Institute of Paranormal Psychology (IPP)
Argentina has experienced productive parapsychological activity, for short periods of time between 1940 and the beginnings of the 1990s, at the hands of such researchers as Jose Fernandez, J. Ricardo Musso, Orlando Canavesio, Naum Kreiman and Enrique Novillo Pauli. Although Argentinean psychology is diverse in clinical matters, parapsychology lags behind due to a lack of research. Parapsychology is not, for example, included in university psychology curricula, and the IPP´s work is carried out almost exclusively in the Buenos Aires area.
The Institute of Paranormal Psychology (IPP) was established in 1994 as an educational center dedicated to the scientific study of paranormal/anomalous events. Its focus is on experimental, clinical and empirical research, plus the collection and publication of case reports dealing with parapsychological experiences. As a non-profit research and educational institute (Ministruy of Justice and Human Rights Res. # 1167/04 and CENOC Res. # 16372/08), the IPP has been recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). From an educational viewpoint, the IPP teaches a basic program in parapsychology, aimed at the general public, constituting a comprehensive introduction to the field. It also offers a second program at a high level in parapsychology aimed at undergraduate students. Enrollment is limited, and classes are small to permit individual attention. The controversies that surround psi research and the implications of its findings for science and society are also prominent topics in these programs. The work of the IPP is supported by students’ fees and by the income from an endowment. There are many “study groups” concentrating on different topics in the field −historical, educational, clinical, theoretical, and experimental/methodological.
Between 1990 and 2004, the IPP published fifty-four issues of a peer-reviewed quarterly journal, the Revista Argentina de Psicología Paranormal [Argentine Journal of Paranormal Psychology]. The journal’s impact on many young parapsychologists in several Spanish-speaking countries was impressive. However, the RAPP was discontinued for financial reasons. Subsequently, in 2006, the IPP inaugurated a new on-line publication, the E-Bulletin Psi, of which thirteen issues have been published to-date (see http://www.alipsi.com.ar/publicaciones_ipp.asp to download back issues).
The IPP’s main source of pride is its parapsychological library, which contains around 2500 books, 12,000 issues of academic journals and popular magazines, and thousands of files of articles in non-parapsychological journals in the scientific mainstream. It is the most important collection of its kind in Argentina and even in Latin America. The IPP also hosts about two thousands hours’ worth of VHS and DVD tapes on parapsychological and related topics. The Agencia Latinoamericana de Información Psi (ALIPsi) is an internet-based database of parapsychology references and on-line information related to the Spanish-speaking literature (www.alipsi.com.ar). The data reside in a computer, because ALIPsi covers the bulk of parapsychology articles in Spanish-language journals from 1900 to-date. It also offers advisory service in bibliographical investigations to undergraduate students and journalists.
Currently, the IPP has eight active members, most of them psychologists: Juan Carlos Argibay, Juan Gimeno, Iván Lépes, Juan Manuel Corbetta, Fabiana Savall, Daniel Gómez Montanelli, Jorge Villanueva, and Alejandro Parra. IPP members have obtained a dozen grants from the Fundação Bial in Porto, Portugal, between the years of 1998 and 2009, which have allowed them to conduct studies of ESP in the ganzfeld, psychometrics (“token object” effect), psychomantheum, and psychological and personality areas of anomalous/paranormal experiences. The IPP has hosted several conventions and meetings of experts, bringing together researchers from many countries, such as Zdenek Rejdak, Andrei Lee, Stanley Krippner, Wim Kramer, Erlendur Haraldsson, and others.
During the 1990s, the IPP appointed a clinical psychologist (Daniel Gómez Montanelli, DGM) to provide, as part of his job, information and some counseling to people who called the Institute for help. In 1998, Gómez Montanelli and Alejandro Parra received a grant from the Bial Foundation to carry out a research project aimed at recording people’s reactions to disturbing psi experiences and to explore their associated emotional processing.
During the last twenty years the IPP has achieved much. For instance, Alejandro Parra introduced parapsychology into the university –slowly but increasingly– by using other names such as “paranormal psychology.” Parra says: “There is no difference between paranormal psychology and parapsychology, but the change of terms was introduced because of the increased confusion between proper parapsychology and the activities of charlatans (many of whom have abused the term by approaching it as ‘pop’ parapsychology). In Argentina, many people believe that the term parapsychologist is equivalent to psychic.” Terms such as “anomalistic psychology” or “border areas of psychology” are seen in Latin American countries as analogous to “abnormal” or “marginal” psychology, respectively; that is, these terms are not integrated into mainstream science or scientific psychology. Paranormal is really the best term, because the “para” prefix is not associated with pathological, abnormal, marginal or pseudoscientific concepts. At the same time, it is helpful to recognize the traditional and historical relationship with “parapsychology” as regards ESP, PK and afterdeath/survival research-related topics. “Paranormal experiences" are an exciting topic for many people –in both popular and professional groups– in terms of dealing with theoretically controversial apparitional/haunting, out-of-body, near-death experiences and other paranormal/anomalous ans spiritual experiences.
Finally, the IPP maintains SIPsi v.3.0, which is a computerized bibliographic database on parapsychology and related consciousness disciplines. The aim of the SIPsi v.3.0 is to in¬clude a bibliographic citation and/or abstract of all books or articles (scholarly or popular), theses, chapters, conference proceedings papers, or separate reports or monographs on para¬psychology or related consciousness studies.
In November 2006, the National Institute for History Research was the stage for Images of the Occult, a Spiritualist photographic exhibition, which brought together professionals –two of them from outside Argentina– who, for two weeks, attended a number of conferences and panels such as psychic/spiritist photography, psychomanteum, ITC, mediumship, survival and super-psi discussion, and apparitional experiences. These were presented and discussed by historical and cultural researchers, anthropologists, physicians, psychologists, and other paranormalists and open-minded skeptics who were invited as speakers. The exhibition was also supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires.
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