PSYCHOLOGICAL CRITERIA AND TESTING METHODS
EMILIO SERVADIO (Italy)
Proceedings of two conferences on parapsychology and pharmacology
Our experience in the current symposium has been particularly new and stimulating. We have before us at least three promising lines of scientific investigation, all of them largely belonging to pioneer work in science. And they are subject to controversial hypotheses, uncertainties, even guesses and errors. These three lines are psychopharmacology, depth psychology and parapsychology. Having great sympathy for all these brilliant but still elusive and unpredictable domains of exploration, we are trying to get them together and see how they influence each other. The least one can say is that the result of the experiment cannot be foreseen. Anything can happen.
The day has gone of the times of so-called encyclopedic minds when a single individual could know many sciences and perhaps add art and literature to the heap. That is why we are gathered here as a group for scientific exchanges, to pool our endeavors in a sort of new incorporation.
In his outline of psychoanalysis which he left unfinished, Professor Freud wrote: “The future will perhaps teach us to influence directly, by special chemical substances, the quantities of energy used in mental activity.” That future has not yet come, but the dawn of the times announced by Freud is I think before us. The founder of psychoanalysis had advanced far ahead of his day and was prepared already in 1925 to “lend the support of psychoanalysis to the cause of mental telepathy.” Freud would have been thrilled at the idea of a conference such as this.
However, a word of caution is perhaps in order. Promising as our new approach certainly is, the best way of dealing with our complicated equation is not to expect a prompt solution. It is likely that the best we can do is to agree upon a certain number of lines of investigation which will keep us busy for several years. In fact how could we presume to solve at once a complexity of problems which are so to speak at the crossroads of several uncertainties of modern research? Nevertheless, much can certainly be accomplished if we attack these problems with the earnestness and the humility which are the hallmarks of the true student. After all, when neurosis and dreams were both very mysterious, it happened that consultation and continuous study offered new ways to illuminate the dark corners of the human mind. My profound hope is that as a result of this conference some new light may be shed on some of the areas of the human mind which are still largely in obscurity. Something important to me as a depth psychologist and parapsychologist is this: that one should try first of all to define in the psychological sense, according to some basic standard criteria, the subjects on which psychedelic experiments are attempted. I refer not to patients in hospitals or clinics but to research workers and their subjects. We need to know at the outset what kind of persons they are-introverts, extroverts? Can they be defined according to certain psychological standards? I consider that this should be made a regular procedure. Also on the level of international exchange, the procedure could be standardized for use before starting to work. That is to say, that in an experiment with LSD, etc., we should have a preliminary study of the subject-not a psychoanalysis, of course, but nevertheless one or two psychological interviews and a certain psychological profile based on three, four or five generally known and acknowledged tests.
I may safely say, I believe, that generally psi phenomena, for example telepathy, are brought about by situations of inner as well as outer tension, in the sense of difficulties, stress and obstacles that must be overcome in order to re-establish what I would call a homestatic equilibrium. Dr. Hoffer suggested something that might be used in the pharmacological sense to foster this particular condition. There is one difficulty: in order to overcome the obstacle, the personality of the subject has first to undergo a certain regression towards a more primitive means of communication. We all know that telepathic communication, for example, is on a more primitive, archaic level than verbal or written communication. Here the psychoanalysts have something to say to overcome the vetoes of what I would call the moralistic agencies. These agencies tell us all the time: be alert, do not trespass on forbidden territory, do not meddle into other people’s affairs, etc. These inner difficulties can be conquered in several ways and here is where I would ask the help of the pharmacologist.