From the publisher’s website: Leading the reader through the darkened séance rooms and laboratories of Imperial and inter-war Germany, The Stepchildren of Science casts light on the emergence of psychical research and parapsychology in the German context. It looks, in particular, at the role of the psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing - a figure who fashioned himself as both propagandist and Grand Seignior of German parapsychology - in shaping these nascent disciplines. In contrast to other recent studies in which occultism is seen as a means of dealing with or creating “the modern”, this book considers the epistemological, cultural and social issues that arose from psychical researchers’ and parapsychologists’ claims to scientific legitimacy. Focusing on the boundary disputes between these researchers and the spiritualists, occultists, psychologists and scientists with whom they competed for authority over the paranormal, The Stepchildren of Science demonstrates that in the German context both proponents and opponents alike understood psychical research and parapsychology as border sciences.
New Books and Media
The Stepchildren of Science: Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, c. 1870-1939, by Heather Wolffram
There Is Life After Death: Compelling Reports from Those Who Have Glimpsed the Afterlife, by Roy Abraham Varghese
From the publisher’s website: Is death the end? Or, to put it another way, do we survive bodily death? Some shrug their shoulders and declare we simply can’t know. Others just say no. And a few, flying their philosophical colours, pretentiously profess to not even understand the question.
Curiously, the overwhelming majority of human beings throughout the course of history have taken it for granted that death is not the end, that there is a life after death. This striking and seemingly instinctive belief has been embodied in the religious traditions and philosophical reflections of most cultures.
There Is Life After Death is the first of its kind in that it assembles and analyzes a comprehensive range of data on life after death and then provides the framework needed to understand the data. No previous book has presented such concrete evidence—evidence based on the accounts of eyewitnesses as well as on data derived from diverse sources throughout the world and history—supporting the existence of an afterlife.
Above all, the book provides exciting and compelling answers to the urgent question: What lies on the other side?
Psychological Scientific Perspectives on Out of Body and Near Death Experiences, edited by Craig D. Murray
From the publisher’s website: In recent years there has been a surge of scientific interest in the related phenomena of out-of-body (OBEs) and near-death experiences (NDEs). These experiences are altered states of consciousness in which the person may feel that their consciousness has become separated from the confines of their physical bodies. They may occur at mundane times, such as when on the verge of going to or waking from sleep, or at times of increased stress, such as during potentially life-threatening situations, or even when having been clinically dead and revived. These experiences have similar, recurring phenomenological features and cultural motifs. Both forms of experience may be characterised by lucid thinking, a belief that such experiences are 'real' or veridical, and may involve the observance of the physical body, others and the surrounding environment from a disembodied point of view. Both OBEs and NDEs may be accompanied by profound personality changes. the NDE in particular, which is characterised by seemingly real encounters with spiritual beings and deceased persons, being interpreted by those having the experiences as a spiritual one which leads to changes in their world view. Since past research, there has been growing academic interest over the years to help explain the mechanism for and content of these experiences.
This book brings together the most up-to-date research within the psychological sciences on these topics in one authoritative, accessible text. From developments in understanding brain function to research methodologies which probe the phenomenological depths of these experience, this book offers a timely summary of the work of leading experts on these phenomena.
The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters with The Paranormal, by Michelle Belanger
From the publisher’s website: Chasing the unseen has become a popular pastime but most ghost hunters are unaware of the very real harm that can be done by malevolent human spirits, non-human entities, and a host of astral parasites. This guide from medium and paranormal investigator Michelle Belanger features proven protection techniques – and for the sceptics out there, highlights how the methods also work on a psychological level. You'll get straightforward instruction on arming yourself with an array of essential techniques. Woven through each chapter is a true account of a ghost investigation conducted by Belanger, which provides a framework for understanding when to use these potent defence strategies.
The Sixth Sense Reader, edited by David Howes
From the publisher’s website: What is the sixth sense? Is it physical, mental or spiritual? Do we all possess it or is it unique to exceptional individuals? Might there be a seventh sense and an eighth sense as well? What role does culture play in determining the range of our perceptual abilities?
The search for a supplementary sense has taken many directions and yielded numerous possibilities for an "additional faculty" of perception - from magnetism and movement to dreaming and clairvoyance. Stimulating reflection and debate, The Sixth Sense Reader explores the cultural contexts which give rise to such reports of "psychic" and other powers that exceed the ordinary bounds of sense.
In this groundbreaking volume, leading scholars in history, anthropology and biology take the reader on a tour of the far borderlands of consciousness. From the world beneath to the world beyond the five senses, every potential avenue of sensation is opened up for investigation.
