Category: Recent Publications

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

Dr. David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich has just published a book about psychedelics and exceptional experiences: Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (London: Muswell Hill Press, 2017).

Luke Otherworlds

More information about David can be found in an interview that appeared in this blog.

David Luke

David Luke


Can you give us a brief summary of the book?

The book is a collection of papers researching the use of psychedelics and exceptional human experiences, with a particular focus on parapsychological experiences but including syanaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, sleep paralysis, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and, well, even a little bit of lycanthropy.

The chapters range from comprehensive literature and research reviews of specific topics, such as psi research with psychedelics, through essays exploring topics like possession and psychedelics, to more speculative and personal explorations, such as entity encounter experiences with the naturally occurring endogenous dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Given the nascent nature of this field of enquiry this book takes a multidisciplinary approach to build a coherent picture and spans several disciplines, sourcing material from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, paranthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies and cultural history. A good amount of my own data can also be found within.

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

My career has been strongly rooted in parapsychology but has broadened over the years into a multidisciplinary exploration of exceptional human experiences and altered states of consciousness, with a particular focus on psychedelics, although I have also researched dreams, meditation, mediumistic states, darkness, yoga, shamanic practices, floatation tanks and other altered states.

I did my PhD on luck and psi among other parapsychology researchers at the University of Northampton when it was probably the leading academic institution in the world for such research, and have continued doing parapsychology research for the last 17 years. My main experimental subject throughout has been precognition, and I have conducted numerous studies testing this under different controlled conditions, but I have also conducted numerous surveys, case studies, dabbled in anthropology and ethnography and even ran a clinical drug trial with LSD partially exploring experimental psi. My work has also been greatly informed by field research and travels around the world exploring mediumship, shamanism and mystical practices from India to Ecuador.

What motivated you to write this book?

My main motivation to write this book was to bring together the various strands of my research into exceptional experiences with psychedelics, given that there is currently no coherent thrust within the academy, either from within parapsychology or elsewhere, to explore this rich subject. There are currently something like 32 million people in the US alone that have used psychedelics, and probably half of those or more have had at least one exceptional experience under the influence, so the topic of this book covers a genuine lacuna in the academic literature that deserves serious attention.

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

Given the lack of coordinated research programmes on this broad subject this book is probably the first of its kind to specifically explore psychedelically-induced exceptional experiences, including those of a parapsychological nature. I optimistically hope that having a text dedicated to this subject matter will give other researchers a useful resource and a clear platform from which to systematically explore these colourful experiences. Ultimately, I hope that this book will provide the starting point to examine the exotic and yet relatively common experiences that occur with these substances now that the revival of serious psychedelic research has finally begun after a 50-year hiatus. I also think that even non-researchers, such as the interested psychonaut or the parapsychology enthusiast will find much of interest in this book too.


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

Lance Storm and Patrizio E. Tressoldi have just published a meta-analysis of experimental ESP studies that have examined the sheep-goat effect. The article’s title is “Gathering in More Sheep and Goats: A Meta-Analysis of Forced-Choice Sheep-Goat ESP Studies, 1994–2015” (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 2017, 81, 79-107).

Lance Storm 2

Lance Storm

Patrizio Tressoldi 5

Patrizio Tressoldi

Here is the abstract:

The terms ‘sheep’ and ‘goat’ were introduced by Gertrude Schmeidler — sheep are those who accept the possibility of ESP occurring under given experimental conditions, while goats are those participants who reject the possibility. In statistical tests of psychic ability, Schmeidler found that sheep tended to score above chance, while goats (rather than scoring at chance) tended to score below chance. This scoring differential is known as the sheep-goat effect (SGE). This study is a meta-analysis of the SGE in forced-choice literature, being a continuation from where Lawrence (1993) left off. The period of analysis was 1994 to 2015. The authors retrieved 49 studies reported by 43 investigators. The mean ES for ESP = .045, mean z = 0.75, Stouffer Z = 5.23 (p = 8.47 × 10-8), and the mean trial-based SGE = 0.034, mean z = 0.24, Stouffer Z = 1.67 (p = .047). Thus, our SGE is on par with Lawrence’s reported “r = 0.029”. There was no relationship between study quality and ESP effect or SGE, but there was a significant incline in the SGE over a period of 22 years. The SGE did not vary significantly with belief measure used. Bayesian analysis of the same dataset yielded results supporting the ‘frequentist’ finding that the null hypothesis should be rejected. These and other findings are generally comparable to Lawrence’s, altogether indicating a “belief-moderated communications anomaly” in the forced-choice ESP domain that has been effectively uninterrupted and consistent for almost 70 years.




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

Blanco, S., Sambin, M., & Palmieri, A. (2017). Meaning making after a near-death experience: The relevance of intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics. Death Studies, 27, 1-12.

This study aims to investigate the processes used by individuals to integrate a near-death experience (NDE) and to discuss the use of a meaning-making component to help people who have had such experiences. A psychotherapist interviewed six individuals who reported having had a NDE. Transcripts of the interviews were coded using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. The authors identified intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics implicated in the individuals’ meaning-making processes, and the problems encountered during their integration of the experience. Meaning-based approaches are a feasible theoretical framework for shedding light on the NDE and providing support for people who have lived through them.

