samples. Journal of Religion and Health, v.54, p.435-48.

2014 Sleuitjes, A., Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Greyson, B. Almost 40 years investigating near-death experiences: an overview of mainstream scientific journals. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease v.202, p.833 – 836.

2014 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Koenig, Harold G., Lucchetti, Giancarlo Clinical implications of spirituality to mental health: review of evidence and practical guidelines. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria v.36, p.176 – 182.

2014 Beauregard, Mario, Schwartz, Gary E., Miller, Lisa, Dossey, Larry, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Schlitz, Marilyn, Sheldrake, Rupert, Tart, Charles. Manifesto  for a Post-Materialist Science. Explore v.10, p.272 – 274.

2014 Alminhana, L, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Anomalous experiences and schizotypy: a necessary distinction between pathological and non-pathological psychotic experiences. Psyche & Geloof. , v.25, p.217 – 134.

2014 Rocha, A. C., Parana, D., Freire, E. S., Lotufo Neto, Francisco, Moreira-Almeida,

Alexander. Investigating the accuracy of alleged mediumistic writing: a case study of Chico Xavier’s letters. Explore. v.10, p.300-8.

2013 Stroppa, André; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander . Religiosity, mood symptoms, and quality of life in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders, v. 15, p.385-93.

2013 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Religion and health: the more we know the more we need to know. World Psychiatry. v.12, 37-38.

2013 Gomes, F. C. ; Andrade, A. G. ; Izbicki, R. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Oliveira, L. G. . Religion as a Protective Factor against Drug Use among Brazilian University Students: A National Survey. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria v. 35,29-37.

2013 Tostes, J.S.R.M.; Pinto, A.R.; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Religiosity/spirituality in clinical practice: what does the psychiatrist need to do? Revista Debates em Psiquiatria, v. 3, p. 20-26.

2013 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Explorando a relação mente-cérebro: reflexões e diretrizes. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v. 40, p. 105-109.

2013 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Scientific research on mediumship and mind-brain relationship: reviewing the evidence. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v. 40, p. 233-240.

2013 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Implications of spiritual experiences to the understanding of mind-brain relationship. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, v. 6, p. 585-589.

2013 Alminhana, L, Menezes JR, A., Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Personalidade, religiosidade e qualidade de vida em indivíduos que apresentam experiências anômalas em grupos religiosos. Jornal Brasileiro de Psiquiatria.v.62, p.268-274.

2013 Sech Junior, A., Araújo, S. F., Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. William James and Psychical Research: Toward a radical science of mind. History of Psychiatry. v.24, 62-78.

2012 Peres JFP, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Caixeta, L., Leao, F. C., Newberg, A. Neuroimaging during Trance State: A Contribution to the Study of Dissociation. Plos One, v.7, e49360.

2012 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Assessing clinical implications of spiritual experiences. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. v.5, p. 344-346.

2012 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Implicações dos estudos brasileiros em psiquiatria e espiritualidade. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica. v.39, 181.

2012 Lucchetti, G ; Granero, A. L. ; Peres MF ; Leao, F. C. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Koenig, Harold G . Validation of the Duke Religion Index DUREL (Portuguese Version). Journal of Religion and Health, v. 51, p. 579-586.

2012 Taunay T.C. ; Cristino, E. D. ; Machado, M. O. ; Rola, F. H. ; Lima, J. W. O. ; Macedo, D. S. ; Gondim, F. A. A. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Carvalho, A. F. Development and validation of the Intrinsic Religiousness Inventory (IRI). Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, v. 34, p. 76-81.

2012 Lucchetti, Giancarlo ; Aguiar, Paulo Rogério D. C. ; Braghetta, Camilla Casaletti ; Vallada, Candido P. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Vallada, Homero . Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil: Integration of Conventional Psychiatric Treatment and Spiritual Complementary Therapy. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, v. 36,124-135.

2012 Taunay, Tauily Claussen D'Escragnolle, Gondim, Francisco de Assis Aquino, Macêdo, Daniele Silveira, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Gurgel, Luciana de Araújo, Andrade, Loraine Maria Silva, Carvalho, André Ferrer. Validação da versão brasileira da escala de religiosidade de Duke (DUREL). Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v.39, 130-135.

2012 Lucchetti, Giancarlo ; Lucchetti, Alessandra L. G. ; Peres, Mario F. P. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Koenig, Harold G. . Religiousness, Health, and Depression in Older Adults from a Brazilian Military Setting. ISRN Psychiatry, v. 2012, p. 1-7.

2011 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Cardeña, Etzel . Differential diagnosis between nonpathological psychotic and spiritual experiences and mental disorders: A contribution from Latin American Studies to the ICD-11. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, v. 33, p. S29-S34.

2011 Silva, Cristiane Schumann ; Stroppa A ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander . The Contribution of Faith Based Health Organisations to Public Health. International Psychiatry, v. 8, p. 62-64.

2010 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Pinsky, Ilana, Zaleski, Marcos, Laranjeira, Ronaldo. Religious involvement and sociodemographic factors: a Brazilian national survey. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica , v.37, 12-15.

2010 Menezes, A., Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Mental Health of Mediums and Differential Diagnosis Between Mediumship and Mental Disorders. Journal of Scientific Exploration. , v.24, 595-608.

2010 Moreira-Almeida, A. O crescente impacto das publicações em espiritualidade e saúde e o papel da Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica v.37, 41-42.

