Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

William G. Braud: 1942-2012

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

William G. Braud: 1942-2012

Article excerpt

William Braud, a major contributor to parapsychology and transpersonal psychology, died this spring. William had retired from 17 years of faculty status at Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) in 2009, and was living in Texas with his wife, Winona, and two Siberian husky dogs. After his death from cancer, his wife sent this message to his friends and colleagues: "It was William's explicit wish that he be cremated, and that his ashes (mixed with wild flower seeds) be spread at a select, private retreat. He also requested that there be no ceremony, no funeral service, no memorial, and no obituary to note his passing." In keeping with his wishes, these words will simply be a remembrance for him.

William's PhD was earned at the University of Iowa (1967), in experimental psychology. He was on the graduate faculty at the University of Houston (1967-1975) and conducted research and published on learning, memory, motivation, psychophysiology, and psychopharmacology. In 1971 he began consulting for the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, and from 1975-1992 was a senior research associate of the MSF, studying parapsychology, states of consciousness, psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology, and the use of psychological techniques for physical and mental health. William and the researchers at the foundation developed the concept of Psi Conducive States as facilitators of psychic performance, similar to the well replicated ganzfeld technique created by the research at Maimonides Medical Center in New York. The group also pioneered in remote viewing techniques.

William was an individual in whose presence paranormal things happened. He told one account in which a book of matches on the table burst spontaneously into fire shortly after an irritating secretary walked through. William said that he investigated the matches meticulously, but found no cause for the fire. Some days later he told this story to a visiting psychologist. As soon as he heard the story, the psychologist asked William, "You weren't thinking of firing anyone, were you?" (Braud, 1994, p. 301). Only then did William realize the connection between the matches and the secretary, who was not doing a very good job and whom he should have fired.

William had a strong transpersonal orientation in his research. He was interested in validating nonphysical connections among people, and devised ingenious ways of identifying mental influences on fish, gerbils, and human blood cells, along with feeling stared at and focusing concentration. This was characterized by William as Distant Mental Influence on Living Systems (DMILS), and has emerged as a significant field in parapsychology with others following his lead. His book Distant Mental Influence: Its Contributions to Science, Healing, and Human Interactions (Braud, 2003), with an introduction by Larry Dossey, collects his work in this area. William hoped that his work would stimulate further research in this area, and this appears to be occurring.

His vast knowledge of research led to coauthoring two books on research methods with his friend and colleague Rosemarie Anderson. These are Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences: Honoring Human Experiences (Braud & Anderson, 1998), and Transforming Self and Others Through Research: Transpersonal Research Methods and Skills for the Human Sciences and Humanities (Anderson & Braud, 2011).

William joined the faculty of Sofia University in 1992, as professor, Director of Research, and Dissertation Director. He was also a codirector of the William James Center for Consciousness Studies. In 2002 he moved to the online Global MA and PhD programs, enabling him and his wife to move back to Texas. Although they enjoyed living there, it was not always serene. While there, floods damaged his extensive library. William and Winona also barely escaped the raging fires last year, with the blaze coming to within one house of their home. …

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