Tuesday, May 31, 2011   7:53 PM

Altered States of Consciousness Reference Book

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Many of us in psychology and parapsychology became interested in altered states of consciousness (ASC) through books such as Charles T. Tart’s anthology Altered States of Consciousness(1969). Later works—among them Kelly and Locke’s  Altered States of Consciousness and Psi (1981, recently released with a new introduction, 2009), Wolman and Ullman’s Handbook of States of Consciousness, (1986), and Baruss’Alterations of Consciousness (2003)—presented us with wide compilations of information about the topic. Now we are fortunate to have a new comprehensive reference work on the topic compiled by Etzel Cardeña and Michael Winkelman.

Published in 2011, the two volume work Altering Consciousness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger), is without doubt the best reference work available today about ASC. The first volume is subtitled History, Culture, and the Humanities. After two papers by the editors, the rest of the volume has 14 papers organized in three sections about historical and cultural perspectives, and views from the humanities. In the second volume, Biological and Psychological Perspectives, the papers are grouped under the main areas mentioned in the subtitle. It includes 16 essays. In addition to chapters written by the editors the two volumes include over 40 authors, among them Mario Beauregard, Anton Geels, Andrzej Kokoszka, David Luke, David Lukoff, David Presti, Jonathan Shear, Moshe Sluhovsky, Yulia Ustinova, and Jennifer M. Windt.

As can be seen in the list of chapters below the papers included in the collection cover such varied aspects ranging from the historical, the conceptual and the philosophical, to the scientific and clinical. Among many topics there are discussions about drugs, Eastern approaches, literature, modern art, neurochemistry, religion, shamanism, sleep and dreams, spirit possession, neuropathology, psi phenomena, and psychopathology.

The first volume opens with a preface by Charles T. Tart in which he discusses aspects of his career studying altered states, which includes his idea of state specific sciences and his major theoretical statement, a systems theory approach to altered states that appeared in his book States of Consciousness (1975). The second volume has a preface from Kenneth S. Pope in which he tells us that the topic of the book is difficult to measure, that it raises questions about what is a normal state of consciousness, that it is determined by our cultural views and biases, and that it raises images of danger in terms of some forms of ASC induction and of the negative career consequences for those engaged in their study. While the latter is true, and something also discussed by Tart in his preface to the first volume, I doubt the consequences are worse that those suffered by those who have devoted their lives to more controversial fields such as parapsychology.

Cardeña’s essay “Altering Consciousness: Setting Up the Stage,” appearing in the first volume, is a good overview of issues pertaining to the topic. Among them he discusses topics such as definitions, classifications, the changing features of experiences, individual differences, as well as reasons for studying the topic. Following others such as Tart, Cardeña warns us about a very important issue that still muddies the waters in this field, that is, that some confuse actual altered states with their induction procedures. In other words, hypnotic induction, meditation practices, or ganzfeld procedures are no guarantee that changes of consciousness have been experienced. It is essential to measure such changes independently of the ways used to induce them.

According to Cardeña to understand the history of humankind we need to consider various alterations of consciousness. In this process we need to include “the perspectives of the artist and the experiencer as much as that of the scientist to gain a full understanding” (p. 12). But he is also clear that this area needs much further conceptual and research work in order to make meaningful advances.

Personally, I was happy to have collaborated with Cardeña in the fifth chapter of volume 1, “Altered Consciousness from the Age of Enlightenment through Mid-20th Century.” I particularly enjoyed contributing cases of and ideas about dissociative and parapsychological experiences from the old literatures of mesmerism, spiritualism, and psychical research.

 In addition to the high quality of the chapters, as well as the multiple perspectives and wealth of information of this reference work, the book has other valuable aspects. One of them is the international range of its authors, something that helps the book present different views. Some of the contributors have institutional affiliations in such countries as Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. In addition, and similar to Baruss’ Alterations of Consciousness (2003), parapsychological topics are not ignored. This is evident in the above mentioned chapter I wrote with Cardeña, in David Lukoff’s chapter “Visionary Spirituality and Mental Disorders” (Vol. 2) and particularly in David Luke’s chapter “Anomalous Phenomena, Psi, and Altered Consciousness” (Vol. 2).