2010 Menezes, Adair, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Religion, Spirituality, and Psychosis. Current Psychiatry Reports.v.12, 174-179.

2009 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Differentiating spiritual from psychotic experiences. British Journal of Psychiatry, v.195, 370-371.

2009 Almeida, Angélica Aparecida Silva de, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Inácio Ferreira: institutionalizing the integration of medicine and paranormal phenomena. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. v.73, 223-230.

2009 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Mitos históricos sobre a relação entre ciência e religião. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v.36, 252-253.

2009 Menezes, A., Moreira-Almeida, A. Differential diagnosis between spiritual experiences and mental disorders of religious content. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica. v.36, 69-76.

2009 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Koss-Chioino J. Recognition and Treatment of Psychotic Symptoms: Spiritists compared to Mental Health Professionals in Puerto Rico and Brazil. Psychiatry, v.72, 268-283.

2008 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Neto, Francisco Lotufo, Cardeña, Etzel. Comparison of Brazilian Spiritist Mediumship and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, v.196, 420-424.

2007 Moreira-Almeida, A, Lotufo Neto, Francisco, Greyson, B. Dissociative and Psychotic Experiences in Brazilian Spiritist Mediums. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, v.76, 57-58.

2007 Chibeni, S. S., Moreira-Almeida, A. Remarks on the scientific exploration of “anomalous” psychiatric phenomena. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v.34, 8-16.

2007 Moreira-Almeida, A ; Lotufo Neto, Francisco ; Greyson, B. . Dissociative and Psychotic Experiences in Brazilian Spiritist Mediums. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, v. 76, p. 57-58.

2005 The Spiritist View of Mental Disorders. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(4): 570-91.

2005 History of Spiritist Madness in Brazil. History of Psychiatry 16(1):5-25.

2004 Mediumship Seem by Some Pioneers of mental Health. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica v.31, no 3, p. 132-41.

2004 “Profile and Psychopathology of Spiritist Mediums”. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, v26 (Supl II), p. 109.

2004 “Phenomenology and History of Spiritist mediums: a qualitative approach”. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, v26 (Supl II), p. 108.

2003 Methodological guidelines to explore altered states of consciousness and anomalous experiences. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v. 30 no 1, p. 21-8.

2000 Psychic Surgery: an investigation. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, v.43, No 3, p.194-200.

2000 Núcleo de Estudos de Problemas Espirituais e Religiosos. (Center for the Study of Religious and Spiritual Problems). Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, v.27, no 2, p.113-5.


2014 Moreira-Almeida, A, Menezes, A., Zangari, Wellington. Dissociative and conversive disorders In: Tratado de Neuropsiquiatria – Neurologia Cognitiva e do Comportamento e Neuropsicologia.1 ed.São Paulo : Atheneu, p. 681-694.

2013 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Araújo, S. F. . ICD-10: World Health Organization Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, 10th Revision. In: Kenneth D. Keith. (Org.). The Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 1 ed. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, p. 673-677.

2013 Peres JFP, Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Caixeta, L. Neuroscience of trance and mediumship In: The Survival Hypothesis. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company,254-274.

2012 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander. Research on mediumship and the Mind-brain relationship. In: Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Santos, Franklin S. Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship. New York, EUA: Springer. p.191-231.

2012 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Cardeña, Etzel. Diagnóstico diferencial entre las experiencias espirituales y psicóticas no-patológicas y los trastornos mentales: Una contribución al ICD-11 desde los Estudios Latinoamericanos In Ciencia y religión: horizontes de relación desde el contexto latinoamericano, edited by Jaime Laurence Bonilla. e ed 1, 261-290. Bogotá – Colombia: Universidad de San Buenaventura.

2011 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Alberto, Klaus Chaves . Allan Kardec and the development of a research program in psychical experiences. In: Jader dos Reis Sampaio. (Org.). A Temática espirita na pesquisa contemporânea. São Paulo: Centro de Cultura, Documentação e Pesquisa do Espiritismo, v. , p. 132-158.

2011 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander . A brief overview of the philosophy and development of Spiritism’s methodologies. In: Emma Bragdon. (Org.). Spiritism and Mental Health: Practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil. 1 ed. London: Singing Dragon an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, v. 1, p. 29-36.

2011 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander . The spiritist view of mental disorders. In: Emma Bragdon. (Org.). Spiritism and Mental Health: Practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil. 1 ed. London: Singing Dragon an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, v. 1, p. 37-46.

2010 Moreira-Almeida, Alexander, Stroppa A. Importance and impact of spirituality in mental health: the challenge of recognize and integrate spirituality at patients’s care. In A Arte de Cuidar – Saúde, Espiritualidade e Educação, edited by Franklin Santana Santos, 197-213. Bragança Paulista – SP: Comenius.

2010 Mendonça Netto, S., Moreira-Almeida, A. Methodology for research in spirituality and health. In A Arte de Cuidar – Saúde, Espiritualidade e Educação, edited by Franklin Santana Santos, 182-196. Bragança Paulista – SP: Comenius.

2010 Hageman, J. H., Peres JFP, Moreira-Almeida, A, Caixeta, L., Wickramasekera II, I., Krippner, S. The Neurobiology of Trance and Mediumship in Brazil In Mysterious Minds: The Neurobiology of Psychics, Mediums and other Extraordinary People, edited by Krippner, S.; Friedman, H., 85-111. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC Clio.

