The Psychodynamic Approach to Parapsychological Problems
Psychother. Psychosom. 15: 245-259 (1967)
It took a fairly long time before the approach of dynamic psychology, and particularly of psychoanalysis, to parapsychological research could be realized, for two reasons. Where the orthodox psychologists and psychiatrists were concerned, resistances of two orders had to be overcome: a resistance to the more modem trends of dynamic psychology, based on psychoanalysis of the Freudian school, and a resistance to a category of manifestations – the so-called parapsychological phenomena – which they regarded in general as a bundle of superstitions, or as products and phantasies of abnormal minds. This explains why many prominent scientists have stopped on the threshold of the paranormal, and have not only refused to investigate it by means of the delicate methods of depth psychology, but have even, after a first, superficial acquaintance, refused to admit that such phenomena existed at all. The more open-minded and better oriented psychologists and psychiatrists, i.e. those who have understood and assimilated the new dynamic concepts in psychology, experience, with a few exceptions, their resistance only in one plane. They know very well that elements of animistic and magic thought persist even in the normal adult psyche, and in general they tend to interpret only from this point of view the position of those who say they believe, for instance, in telepathy: they regard such beliefs as remnants of an archaic and primitive thought-function.
Before we proceed with our considerations, we might, therefore, present a brief review of the results which modern parapsychology has obtained: results which, for those who have seriously taken cognizance of them, have the same validity and the same degree of certainty as those of many other better known, generally accepted sciences and disciplines.
Parapsychology is concerned with various phenomena that are or seem to be at the limits of normal psychic experience-phenomena which, to those who occupy themselves with them, have for a long time appeared to exhibit supernatural or superhuman characteristics and to invite speculations of a mystical, magical, occult or, in the final instance, spiritistic nature. The phenomena in question were alleged extrasensory communications between individuals, ‘paranormal’ knowledge, various manifestations through the intervention of particular subjects called mediums, etc.
From this nebulous material there gradually crystallized methods and types of investigation that have nothing in common with the above-mentioned approaches which were either clearly amateurish or which, although they might have been scientific in name, were usually nothing of the kind in reality.
In this short paper we shall be concerned only with the so called ‘subjective’ or ‘mental’ phenomena of parapsychology, and shall not consider the so-called ‘physical’ or ‘objective’ phenomena, of which it may be asserted that they are in the first place much less certain and well-established manifestations, and that in the second place, dynamic psychology has hitherto given them little or no attention. The so-called ‘subjective’ phenomena may in the final instance be grouped under the heading of the so-called ‘extrasensory perception’, which term covers the phenomena traditionally known by the name of telepathy or, as it used to be called, thought-transference, and further, phenomena of extra-normal knowledge of matters either concealed or distant in space or time, in other words, the so-called ‘clairvoyance’. In this respect we may state that the investigations in parapsychology have followed two different main lines.
One of these lines has been the study of the so-called ‘spontaneous’ phenomena. There have always been many persons, most of them doubtless in good faith, who reported manifestations which at first sight suggested that there had been communication between one particular subject, and one or more other subjects at great distances, with whom he could not have communicated by any known means. These were the so-called phenomena of ‘spontaneous telepathy’, of the generally known pattern: a person A, lying asleep at a distance of a thousand kilometers from person B, becomes suddenly aware (for instance, through a dream vision) that person B is in grave danger or is dying. She is, so to speak, present at the dramatic event or at the death, and wakes up in great anxiety. Some hours or days later, she then learns that person B has actually at that same moment been in that particular danger, or has died.
It must be admitted that since parapsychology began seriously to be concerned with these ‘spontaneous’ phenomena, many of them have been collected. To what extent they have indeed been ‘spontaneous’ remains to be seen and one of the contributions of dynamic psychology to parapsychology has precisely been to once having doubted the ‘spontaneity’ of the phenomena in question, and to investigate the conditions or situations by which they might be brought about or promoted. Still, in many of the cases assembled in the last 50 years or more, it has proved possible to collect evidence, statements from witnesses etc. that leave no doubt with regard to the actual occurrence of these phenomena or to their ‘paranormality’. But naturally, serious research is not limited to establishing facts, and in many cases, therefore, attempts have been made to determine the particular conditions under which the phenomenon has taken place, the state of mind of the person or persons involved, etc. In other words, it was attempted to apply certain criteria of a psychological nature.