One wishes for the appearance of similar reference works about such topics as religious experiences and parapsychological phenomena. To order the book go tohttp://www.bookdepository.com/ALtering-Consciousness-Etzel-Cardena/9780313383083).

Table of Contents

Altering Consciousness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
Volume 1. History, Culture, and the Humanities

Preface: Extending our knowledge of consciousness
Charles T. Tart

Altering consciousness: Setting up the stage
Etzel Cardeña

A paradigm for understanding altered consciousness: The integrative mode of consciousness
Michael Winkelman

Historical perspectives

Consciousness alteration practices in the West from Prehistory to late Antiquity
Yulia Ustinova

Spirit possession and other alterations of consciousness in the Christian Western tradition
Moshe Sluhovsky

Altered consciousness from the Age of Enlightenment through mid 20th century
Etzel Cardeña and Carlos S. Alvarado

Reconceptualizing the field of altered consciousness: A 50-year retrospective
Julie Beischel, Adam J. Rock, and Stanley Krippner

Cultural perspectives

Eastern approaches to altered states of consciousness
Jonathan Shear

Shamanism and the alteration of consciousness
Michael Winkelman

Altered consciousness in society
Charles Whitehead

Spiritual technologies and altering consciousness in contemporary counterculture
Graham St. John

The humanities

Altered consciousness in philosophy
Jennifer M. Windt

Altered consciousness in religion
Antoon Geels

Colored inklings: Altered states of consciousness and literature
Wendy Cousins

Altered consciousness in performance: West and the East
Phillip B. Zarrilli

Altered consciousness and modern art
Mark Levy

Time is the key: Music and altered states of consciousness
Jörg Fachner

Volume 2. Biological and Psychological Perspectives

Kenneth S. Pope

Introducing volume 2
Etzel Cardeña

Biological perspectives

Sleep, dreams, and other biological cycles as altered states of consciousness
Andrzej Kokoszka and Benjamin Wallace

Neurochemistry and altered consciousness
David E. Presti

Dopamine, altered consciousness, and distant space with special reference to shamanic ecstasy
Fred Previc

Transcendent experiences and brain mechanisms
Mario Beauregard

Altering consciousness through sexual activity
Michael Maliszewski, Barbara Vaughan, Stanley Krippner, Gregory Holler, and Cheryl Fracasso

DMT and human consciousness
Zevic Mishor, Dennis J. McKenna, and J. C. Callaway

LSD and the serotonin system’s effects on human consciousness
David E. Nichols and Benjamin R. Chemel

Peyote and meaning
Stacy B. Schaefer

Addiction and the dynamics of altered states of consciousness
Andrea E. Blätter, Jörg C. Fachner, and Michael Winkelman

Psychological perspectives

Altered consciousness and human development
Pehr Granqvist, Sophie Reijman, and Etzel Cardeña

Altered states of bodily consciousness
Sebastian Dieguez and Olaf Blanke

Altered consciousness and neuropathology
Quentin Noirhomme and Steven Laureys

Altered consciousness in emotion and psychopathology
Etzel Cardeña

Visionary spirituality and mental disorders
David Lukoff

Altered states of consciousness as paradoxically healing: An embodied social neuroscience perspective
Aaron L. Mishara and Michael A. Schwartz

Anomalous phenomena, psi, and altered consciousness
David Luke



Monday, May 30, 2011   7:59 PM

Bibliographies for the Study of the History of Psychical Research

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

In recent years I have published several lists and bibliographical essays that I hope will help those interested in the study of the history of psychical research find books and articles on the subject. A general one, and a good place to start, is "Learning About the History of Parapsychology." Public Parapsychology, 2009 (http://www.publicparapsychology.org/Public%20Parapsych/History%20of%20Parapsychology%20Guide%20-%20Alvarado.pdf). See also the ongoing series of lists of digital libraries in these blogs.

The following are additional resources that I have prepared:

(2010). Online resources for the history of out-of-body experiences and death-related phenomena.Journal of Near-Death Studies, 28, 143-162.

(2010). Bibliographies for the study of the old literature. Mindfield, 2(1), 15.

