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Society for Psychical Research

The latter half of the nineteenth century was a period of intense intellectual research and debate, as science-based explanations increasingly challenged the old, often religious based, worldview.

Also at this time, the new religion of Spiritualism gained a foothold and increased the popularity of, and interest in, psychic phenomena. This sparked fierce debate as some wondered if these could be fully accounted for in naturalistic terms, or did they point to aspects of consciousness as yet undocumented by science?

So, in January 1882, a conference was held in London to discuss the viability of setting up an organisation to carry out formal scientific research into the subject.  Shortly afterwards the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was formed. It’s leaders quickly created a methodological and administrative framework, including a scholarly journal in which psychical research could be reported and debated worldwide.

Their initial work was across a number of areas of research with each having a committee charged with collecting historical and current evidence. These included investigating thought-reading (soon to be renamed telepathy), mesmerism (hypnotism), clairvoyance, physical phenomena of the séance room, as well as apparitions and hauntings.

In America, a similar society formed under the leadership of William James, leading to collaboration between researchers on both sides of the Atlantic. During the 1930s, the centre of this activity increasingly shifted to America, with the establishment of JB Rhine’s Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Today the SPR is still going strong and has an impressive Past Research Catalogue, which contains brief summaries of almost every item published by them up until 2011. They also maintain the Psi Encyclopedia, which offers descriptive articles on a variety of topics. And it’s this repository that interests me specifically. Within the Psi Encyclopaedia are a large number of fully researched and documented case of past lives, especially in young children.

The Society for Psychical Research along with other academics such as the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) within the Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences unit of the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine are setting out to scientifically prove the existence of this previously taboo phenomena.

While I don’t believe in all paranormal phenomena, I think it’s important to keep an open mind about things we don’t entirely understand. As Hillary Duffy (American Actress) put it. “I have always been interested in the paranormal and afterlife, everything from ghosts to angels. I think that everyone has that curiosity of the great unknown”.

If you are interested in exploring your past lives then contact me.

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