Naturally, scientists were not satisfied with simply establishing the ‘spontaneous’ phenomena, however systematically and accurately, nor with a psychological-analytical investigation post factum, and it was not long, therefore, before they started to attempt to reproduce, experimentally, voluntarily and under predetermined conditions, those phenomena that had been reasonably verified when they occurred without having been expected or sought. It would, of course, take us much too long to list the countless experiments and investigations that have been carried out in this field. We shall mention only a few of the best known and most demonstrative ones. It goes without saying that in this field, as well, if an experiment is to be taken seriously and to have scientific validity, the same precautions must be taken and the same criteria adopted that render any other scientific investigation worthy of the name. Clearly, if two friends take up positions at a distance from one another and attempt to ‘transmit’ images or thoughts from one to the other, and if they do this without witnesses, control examinations, protocols, etc., the standard of a scientific experiment is not achieved. Quite possibly such experiments might appear to demonstrate the involvement of an extrasensory factor, but the scientific validity is nil. It was precisely to achieve this validity, that in many experiments checks have been introduced and the situation arranged in the best possible way: a considerable distance between those concerned in the experiment, the use of screens, synchronization, automatic registration, protocols, elimination of the human element from certain factors in the experiment (e.g. the selection of the images or of the criteria of communication), the use of automatic equipment, etc. As early as 1930, the famous American novelist Upton Sinclair took an active part in a series of experiments in the field of telepathy, with as the principal subject his wife, Mary Craig, who had appeared to be particularly gifted for this type of research. The experiments were carried out on the basis of so-called ‘free’ drawings: a person X, located at a distance from Mrs. Sinclair (this distance varying from a few meters to many kilometers), made a drawing on a piece of paper of whatever came into her head at that time. Meanwhile, Mrs. Sinclair was lying quietly and relaxed on a sofa or bed, and tried to ‘perceive’ the drawing. In her turn she then drew what had flashed across her mind, and the two drawings were subsequently compared. There exist scores and hundreds of these ‘pairs’ of drawings, and it is highly interesting to study and compare them. If we take into account all the circumstances under which the experiments were carried out, the impression of genuineness and authenticity is irresistible. The prominent American scholar, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince, read Sinclair’s book ‘Mental Radio’, in which the experiments were described. Prince wanted to verify the truth of the phenomena and carried out his own checking, of several month’s duration. Subsequently he wrote a book (longer than that by Sinclair), which was called ‘The Sinclair Experiments Demonstrating Telepathy’. He supplemented and confirmed Sinclair’s findings, presenting a further, reliable demonstration of the genuineness of telepathy.
Over a period of many years, a diligent, learned French investigator, René Warcollier, who died a few years ago, carried out hundreds, perhaps thousands of experiments of this nature, with variations in the conditions, the distances, the subjects and the material. His findings have been published in a number of books and articles; these findings are on the whole not unlike those obtained in the experiments of Sinclair, but naturally they are a much more important scientific contribution, because they are much more extensive, and because the many experiments have been devised with great ingenuity and acumen. In the highly valuable works of Warcollier, material for years of study can be found.
Perhaps the most important work in more recent times in the field of extrasensory perception has been done by the team headed by the American J. B. Rhine. Rhine was for many years the director of the Parapsychology Laboratory of the Duke University in Durham in North Carolina, and the experiments done there were carried out mainly along statistical-mathematical lines. Rhine and his collaborators used fixed, limited numbers of test objects, especially groups of cards, each consisting of 25 cards, subdivided into 5 groups showing 5 identical symbols, so that after the completion of the experiments, the results could be analysed by the statistical quantitative method of ‘probability’ evaluation. It would be superfluous, I believe, to list the enormous quantity of publications that resulted from this approach. Everyone who has adequately studied this immense material without prejudice is convinced of the validity and of the importance of the method. Students from many other countries have carried out experiments along the lines set by Rhine and his school, and they have obtained similar results.