(2010). The history of psychical research in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Psypioneer Journal, 6, 335-338. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP6.12December2010.pdf)

(2010). Early American spiritualism literature online. Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, 33, 94-100.

(2009). Frederic W.H. Myers online: I. General materials and reviews of Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death.Psypioneer, 5, 162-169. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP5.6June09.pdf)

(2009). Frederic W.H. Myers online: II. Original writings. Psypioneer, 5, 215-227. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP5.7July09..pdf)

(2009). Leonora E. Piper online: Some Web resources. Psypioneer, 5, 87-92. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP5.3March09..pdf)

(2009). Publicaciones sobre mesmerismo, espiritismo, e investigación psíquica en la biblioteca virtual Google Book Search [Publications about mesmerism, spiritism, and psychical research in the virtual library Google Books].E-Boletín Psi, 4(1), continuous pagination. (Online: http://www.alipsi.com.ar/e-boletin/boletin_psi_4-1_Enero_09.htm#tit04)

(2008). A list of online materials for the historical study of psychical research and related subjects.Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22, 396-407.

(2008). Mesmerism online: A bibliographic review. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 36, 115-120. (Online:http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/staff/publicationslinks/Alvarado-Mesmerism-online.pdf)

(2008). Some classics of psychical research. PA eNewsletter, Summer-Fall, 14-19.

(2008). Note on online books and articles about the history of dissociation. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 9, 107-118.

(2008). (first author, with M. Biondi). Enrico Morselli’s forgotten bibliography.Psypioneer, 4, 190-193. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP4.8August08..pdf)

(2007). Online historical materials about psychic phenomena. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 21, 607-615.

(2007). Nineteenth-century articles about mesmerism: A selected bibliography. Psypioneer, 3, 277-284. (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP3.12December07..pdf)

(2007). Bibliography of books and articles about mesmerism, Spiritualism, psychical research, and related topics in Google Book Search.Psypioneer, 3, 113-120 (Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP3.5May07..pdf)

(2007). Online digital library for old materials related to parapsychology. PA eNewsletter, Summer, unpaginated. (Online: http://www.parapsych.org/newsletters/pa_newsletter_summer2007.html#r9)

(2003). French mesmerism and hypnosis [books online]. Psychological Hypnosis, 12(3), 5-8.

Sunday, May 29, 2011   11:28 PM

New Reviews of Old Books About Psychic Phenomena in the Journal of Scientific Exploration

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

As I mentioned in my article "The History of Psychical Research in the Journal of Scientific Exploration" (Psypioneer Journal, 2010, 6, 335-338; Online:http://www.woodlandway.org/PDF/PP6.12December2010.pdf), several reviews of old books have been published in the JSE. The last issue of the journal (2011, Vol. 25, No.1), published by the Society for Scientific Exploration (http://www.scientificexploration.org/), included several additional reviews of books from previous eras.

In an essay review entitled "Extreme Phenomena and Human Capacity," Michael Grosso discussed Herbert Thurston's The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (1952). I authored another essay review entitled "Unorthodox Concepts of Force and Psychic Phenomena" in which I discussed six books about concepts of force related to psychic phenomena. The books were Raoul Montandon's Les Radiations Humaines: Introduction à la Démonstration Expérimentale de l’Existence des Corps Subtils de l’Homme [Human Radiations: Introduction to the Experimental Demonstration of the Subtle Bodies of Man] (1927), Hereward Carrington's Laboratory Investigations into Psychic Phenomena (n.d., ca 1939), Alexandre Baréty Le Magnétisme Animal: Étudié sous le Nom de Force Neurique Rayonnante et Circulante dans ses Propriétés Physiques, Physiologiques, et Thérapeutiques [Animal Magnetism: Studied Under the Name of Radiant and Circulating Neuric Force in Its Physical, Physiological, and Therapeutic Properties] (1887), Albert de Rochas' L’Extériorisation de la Sensibilité: Étude Expérimentale & Historique [The Exteriorisation of Sensibility: Experimental & Historical Study] (5th updated edition) (1899), Hippolyte Baraduc's L’Ame Humaine: Ses Mouvements, ses Lumières, et l’Iconographie de l’Invisible Fluidique [The Human Soul: Its Movements, Its Lights, and the Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible], and Gabriel Delanne's L’Evolution Animique: Essais de Psychologie Suivant le Spiritisme [Animic Evolution: Essays on Psychology According to Spiritism] (1897).