2009 Moreira-Almeida, A. Algumas reflexões sobre as implicações das experiências espirituais para a relação mente-corpo. In Cuidados Paliativos – Discutindo a vida, a morte o morrer, edited by Franklin Santana Santos, 283-300. São Paulo: Atheneu.

2007 Moreira-Almeida, A. É possível Investigar Cientificamente a Sobrevivência após a Morte? In A Arte de Morrer – visões plurais, edited by Dora Incontri; Franklin Santana, 36-44. Bragança Paulista – SP: Comenius.

People in Parapsychology: XXX. Alan Gauld

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

Dr. Alan Gauld, a retired Reader in Psychology (University of Nottingham), is well known in parapsychology for his discussions of various topics, among them survival of death, poltergeists, and the history of psychical research. Regarding the latter, he is the author of The Founders of Psychical Research (1968), a book that influenced me, and that to this day remains what I believe is the best discussion of the early work of the workers at the London-based Society for Psychical Research, such as Frederic W.H. Myers and Edmund Gurney.

Alan Gauld 4

Dr. Alan Gauld

 Gauld Founders 2

 Gauld Cornell Poltergeists

 Gauld Mediumship and Survival

 Although I had corresponded with Alan before, I believe I first met him in a conference hosted by the Society for Psychical Research in Bournemouth in 1994. It was great meeting someone whose work I had admired and followed closely for years. In the last decade, as I started to write about historical aspects of dissociation, and hypnosis in general, I have had occasion to cite Alan’s A History of Hypnotism (1992) repeatedly, a work that, like his other books, has become a standard.

Gauld History Hypnotism

Alan is a past president of the Society for Psychical Research. He was granted the Outstanding Career Award by the Parapsychological Association, and the Myers Memorial Medal by the Society for Psychical Research.


 How did you get interested in parapsychology?

So far as I can remember my interest in things psychic began when I was about six. It originated not from any precocious interest in science, philosophy or religion, but probably from watching an early Walt Disney cartoon in which Mickey Mouse and his friends, as ghost hunters, were given a somewhat trying time by a group of ‘lonesome ghosts’ in search of amusement. Intrigued, perhaps, by these mischievous spooks (as I recall, their antics also figured now and again in Mickey Mouse Weekly) I not long after ventured with various friends of about my own age on an excursion to a reputedly haunted building nearby. It was a largish place, still under construction, and my part in the enterprise finished when I climbed several feet up some scaffolding, fell off and cut my head.

The undignified end to my first psychic investigation did not, however, quash my interest in the subject, although during the ensuing war years that interest was somewhat distracted by the London ‘blitz.’ After the war it emerged again in somewhat more serious form, encouraged by the fact that my mother had a longstanding interest in such matters (and had something of a reputation herself for possessing ‘psychic’ gifts). The consequence was that during the post-war years I acquired and read various old and new books on the subject, proposed (successfully) before the school debating society ”that this house believes in ghosts,” and retained my interest during my military service. In my first week at Cambridge, in 1952, I sought out the secretary of the Cambridge University SPR and signed up.

Membership made a huge difference to the extent and nature of my involvement in the subject. The CUSPR (founded in 1906, but now alas extinct) arranged regular lectures by well-known psychical researchers, many of whom I got to know (several lived in Cambridge), and organized experiments and investigations. My interest was heightened when, on one of these investigations in my first year, I experienced some rather odd happenings in a wonderfully atmospheric old house near Sudbury, and wrote the case up in the student newspaper, Varsity. During the next few years I encountered various other curious phenomena, joined the main SPR, and became convinced that there were matters here not readily susceptible of any ordinary explanation. By the time I left Cambridge for Nottingham in 1962 I had become a member of the SPR’s Council.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

I have dabbled at one time or another in most aspects of parapsychology, but my principal interests have been in spontaneous cases, and in the problems of physical and mental mediumship. My publications have often had an historical slant, though I have tried to bring out their relevance to current issues. But as to my contributions (if any) to the development of the field, I can hardly assess them. Perhaps, despite their flaws, I have been to an extent a ground-breaker. I was (so far as I know) the first to go through, sort, and make use of the correspondence, diaries and papers of F.W.H. Myers (then in the hands of his granddaughters), the first to produce what was in effect a short monograph on ’drop in’ communicators, and the first to apply cluster analysis to a large collection of cases of hauntings and poltergeists. I have also been something of a delver into obscure historical cases and old authors, little-known but worthy of resurrection. I have much enjoyed all these activities, but how far they may have amounted to a contribution of any significance to the development of the subject I would not presume to say.

Why do you think parapsychology is important?

I have to confess that I have never worried much about the general importance of parapsychology. Mostly I have just asked myself is this that or the other ‘parapsychological’ phenomenon interesting, and does it interest me? For as long as I can remember I have been (perhaps unduly) fascinated by all sorts – too many sorts! – of mysteries, not utterly insoluble metaphysical mysteries, but mysteries, be they historical, criminal, cryptozoological, astronomical, cosmological, palaeontological, archaeological or whatever, on which it seems at least possible that further factual evidence or factual considerations may throw new light. That is just my turn of mind. And of course among these assorted enigmas parapsychological ones have had a prominent place.