It would seem worth while at this point to mention what the author of this article has done, with two Italian collaborators (a biochemist and a lady doctor of medicine), to contribute to the experimental study of extrasensory perception (ESP). Our working hypothesis was that certain subjects, under the influence of particular, recently discovered or synthesized chemical substances, may exhibit phenomena of extrasensory perception that would be enhanced, or possibly precipitated, by these substances. For two years, under strict laboratory conditions, we have used lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD 25) and psylocibin for this purpose, and we observed in our subjects quantitatively and qualitatively discernible ‘peaks’ which showed fairly clearly that when the test persons had used the substances in question their possibilities of extrasensory perception for a given standard material were apparently enhanced. These findings, combined with the results obtained by, Warcollier by RHINE and others, appear to demonstrate not only the existence of telepathic or ESP phenomena, but also the fact that the faculty of extrasensory perception is not an absolute prerogative of particular individuals (even though some appear to possess it in a much more marked degree than others), but that it is probably a ‘dimension’, or a more or less ‘latent faculty’ of the human mind. We might draw a parallel here with the ability called ‘musical ear’: naturally, there are ‘top’ persons (the great composers, orchestra conductors, performers), who have an extremely well-developed and refined ear for music, while this ability appears less and less in ever larger groups of individuals, down to those who say of themselves that they ‘have no ear for music’, even though this expression is probably not correct (no one, seemingly, can be entirely tone deaf). It follows from the above that nowadays parapsychology has all the properties of a serious branch of science and may claim numerous results. Scientists should, therefore, decide by now to regard it as such.
Now let us consider the contributions of dynamic psychology with regard to the phenomena with which parapsychology is concerned.
First of all, we must take into account the following aspect. The discoveries of psychoanalysis, in the first place naturally those made by Freud, have revealed that the processes of the mind have their origin in an unconscious region of the personality, and that they often undergo considerable distortion and deformation prior to becoming conscious. This concept of the distortion and deformation of the unconscious contents of the mind on their way towards the preconscious and conscious levels is one of the principal tenets of psychoanalytic psychology. Freud has described and elucidated this fundamental aspect on the basis of his study of neuroses and of the dream structure. In his famous book ‘Die Traumdeutung’ (The interpretation of dreams), published in 1900, he made it clear that the essential, deep-seated impulses of the mind that attempt to find their expression in the dream have intrapsychically already passed through a process due to which they reach the conscious in a distorted form. Freud called this process the ‘dream-work’: under its influence, the latent ideas of the dream are converted and transformed and give rise to the ideas which subsequently appear to the dreamer’s mind as the final result, as what Freud called the ‘manifest content’ of the dream. The fact that we must keep in mind is that these deformations and distortions are not exclusive features of the dreaming process or of the development of neurotic symptoms, but are general characteristics of the working of the mind. Freud was the first to discover that all the final results of mental activity are the ultimate products of processes in which a part is played by particular psychic mechanisms, called the deforming mechanisms or defence mechanisms, whose purpose and function is precisely to render the underlying mental process, the instinctive impulse, unrecognizable or as little recognizable as possible. This dynamic concept must always be kept in mind if we want to obtain a clear impression of certain parapsychological processes. Let us emphasize once more that these parapsychological processes are to be regarded as part of the normal psychic activity. As early as 1904, Freud has shown that the difference between normal and abnormal psychological processes is only quantitative and not qualitative. The parapsychological phenomena are called ‘paranormal’ only because they cannot be regarded as ‘normal’, in the sense that they do not belong to our normal, everyday experience. They are not, according to this definition, pathological phenomena.