Two other books reviewed were Robert Hare's Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations: Demonstrating the Existence of Spirits and Their Communion with Mortals (1855), by Michael Tymn, and Catherine Crowe's The Night-Side of Nature: Or, Ghosts and Ghost-Seers (1848), by Guy Lyon Playfair.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011   7:35 PM

Digital Libraries with Holdings of the Old Literature--II.

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Here is another digital library with holdings about the old psychic phenomena literature. The references listed below are some examples, I encourage you to search for more in the site.

The Library of the Virtual Laboratory (http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/library)

The Virtual Laboratory is part of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Its digitalized library collects materials about the history of "the experimentation of life." They also have a few articles worth checking. All the images are facsimiles.

Hansen, F. C. C., & Lehmann, A. (1895). Ueber unwillkUrliches FIUstern, eine kritische und experimentelle Untersuchung der sogenannten GedakenUbertragung. Philosophische Sludien, 11, 471-530.

Jastrow, J. (1902). Automatic wrting. In l. M. Baldwin (Ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 2, pp. 94-95. New York: Macmillan.

Jastrow, J. (1902). Mediums. In J. M. Baldwin (Ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 2, p. 60. New York: Macmillan.

Jastrow, 1. (1902). Spiritism. In 1. M. Baldwin (Ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 2, pp. 585-586. New York: Macmillan.

Ochorowicz, J. (1909). Hypnotisme et mesmerisme. In C. Richet (Ed.), Dictionnaire de Physiologie (Vol. 8, pp. 709-778). Paris: Felix Alcan.

Sidgwick, E. M. (1902). Psychical research. In l. M. Baldwin (Ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 2, pp. 378-382. New York: Macmillan.

Sidgwick, E. M. (1902). Telepathy. In l. M. Baldwin (Ed.), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. 2, pp. 668-672. New York: Macmillan.

Sunday, May 22, 2011   5:41 PM

Out-of-Body Experiences in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University (carlos.alvarado@atlanticuniv.edu)

Over the years several authors have published reports and discussions of out-of-body experiences in theJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease(e.g., Alvarado, Blackmore, Ehrenwald, Irwin). The most recent contribution on the topic is a paper I coauthored with Nancy L. Zingrone and Etzel Cardeña.

We explored an idea that has been mentioned in the literature since the nineteenth-century: the tendency for OBEs to take place in inactive states. Furthermore, we studied the possible relationship of body activity and the number of OBE features.

Here is the reference, and abstract, and a link to the paper.

Zingrone, N.L., ALvarado, C.S., & Cardeña, E. (2010) Out-of-body experiences, physical body activity and posture: Responses from a survey conducted in Scotland.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198, 163-165.http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/psychiatry/sections/cspp/dops/publicationslinks/Zingrone%20Alvarado%20Cardena%20OBEs%20body%20activity%20JNMD%202010.pdf

Abstract: Although there have been studies of some factors related to the features of out-of-body experiences (OBEs), the effect of physical body posture and activity has not been systematically explored. Over the years research has suggested that OBEs are more frequent in states of low physical
activity and when the body is supine, in agreement with other findings related to alterations in consciousness. Thus, we predicted that OBEs would be associated with lying down and little or no physical activity, and that these factors would show a higher number of OBE features than OBEs in which
the person was physically active and/or standing. OBE cases were collected through appeals in published sources. Respondents provided a description of their only or most recent OBE and filled out a questionnaire about OBE features. The findings indicate that OBEs were associated with low physical
activity and being in a supine position. Those who had experiences under these conditions also obtained a higher number of OBE features than those who were active and standing at the time of the OBE.

