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Exploring the Lived Experience and Psychological Correlates of Tulpamancy

Canterbury Christ Church University welcomes applications for two full-time PhD scholarships this year. One of the available projects is Exploring the Lived Experience and Psychological Correlates of Tulpamancy (Conjured Imaginary Companions). NB: Closing date, 13 June 2022.

Further information here: Canterbury Christ Church University [EXTERNAL LINK].

Exploring the Lived Experience and Psychological Correlates of Tulpamancy (Conjured Imaginary Companions)

Tulpamancy is an experience whereby an individual conjurs an imaginary companion (called a Tulpa) via ‘thought-form’ meditative practice. Tulpamancers claim that their tulpas have achieved full sentience being and tulpas are often reported to be in human-form, but also as imaginary creatures such as dragons or elves. The very few studies that have investigated this find that tulpamancers possess or have developed a high propensity for absorption, hypnotisability, and non-psychotic sensory hallucinations (Isler, 2017; Veissiere, 2016). Many tulpamancers report having had imaginary friends since childhood and 28% report being diagnosed with or identifying with autism. Many report the experience of ‘switching’ where the host dissociates and has an out-of-body-experience (OBE). Anecdotally, there seems to be similar features of tulpamancy (and tuplas) to therianthropy (and theriotypes), mediumship (and the spirit guide phenomenon), ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’ (and multiple selves), voice hearing, and adult fiction writers (and experiencing characters as having minds of their own). Thus there are potential implications of this original research for psychological wellbeing and our understanding of dissociative states.

This PhD will involve phenomenological studies to explore the lived experience of individuals who self-identify as Tulpamancers. This may also involve other qualitative approaches such as grounded theory with the aim of developing a theory of Tulpamancy, and/or discourse analysis given that there are a few online forums where people discuss the phenomenon. It will also involve quantitative approaches such as surveys incorporating psychological measures to compare the experience of tulpamancers with others and predict Tulpamancy status (e.g., Clegg, Collings, and Roxburgh, 2019)

A good first degree or Masters in Psychology (or relevant discipline) is essential.

For further information, please contact Dr Elizabeth Roxburgh elizabeth.roxburgh@cantebury.ac.uk