In 1922, Freud published an essay on ‘Dreams and Telepathy’, in which, once again, his genius manifested itself clearly. In this work he described an observation made by himself, in which the typical deformation of the psychic processes that we have mentioned above was clearly apparent. One of Freud ‘s correspondents had written him a letter stating that he had dreamt that his second wife had had twins, and that one day later he had been informed that one of his daughters, a daughter of his first wife, had indeed had twins, in another city on that same night, approximately one month earlier than expected. From the parapsychological point of view, this incident would appear to be only of slight interest. Freud, however, based his interpretation on the hypothesis that a telepathic communication had indeed taken place, and that before it had achieved its ultimate form in the dreamer’s consciousness, it had been subjected, in his unconscious, to one of the distortion processes which Freud himself had discovered and described for the first time. The telepathic elements might have activated in the dreamer the latent wish that he himself were the father, instead of the grandfather of the expected child; but through the intervention of what Freud called the ‘censorship’ of the dream, this wish, which was essentially incestuous, had been changed to a form that was more acceptable to the conscious. Accordingly, in the dream the parturient woman was not the daughter but the wife of the dreamer. With reference to this single observation, Freud advanced a more general hypothesis. Along similar lines, Freud wrote, other telepathic dreams might be formed and interpreted, and the telepathic element in these cases could, just as in the case described, be found by analysing the latent, and not the manifest content of the dream. In other words, according to Freud, psychoanalysis, by eliminating the distortions of the dream-work, might reveal to us a telepathic event apart from the simple empirical observation data, by taking into account the known mechanisms of unconscious psychic life. The deformations and the vagueness of the parapsychological event, which have often dismayed investigators, were, according to Freud, not necessarily an insurmountable hindrance or insoluble riddle, because they were part of the mental functions and as such may be assessed, described and corrected with results that would earlier not have been imaginable. This most brilliant hypothesis was the first stone in the new construction that has since grown very extensive, namely the contribution of psychoanalysis and of dynamic psychology, of ‘tridimensional’ psychology, to parapsychological phenomena. In his subsequent works Freud discussed the subject further. He gave his particular attention to the emotional element in the presumed telepathic phenomena and to the possibility of these phenomena emerging in the analytic situation, in other words, in the relationship between the analyst and the analysand, a situation that is characterized by the phenomena of transference and countertransference, in other words, by the sometimes intensive emotional elements (in the processes that are involved) of the relationship. Precisely because the analytic situation is so fraught with emotions, it can and must, according to Freud, favour the occurrence of the phenomena in question. In Freud ‘s last work concerned with parapsychology, namely in the second chapter of ‘New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis’, which was published in 1933, he reported an instance of presumed telepathy between himself and one of his patients. At this point I may refer to my personal contributions. As early as 1932, during an investigation of phenomena connected with a medium, I had advanced the hypothesis that these phenomena might be interpreted by analysis, and might, in an unusual and indirect language, express certain aspects of the unconscious conflicts, reparation mechanisms and feelings of guilt of the subject. Soon afterwards, from 1933, I began to notice that some of my patients during sessions of analysis were aware, in a seemingly paranormal or telepathic manner, of certain events and thoughts that were connected both with their own unconscious problems and with particular situations of my own psychic life. At that time I was not aware that a Hungarian colleague of mine, Dr. Istvan Hollós of Budapest, was working along the same lines. Hollós published his findings in 1933 in the journal ‘Imago’, while I was preparing a paper on the subject ‘Psychoanalysis and Telepathy’, which was presented to the International Psychoanalytic Congress in Luzern in 1934 and was subsequently also published in the journal ‘Imago’. In my paper, I acknowledged Hollós older rights, even though we had made our ‘discoveries’ at the same time. Other analysts had also made similar observations more or less simultaneously. Helene Deutsch, for instance, reported the following observation: one of her analysands related a dream in which a married couple celebrated the 8th anniversary of their marriage. No elucidation could be obtained from the subject’s associations of ideas, but the analyst remembered that on the previous day she had been paying little attention to what the patient had been saying, but had been thinking, without actually realizing it, about the preparations