Contents: Acknowledgments Introduction: The Revolving Sensorium PART I: BEARINGS 1 The Search for a Sixth Sense: The Cases for Vestibular, Muscle, and Temperature Senses Nicholas J. Wade 2 Sense of Direction W. H. Hudson 3 Bushman Presentiments Wilhelm H. I. Bleek and Lucy C. Lloyd 4 Anatomy of Mysticism Jess Byron Hollenback PART II: HISTORICAL INVESTIGATIONS 5 The Five Senses in Classical Science and Ethics Louise Vinge 6 The Mesmerism Investigation and the Crisis of Sensationist Science Jessica Riskin 7 Swedenborg's Celestial Sensorium: Angelic Authenticity, Religious Authority, and the American New Church Movement Leigh Eric Schmidt 8 The Erotics of Telepathy: The British SPR's Experiments in Intimacy Pamela Thurschwell 9 Intuition and Reason in the New Age: A Cultural Study of Medical Clairvoyance Ruth Barcan 10 Refusing to Give Up the Ghost: Some Thoughts on the Afterlife from Spirit Photography to Phantom Films Pamela Thurschwell PART III: UNCANNY SENSATIONS 11 The Sense of Being Stared At Rupert Sheldrake 12 Tactility and Distraction Michael Taussig PART IV: CROSS-CULTURAL INVESTIGATIONS 13 Sense-Experience and Mystical Experience Mircea Eliade 14 Peyote and the Mystic Vision Barbara G. Myerhoff 15 The Embodiment of Symbols and the Acculturation of the Anthropologist Carol Laderman 16 Sensing Divinity, Death, and Resurrection: Theorizing Experience through Miracles Bilinda Straight 17 Zulu Dreamscapes: Senses, Media, and Authentication in Contemporary Neo-Shamanism David Chidester ABCDERIUM of Extra/Sensory Powers Notes on Contributors Copyright Acknowledgments Index
Victorian Women and the Theatre of Trance: Mediums, Spiritualists and Mesmerists in Performance, by Amy Lehman
From the publisher’s website: Spiritualists in the nineteenth century spoke of the "Borderland," a shadowy threshold where the living communed with the dead, and where those in the material realm could receive comfort or advice from another world. The skilled performances of mostly female actors and performers made the "Borderland" a theatre, of sorts, in which dramas of revelation and recognition were produced in the forms of séances, trances, and spiritualist lectures.
This book examines some of the most fascinating American and British actresses of the Victorian era, whose performances fairly mesmerized their audiences of amused sceptics and ardent believers. It also focuses on the transformative possibilities of the spiritualist theatre, revealing how the performances allowed Victorian women to speak, act, and create outside the boundaries of their restricted social and psychological roles.
Amy Lehman has presented research on the theatrical aspects of 19th-century spiritualism at theatre and Victorian studies conferences in the United States and abroad. She is currently on the faculty of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Carolina.
This book has been reviewed by Tom Ruffles in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Vol 75(3).
The Psychology of Paranormal Belief: A Reseracher's Handbook, by Harvey J. Irwin
From the publisher’s website: This book, written by an internationally renowned researcher in the field, provides a thorough and systematic review of empirical investigations into the bases of belief in paranormal phenomena.
Following a discussion of the concept of paranormality, four main theoretical approaches to the nature of paranormal belief are examined. Some researchers have suggested that such beliefs are most prevalent among people on the margins of society. Another view is that paranormal belief is simply one facet of a broader worldview, a view that is characterised by a highly subjective and esoteric outlook on humanity, life, and the world at large. Other commentators have sought to depict the paranormal believer as essentially illogical, irrational, credulous, uncritical, and foolish. In addition, a few writers propose that paranormal beliefs are best understood as serving significant psychodynamic needs. The empirical foundations and shortcomings of each of these approaches are rigorously documented in turn. By way of a conclusion, the underlying issue of definition is revisited and a new, more comprehensive theory is advanced to model the psychological development of scientifically unsubstantiated beliefs. Opening with a foreword from the highly respected researchers in paranormal belief Dr Caroline Watt and Professor Richard Wiseman, this book will be of particular interest to professional researchers and serious students of the subject, as well as to clinical psychologists and counsellors.
Dr Harvey J Irwin has an international reputation in research on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and parapsychological experiences. His other publications include over a hundred papers in academic journals and three books, including the highly praised and widely used text An Introduction to Parapsychology. Dr Irwin was a member of the School of Psychology in the University of New England, Australia for over 30 years, teaching a variety of courses from parapsychology to psychopathology, and serving as Head of School for some years. Since his recent formal retirement from academia he has remained active in research and remains an Honorary Research Fellow in his former university. In 2002 the Parapsychological Association accorded Dr Irwin its Outstanding Research Contribution Award in recognition of his empirical and theoretical work in parapsychology over 25 years.