Chandradasa, M., Wijesinghe, C., Kuruppuarachchi, K. A. L. A., & Perera, M. (2017). Near-death experiences in a multi-religious hospital population in Sri Lanka. Journal of Religion and Health, 1-17.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are a wide range of experiences that occur in association with impending death. There are no published studies on NDEs in general hospital populations, and studies have been mainly conducted on critically ill patients. We assessed the prevalence of NDEs and its associations in a multi-religious population in a general hospital in Sri Lanka. A randomised sample of patients admitted to the Colombo North Teaching Hospital was assessed using the Greyson NDE scale and clinical assessment. Out of total 826 participants, NDEs were described by 3%. Compared to the NDE-negative participants, the NDE-positive group had a significantly higher mean for age and a ratio of men. Women reported deeper NDEs. Patients of theistic religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) reported significantly more NDEs compared to patients from the non-theistic religious group (Buddhism). NDE-positive patient group had significantly higher reporting of a feeling ‘that they are about to die’, the presence of loss of consciousness and a higher percentage of internal medical patients. This is the first time that NDEs are assessed in a general hospital population and NDEs being reported from Sri Lanka. We also note for the first time that persons with theistic religious beliefs reported more NDEs than those with non-theistic religious beliefs. Medical professionals need to be aware of these phenomena to be able to give an empathic hearing to patients who have NDE.

Kinsella, M. (2017). Near-death experiences and networked spirituality: The emergence of an afterlife movement. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 85, 168–198.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) were first introduced to the public in 1975. Shortly thereafter, an entire field of near-death studies emerged that began outlining an NDE-based spirituality. This spirituality draws heavily upon an aspect of NDEs known as the “life review,” which involves the reliving or witnessing of significant autobiographical events, either from one’s own perspective or that of others. Near-death studies have contributed to the rise of what I have termed an “afterlife movement”: a loosely organized collective utilizing NDE narratives and practices modeled after the life review to transform behaviors and attitudes toward death, dying, and end-of-life care. By presenting findings from the first ethnography ever to be conducted on the sharing and study of NDE reports in group settings, this article describes this growing movement at the local level.

Lake, J. (2017). The evolution of a predisposition for the near-death experience: implications for non-local consciousness. Journal of Nonlocality, 5.

Near-death experiences (NDE) raise important questions about the nature of human consciousness, the relationship between brain function and consciousness, the perceptual information that is available to consciousness in moments before death, the role of physical and biological mechanisms associated with altered states of consciousness, and relationships between consciousness, space-time and phenomenal reality. Challenges posed by efforts to define the NDE, claims of anomalous experiences associated with NDEs, the problem of “timing” of NDEs with respect to brain function, recent findings from neuroscience are reviewed, along with emerging evidence for quantum models of consciousness that may help elucidate the nature of NDEs.

Lawrence, M. (2017). Near-death and other transpersonal experiences occurring during catastrophic events. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, 34, 486-492.

The purpose of this article is to describe examples of near-death and other transpersonal experiences occurring during catastrophic events like floods, wars, bombings, and death camps. To date, researchers have limited their investigations of these transpersonal events to those occurring to seriously ill patients in hospitals, those dying from terminal illnesses, or to individuals experiencing a period of grief after the death of a loved one. Missing is awareness by first responders and emergency healthcare professionals about these transpersonal experiences and what to say to the individuals who have them. Some responders experience not only deaths of the victims they assist, but also deaths of their colleagues. Information about these transpersonal experiences can also be of comfort to them. The examples in this article include a near-death experience during the Vietnam War, an out-of-body experience after a bomb explosion during the Iraq War, a near-death visit to a woman imprisoned at Auschwitz, and two after-death communications, one from a person killed in Auschwitz and another from a soldier during World War I. Also included are interviews with two New York City policemen who were September 11, 2001 responders. It is hoped the information will provide knowledge of these experiences to those who care for those near death, or dying, or grieving because of catastrophic events, and encourage researchers to further investigate these experiences during disasters.

Martial, C., Charland-Verville, V., Cassol, H., Didone, V., Van der Linden, M., & Laureys, S. (2017). Intensity and memory characteristics of near-death experiences. Consciousness and Cognition, S1053-8100(16)30380-4. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2017.06.018.

Memories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) seem to be very detailed and stable over time. At present, there is still no satisfactory explanation for the NDEs’ rich phenomenology. Here we compared phenomenological characteristics of NDE memories with the reported experience’s intensity. We included 152 individuals with a self-reported “classical” NDE (i.e. occurring in life-threatening conditions). All participants completed a mailed questionnaire that included a measure of phenomenological characteristics of memories (the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire; MCQ) and a measure of NDE’s intensity (the Greyson NDE scale). Greyson NDE scale total score was positively correlated with MCQ total score, suggesting that participants who described more intense NDEs also reported more phenomenological memory characteristics of NDE. Using MCQ items, our study also showed that NDE’s intensity is associated in particular with sensory details, personal importance and reactivation frequency variables.