We concluded that our results "are consistent with . . . models of OBEs . . . that posit that scant (or extreme) afferent stimulation may make OBEs more likely. Tart (1975) suggested that maintaining a state of consciousness requires ongoing stabilizing feedback, which in the case of the body can arise from the activity of the body within the environment . . . Of course, there may be additional factors related to OBEs such as changes of afferent stimulation through the habituation that occurs in repetitive motions . . . and perhaps the need for the individual to maintain a prolonged focus on inner experience rather than on, for instance, perceptual changes. Additional research projects could evaluate other possible mediating factors on the incidence and characteristics of OBEs. For example, it would be valuable to know
whether the results apply equally to induced as to spontaneous OBEs, and to assess the effect of benign . . . versus traumatic contexts . . . Rather than arguing that the OBE can be reduced to the previously mentioned factors, however, it should be understood that we are proposing the further exploration of the interaction of such variables including body activity and posture."

Saturday, May 21, 2011   9:36 PM

Digital Libraries with Holdings of the Old Literature--I.

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Many digital  libraries have holdings related to the old mesmeric, spiritualistic and psychical research literatures. This is the first of a series of lists and comments about some of these resources. The holdings that appear below are a few examples of the many books and articles available in each virtual library. 

Lexscien: Library of Exploratory Science (http://www.lexscien.org/)

This virtual library is available by subscription. It is a project of the Centre for Fundamental and Anomalies Research. Its collection, presented as image facsimiles and in plain and formatted text, is still growing. The site offers historically important journals such as the Proceedings and Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, and the Journal of Parapsychology. Other more recent publications include European Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of Scientific Exploration, and Research in Parapsychology. At this point there are only a few books available.

Readers should consult the SPR Abstracts Catalogue (compiled by R. McLuhan and edited by Z. Weaver) that is part of the electronic holdings. This presents abstracts of the content of JSPR and PSPR published between 1882 and 2002.

Gurney, E. , Myers, F.W.H., & Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living (2 vols.). London: Trubner.

Myers, F.W.H. (1903). Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols.) London: Longmans, Green.

Osty, E. (1923) . Supernormal Faculties in Man. Londor.: Methuen.

Barrett, W.F. (1883). On some phenomena associated with abnormal conditions of the mind.Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1, 238-244.

Birge, W.R., & Rhine, J.B. (1942). Unusual types of persons tested for ESP: 1. A professional medium.Journal of Parapsychology, 6, 85-94.

Humphrey, B.M. (1945). ESP and intelligence. Journal of Parapsychology, 9, 7-16.

Myers, F. W. H. (1884). On a telepathic explanation of some so-called spiritualistic phenomena: Part I.Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 2, 217-237.

Price, M., & Pegram, M.H. (1937). Extra-sensory perception among the blind. Journal of Parapsychology, 1, 143-155

Rhine. L.E. (1937). Some stimulus variations in extra-sensory perception with child subjects.Journal of Parapsychology, 1, 102-113.

Richet, C. (1889). Further experiments in hypnotic lucidity or clairvoyance. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 6, 66-83.

Schrenck-Notzing, A. Von (1922). The Hopfgarten poltergeist case. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 20, 199-217.

Sidgwick, H., Johnson, A., Myers, F.W.H.. Podmore, F., & Sidgwick, E.M. (1894). Report on the Census of Hallucinations.Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 10, 25-422.

Tyrrell, G.N.M. (1935). Some experiments in undifferentiated extra-sensory perception. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 29, 52-{)8.

Google Books (http://books.google.com/)
Includes facsimile books and journals that have been wholly or partially scanned in a digitalization project sponsored by Google. The references that appear below are facsimile scans of books and journals.

Barkas, T.P. (1862). Outline of Ten Years' Investigations into the Phenomena of Modem Spiritualism. London: Frederick Pitman.

Brittan, S.B., and Richmond, B.W. (1853). A Discussion of the Facts and Philosophy of
Ancient and Modern Spiritualism
. New York: Partridge & Brittan.

Carrington, H. (1908). The Coming Science. Boston: Small, Maynard.

Edmonds, J.W., and Dexter, G.T. (1853). Spiritualism (4th ed.). New York: Partridge &

Flammarion, C. (1909). Mysterious Psychic Forces. Boston: Small, Maynard.

Lodge, 0.J. (n.d., ca 1920). The Survival of Man (new enlarged ed.). New York: George
H. Doran.

Maxwell, J. (1905). Metapsychical Phenomena. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Podmore, F. (1897). Studies in Psychical Research. New York: G.P. Putnam's.

