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Paranormal Psychology

Paranormal Psychology

It was difficult to know what to call this page as the study of the paranormal can be approached from more than one perspective. I opted for 'paranormal' because not only is it such a widely recognized term but also according to the beliefs and experiences of many people the paranormal is a very 'real' phenomenon.

In modern Western societies it is typically found that around 30-50% of the adult population will endorse beliefs in a wide range of paranormal phenomena including life-after-death, ghosts, communicating with the dead, telepathy, and precognitive dreams. A smaller but still substantial proportion claim to have had direct personal experience of each of these phenomena(Dr. Chris French)

Parapsychology Vs Anomalistic Psychology

A very important distinction in the study of the paranormal can be found in the work of Parapsychologists and anomalistic psychologists. Generally speaking, parapsychologists seek out evidence to confirm the existence of paranormal activity. In contrast, anomalistic psychologists proceed from the basis that it is highly unlikely that paranormal forces exist and as such seek out psychological explanations for experiences labelled as paranormal.

Do ghosts exist? Is there any evidence for the paranormal? With millions believing in paranormal phenomena, it must either exist or be explained by psychological factors. Chris French introduces the field of anomalistic psychology, which aims to provide non-paranormal, scientific explanations of the seemingly unexplainable.

Did You Know?

On the 30th June 1900, L'Institut Psychologique International was founded to study and explore phenomena which appeared to defy scientific explanation such as mediumship and telepathy. 

The Institute attracted the interest and patronage of many of the greatest thinkers and scientific minds of the time, including Pierre Janet, Henri Bergson, Théodore Flournoy, Marie Curie and psychology legend William James.

Expert Q & A

Dr. Chris French

Chris French, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is renowned for his research on the psychology of paranormal belief; particularly his work on non-paranormal accounts of ostensibly paranormal experiences (ESP, PK, psychic readings, psychic healing, alternative and complementary medicine, out-of-body and near-death experiences, astrology and other divinatory techniques, reincarnation, UFOs and alien abduction, ghosts and poltergeists, crystal power and dowsing etc). 

A special advisor and former Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic Magazine, the UK's foremost and longest-running skeptical magazine, Professor French is regularly called upon in the media to offer a psychological perspective on various paranormal claims. He is also a columnist for the Guardian’s online science pages. You can access the interview with Dr. Chris French via the following link. 

Dr. Chris French 

psychokinesis joke

Did You Know?

Carl Jung's degree dissertation topic was the psychology and pathology of occult phenomena based upon his cousin's alleged mediumistic abilities.

On The Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena by Carl Jung

In 1916 Jung published an article on the topic in the book 'Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology,' which you can read in full for free via the following link.

On The Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena

Houdini Article The Spirit Fakers

Fascinating article from 1925 in which the great Houdini exposes the trickery of fake spirit mediums. You can read this article in full for free via the following link.

Houdini: How I Unmask The Spirit Fakers

Essential Reading

Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience

The science behind claims of alien encounters and visions of ghosts can be even more fascinating than the sensationalist headlines. What leads some people to believe in the paranormal? Why might someone think they have been abducted by aliens? And is there any room for superstition in the modern world of science? Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience:

  • Provides a lively and thought-provoking introduction to the psychology underlying paranormal belief and experience.

  • Covers the latest psychological theories and experiments, and examines the science at the heart of the subject.

  • Uses a unique approach to apply different psychological perspectives – including clinical, developmental and cognitive approaches – to shed new light on the key debates.

Whether you are a psychology student or simply curious about the paranormal, this book is the essential introduction to this contested and controversial field. Belief in the paranormal has been reported in every known society since the dawn of time – find out why.

See following link for full details.

Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience

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