Martial C, Cassol H, Antonopoulos G, Charlier T, Heros J, Donneau A-F, Charland-Verville V and Laureys S (2017) Temporality of features in near-death experience narratives. Frontiers of Human Neuroscences, 11:311. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00311

Background: After an occurrence of a Near-Death Experience (NDE), Near-Death Experiencers (NDErs) usually report extremely rich and detailed narratives. Phenomenologically, a NDE can be described as a set of distinguishable features. Some authors have proposed regular patterns of NDEs, however, the actual temporality sequence of NDE core features remains a little explored area. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features (globally and according to the position of features in narratives) as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of features. Methods: We collected 154 French freely expressed written NDE narratives (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score ≥ 7/32). A text analysis was conducted on all narratives in order to infer temporal ordering and frequency distribution of NDE features. Results: Our analyses highlighted the following most frequently reported sequence of consecutive NDE features: Out-of-Body Experience, Experiencing a tunnel, Seeing a bright light, Feeling of peace. Yet, this sequence was encountered in a very limited number of NDErs. Conclusion: These findings may suggest that NDEs temporality sequences can vary across NDErs. Exploring associations and relationships among features encountered during NDEs may complete the rigorous definition and scientific comprehension of the phenomenon.

Martial, C., Charland-Verville, V., Dehon, H., & Laureys, S. (2017). False memory susceptibility in coma survivors with and without a near-death experience. Psychological Research, DOI:

It has been postulated that memories of near-death experiences (NDEs) could be (at least in part) reconstructions based on experiencers’ (NDErs) previous knowledge and could be built as a result of the individual’s attempt to interpret the confusing experience. From the point of view of the experiencer, NDE memories are perceived as being unrivalled memories due to its associated rich phenomenology. However, the scientific literature devoted to the cognitive functioning of NDErs in general, and their memory performance in particular, is rather limited. This study examined NDErs’ susceptibility to false memories using the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm. We included 20 NDErs who reported having had their experience in the context of a life-threatening event (Greyson NDE scale total score ≥7/32) and 20 volunteers (matched for age, gender, education level, and time since brain insult) who reported a life-threatening event but without a NDE. Both groups were presented with DRM lists for a recall task during which they were asked to assign “Remember/Know/Guess” judgements to any recalled response. In addition, they were later asked to complete a post-recall test designed to obtain estimates of activation and monitoring of critical lures. Results demonstrated that NDErs and volunteers were equally likely to produce false memories, but that NDErs recalled them more frequently associated with compelling illusory recollection. Of particular interest, analyses of activation and monitoring estimates suggest that NDErs and volunteers groups were equally likely to think of critical lures, but source monitoring was less successful in NDErs compared to volunteers.

Moore, L., & Greyson, B. (2017). Characteristics of memories for near-death experiences. Consciousness and Cognition, 51, 116–124.

Near-death experiences are vivid, life-changing experiences occurring to people who come close to death. Because some of their features, such as enhanced cognition despite compromised brain function, challenge our understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the question arises whether near-death experiences are imagined rather than real events. We administered the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire to 122 survivors of a close brush with death who reported near-death experiences. Participants completed Memory Characteristics Questionnaires for three different memories: that of their near-death experience, that of a real event around the same time, and that of an event they had imagined around the same time. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire score was higher for the memory of the near-death experience than for that of the real event, which in turn was higher than that of the imagined event. These data suggest that memories of near-death experiences are recalled as ‘‘realer” than real events or imagined events.

Royse, D., & Badger, K. (2017). Near-death experiences, posttraumatic growth, and life satisfaction among burn survivors. Social Work in Health Care, 56, 155-168.

Survivors of large burns may face positive and negative psychological after-effects from close-to-death injuries. This study is the first to examine their near-death experiences (NDEs) and posttraumatic growth (PTG) and life satisfaction afterwards. With an available sample of 92 burn survivors, half met the criteria for an NDE using an objective scale. Those who indicated religion was a source of strength and comfort had high scores on life satisfaction, PTG, and the NDE Scale. Individuals with larger burns reported greater PTG than those with smaller total body surface area burned (TBSA). There were no significant differences on life satisfaction, PTG, or NDEs when examined by gender or years since the burn injury. Elements of the NDE most frequently reported were: An altered sense of time, a sense of being out of the physical body, a feeling of peace, vivid sensations, and sense of being in an “other worldly” environment. Social workers and other health providers need to be comfortable helping burn survivors discuss any NDEs and process these through survivors’ spirituality and religious belief systems as they recover.

Tassell-Matamua, N., & Lindsay, N., Bennett, S., Valentine, H., & Pahina, J. (2017). Does learning about near-death experiences promote psycho-spiritual benefits in those who have not had a near-death experience? Journal of Spirituality and mental Health, 19, 95-115.

Research has revealed a consistent pattern of positive aftereffects in those who report a near-death experience [NDE]. Beneficial outcomes are also possible for those who have not had a NDE, but instead learn about them, although much of this research has been conducted on therapeutic populations. Using a sample of 143 participants randomly assigned to either an intervention or non-intervention group, we investigated whether learning about NDEs generated the same psycho-spiritual benefits having a NDE does. Results revealed significant changes in appreciation for life, spirituality, and appreciation for death, in the intervention group after learning about NDEs.

