Wednesday, May 4, 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.

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