The ESP Experience: A Psychiatric Validation

The ESP Experience: A Psychiatric Validation

The ESP Experience: A Psychiatric Validation

The ESP Experience: A Psychiatric Validation

Excerpt

Telepathy and related psychic or psi phenomena are the subject matter of the new science of parapsychology. Critics have rightly pointed to its dubious origin from magic and witchcraft and are still inclined to relegate it to the lunatic fringe of our culture. Yet since its acceptance as a legitimate subject for scientific study, in 1969, by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, parapsychology has gained academic recognition and has by now grown into a formidable research effort sponsored by government agencies, university centers, foundations, and a number of professional organizations both in this country and abroad.

Paradoxically, clinical psychiatry has been slow in taking cognizance of the new findings. My own contributions to the field have largely passed unnoticed. So have Freud's and Jung's first pioneering forays into the realm of the "occult." So has the subsequent work of some of my psychiatric and psychoanalytic confreres. The fact is that psi-related incidents in the mother-child relationship, in mental and neurotic patients, or in diverse attempts at unorthodox healing have opened up a vast new frontier of psychiatry. It can, for convenience, be described as parapsychiatry: the clinical counterpart of parapsychology or physical research. The term "metapsychiatry," proposed by Stanley R. Dean (1975), addresses itself to the same issue but with a different philosophical slant.

Parapsychiatry, as it is conceived here, is the study of psi phenomena that are involved in both familiar and not so familiar psychiatric conditions, including clinical pictures that merely show a close affinity to psi phenomena or mimic their characteristic features. They encompass hysterical conversion symptoms and mental dissociation in trance states, motor and sensory automatisms, so-called spiritualistic psychoses, certain schizophrenic reactions, purported spirit possession, out-of-the-body experiences, and alleged poltergeist disturbances.

Inevitably, such a discussion has to be preceded by a review of the major findings of modern parapsychology, its correlations with magic mentality, the psychodynamics of psi phenomena, and pertinent observations in the psychoanalytic situation. In effect, parapsychology is to parapsychiatry as physiology is to internal medicine and neuropathology. In turn, we shall see that the study of miscarried, pathological aspects of psi can . . .

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