mainstream academicians. Perhaps the major common area of interest was that of dissociation Ã¢â¬â in particular, the study of hypnosis and multiple personality, The founders of the S.P.R. believed, along with many others, that dissociative phenomena promised insights into the nature of the mind generally, including..
Lately I've been giving a great deal of thought to the nature of human (and other organic) abilities. In part, this is connected to my recent research into multiple personality and the need to explain, not only the partitioning of abilities and skills among alternate personalities, but also the enhanced levels of functioning that some of them exhibit (and for that matter, the exceptional performances of "nonmultiples" in hypnotic and other sorts of dissociative states). My interest in this topic is (...) also connected to my ongoing study of savants and prodigies, who apparently have much to teach us about the limits (and perhaps also the latency) of human abilities. At bottom, I suppose, it connects with my general and longstanding concern with problems of psychological explanation, particularly in light of the gross inadequacies of trendy computational theories of the mind. (shrink)
Parapsychologists have never been entirely satisfied with their technical vo- cabulary, and occasionally their discontent leads to attempts at terminological reform.1 Recently, a number of prominent parapsychologists, led by Ed May, have regularly abandoned some of parapsychology’s traditional and central categories in favor of some novel alternatives (see, e.g., May, Utts, and Spot- tiswoode, 1995a, 1995b; May, Spottiswood, Utts, and James, 1995). They rec- ommend replacing the term ª ESPº with ª anomalous cognitionº (or AC) and ª psychokinesis (PK)º with (...) ª anomalous perturbationº (or AP). Advocates of these new terms also propose replacing the term ª psiº or ª psi phenomenaº with ª anomalous mental phenomena.º Superf icially at least, these proposals seem merely to be modest extensions of parapsychology’s increasingly fre- quent use of the term ª anomalousº as a substitute for ª paranormal,º a practice which (although controversial) is not without merit, and which Palmer has vigorously defended (1986, 1987, 1992). But in my view, the proposed new terminology creates more problems than it solves. (shrink)
This paper examines the complex and creative strategies employed in keeping beliefs, memories, and various other mental and bodily states effectively dissociated from normal waking consciousness. First, it examines cases of hypnotic anesthesia and hypnotically induced hallucination, which illustrate: (1) our capacity for generating novel mental contents, (2) our capacity for choosing a plan of action from a wider set of options, and (3) our capacity for monitoring and responding to environmental influences threatening to undermine a dissociative state. These observations (...) are then extended to cases involving dissoci- ated memories of trauma. The strategies needed to maintain a dissociated belief or memory are strikingly similar to those involved in preventing our lies from being exposed. Moreover, these strategies are complex, and they potentially affect seemingly remote aspects of a person’s psychol- ogy. That point is illustrated by examining the dispositional nature of both memory and belief, the complex web of relations between our men- tal states and other elements of our psychology, and the interrelatedness of personality states and human capacities. [Article copies available for a.. (shrink)
Ever since Plato proposed that memories are analogous to im- pressions in wax, many have suggested that memories are formed through the creation of traces, representations of the things remem- bered. That is still the received view among most cognitive scientists, who believe the remaining challenge is simply to determine the pre- cise physical nature of memory traces. However, there are compelling reasons for thinking that this standard view of memory is profoundly wrongheaded — in fact, disguised nonsense. This paper (...) considers, ﬁrstly, what those reasons are in detail. Secondly and more brieﬂy, it considers how trace-like constructs have undermined various areas of parapsychological theorizing, especially in connection with the evi- dence for postmortem survival-for example, speculations about cellu- lar memory in transplant cases and genetic memory in reincarnation cases. Similar problems also emerge in areas often related to para- psychology — for example, Sheldrake’s (1981) account of morphic resonance. (shrink)
The so-called “problem of personal identity” can be viewed as either a metaphysical or an epistemological issue. Metaphysicians want to know what it is for one individual to be the same person as another. Epistemologists want to know how to decide if an individual is the same person as someone else. These two problems converge around evidence from mediumship and apparent reincarnation cases, suggesting personal survival of bodily death and dissolution. These cases make us wonder how it might be possible (...) for a person to survive death and either temporarily or permanently animate another body. And they make us wonder how we could decide if such postmortem survival has actually occurred. In this essay I argue, first, that metaphysical worries about postmortem survival are less important than many have supposed. Next, I'll consider briefly why cases suggesting postmortem survival can be so intriguing and compelling, and I'll survey our principal explanatory options and challenges. Then, I'll consider why we need to be circumspect in our appraisal of evidence for mind-body correlations. And finally, I'll try to draw a few tentative and provocative conclusions. (shrink)
This paper examines the ways in which familiar views about the world and our place in it must change in the face of the reality of psi phenomena. It is argued that most commentators are confused on this topic. Contrary to the received opinion, the existence of psi should make almost no difference to our currently accepted body of scientific theories. Nor, as some argue, can it be of much help to a defense of dualism. But the existence of psi (...) has profound implications regarding the pervasiveness of intentions in the world, even in connection with everyday sorts of events. The view is defended that we have no grounds for imposing antecedent restrictions on the range, magnitude, or refinement of psi. Finally, the paper discusses how the evidence for precognition forces serious consideration of a world?view generally associated only with so?called ?primitive? cultures. (shrink)