I certainly believe, as I said before, that among the phenomena loosely lumped together as ‘parapsychological’ are some for which there is evidence not easily wished away by any facile ordinary explanation – this is what makes them so intriguing and makes them potentially important. But before one can properly assess their actual importance one needs to know far more about their nature, causes and origins than has so far been unearthed. For instance it is often claimed or supposed that if ‘psychic’ phenomena really occur they would be outside the scope of physical explanation and that a purely ‘materialist’ view of the world would accordingly be put out of court. That would be important. Yet the concept of the physical is itself very difficult to define or delimit and has changed a lot over the centuries as physics has advanced. And today’s physics seems pregnant with further impending change – we can feel the infant kicking, but we can’t yet properly determine its size and coming strength. Under these circumstances can we really assert with any great confidence that physical science or a science descended from today’s physical science could never adequately accommodate parapsychology? It is interesting to speculate on these matters, but premature to pronounce on their ultimate importance.

In your view what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

Among such problems an important one is the powerful influence of what has been called ‘scientism’ in and around the upper echelons of science. Scientism consists in a resolute belief that the orthodox concepts and methods of science, particularly physical science, are, or will turn out to be, adequate to handle all the problems of natural knowledge and the philosophy of science. It is not infrequently to be found allied with a strongly anti-religious secularism. Supporters of scientism, who are usually not reticent in expressing their opinions, tend to take a pretty hostile attitude towards parapsychology, though commonly without any detailed knowledge of the subject. Perhaps they suspect it of providing hope and comfort for deluded religious believers. Perhaps indeed they fear (mistakenly in my view) that if parapsychological phenomena turned out to be genuine, their own cherished materialistic worldview would necessarily be scuppered.

For whatever reasons, supporters of scientism, or persons with inclinations that way, seem rather often to attain positions from which they can make life difficult for would- be parapsychologists. They are to be found on committees that award research grants and offer places to research students, on appointments boards, on the editorial boards of academic publishers, and among the referees consulted by leading academic publishers. And if by any chance a reputable academic journal actually publishes an article detailing apparently positive results in a parapsychological experiment it is not unknown for hostile forces to gang up on the author(s) in a manner suggestive to some (though I am sure unjustly) of organised vigilantism. Persons thinking of applying for an academic post in a psychology or even a philosophy department might do well to keep quiet about any interest they may have in parapsychology – heads of departments, whatever their personal views, might well fear that if their departments became known for supporting or sustaining parapsychology they might lose favour with vital grant-giving bodies.

It was not always this bad. My experience of university psychology departments goes back to the 1950s, and although I never hid my parapsychological interests, and indeed offered final year special options, and supervised final year practical projects in parapsychology and in hypnosis, I cannot recall ever having encountered any serious hostility (discounting of course occasional jokes at my expense). And I remember feeling, probably around the 1970s – say 1977, when Benjamin Wolman’s massive Handbook of Parapsychology was published (by a well-respected academic publisher) – that parapsychology might before too long ‘make it’ as an academic subject. Around that time there were quite a few well-known parapsychologists in university departments and equivalent institutions. Money seemed to be available for research students undertaking PhDs in parapsychology (I was once spontaneously approached by a representative of a leading British grant-giving body, who told me that they would be happy to consider applications from such students). Interesting work was under way – Ian Stevenson and Charles Honorton were well into their ground-breaking research programmes.

But now? Well, things are not that good, though they are not altogether bad. There are still able young people interested in parapsychology, some at universities. But clearly what is currently most needed is money to reinvigorate and sustain the subject. In its early days it was largely supported by wealthy and well-educated private persons who were themselves much involved in the ongoing work. More recently a small number of very rich individuals have helped with substantial funding, mostly to particular investigators. But now we must ask – for in these hard days precious few government grants are likely to be given to projects that bring no electoral benefits – where are today’s friendly billionaires? My experience of billionaires is small, but I can’t imagine that many of them nowadays are likely to bankroll enterprises that are, if not exactly other-worldly, certainly not worldly. It therefore rests with us to find funds, seek support for relevant societies, rouse interest where we can, and keep the subject in active being, until better times dawn or we can bring them to pass.

Can you mention some of your current projects?

At the moment I am trying to pick up the threads of a project I was working on a few years ago but had to suspend in favour of other things. It involves looking into some early investigations of mental mediumship.

Selected Bibliography


The Founders of Psychical Research. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968.

(With A.D. Cornell) Poltergeists. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979.

Mediumship and Survival. London: Heinemann, 1982.

A History of Hypnotism.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Articles and Chapters

A Cambridge apparition.   Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1955, 38, 89-31.

(With A.D. Cornell) A Fenland poltergeist.   Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1960, 40, 343-35.

The ‘super-ESP’ hypothesis.   Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1961, 53,220-246.   (Albert E. Hunt Memorial Lecture.)

(With A.D. Cornell) The geophysical theory of poltergeists.   Journal of the Society for   Psychical Research, 1961, 41, 129-147.

Frederic Myers and ‘Phyllis’. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1964, 42, 316-323.

Mr. Hall and the SPR. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1965, 43, 53-62.

Could a machine perceive? British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, 1966, 17,  44-58.

(With G.M. Stephenson) Some experiments relating to Bartlett’s theory of remembering. British Journal of Psychology, 1967, 58, 39-49.

The Emmanuel House Ghost. Emmanuel College Magazine, 1967, 49, 11-15.

(With A.D. Cornell) A ‘ghost’ on TV. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1969, 45, 14-17.

(With J.D. Shotter) The defense of empirical psychology. American Psychologist, 1971, 26, 460-466.

Professor C.D. Broad, 1887-1971 – a biographical sketch. Journal of the Society for   Psychical Research, 1971, 46, 103-107.

A series of ‘drop in’ communicators. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1971, 54, 273-340.