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

I finally published a paper I have been working on for a long time. It is an examination of the presence of psychical research at the international congresses of psychology for the period 1889-1905 (“Telepathy, Mediumship, and Psychology: Psychical Research at the International Congresses of Psychology, 1889–1905.” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2017, 31, 255–292).

Congres Psychologie 1889
Congress Psychology 1892

Here is the abstract:

“The development of psychology includes the rejection of concepts and movements some groups consider undesirable, such as psychical research. One such example was the way psychologists dealt with phenomena such as telepathy and mediumship in the first five international congresses of psychology held between 1889 and 1905. This included papers about telepathy and mediumship by individuals such as Gabriel Delanne, Léon Denis, Théodore Flournoy, Paul Joire, Léon Marillier, Frederic W. H. Myers, Julian Ochorowicz, Charles Richet, Eleanor M. Sidgwick, and Henry Sidgwick. These topics were eventually rejected from the congresses, and provide us with an example of the boundary-work psychologists were engaging in during that period to build their discipline. The height of such presentations took place at the 1900 congress, after which there was a marked decline in discussion on the topic which mirrored the rejection science at large showed for psychical research during the period in question.”

Congress Psychology 1896

Congres Psychologie 1900

The congresses took place in 1889 (Paris), 1892 (London), Munich (1896), 1900 (Paris), and 1905 (Rome). Some of the papers presented, as published in the conference proceedings, were:

Bager-Sjögren, Dr. (1897). Ist es möglich, durch eine internationale Hallucinations-statistik einen Beweis zu erbringen für die Existenz telepathisher Einwirkungen? In Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, Munich: J. F. Lehmann, pp. 394–402.

Courtier, J. (1906). Sur quelques effets de passes dites magnétiques. In Atti del V Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia edited by S. De Sanctis, Rome: Forzani, pp. 536–540.

Dariex, Dr. [X] (1901). De divers expériences sur les mouvements d’objets matérieles provoqués sans contact par une force psychique agissant a distance. In IVe Congrès International de  Psychologie edited by P. Janet, Paris: Félix Alcan, pp. 632–638.

Dariex Paper 1900 Psychology Congress 1900

Flournoy, T. (1897). Quelques faits d’imagination subliminale chez les médiums. In Dritter Internationaler Congress für Psychologie, Munich: J. F. Lehmann, pp. 419–420.

Flournoy Paper 1896 Psychology Congress

Marillier, L. (1890). Statistique des hallucinations. In Congrès International de Psychologie Physiologique, Paris: Bureau de Revues, pp. 44–47.

Marzorati, A. (1906). Le origini e lo sviluppo del pensiero religioso in rapporto ai fenomeni psichici ed alla facoltà supernormali. In Atti del V Congresso Internazionale di Psicologia edited by S. De Sanctis, Rome: Forzani, pp. 461–462.

Richet, C. (1892). L’avenir de la psychologie. In International Congress of Experimental Psychology. London: Williams & Norgate, pp. 24-26.

Sidgwick, H. (1892). Statistical inquiry into hallucinations. In International Congress of Experimental Psychology, London: Williams & Norgate, pp. 56–61.

van Eeden, F. (1901). Quelques observations sur les phénomènes dits spiritiques. In IVe Congrès International de Psychologie edited by P. Janet, Paris: Félix Alcan, pp. 122–131.

Statistique des Hallucinations (1890). In Congrès International de Psychologie Physiologique, Paris: Bureau de Revues, pp. 151–157.

Rather than recounting a history of success, this episode in the history of psychical research is one of failure in the sense of rejection from psychology. “The eventual rejection of psychical research from the international congresses of psychology is an example of the field’s rejection and ambivalent position within psychology . . . Psychologists’ attempts at professionalization led them to separate themselves from other knowledge claims and perspectives that they felt threatened their status. They engaged in boundary-work, where there is an active defense of practice, methods, and concepts “for the purpose of drawing a rhetorical boundary between science and some less authoritative residual non-science” (Gieryn 1999 . . .) . . .”

Congress Psychology 1905

“The fact that some papers on topics such as veridical hallucinations and mediumship were admitted to the congresses, and that the 1892 congress had Sidgwick and Myers as its President and Secretary, shows some level of acceptance, or tolerance, by the establishment. But it is clear that acceptance of papers in the congress did not mean acceptance of the reality of phenomena beyond conventional principles. The objections presented at the third and fourth congress are an example of this. These discussions show that psychical research was far from being accepted as a part of psychology during the nineteenth century and later . . .”

Henry Sidgwick 3

Henry Sidgwick


by Eveleen Myers (nÈe Tennant), albumen print, late 1890s

Frederic W.H. Myers

In addition to the professionalization of psychology, it is possible that the rejection of psychic phenomena from the congresses may have been related to the threat these phenomena may have had for some against the current materialistic paradigm.

But all this psychic work amounted to more than rejection from the congresses. This work presented contributions to the development of the concept of dissociation. Furthermore: “The SPR [Society for Psychical Research] study of hallucinations . . .  was a significant contribution to the furthering of empirical knowledge on the prevalence and phenomenology of hallucinations, regardless of the rejection of the telepathic component . . .  Other contributions to psychology and psychiatry came from the study of mediumship, as seen in Flournoy’s studies of subliminal imagination, and from other observations leading to specific diagnoses and the concept of automatisms . . . This is instructive in that it illustrates how marginal movements, the periphery, or what has been rejected, can have an impact on the mainstream, or the core of a field such as psychology.”