for the celebration of the 8th anniversary of her own marriage! This was an entirely private occasion, of which the patient could not have known anything. In the above minor example we begin to discern the ‘complementary’ nature of interests and emotions that is typical of these cases of telepathy during analysis. A further example may be presented to throw more light on this process. Another analyst, Dr. Jule Eisenbud, reported the case of one of his patients who suffered from depression and who in the course of a session suddenly, without similar ideas ever having come up before, told the analyst that he had had an idea that he might have a heart attack and die from it. Shortly before, the analyst had been present at a lecture on hypertension and thrombosis of the coronaries, and had been thinking about the ‘unconscious choice’ of diseases, namely what might be the deeper motivations why one person develops a psychosomatic disease and another an organic disease, while a third will manifest his conflicts in a psychoneurosis. Eisenbud relates how he had been wondering whether the patient in question, who had never presented any well-defined somatic symptoms, might not have been, instead, a person who would develop … a heart disease! At this point, apparently, an idea had been introduced into the analysis by the patient, who in this manner had indirectly communicated to the analyst: ‘perhaps I might have a heart disease myself, since you appear to prefer it!’
In this connection I may point out that phenomena of this type are as a rule very complicated and difficult to describe. In reporting them it is always necessary to include a number of explanations and details concerning what was happening or had happened to the subject and to the analysis during the period in question. Certain cases of this nature have indeed been published in great detail, but to quote any of them would take a number of pages, too much for the present essay. However, one case from my personal experience may be related here.
A young woman doctor who was in personal analysis with me as part of her training, had been under treatment for approximately 21/2 years and the analysis had progressed fairly satisfactorily in spite of certain character difficulties which were not always easy to manage. The analytical sessions with this lady took place at 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On the afternoon of a day between T was consulted in connection with another lady, also young, also a university graduate, who presented a clear cut agoraphobia. It was a very distinctly structured case, such as nowadays not many are seen. I was greatly interested in this case, and I believe I had been thinking that after all, the problems of a symptomatic neurosis were preferable to those of a character neurosis. However, since I was too busy to take the case on myself I referred the lady to one of my colleagues. The consultation had taken about one hour, from 6 to 7 in the afternoon. The next day, the lady doctor who was in a training analysis with me came in as usual for her session and the first thing she said to me was: ‘Yesterday, as I was on the point of going out into the street after a visit to some friends, I experienced a strange feeling of giddiness. I stopped before going out of the door and I said to myself: ‘It would be very strange if after 2% years of analysis I should now begin to develop symptoms of agoraphobia. Then I put it out of my mind, shrugged my shoulders, waited a few moments and then went out.
I asked this lady at what time this had happened, and she said: ‘About 6 or 6:30 yesterday evening’, and she added: ‘Why do you ask me that?’
If we may assume that this case had a telepathic character (and frankly, I have very little doubt that it had), we may consider the dynamics of the situation as follows: in my opinion, it was as if the lady in question had in some way perceived that the analyst was greatly interested in another case and in another young woman and, as it were, neglected her. With her transient symptom, which could be explained in no other way, she had wanted to say more or less the following: ‘What, are you so interested in a young woman with agoraphobia? Well, if that is the case I can keep up my end and I, too, can develop the symptoms of agoraphobia! In any case, if you believe that you can show sympathy and interest to some other woman or patient without my knowing it, you are mistaken, because somehow as you will find out, I know all about it, Therefore, I repeat, take care of me and occupy yourself with me.’ This aspect, that by making a ‘request’ of the analyst, the patient at the same time lets him know that in some extrasensory manner he or she is more or less ‘informed’ about the analyst’s corresponding and complementary problems, is a typical aspect of the extrasensory events that are a part of a psychoanalytic relationship. This ‘effect’-if we may call it that-which Hollós and I, independently of one another, discovered for the first time in 1932-1933, was always encountered in the same form and has been confirmed by all psychoanalysts who, in Freud’s footsteps in the first place, and then in those of Hollós and me, have continued to make this kind of observations. All the cases that have hitherto been reported are, in my opinion, reasonably clearly demonstrative in this respect.