The haunting of Abbey House, Cambridge. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research,1972, 46, 109-121.

The domain of psychology. Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 1972, 25, 93-100.

(With C, Lamb and A.D. Cornell) An East Midlands poltergeist. Journal of the Society for   Psychical Research, 1973, 47, 1-20, 139-155.

ESP and attempts to explain it. In S.C. Thakur (ed.) Philosophy and Psychical Research. London:  Allen and Unwin, 1976, pp. 17-45.

Discarnate survival. In B.B. Wolman (ed.)  Handbook of Parapsychology. New York:  Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977,   pp. 577-630.

Psychical Research in Cambridge from the seventeenth century to the present. Journal of the  Society for Psychical Research, 1978, 49, 925-937.

Parapsychology,   In W.E.C. Gillham (ed.), Psychology for Today. Revised edn., London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1981, pp. 210-226.

Andrew Lang as psychical researcher. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1983, 52, 161-176.

Ghosts in the Machine. In S, Nash (ed.) Science and Complexity. London: Science Reviews Ltd., 1985, pp. 65-73.

Recollections of E.J. Dingwall. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1987, 54, 230-237.

Reflections on Mesmeric Analgesia. British Journal of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis, 1988, 5, 17-24.

History of Hypnotism. In L.M. Heap (ed.) Hypnotism:  Current Clinical, Experimental and   Forensic Perspectives. London: Croom Helm, 1988, pp. 12-24.

Cognitive psychology, entrapment, and the philosophy of mind. In J.R. Smythies and  J. Beloff (eds.)  The Case for Dualism. Charlottesville, VA:  The University Press of Virginia, 1989, pp. 187-253.

Mesmeric analgesia and surgery: A reply to Spanos and Chaves. British Journal of   Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis, 1990, 7, 171-174.

The early history of hypnotic skin marking and blistering. British Journal of Experimental   and Clinical Hypnosis, 1990, 7, 139-152.

Hypnosis, somnambulism and double consciousness. British Journal of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis, 1992, 9, 69-76.

Reply to Spanos and Jones.  Contemporary Hypnosis, 1992, 9, 81-83.

The function of a society for psychical research at the present time. Proceedings of the   Society for Psychical Research, 1993, 57, 253-273. (Presidential Address to the Society for Psychical Research.)

(With H.P. Wilkinson) Geomagnetism and anomalous experiences, 1868-1980. Proceedings  of the Society for Psychical Research, 1993, 57, 275-310.

A series of ‘drop in’ communicators. Supplementary information. Proceedings of the   Society for Psychical Research, 1993, 57, 311-316.

Experiences in physical circles. Psi Researcher 1994, 14, 3-7.

Notes on the career of the somnambule Léonie. Journal of the Society for Psychical   Research, 1996, 61, 141-151.

Joseph Delboeuf (1831-1896): A forerunner of modern ideas on hypnosis. Contemporary   Hypnosis, 1997, 14, 216-225.

Discussion commentary: Clearing the decks again? Contemporary Hypnosis, 1999, 16, 146-149.

A case of ostensible mesmeric clairvoyance from the 1840s and a sequel. International     Journal of Parapsychology, 2001, 11, 153-161.

(With Peter A. McCue)  Edgehill and Souter Fell:  A critical examination of two English ‘phantom army’ cases.  Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2005, 69, 78-94.

Memory. In E.F. Kelly, E.W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso and B. Greyson, Irreducible Mind. Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp. 241-300.

Henry Sidgwick, theism and psychical research. In P. Bucolo, R. Crisp and B. Schultz (eds.), Henry Sidgwick, Happiness and Religion, Department of Human Sciences, University of Catania, 2007, pp.160-259.

Reflections on the life and work of Ian Stevenson. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2008, 22, 18-35.

(Obituary of) Tony Cornell. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2010, 74, 207-213.

Two cases from the lost years of Mrs. Piper.  Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2014, 78, 65-84.

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

It has always been a pleasure to see Dr. Elizabeth Roxburgh at conventions, and to see her papers about mediums and clinical issues related to psychic experiences. I particularly enjoyed one of her early papers, co-authored with Chris Roe, ““A Survey of Dissociation, Boundary-Thinness and Psychological Wellbeing in Spiritualist Mental Mediumship” (Journal of Parapsychology, 2011, 7, 279-299). This is an important contribution to the new era of psychological studies of mediumship, a study that was part of her PhD thesis at the University of Northampton.

Elizabeth Roxburgh 4

Dr. Elizabeth Roxburgh

Elizabeth is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Northampton, where she conducts research, teaches, supervises doctoral students, and is course leader for the BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling degree. My last personal contact with her was when she came to the US to participate in a forum organized by the Parapsychology Foundation in 2015,  “Recent Advances in UK Parapsychology.” In addition to Elizabeth, this included the participation of Professor Chris Roe, Callum Cooper, Rachel Evenden, and David Saunders.


How did you get interested in parapsychology?

It all began when I was about 10. I awoke one night and I saw a sparkle of white light and felt my hair being tugged. My family and I were staying with some friends at the time and my mum said it might have been the two daughters messing around with some matches. However, I wasn’t convinced (the light looked nothing like the spark of a match as it was much brighter and quite large), and when I got home, I kept on talking about it to my mum and she eventually said that the family in the house thought that there was a spirit there as they had felt its presence literally and unusual things had happened in the house (particularly in the room I was staying in…thanks for that!).

