Monday, October 31, 2011   4:00 PM

"Distortions of the Past"

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

I had the pleasure of presenting an invited address at the last PA Convention held in Curitiba, Brazil. The address, entitled "Distortions of the Past,"  was part of the Outstanding Contribution Award the Parapsychological Association granted to me at the 2010 convention held in Paris, for which I thank the Association. The topic of my address was a discussion of examples of distortions of the history of parapsychology as seen in the writings of some parapsychologists.

I hope to publish the paper in the near future. In the meantime here is an abstract.

While no view of past parapsychological developments is free of problems it is worthwhile to discuss how our accounts can be distorted if only to be more aware of our working assumptions. In this address I will focus on the writings of parapsychologists, and particularly on some problems in these writings producing a distorted view of the past of the discipline. I argue that the past is distorted when we neglect the work of specific groups and individuals (such as lesser known figures, and women); when we see the past as a function of the present (neglect of unpopular ideas today, justification of research programs); and when we focus mainly on positive aspects of the study of psychic phenomena (neglect of critics and of examples of the rejection of the field). It is my hope that a consideration of these issues will assist us to expand the reach of such writings.


Monday, October 24, 2011   10:36 PM

"Mind-body Connection, Parapsychological Phenomena and Spiritual Healing: A Review"

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

This paper, in Spanish, was written by Ernesto Bonilla. It appeared in Investigación Clinica, a journal published in Venezuela.

Conexión Mente-Cuerpo, Fenómenos Parapsicológicos y Curación Espiritual. Revisión [Mind-Body Connection, Parapsychological Phenomena and Spiritual Healing: A Review. Investigación Clinica, 2010, 51, 209-238.

Abstract from the paper:

 Evidence regarding the influence of the mind on the body is abundant. Several mind-body healing procedures are currently being used, among them hypnosis, biofeedback, meditation, visualizations, management of emotions and prayer. Since the Big Bang, we are entangled with everything.
This interaction would let individuals to communicate with the minds and bodies of others. The field of parapsychological research has provided a lot of information about significant events, including apparitions, communications with the dead, near-death experiences and out of the body experiences. It looks apparently evident, that consciousness can persist in the absence of brain function. According to the model that assumes that it is consciousness and not matter, the base of everything that exists, what survives after death is the “quantum monad” or spirit. It is said that spiritual cures are practiced by discarnate physicians who diagnose and prescribe conventional treatments, but very often they use unknown procedures based on the management of energy fields that are currently being studied by many physicists. Representative examples of the practice of spiritual medicine were the mediums Ze Arigo, George Chapman, Barbara Guerrero (Pachita) and presently the Brazilian medium John of God. Case reports of paranormal phenomena observed and studied by honest and serious scientists are very important for the advancement of parapsychology, because it has not been clearly established which approach, the qualitative or the quantitative, is more useful for the development of this field.

Saturday, October 22, 2011   2:41 PM

"Why Are (Some) Scientists so Opposed to Parapsychology?"

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Discussing the negative views of parapsychology expressed by some scientists Dr. Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Social Psychology Program at Duke University, has stated that "when it comes to parapsychology, many scientists are not skeptics but rather dogmatic . . ." (Why Are (Some) Scientists so Opposed to Parapsychology?Explore, 2011, 7, 275-277).

Leary discusses arguments such as the ideas that parapsychology is a pseudoscience, does not meet standards of scientific rigor, cannot explain its findings, and is related to occult beliefs. He also states: "The fact that many attacks on parapsychology are highly dogmatic and emotional and couched in ridicule and intimidation rather than scientific argument suggests that parapsychology threatens something quite important to these critics. That something may be their grasp of reality."

The article ends with the following comments:

"I can readily identify with the intellectual difficulty of accepting most of parapsychology’s claims. I have a tremendous amount of trouble understanding how any of it can be true. Yet I also see the results of
decades of well-designed research suggesting that psi might in fact occur and, from a scientific perspective, I don’t have the luxury of simply ignoring research findings that make me uncomfortable, and I
don’t think I would be justified in condemning researchers who study such things . . . .  I find it harder to understand why anyone would suggest that such research should not be conducted or that researchers in the field are misguided or irrational. Even people who do not believe in psychic phenomena should want
additional research to provide an answer once and for all. The questions are so interesting and potentially important that we really should know the answers, however they may fall."


Tuesday, October 4, 2011   4:14 PM

Paper About Mediumship and Pathology

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University

Much was written during the nineteenth-century and later about the alleged pathology of mediumship. A historical study of French ideas on the topic was published by Pascal Le Malefan (Folie et spiritisme: Paris: L’Harmattan, 1999).

The topic has been discussed again recently in an article published by Adair Menezes, Jr., and Alexander Moreira Almeida, "Mental Health of Mediums and Differential Diagnosis between Mediumship and Mental Disorders" (Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2011, 25, 103-116). The abstract appears below.


The issue of the mental state of mediums, and whether experiences considered mediumistic are symptoms of mental disorders, has long been subject to debate. Recent empirical studies may help to shed light on these controversies. As there are only a few studies on the mental health of mediums, fi ndings regarding hallucination and dissociation in non-clinical populations are presented and discussed. Recent studies have not found an association between mediumship and mental disorders. Mediumistic experiences often occur in healthy and well-adjusted subjects. The occurrence of psychotic and/or dissociative experiences alone are not enough for a diagnosis of a mental disorder. It is essential to take into consideration the sociocultural context and the impact of these experiences on a patient’s life. In some cases, the emergence of mediumship may appear in the context of physical and

 Alexander Moreira Almeida

mental symptoms, which poses a challenge for differential diagnosis. Further research is still necessary in order to discover enough elements to make a definitive differential diagnosis between mediumship and mental disorders.

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