Now let me refer to another case which I witnessed more recently. An American patient of mine-who suffered from a severe obsessional neurosis-dreamt that blood ran from the tip of one of his fingers.
I asked him what came into his mind in association with this simple dream, and he told me that a few years before, some drops of blood had been taken from his finger for a blood analysis. The patient was clearly not in a position to know that precisely on the day before the night in which he had his dream, I myself had, for the first time in my life, gone to a biological laboratory for a blood analysis, and that for this purpose, a few drops of blood had been taken from the tip of one of my fingers. In this case also, we may attempt to put into words what the patient had wanted to say with his dream: ‘I know that you are preoccupied in some manner with something that concerns you, and which you may easily investigate by means of a blood analysis. It is easy to analyse blood, but I want to call your attention to my analysis, and to realize that if you wanted to, you could very easily analyse my blood instead of my personality. It would certainly be much simpler and easier. In any case, if instead of being occupied with yourself, and with your “analysis”, you would pay more attention to mine, I should be very pleased. However, be that as it may, I am, as you can see, in some way aware of the episode of your “analysis”.’
Admittedly, this case is not so remarkable as others that have been reported, or as that related above, but we see in it the same type of confluence of interests. On the one hand, we have the analyst who gives his attention to his personal problems which somehow distract him-or so the patient fears-from the problems of the analysis, and on the other, we have the patient who appears to ‘present’ to the analyst an analogous problem of his, the patient’s own, and at the same time shows that in some way he knows in what direction the analyst’s interests, emotions and preoccupations lie.
On a few, rare occasions I have been able to apply the instrument of analytical and dynamic interpretation to parapsychological phenomena (and particularly to telepathic phenomena) that were not a part of the analysis itself. Such cases are extremely rate, because whereas in the analytical situation the analyst possesses all the elements to judge and assess his patient and the binomial situation that has been created, it is as a rule virtually impossible for him to penetrate into the deeper dynamics of persons whom he knows very little or not at all, precisely because to do this, it would be necessary to establish an analytical relationship with them. It may nevertheless be possible in those particular cases in which the person in question, owing to some fortunate circumstance, is well-known to the analyst, so that the latter can base his interpretations on precise knowledge. One of these cases which I have personally observed we may now discuss.
A girl aged 16 years, whom we shall call Louisa, dreamt that the mother of a young man, whom we shall call Guido, with whom she was in love and who also liked her, had a strange ring with hieroglyphics on her finger. After the girl woke up, she told her own mother about this dream, and added that the ring had a compartment that could be opened, so that some perfume, for instance, might be placed in it. Some hours later, Louisa called Guido on the telephone and told him her dream, and described the ring, without, however, mentioning the detail about the part that could be opened. This detail was immediately volunteered by Guido, who told her that he had bought that ring on the previous day in the pavillion of Somaliland at the Fair of Milan and that he had indeed given it to his mother. The ring was the same in every detail as the one Louisa had seen in her dream. Now, Louisa knew that Guido had gone to Milan to visit the Fair, but she did not have any idea of what he might have bought there, and was completely unaware that he had bought a ring for his mother, let alone what kind of ring.
What is the interpretation of this very beautiful case of telepathy? Louisa wanted to be officially engaged to Guido and accordingly, to be given an engagement ring. In any case, the ring has a very well-known symbolic sexual significance, a significance which becomes even clearer if it is a ring that may be opened and closed.