Whilst growing up I put this experience to one side and haven’t had any similar experiences since. I then did my undergraduate degree in psychology in 1997 at Staffordshire University and worked for the NHS for a number of years as an assistant clinical psychologist in various different mental health contexts. It was here that I came across the medical model and the belief that experiences, such as seeing visions, hearing voices, and sensing the presence of the deceased were considered symptoms of a ‘mental disorder’ and labelled as ‘hallucinations’. I quickly became very critical of this view for a number of reasons and decided that I wanted to investigate unusual experiences from a less reductionist perspective. I had always been fascinated by ‘parapsychology’ and think the first book I read on the subject was in fact called ‘In search of the light: The adventures of a parapsychologist’ by Susan Blackmore, who at the time was interested in NDEs. She talked about devoting her life to the field of parapsychology and the adventures she got up to at the Rhine Research Center (an institute for parapsychological research in North Carolina). So, in 2003, off I went to the Rhine Research Center after receiving a scholarship from the Parapsychological Association to attend the Rhine summer study program. It was there that I had an introduction to all the different research that had been conducted in the area of parapsychology (and where I first met Christine Simmonds-Moore and Nicola Holt; Nicola was also on the program at the time and is incidentally my birthday twin!).

In 2005 I left the NHS and clinical psychology (I was training to become a clinical psychologist) and a few months later saw a bursary advertised to do a PhD on the psychology and phenomenology of mediumship at the University of Northampton (where Nicola Holt was working at the time) under the supervision of Professor Chris Roe and Professor Deborah Delanoy. I was successful in receiving this bursary (I always felt this was ‘meant to be’!) and began my doctoral research in early 2006 at the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes in the Psychology Division at the University of Northampton, and was awarded my PhD in 2010.

I was fortunate to secure an academic position at the University of Northampton on completion of my PhD and I am now a Senior Lecturer in Psychology where I specialise in teaching and supervising research on the phenomenology of anomalous experiences, mental health, counselling, and qualitative research methods. I am a BACP Registered counsellor, teach on the MSc in Counselling (a practitioner training program) and was recently appointed as course leader for the BSc Psychology and Counselling degree. I am also a current Board member of the Parapsychological Association and member of their Anomalous Experiences Committee.

What are your main interests in the field and how have you contributed to its development?

My research interests are broad but stem from a passion to develop a scientific understanding of anomalous, spiritual and transpersonal experiences through careful application of a range of interdisciplinary methodologies. I am particularly fascinated by the growing field of ‘clinical parapsychology’ (exploring mental health and anomalous experiences) and its applied focus given that many individuals have had anomalous experiences (AEs) or believe in such phenomena. Some also report having existential questions after their experience or experience psychological distress and do not know where to seek support or are concerned that they will be labelled ‘mad’. I believe that there is a need to research the actual impact or interpretation of these experiences and I am interested in how individuals make sense of their experiences. Therefore, the research approaches that I have used thus far have been mainly qualitative and have taken experiences at face value without trying to prove that ‘paranormal phenomena’ exist. Rather my aims have been to increase our understanding of these experiences as psychological, social, and cultural events. This was demonstrated at the Qualitative Research in Mental Conference, Chania, Crete, in 2014 (and again in 2016) where I chaired a Symposium of four qualitative research papers on ‘Making Sense of Anomalous Experiences’.

Mediums are of interest to ‘clinical parapsychologists’ as their experiences could be interpreted as symptoms of a ‘mental disorder’ by Western psychiatry, so for my doctoral research I was particularly interested in what we can learn from this group of individuals that might be useful for people who become distressed by hearing voices or seeing visions. I was also interested in how some individuals who hear voices come to label these experiences as instances of mediumistic communication. In addition, mediums seem to experience a hidden or alternate reality that exists beyond ordinary sense experience which has implications for the study of consciousness; for example, they claim to have access to information not ordinarily available to them, they experience physical sensations that were associated with the deceased personality (such as bodily aches and pains, sensed changes in height, weight or posture), and they report spirit guides suggesting a personality process that expands or extends the limits of everyday consciousness as conventionally understood.

I began the research with participant observation of a mediumship training course at the Arthur Findlay College, Stanstead Hall, home of the Spiritualist National Union, which really helped increase my knowledge of the culture surrounding mediumship and the language used. I was also able to gain first-hand insights into the experiential components of mediumship which helped when thinking of questions to ask in my interview study. As the late Rhea White said:  ‘In doing research on a particular aspect of human life you should begin, not with a research protocol or hypothesis but with exploratory investigations of the research population itself. Only when you have steeped yourself in their empirical world can you possibly be in a position to devise hypotheses and a research design’ (White, 1997, p. 101).

A survey conducted as part of my research compared Spiritualist mediums with non-medium Spiritualists on a range of wellbeing and personality measures and found that mediums scored better on psychological wellbeing and lower on psychological distress. Consequently, there is no evidence to suggest that mediums experience negative mental health; in fact, they seem to have better psychological wellbeing than comparable others. Likewise, when compared with population norms from a sample of patients (experiencing hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or depression) mediums scored more positively on both wellbeing and psychological distress. There were no significant differences between mediums and non-mediums on measures of dissociation, fantasy-proneness or boundary-thinness. In exploratory analyses mediums scored significantly higher than non-mediums on measures of Openness to Experience, Neuroticism, and Extraversion, but no significant differences were found for Agreeableness or Conscientiousness (Roxburgh & Roe, 2011).