Poltergeist: A Classic Study in Destructive Hauntings (2nd edition), by Colin Wilson
From the publisher’s website: In this classic book on destructive hauntings, Colin Wilson, renowned authority on the paranormal, examines the evidence and develops a definitive theory of the poltergeist phenomenon. Countless true-life cases of poltergeist infestations have been recorded since the days of ancient Greece and Rome to the present. But what are poltergeists? Where do they come from? And why do they appear in our world?
From the case of a black-robed monk that terrorized a family for years, to the investigation of a talking mongoose, to true stories of gnomes, sorcerers, witches, and demons, this guide explores a bone-chilling gallery of the mysterious entities known as poltergeists.
Ghosts Caught on Film 2, by Jim Eaton
From the publisher’s website: From shadowy figures, strange mists and apparitions to angels and demons, "Ghost Caught on Film 2" is a compendium of extraordinary phenomena caught on film. Jim Eaton has spent over ten years studying thousands of ghost photographs and here he presents a collection of the most intriguing in seven enigmatic chapters. This title includes a gallery of explainable photographic effects that are commonly mistaken for pictures of ghosts. The best selection of ghost photos yet published is accompanied by illuminating commentary - whether you are a sceptic or a believer, you can't help but be drawn into the unknown.
Plato's Ghost: Spiritualism in the American Renaissance, by Cathy Gutierrez
From the publisher’s website: In its day, spiritualism brought hundreds of thousands of Americans to séance tables and trance lectures. It has alternately been ridiculed as the apogee of fatuous credulity and hailed as a feminist movement. Its tricks have been exposed, its charlatans unmasked, and its heroes' names lost to posterity. In its day, however, its leaders were household names and politicians worried about capturing the Spiritualist vote. Cathy Gutierrez places Spiritualism in the context of the 19th-century American Renaissance. Although this epithet usually signifies the sudden blossoming of American letters, Gutierrez points to its original meaning: a cultural imagination enraptured with the past and the classics in particular, accompanied by a cultural efflorescence. Spiritualism, she contends, was the religious articulation of the American Renaissance, and the ramifications of looking backward for advice about the present were far-reaching. The Spiritualist movement, says Gutierrez, was a 'renaissance of the Renaissance,' a culture in love with history as much as it trumpeted progress and futurity, and an expression of what constituted religious hope among burgeoning technology and colonialism. Rejecting Christian ideas about salvation, Spiritualists embraced Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas. Humans were shot through with the divine, rather than seen as helpless and inexorably corrupt sinners in the hands of a transcendent, angry God. Gutierrez's study of this fascinating and important movement is organized thematically. She analyzes Spiritualist conceptions of memory, marriage, medicine, and minds, explores such phenomena as machines for contacting the dead, spirit-photography, the idea of eternal spiritual affinity (which implied the necessity for marriage reform), the connection between health and spirituality, and mesmerism.
The Science of Life After Death: New Research Shows Human Consciousness Lives On, by Stephen Martin
From the publisher’s website: What does science have to say about life after death? Until recently, very little. But now there are answers, and this book lays them out. Literally every person alive today will be better off if they know them. An exhaustive study by the University of Virginia Medical School clearly indicates consciousness continues after death in at least some cases, if not all. Research by others, however, shows that not knowing what to expect when death arrives, or being in denial about our demise, can lead to situations none of us would choose, or wish upon a loved one. This is reason enough to read this book and to make those close to you aware of what you learn.
But there are other benefits to reading it as well. Research by the Windbridge Institute strongly indicates it may be possible for living loved ones to get in touch with deceased loved ones. This book tells how, which will surely be good news for those who wonder about or have questions for close friends and family on the other side. Readers will learn death is a transition and not necessarily something to fear, provided we prepare for it mentally as well as understand and anticipate the stages our disembodied consciousness is likely to pass through. Those with an interest in science will be fascinated by the new discoveries and the theories postulated to explain them. Those interested in religion and spirituality will have some beliefs confirmed while others may be challenged. Whatever the case, this book could at last provide common ground for science and religion to occupy.
Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality, edited by Zachary Jones, Brenda Dunne, Elissa Hoeger and Robert Jahn
From the publisher’s website: This new book is a series of essays related and responding to the PEAR laboratory publication, “Sensors, Filters, and the Source of Reality." This anthology presents an assortment of perspectives on how consciousness creates its experiential reality through an array of subjective “filters” by which “we endeavor to infer, either intuitively or analytically, composite functional models of our world and of ourselves.” Taken together, the individual contributions serve as an array of lenses that amplify the seminal essay.