Ramsey, W. (1856). Spiritualism, a Satanic Delusion. Peace Dale, Rl: H.L. Hastings.

Wallace, A.R. (n.d., ca 1895). Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (Rev. ed.). London:

Brittan, S.B. (1874). Spiritualism of the ancients. Brittan's Journal of Spiritual Science , Literature, Art, and Inspiration, 2, 1-15.

Butler, N.M. (1886). The progress of psychical research. Popular Science Monthly, 29,

Carrington, H. (1903). Psychical research. Metaphysical Magazine, 17, 175-200.

Flammarion, C. (1897). A seance with Eusapia Paladino: Psychic forces. Arena, 18, 730-747.

Hyslop, J.H. (1907). Preliminary report on the trance phenomena of Mrs. Smead.
Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1, 525-722.

James, W. (1907). A case of clairvoyance. Proceedings of the American Society for
Psychical Research, 1
, 221-236.

[Jastrow, J.). (1887). Some miscalled cases of thought-transference. Science, 9, 115-116.

Lang, A. (191 I). Psychical research. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11 th ed.), vol. 22, 544-547. New York: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company.

Review of the Proceedings of the SPR, Part XV. (1890). Science, 15, 128.

[Titchener, E.B.). (1901). Review of From India to the Planet Mars, by T. Flournoy.
American Journal of Psychology, 12, 265-268.




Wednesday, May 04, 2011   4:40 PM

My Recent Articles about Historical Topics in Non-Psi Journals

I agree with David Luke's comments about the importance of publishing in non-parapsychological journals, as stated in the last issue ofMindfield. I write for both parapsychology and non-parapsychological journals. While I would not like parapsychology journals to disappear--they fulfill important functions as all specialty journals do--I believe publishing in the other journals help us to circulate our work more efficiently, and to integrate it better to other disciplines.

To motivate others to publish in non-psi journals I present here references and abstracts of some of my papers about historical topics.

Alvarado, C.S., & Krippner, S. (2009). Nineteenth century pioneers in the study of dissociation: William James and psychical research.Journal of Consciousness Studies, 17, 19-43.

Following on recent trends in the historiography of psychology and psychiatry we argue that psychical research was an important influence in the development of ideas of dissociation. To illustrate the point, we discuss American psychologist and philosopher William James’ (1842-1910) writings about mediumship, secondary personalities, and hypnosis. Some of James’ work on the topic took place in the context of research conducted by the American Society for Psychical Research, such as his early work with medium Leonora E. Piper (1857-1950). James’ work is an example of the influence of psychical research on aspects of psychology such as the concepts of the subconscious mind and of dissociation. The work is also consistent with James’ interest in consciousness and in radical empirism and pluralism.

Alvarado, C.S. (2010). Classic Text No. 84: ‘Divisions of Personality and Spiritism’ by Alfred Binet (1896).History of Psychiatry, 21, 487-500.

During the nineteenth century such individuals as Alfred Binet (1857—1911), who is the author of this Classic Text, conducted clinical and research work that led to the development and refinement of ideas about the subconscious mind and dissociation. The work concentrated on hysterical blindness, hypnosis, spontaneous somnambulism, and double and multiple personality. Another phenomenon that focused thinking on the topic was mediumship. The Classic Text is an excerpt from Binet’s writings that illustrates how a representative of French abnormal psychology used mediumship to defend his particular ideas about the mind. The excerpt is taken from the English language translation, published in 1896, of Binet’s Les Altérations de la personnalité (1892).

Alvarado, C.S. (2009). Late nineteenth and early twentieth century discussions of animal magnetism.International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 57, 366-381.

The mesmerists explained the phenomena of what was later called hypnosis as the effects of a force called animal magnetism. Both psychologists' and physicians' writings generally create the impression that the magnetic movement disappeared after the mid-19th century. While the concept of animal magnetism declined significantly by the end of the 19th century, it did not disappear completely. Some examples include the work of Hector Durville, Henri Durville, Emile Magnin, and Edmund Shaftesbury. Detailed accounts of the work of Edmund Gurney and Albert de Rochas are presented. Similar to its earlier counterpart, the late mesmeric movement was associated with what today is known as parapsychological phenomena. This association, and the belief that the demise of magnetic theory represents scientific progress, has led many to emphasize a history that is incomplete.