In follow-up interviews using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), mediums emphasized the importance of childhood anomalous experiences and mediumistic experiences within the family context as explanations for how they became practising mediums. Some mediums also spoke about how important mediumship and Spiritualism was in helping them to construct a personal experiential framework for making sense of initially distressing experiences, which reflects the importance of connecting with a community that shares the same belief system. Particular importance seemed to be placed on controlling the communication process, setting boundaries, and not allowing mediumship to interfere with daily life (Roxburgh & Roe, 2014). Mediums contemplated that spirit guides may not be real entities but aspects of themselves and spoke about preparatory practices they use to communicate with spirits such as mental detachment, meditation, and making a demand for a positive outcome (Roxburgh & Roe, 2013).

Within a few months of completing my PhD, I was awarded a research bursary from the Bial Foundation, Portugal to investigate the prevalence and phenomenology of synchronicity experiences in the therapy setting. This research found that 44% of a random sample of 226 therapists had experienced synchronicity in the therapeutic setting (Roxburgh, Ridgway, & Roe, 2015) and that synchronicity experiences are perceived as useful harbingers of information about the therapeutic process, as well as being a means of overcoming communication difficulties (Roxburgh, Ridgway, & Roe, 2016).

In 2012, I was asked to participate in the third meeting of experts on clinical parapsychology (alongside Isabel Clarke, Renaud Evrard, Thomas Rabeyron, and Wim Kramer) that was hosted by the Institut Métapsychique International in Paris, April 2012. This meeting focused on clinical practices with people who have had anomalous experiences and was co-organized by The Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Germany and a Dutch foundation, Het Johan Borgman Fonds. An outcome of this meeting was that I developed ideas for future research, and was successful in winning another research bursary from the Bial Foundation to investigate the counselling experiences of clients who report anomalous experiences (e.g., sensing the presence of the deceased after bereavement, spiritual crisis, near-death experiences) and the training needs of therapists who might work with such clients (counsellors and clinical psychologists).

In addition, I also became involved with the UK Spiritual Crisis Network (SCN), which is a charity organisation that accepts that some people understand mental health issues as a spiritual awakening or profound personal transformation, and was invited to talk about the latest research on anomalous experiences and mental health at their 2nd annual conference ‘Mending the Gap: Global collaboration towards a more humanistic understanding of mental health and anomalous experiences’. I also gave a presentation on clinical parapsychology in 2015 as part of the WizIQ web-based series ‘Parapsychology Foundation Forum: Recent Advances in UK Parapsychology’ and have been asked to give a keynote presentation on anomalous experiences and mental health at a conference entitled ‘Psychotherapies Across Time, Space, and Cultures’ at the University of Glasgow in April 2017.

I enjoy networking and sharing ideas about parapsychology and I am interested in international collaboration. In August 2011, I presented two papers at the 54th annual convention of the Parapsychological Association (PA) in Curitiba, Brazil. Following this conference, I won (in collaboration with Professor Chris Roe) a Santander grant which enabled us to visit colleagues (Wellington Zangari, Fatima Machado, Everton Maraldi) at the University of São Paulo in May 2014 to discuss mutual areas of research interest and just recently Everton visited the University of Northampton alongside colleagues from the Brain, Belief, and Behaviour research group from Coventry University. In 2015 I also attended the ‘First Transpersonal Research Colloquium: Gathering Our Research Community Together’ in Milan where I had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with researchers worldwide (delegates are participating from Austria, Canada, China, Greece, Germany, Israel, Macedonia, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA!) on training related to research methods and procedures applicable to the study of parapsychology and transpersonal psychology.

I am currently disseminating my research in the area of clinical parapsychology to students on the BSc in Psychology and Counselling programme as well as the MSc in Counselling programme at the University of Northampton. I am also currently supervising two PhD students: Charmaine Sonnex is studying the ‘Effects of Pagan healing practices on health and wellbeing’ and Louise King is exploring ‘A transpersonal understanding of spiritual experiences in individuals with epilepsy’

Why do you think that parapsychology is important?

As parapsychology could be considered within the umbrella of the vast topic of psychology, all the reasons why it is important to study psychology could also apply to parapsychology!  Parapsychology can tell us a lot about human nature, our potential, how we interact with others, our experiences and beliefs, and the nature of reality and consciousness. As we are essentially biological, psychological, spiritual, social, and cultural beings it is also important that parapsychology reflects this in its interdisciplinary approach to research. We also have a responsibility to try to establish a scientific understanding for the phenomena that people experience and to help people make sense of their experiences. This is particularly important given that surveys have consistently shown that a high proportion of the general population believe in or experience AEs. For example, Dr. Simon Dein, in a paper entitled ‘Mental Health and the Paranormal’ published in the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies in 2012, cites surveys conducted across the world in which over half the general population have reported at least one AE. AEs can occur at anytime in an individual’s life but have often been reported after negative life events. Common reactions include fear, anxiety, distress but it is also important to acknowledge that some people do find them comforting and positive or have existential questions after the experience. Interestingly, research within the field of clinical psychology has found that it is not necessarily the AE itself that has an impact on whether or not the person experiences distress, but rather how they appraise such experiences, their perceived levels of social support, and whether or not there are opportunities to reduce stigma in a context that normalises and validates the experience (Brett, Heriot-Maitland, McGuire, & Peters, 2014; Heriot-Maitland et al., 2012; Roxburgh & Roe, 2014; Taylor & Murray, 2012). However, most health care professionals in mainstream services tend to ignore the spiritual or transcendent aspects of people’s AEs or worse interpret them within a pathological framework. Therefore, I think (clinical) parapsychology has a role to play in trying to understand what might help someone to process the experience and make sense of it.