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

Several meta-analyses have beeen published about parapsychological experiments in recent years (click here and here). If you want to get a short overview of this see Lance Storm’s recent introductory online article on the topic (Meta-analysis in parapsychology. In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research). The article opens explaining the topic:

“Meta-analysis is a statistical procedure that combines the results of a number of studies in a particular area of research in order to provide a more robust finding. The method has been embraced by parapsychologists since the 1980s, since the results of meta-analyses tend overwhelmingly to confirm the statistically significant findings of individual psi studies, underscoring the existence of psi as a genuine phenomenon. However, this apparent success has contributed to doubts about the value of meta-analysis among those who question the reality of psi, fueling controversy about its true worth.”

Lance Storm 2

Lance Storm

Summaries of several meta-analyses about ESP and psychokinesis experiments are presented. This includes ganzfeld, dream, presentiment, and dice throwing studies. Storm presents the results of meta-analyses that both support and do not support the existence of psi effects. He cautions readers that not all areas of research have been meta-analyzed, “these domains (perhaps up-and-coming in some cases) may as yet be represented by too few studies to warrant meta-analysis, or they have been subsumed by other domains (for instance, RV [remote viewing] in free-response), or they do not lend themselves to meta-analytic treatment . . . For most domains, experimentation continues, with experimental designs becoming increasingly sophisticated and innovative.”

Some studies cited by Storm:

Bem, D. J., Palmer, J., & Broughton, R. S. (2001). Updating the ganzfeld database: A victim of its own success? Journal of Parapsychology, 65, 207-218.

Bösch, H., Steinkamp, F., & Boller, E. (2006). Examining psychokinesis: The interaction of human intention with random number generators. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 497-523. Abstract

Honorton, C., & Ferrari, D. C. (1989). “Future telling”: A meta-analysis of forced-choice precognition experiments, 1935-1987. Journal of Parapsychology. 53, 281-308.

Milton, J. (1997). Meta-analysis of free-response ESP studies without altered states of consciousness. Journal of Parapsychology, 61, 279-319.

Milton, J., & Wiseman, R. (1999). Does psi exist? Lack of replication of an anomalous process of information transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 387-391.

Mossbridge, J., Tressoldi, P. & Utts, J. (2012). Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 1-18. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00390

Radin, D. I., & Nelson, R. D. (1989). Evidence for consciousness-related anomalies in random physical systems. Foundations of Physics, 19, 1499-1514.

Radin, D. I., & Ferrari, D. C. (1991). Effects of consciousness on the fall of dice: A meta-analysis. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 5, 61-83.

Schmidt, S., Schneider, R., Utts, J., & Wallach, H. (2004). Distant intentionality and the feeling of being stared at: The meta-analyses. British Journal of Psychology, 95, 235-247. Abstract

Sherwood, S. J., & Roe, C. A. (2003). A review of dream ESP studies conducted since the Maimonides dream ESP studies. In J. Alcock, J. Burns, & A. Freeman (Eds.), Psi wars: Getting to grips with the paranormal (pp. 85-109). Thorverton, UK: Imprint Academic.

Sherwood, S. J., & Roe, C. A. (2013). An updated review of dream ESP studies conducted since the Maimonides dream ESP program. In S. Krippner, A. J. Rock, J. Beischel, & H. Friedman (Eds.), Advances in parapsychological research 9 (pp. 38-81). Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Abstract

Stanford, R. G., & Stein, A. G. (1994). A meta-analysis of ESP studies contrasting hypnosis and a comparison condition. Journal of Parapsychology, 58, 235-269. Abstract

Steinkamp, F., Milton, J., & Morris, R. L. (1998). A meta-analysis of forced-choice experiments comparing clairvoyance and precognition. Journal of Parapsychology, 62, 193-218.

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., & Di Risio, L. (2010b). Meta-analyses of free-response studies 1992-2008: Assessing the noise reduction model in parapsychology. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 471-485. doi:10.1037/a0019457.

Storm, L., Tressoldi, P. E., & Di Risio, L. (2012). Meta-analyses of ESP studies 1987-2008: Assessing the success of the forced-choice design in parapsychology. Journal of Parapsychology, 76, 243-273.



Carlos S. Alvarado, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Several papers on the topic of quantum retrocausation appear in the current issue of the AIP Conference Proceedings, published by the American Institute of Physics (to see the papers click here). These papers were presented at the third meeting held at the University of San Diego on June 2016, sponsored by the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to discuss ideas about retrocausation. This is defined in the preface of the proceedings as “the proposition that the future can affect the present in a manner analogous to how the past affects the present via causation.”

Here is a list of the papers:

Preface and Acknowledgements: Quantum Retrocausation III

How retrocausality helps

Roderick I. Sutherland

Is there really “retrocausation” in time-symmetric approaches to quantum mechanics?