Alvarado, C.S. (2009).  Ambroise August Liébeault and psychic phenomena.American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 52, 111-121.

Some nineteenth-century hypnosis researchers did not limit their interest to the study of the conventional psychological and behavioral aspects of hypnosis, but also studied and wrote about psychic phenomena such as mental suggestion and clairvoyance. One example, and the topic of this paper, was French physician Ambroise August Liébeault (1823-1904), who influenced the Nancy school of hypnosis. Liébeault wrote about mental suggestion, clairvoyance, mediumship, and even so-called poltergeists. Some of his writings provide conventional explanations of the phenomena. Still of interest today, Liébeault's writings about psychic phenomena illustrate the overlap that existed during the nineteenth-century between hypnosis and psychic phenomena--an overlap related to the potentials of the mind and its subconscious activity.

Alvarado, C.S. (2008). Note on online books and articles about the history of dissociation.Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 9, 107-118.

Students of the history of dissociation will be interested in the materials on the subject available in the digital document database Google Book Search. This includes a variety of books and journals covering automatic writing, hypnosis, mediumship, multiple personality, trance, somnambulism, and other topics. Among the authors represented in the database are: Eugène Azam, Alfred Binet, James Braid, Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, Frederic W.H. Myers, Morton Prince, and Boris Sidis, among others. The database includes examples of case reports, conceptual discussions, and psychiatric and psychological textbook literature.

Alvarado, C.S. (2007). (with F.R. Machado, W. Zangari, & N.L. Zingrone). Perspectivas históricas da influência da mediunidade na construção de idéias psicológicas e psiquiátricas [Historical perspectives of the influence of mediumship on the construction of psychological and psychiatric ideas]. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, 34 (supp.1), 42-53.

Background: Psychology and psychiatry have long been influenced by the phenomena their practitioners study. A variety of ideas about the mind and its pathology were developed in the context of studies of hysteria, double and multiple personality and hypnotic phenomena. Objectives: In this study we argue that mediumship influenced both psychology and psychiatry in different ways. The study of mediumistic phenomena such as trances and written or verbal messages claimed to come from deceased spirits contributed to the development of several important concepts during the nineteenth century and later
on. Methods: We have reviewed the historical psychiatric and psychological literature relating to mediumship to identify discussions about mediumship.Results: Mediumship was used to defend a variety of ideas about the subconscious mind by figures such as William B. Carpenter, Frederic W.H. Myers, and Joseph Grasset. Both Pierre Janet and Théodore Flournoy used mediumship to illustrate forms of dissociation. Similarly, psychopathology was related in different ways to the practice
of mediumship, as discussed by Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet and Gilbert Ballet.Conclusions: While mediumship was just only one factor affecting concepts of the subconscious, dissociation and psychopathology, its influence needs to be more recognized than it is currently done in the historiography of psychology and psychiatry.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011   4:00 PM

Psychic Experiences, Absorption, and Dreams

Here is an abstract of a paper I published with Nancy L. Zingrone in the Puerto Rican psychology journalCiencias de la Conducta (Sciences of Behavior).

Alvarado, C.S., & Zingrone, N.L. (2010). Variables relacionadas con experiencias parapsicológicas: La absorción y los sueños [Variables related to parapsychological experiences: Absorption and dreams].Ciencias de la Conducta, 25, 115-137.


Two questionnaire studies were conducted with Puerto Rican participants to assess the relationship of parapsychological experiences to absorption, and vivid and lucid dreams. It was hypothesized that there would be a positive and significant relationship between absorption and specific parapsychological experiences, as well as with a combined measure of parapsychological experiences. We also hypothesized a positive and significant relationship between the index of parapsychological experiences and vivid and lucid dreams. The questionnaire used included parapsychological, absorption (Tellegen’s Absorption Scale), and other experiences items arranged randomly. All the hypotheses were confirmed for the first study, and partially for the second one. The results suggest that parapsychological experiences are related to the same cognitive processess found on absorption experiences, in dreams, and in other experiences.

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