In your view, what are the main problems in parapsychology today as a scientific field?

I think the main problems stem from ignorance, arrogance, prejudice, and a reductionist and materialist view by some members of the scientific community, alongside sensationalist and incorrect portrayal of parapsychology within the media. This has resulted in a lack of funding and resources to undertake parapsychological research as well as researchers and academics finding it difficult to undertake parapsychological research for fear of the potential repercussions. Schouten’s (1993) estimation, that the total amount of human and financial resources that has been dedicated to the study of parapsychology since 1882 is about the same as two months’ worth of research in mainstream psychology, is often cited to emphasise the challenges that have been faced in this respect!

Can you mention some of your current projects?

I recently completed a Bial Foundation funded project on counselling for anomalous experiences which involved three qualitative studies. The first study explored the counselling experiences of clients who report AEs in therapy and is due to be published this year in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, the journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which has over 40,000 members. The title of the paper ‘“Most people think you’re a fruit loop”: Clients’ experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences’ (is a participant’s words not ours!) sums up how clients felt when they sought support for AEs. The second study explored the experiences of therapists who had worked with clients reporting AEs to better understand how AEs are addressed in therapy. This paper is entitled ‘“They daren’t tell people”: Therapists’ experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences’ and has been published in the European Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (in a special edition entitled ‘What is paranormal: Some implications for the psychological therapies?). The third study investigated the needs of students undertaking training to become therapists and the paper ‘“It’s about having exposure to this”: Investigating the training needs of therapists in relation to the issue of anomalous experiences’ is currently under review.

The implications of this research are that 1) individuals who believe they have had AEs may not seek support for fear of being dismissed or pathologised, 2) findings emphasise the importance of reaching a ‘shared explanation’ which addresses differences in beliefs (spiritual and cultural) about the causes of AEs and mental health issues, 3) therapists should explore the meaning of AEs to help clients make sense of their experiences and to identify any precipitating factors involved, and 4) there is a need for training opportunities on the topic of AEs, greater awareness of where to refer or signpost individuals to, and access to accurate and balanced information about AEs.

In terms of my next project I am hoping to undertake further research on mediumship in collaboration with colleagues in Brazil. I am also planning to explore the concept of the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ (high sensory processing sensitivity) with a couple of qualitative studies but also some experimental research. Watch this space!



Roxburgh, E. C., & Evenden, R. E. (in press). “Most people think you’re a fruit loop”: Clients’ experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Evenden, R. E. (2016). “They daren’t tell people”: Therapists experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences [Special Issue]. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 18, 123-141.

Roxburgh, E. C., Ridgway, S., & Roe, C. (2016). Synchronicity in the therapeutic setting: A survey of practitioners. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 16, 44-53.

Roxburgh, E. C., Ridgway, S., & Roe, C. (2015). Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of synchronicity in therapy [Special Issue]. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 17, 144-161.

Roe, C. A., Sonnex, C. and Roxburgh, E. C. (2015). Noncontact healing: What does the research tell us? European Journal of Integral Medicine. 7(6), p. 687. 1876-3820.

Roe, C. A., Sonnex, C., & Roxburgh, E. C. (2015).  Two meta-analyses of noncontact healing studies. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 11, 11-23.

Grivell, T., Clegg, H., & Roxburgh, E, C. (2014). An interpretative phenomenological analysis of identity in the therian community. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 14, 2, 113-135.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2014).  Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model:  An interpretative phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 17, 6, 641-653.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2013). “Say from whence you owe this strange intelligence”: Investigating explanatory systems of spiritualist mental mediumship using interpretative phenomenological analysis. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 32(1), 27-42.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2011). A survey of dissociation, boundary-thinness and psychological wellbeing in Spiritualist mental mediumship. Journal of Parapsychology, 7, 279-299.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2009). Thematic analysis of mediums’ experiences [Letter to Editor]. Journal of Scientific Exploration. 23, 348-351.

Roxburgh, E. C. (2007). Book review [Familiar voices: Corroborative evidence of life after death by Tom Cross]. Paranormal Review, 42, 33-34.

Roxburgh, E. C. (2006). Mediumship, spirit awareness and developing your potential: A personal view of Course 20 at the Arthur Findlay College. Paranormal Review, 40, 18-23.

Roxburgh, E. C. (2006). Gwen Tate Lecture: Mediumship and how it works. Paranormal Review, 3, 24-26.

Roxburgh, E. C. (2006). The 49th SPR Study Day: 1905-2005: 100 years of progress? Paranormal Review, 38, 21-25.

Book Chapters

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2014). A mixed methods approach to mediumship research. In A. J. Rock (Ed.), The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship (pp. 220-234). NC: McFarland.

Roe, C. A., & Roxburgh, E. C. (2014). Non-parapsychological explanations of mediumship. In A. J. Rock (Ed.), The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship (pp. 65-78) NC: McFarland.

Roe, C. A., & Roxburgh, E. C. (2013). An overview of cold reading strategies. In C. M. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (pp.177-203). California: Praeger Publishers.

Roxburgh, E. C., & Roe, C. A. (2013). Exploring the meaning of mental mediumship from the mediums’ perspective. In C. M. Moreman (Ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (pp. 53-67). California: Praeger Publishers.