Ruth E. Kastner

Janus sequences of quantum measurements and the arrow of time

Andrew N. Jordan, Areeya Chantasri, Kater Murch, Justin Dressel, and Alexander N. Korotkov

Completing the physical representation of quantum algorithms provides a retrocausal explanation of the speedup

Giuseppe Castagnoli

The retrocausal tip of the quantum iceberg

Avshalom C. Elitzur, and Eliahu Cohen

Guiding quantum histories with intermediate decomposition of the identity

Sky Nelson-Isaacs

Quantum entanglement in time

Marcin Nowakowski

Perceiving the future news: Evidence for retrocausation

Dale E. Graff, and Patricia S. Cyrus

Prediction of truly random future events using analysis of prestimulus electroencephalographic data

Stephen L. Baumgart, Michael S. Franklin, Hiroumi K. Jimbo, Sharon J. Su,

and Jonathan Schooler

Testing the potential paradoxes in “retrocausal” phenomena

Jacob Jolij, and Dick J. Bierman

Examining the nature of retrocausal effects in biology and psychology

Julia Mossbridge

Empirical retrocausality: Testing physics hypotheses with parapsychological experiments

York Dobyns

Retrocausation in quantum mechanics and the effects of minds on the creation of physical reality

Henry P. Stapp

Physics and the role of mind

Stanley A. Klein, and Christopher Cochran

Progress in post-quantum mechanics

Jack Sarfatti

Wave particle duality, the observer and retrocausality

Ashok Narasimhan, and Menas C. Kafatos





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

“Over the years a number of ideas have been put forward based on the concept of radiations, or emanations, of biophysical forces from human beings. This concept, although generally disregarded by parapsychologists today, was once widely used to explain phenomena such as auras, ESP, healing, luminous effects, materializations, movement of objects, and many other events.” This is the beginning of an article I wrote about this topic that was published in the Psi Encyclopedia, an online project sponsored by the Society for Psychical Research (Human Radiations. In R. McLuhan (Ed.), Psi Encyclopedia. London: Society for Psychical Research, 2016).

Psi Encyclopedia

My emphasis in the article was on discussions about the topic published before the 1930s. This includes the literatures of mesmerism, Spiritism and Spiritualism, and psychical research.

I started with a section about mesmerism:

“In his book Mémoire sur la Découverte du Magnétisme Animal, the physician Franz Anton Mesmer . . . put forward several propositions about a universal fluid he called animal magnetism, which he believed could bring about actions in both organic and non-organic matter . . . This putative force was the central concept of mesmerism, a movement which flourished between the 18th and 19th centuries, and even later. It was said to be not only in the human body but all around in nature, and was thought to have healing properties. It was polarized like magnets, could be reflected by mirrors, and communicated to animate and inanimate matter, sometimes via sound.”


Franz Anton Mesmer

Mesmer Memoire 1779


In the words of one of Mesmer’s followers: “The magnetic fluid continuously escapes us: it forms an atmosphere around our body… which… does not act noticeably on individuals around us; but when our will pushes and directs it moves with all the strength that we impart: it moves like light rays sent out by bodies ablaze” (Deleuze, J.P.F. (1813). Histoire critique du magnétisme animal (Vol. 1). Paris: Mame.)


J.P.F. Deleuze

Deleuze Histoire Critique

There were many speculations about animal magnetism: “Some believed that animal magnetism was a nervous fluid intimately related to heat electricity and light . . . In fact, such ideas reinforced the notion of a universal force that could manifest in different forms. Petetin . . . called the force ‘animal electricity’ and stated that it could bring in information into the nervous system without the use of the eyes and other sensory organs.”

Petetin Electricite Animale 2 

Many books about mesmerism presented cures effected by this magnetic agent, a concept represented in the sketch below. “English physician James Esdaile . . . reported on amputations performed under the mesmeric state and listed many medical conditions successfully treated with magnetism in his medical practice in India.”


Esdaile Mesmerism in India

Another influential concept was an universal force proposed by Baron Karl von Reichenbach which he referred to as Od.

Reichenbach Physikalisch

“Od, Reichenbach thought, was produced by the human body, also by crystals, heat and other natural processes. He wrote: ‘I placed a specimen card of many metals before many high sensitives, who saw them all in the dark, some brighter, others darker. A glass case full of silver plate gradually grew to be full of fine fire. Coal, selenium, iodine and sulphur were all found to be luminous. The light was a phosphorescent glow, as though they were translucent . . . Besides the glow, the sensitives saw above these substances, flame-like emanations, losing themselves in smoke . . . , and in the former as well as in the latter cases, these flames could be made to nicker and be blown away by the breath, and they in many cases, throw light on the fingers, in which the objects were held. The colors of different substances varied greatly, and this variation gave a good test of the correctness of the statements of the sensitives.’ ”

Many ideas of forces were presented to explain the physical phenomena of mediums, “these were thought to emanate mainly from the body of the medium, although some theories also implicated the sitters in the séance, and more rarely, the surrounding environment.” Some of these ideas assumed spirit action while others did not.

One example of the later was Edward C. Rogers, whose book Philosophy of Mysterious Agents was widely cited during the 1850s and later. “Rogers postulated the exteriorization from the body of a nerve force which he believed accounted for physical phenomena in séances and for poltergeist disturbances. This could take place through unconscious guidance by a living agent or with no specific direction – basically an automatic process. He believed this force was the same as Reichenbach’s Od . . .”