Louisa’s father had died when she was still very young, so that she had never been in a position to develop and overcome her ‘Oedipus complex’. As a result, her problems connected with this important, delicate phase of her development had remained undefined and unsolved. This appeared, among other things (as I was very well aware) in certain phantasies of a vaguely passive-masochistic type which she often had concerning famous men much older than her and also, in her considerable affective uncertainties and mixtures of love and hate with regard to her own mother and to other, older women with whom her beloved Guido had had or might have had relations. More than once Louisa had shown that she resented it that Guido’s mother, whom, for that matter, she hardly knew, called her ‘that little girl’ in her conversations with Guido, and that Guido had considerable respect and love for h is mother. In Milan, Guido had bought a present for Louisa, namely a pair of earrings, but, probably for reasons connected with the fact that he had not completely mastered his Oedipus problem either, he had bought his mother a ring, rather than one of the many other things he might have given her. We might say, therefore, that in chosing between two women, Guido had shown a significant preference for his mother, and had given her a ring, whereas for Louisa he had bought an object that was much less typical and promising in character, even though it cost as much. Perhaps it had not been Guido’s intention to conceal from Louisa the fact that he had bought a ring for his mother, but at that point the emotional situations of these two young people had achieved that complementarity inherent in their particular interpersonal relationship and their unconscious problems which we have sometimes also encountered in the analytical situation, and at that point there had occurred the telepatic ‘encounter’, through which Louisa had been able in some manner to ‘tune in’ with Guido, and to enter into a sort of psychological configuration or unconscious psycho-affective dimension which comprised them both. Through her dream, Louisa had wanted, therefore, in some manner: 1. to overcome the distance and the psychological barriers between her and Guido; 2. to share in Guido’s emotional experience, almost to fuse with him, and to show, first to her own mother and then to Guido, that she was ‘informed’ about what he had been thinking and doing, in other words, about the ‘preference’-if we may call it that which Guido had shown for his mother, and about the ‘wrong’ done to her, Louisa. Owing to this paranormal knowledge of what had happened, Louisa was in a position to talk to Guido of the matter before the latter had mentioned it, as if to let him know, without realizing it herself, that she was quite ‘well informed’.
Work on more or less the same lines, although, of course, with many variations, has been done in the last 15 or 20 years by an increasing number of analysts, and they have published dozens of communications on this subject. In a fairly recent publication I have attempted to review the principal results of the investigations concerning the determination of telepathic interaction, both in the course of psychoanalytical treatment and outside this relationship. I have regarded the transference and countertransference situation as the typical apex of a whole series of daily events, and I have attempted to define the general psychological premises on which (I believe) nearly all telepathic communications are based.
There is not the slightest doubt that the psychodynamic and analytical approach has led to great progress in parapsychology. On the other hand, I believe that the acceptance of the facts of telepathic or extrasensory communication will provide a considerable contribution to our psychoanalytical conceptions of the human personality, of intersubjective relations at early and adult ages, and of our ideas concerning the analytical situation and its technique. The psychoanalytical study of the parapsychological phenomena has in particular confirmed once more that these phenomena are in no way supernatural or even ‘supernormal’, and that they may gradually find their place in a wider and more satisfactory conception of man’s psychic life.
The author makes first an up-to-date evaluation of parapsychology, as it appears nowadays after more than half a century of uncertainties and of scientific research. He underlines the importance of experimental studies on extrasensory perception, qualitative (e.g. Warcollier’s) as well as quantitative (e.g. Rhine’s). He then recalls Freud’s contributions to the study of telepathy, from 1921 to 1933; those of ‘pioneers’ in the field such as Hollós, Servadio, H. Deutsch et al.; and those of contemporary analytic authors. It is striking to observe that the mechanisms described by Freud and by the first psychoanalysts who studied these problems have been regularly confirmed by all the subsequent authors. They seem to represent psychodynamic laws, ruling telepathic phenomena in and outside the analytic situation. ‘Complementarity’ of psychological states in the subjects of a telepathic phenomenon during the analysis or otherwise; ‘indirect appeal’ to the ‘other person’ through telepathic means; characteristic conditions of frustration and necessity: all this has by now been established and described in detail. At the end, the author expresses the opinion that taking into due consideration telepathic or extrasensory phenomena should considerably enrich the psychoanalytic fundamental conception of human personality.
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