Rogers Philosophy 1853

Variants of these ideas were published during the Nineteenth-Century by Edward W. Cox, Asa Mahan, Edouard von Hartmann, and many others.

Mahan Modern Mysteries

Cox Spiritualism Answered by Science

Von Hartmann Spiritism

English chemist and physicist William Crookes adopted Cox’s “psychic force” concept to make sense of the phenomena he observed with medium DD Home . . . He noticed that Home’s power to affect instruments was variable and speculated that they were related to the medium’s vitality. He wrote, ‘after witnessing the painful state of nervous and bodily prostration in which some of these experiments have left Mr. Home — after seeing him lying in an almost fainting condition on the floor, pale and speechless — I could scarcely doubt that the evolution of psychic force is accompanied by a corresponding drain on vital force.’ ” Crookes writings appear in his Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, published in 1874.

Crookes Researches cover



D.D. Home

Other topics discussed include ideas of this sort to explain ESP, instrumental and photographic detectors of psychic forces. There is also a short section at the end of the article about critiques, and about recommended readings. I have discussed this topic before in several of my articles and blogs (click here, here, here and here.

Various Later Discussions of this Concept

Barety Magnetisme Animal

Baraduc Ame Humaine in Color

Joire Storage Annals of Psychical Science 1906

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

A Special issue of the journal Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, Practice, edited by Steven Jay Lynn, is entitled “Anomalous, Exceptional, and Non-Ordinary Experiences: Expanding the Boundaries of Psychological Science” (2017, vol. 4, No. 1).

In the abstract of his editorial Steven Jay Lynn states “that readers of the current issue will find articles that fulfill an important mission of the journal: to devote coverage to the study of intriguing phenomena and experiences long considered to lie outside the boundaries of mainstream scientific research. Specifically, the articles span research and theory relevant to anomalous, exceptional, and nonordinary experiences (e.g., mystical experiences, near-death experiences, extreme sports experiences), which can exert a transformative and longstanding salutary impact on the individual.”

For a list of the articles in the issue, and their abstracts, click here.

Psychology of Consciousness

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

The last issue of the Journal of Scientific Exploration has a report authored by Alejandro Parra and Paola Giménez Amarilla entitled “Anomalous/Paranormal Experiences Reported by Nurses in Relation to Their Patients in Hospitals” (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2017, 31, 1–28).

Alejandro Parra

Alejandro Parra

Paola Gimenez Amarilla

Paola Giménez Amarilla

Here is the abstract:

“Using existing reports of Anomalous/Paranormal Experiences (APE) by nurses in hospital and health center settings, the aim was to determine the extent of occurrence of certain types of anomalous perceptual experiences and their relationship to the nurses’ job stress, proneness to hallucination, and psychological absorption. From the total number of 130 participants recruited from nursing departments, we received 100 usable questionnaires from eight hospitals and health centers in Argentina. Using the Anomalous/Paranormal Experiences in Nurse & Health Workers Survey (which measures frequency of paranormal/anomalous experiences) (see Appendix), 54 experiencer nurses (APE) and 46 control (non-experiencer nurses) were reclustered. All of them also filled out the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Hallucinations Experiences Questionnaire, and the Tellegen Absorption Scale. While nurses reporting such experiences did not tend to experience greater job stress, those who reported a combination of hallucination perceptual experiences and a high level of psychological absorption tended to score higher for anomalous/paranormal experiences compared with those who did not report such experiences.”

The authors write in their conclusion:

“The aim of this study was to determine the degree of occurrence of certain unusual perceptual experiences in hospital settings and their relationship to job stress and psychological absorption. The study was based on a comparison of the degree of job stress and absorption in nurses having these experiences with nurses not having these experiences. Results showed that of the 100 nurses surveyed, 55 of them reported having had at least one anomalous experience in the hospital setting, the most common being the feeling of ‘presences,’ hearing strange noises, voices, or dialogues, noticing the tears or groans of patients, and intuitively ‘knowing’ what disease patients have.”

“In this study, nurses who reported these experiences tended to score higher on psychological absorption . . . Absorption may also indicate a more habitual use of or recurrent desire to engage in absorbed mental activity, such that habitually poor reality monitoring becomes an enduring aspect of one’s cognitive style. Although the nurses who had APEs tended to show a higher proneness to hallucinate and scored higher in the six subscales on hallucination, this need not mean that all APEs are pure hallucinatory fantasies produced by job stress, since some could still be potentially veridical . . .”

“Hence, in the context of this study, the distinction between purely subjective experiences and those considered paranormal (veridical APE) is irrelevant. Even veridical experiences may depend on the same psychological predispositional factors as do non-veridical experiences . . .”

“Approximately 24% of the 100 respondents knew of such experiences by others, but had not had any themselves. The most common experiences reported by patients were near-death experiences (NDE, 19%). About 18% also mentioned an anomalous recovery through a religious intervention (18%) . . . In relation to anomalous experiences with children (15%), these experiences in general play an adaptive and protective function, which can decrease the level of anxiety around death and loss, and can relieve tension related to a memory . . .”

“Generally speaking, the information that most people have about these experiences and their association with psychiatric disorders leads to prejudice and resistance to providing data. Thus there are a number of drawbacks connected with this research in hospital settings as they are conservative institutions, unlikely to be open about their population and even more so with respect to providing information relating to the subject of this investigation. The nurses did reveal their personal and professional experiences and those of their patients, noting that they considered experiences of paranormal phenomena within a hospital setting not to be infrequent or unexpected. They were not frightened by their patients’ experiences, or their own, and exhibited a quiet confidence in the reality of the experiences for themselves and the dying person. Acceptance of these experiences, without interpretation or explanation, characterized their responses. By reassuring them that the occurrence of paranormal phenomena was not uncommon and was often comforting to the dying person, we may assist nurses to be instrumental in normalizing a potentially misunderstood and frightening experience.”

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

I recently reviewed in an article some old ideas about psychic phenomena and the brain hemispheres. This was an article entitled: “Psychic Phenomena and the Brain Hemispheres: Some nineteenth-century publications” (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2016, 30, 559–585; available from the author

In the article I summarize the ideas of various authors, among them Catherine Crowe,     F.W.H. Myers, and Cesare Lombroso. They wrote in a historical context. As I stated in the paper:

“The rapid development of neurology in the Nineteenth Century led to an interest in physiological explanations for psychic phenomena and related psychological anomalies such as mediumistic and hypnotic trance, and hysterical dissociation . . . Among the hypotheses presented to explain reports of alleged psychic phenomena, particularly those reported to occur in the presence of mediums, one group of physicians offered a variety of neurologically and psychophysiologically based notions.”


Photo of Brain, in W. Fuller, Architecture of the Brain (1896)

These developments included what was learned about localization of sensory and motor functions. Particularly important was the work about aphasia (see Reader in the History of Aphasia  and this article.


Paul Broca, “Remarques sur le Siège de la Faculté du Langage Articulé, Suivies d’une Observation d’Aphémie (Perte de la Parole)” [Comments About the Seat of the Faculty of Articulated Language, Followed by an Observation of Aphemia (Loss of Speech)]. Bulletin de la Société Anatomique de Paris, 1861, 36, 330-357.



Aphasia Diagram from Bastian’s Book (Above)

“Interest in the brain and in the functions of the hemispheres also flourished during these times. Although some researchers defended a unitary or an equipotential view of the functions of the cerebral cortex . . . , the emphasis on localization began to be more widely accepted with the development of clinical and experimental neurology . . .”

In spite of much controversy, the idea of hemispheric dominance developed, leading to the “acceptance of the concept of left hemispheric dominance and the right hemisphere as the minor one . . . However, and regardless of dominance, the concept of duality of the brain was a popular subject for discussion during the Nineteenth Century”, as seen in speculations about education, disease and other topics. A famous early work of the period was Arthur Ladbroke Wigan’s A New View of Insanity: The Duality of the Mind  (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1844).


English novelist Catherine Crowe was familiar with Wigan’s ideas but, as I wrote, she rejected his “speculations about déjà vu and pointed out that presentiments of future things were particularly difficult to explain in this way.” Crowe stated: “The theory of one-half of the brain in a negative state, serving as a mirror to the other half, if admitted at all, may answer as well, or better, for those waking presentiments, than for clear-seeing in dreams.” She wrote about this in her famous book The Night-Side of Nature (London: T.C. Newby, 1848, Vol. 1).


Catherine Crowe


Myers also wrote about the topic in relation to automatic writing. “He considered the similarities between ‘supernormal’ automatic writing and the ‘writing performed by patients who have . . . only the partially untrained half of the brain to rely on,—those centres which habitually initiate the graphic energy having been destroyed or rendered temporarily useless by accident or disease’. . . This is what many clinicians called agraphia, but which Myers preferred to call agraphy. In making this comparison, Myers pointed out that in both conditions the subject was occasionally unable to write and that sometimes repetition of letters or senseless words appeared. Transposition of letters and mirror writing were also considered as pointers to right-hemispheric action in writing problems . . .”

by Eveleen Myers (nÈe Tennant), albumen print, late 1890s

Frederic W.H. Myers


F.W.H. Myers, “Automatic Writing—II.” by Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1885, 3, 1–63.

These are only some of Myers ideas. His writings have much more detail, which is also the case with other writers I will not discuss here who touched on the relationship between the hemispheres and mediumship.

I concluded:

“The ideas discussed here may be considered an interesting but forgotten chapter of the history of hemispheric functions and attempts to explain or find physiological correlates of psychic phenomena. They were certainly influenced by the Nineteenth Century interest in finding specific cerebral localizations of diverse functions, and particularly by concepts and discussions on the duality of the brain . . .  While these ideas may be interpreted as part of the trend of Nineteenth Century science to conceptualize the phenomena of consciousness in natural terms, it was also an example of how spiritualists and psychical researchers appropriated neurological concepts as part of the workings of the supernormal . . . Of the examples discussed here, Myers is of special interest in that he attempted to put his speculations into the context of knowledge of aphasia and agraphia in the 1880s.”