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In the future we hope to have a searchable list of terms taken from the 2003 Glossary of Terms Used in Parapsychology by Michael A. Thalbourne, Ph.D. (University of Adelaide). Dr. Thalbourne is the foremost authority on terminology in English-language parapsychology. In the meantime, we have copied a short list from Dr. Thalbourne’s very long list of many hundreds of terms. If you have any other questions that the terms below do not answer, do not hestitate to send your specific question to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to purchase a copy of the Glossary, click here.
The terms below are listed alphabetically. A list of references appears at the end. So if a term says “First developed by Zusne & Jones (1982) …” you can look through the reference list to find the exact reference. Also, if you see an English word in italics inside a definition, then that word or some form of it also has a definition elsewhere in the list. Have fun!
In a test of general extrasensory perception, the individual (human or animal) who looks at the information constituting the target and who is said to “send” or “transmit” that information to a percipient; in a test of telepathy, and in cases of spontaneous extrasensory perception, the individual about whose mental states information is acquired by a percipient; the term is very occasionally used to refer to the subject in a test of psychokinesis or the focus in a poltergeist case. [From the Latin agens (agentis), derived from agere, “to drive, do”]
In the context of brain science: a distinctive brain-rhythm or brain-wave which occurs mainly in the occipital region of the cortex, and which is correlated, on the psychological level, with feelings of drowsiness, relaxation and disengaged attention on the part of the subject; it is of relatively high amplitude, and has a frequency range of between 8 and 13 Hz (cycles per second); of parapsychological interest as a possible physiological indicator of a psi-conducive condition in the subject. [From the Greek alpha, first letter of the Greek alphabet]
ALTERED STATE(S) OF CONSCIOUSNESS (ASC)
Expression popularized by Charles T. Tart which can refer to virtually any mental state differing from that of the normal waking condition; of parapsychological interest as possibly psi-conducive states; they include dreaming, hypnosis, trance, meditation of the yoga or Zen tradition, the hypnagogic-like state induced by the ganzfeld, and drug-induced states.
Term first used by Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones (1982) to indicate that part of psychology that investigates “anomalistic” psychological phenomena, that is, phenomena which have tended to be explained in terms of the paranormal, the supernatural, magic, or the occult; the term is also meant to include belief in UFOs, in astrology, and in such creatures as the Loch Ness Monster.
Having the quality of an anomaly.
Neutral term applied to a phenomenon which implies that the phenomenon is unexpected according to conventional scientific knowledge, but which does not commit the user to any particular type of explanation; sometimes sometimes preferred to “paranormal.”
Term coined by J. B. Rhine to refer to psi ability in non-human animals. [Contraction of “animal psi”]
An experience usually visual but sometimes in other sense-modalities in which there appears to be present a person or animal (deceased or living) and even inanimate objects such as carriages and other things, who/which is in fact out of the sensory range of the experient; often associated with spontaneous extrasensory perception, for example, in connection with an agent who is dying or undergoing some other crisis (in which case, it is likely to be termed a “crisis apparition,” or in connection with haunting (in which case, it is likely to be referred to in non-technical contexts as a “ghost”)
A physical object which has been paranormally transported into a closed space or container, suggesting the passage of “matter through matter,” that is, through intervening solid material objects. [From the Latin apportare, “to carry to (a place)”]
An entity said to be an exact, quasi-physical replica or “double” of the individual physical body, which can separate itself from the physical body, either temporarily, as in dreaming or in the out-of-the-body experience, or permanently, at the moment of death. Also known as the “etheric” body. [From the Latin astralis, derived from astrum, “star,” derived from the Greek astron]
See Astral Projection under Out-of-[the]-Body Experience.
A field of subtle, multicolored, luminous radiations said to surround living bodies as a halo or cocoon; the term is occasionally used to refer to the normal electromagnetic field forces surrounding the body. [Latin, from the Greek,“breath of air”]
A motor automatism in which a person’s hand writes meaningful statements, but without the writer consciously premeditating the content of what is produced.
Any complex sensory or motor activity the details of which are carried out by a person without their conscious awareness or volition, thus constituting instances of dissociation; examples of sensory automatisms are certain visual and auditory hallucinations; examples of motor automatisms are sleep-walking, trance-utterances and automatic writing.
The phenomenon in which a person’s body is seen in two different geographical locations at the same time; also, according to Myers (1903), the sensation of being in two different places at once, namely, where one’s organism is, and a place distant from it, involving some degree of perception (whether veridical or not) of the distant scene.
A technique which enables a person to monitor on-going changes in one of their own physiological processes; as a result of such information, the individual may be able to acquire some degree of control in regulating internal processes normally outside the range of voluntary influence; of parapsychological interest mainly in connection with altered states of consciousness and with the possibility of controlling the incidence of the alpha brain-rhythm.
Term used by William G. Braud (1978) to denote the situation in which one subject, A, is attempting to influence, psychokinetically, the physiological processes of another person, B, aided by biofeedback to A concerning those processes in B. [From the Greek allos, “other,” + bios, “life,” + feedback]
Term used to refer to psychokinetic effects brought about on living systems; examples of such effects would be the paranormal speeding up or slowing down of the sprouting of seeds or of the growth of bacteria, the resuscitation of anæsthetized mice, and so on; may also include psychosomatic effects; symbolized “PK-LT” (“psychokinesis on living targets”) by J. B. Rhine; modern researchers refer to it as DMILS, or direct mental influence on living systems.
A test for survival sometimes conducted during a sitting in an attempt to exclude telepathy between medium and sitter as an explanation for the information paranormally acquired by the medium: the communicator is requested to transmit a message referring to topics on specified pages of a book that the medium could not have normally seen. (As a noun), the overt response made by the percipient in guessing the target; in a test of extrasensory perception; (as a verb), to make a response or call.
A test for precognition, associated especially with the Dutch sensitive Gerard Croiset but first demonstrated by Pascal Forthuny, a French psychic, in which a chair is randomly selected from all those set up for a later public meeting, and the percipient describes the appearance, characteristics and events in the life of a person, unknown to them, who will later attend that meeting and occupy that chair.
The constellation of undefined causal factors which are considered to be irrelevant to the causal relationship under investigation; often spoken of as if it were a single, independent agency; the expression “pure chance” is sometimes used to describe a state characterized by complete unpredictability, that is, an absence of any cause-effect relationships. The term “chance” is frequently a short-hand expression for “mean chance expectation” as in “deviation from chance.”
A phenomenon in which, according to Arthur Hastings (1990, p. 99), “a person purports to transmit information or messages directly from a personality or consciousness other than his or her own, usually through automatic writing or trance speaking; this other personality usually claims to be a nonphysical spirit or being.”
Paranormal information expressed as an auditory experience; it is generally considered to be a form or mode of clairvoyance. [From the French clair, “clear,” + audience, “hearing,” ultimately derived from the Latin clarus, “clear,” + audientia, derived from audire, “to hear”]
Paranormal information expressed as a sensation or feeling; generally considered to be a form of clairvoyance. [From the French clair, “clear,” + sentience, “feeling,” ultimately derived from the Latin clarus, “clear,” + sentiens, derived from sentire, “to feel”]
Paranormal acquisition of information concerning an object or contempory physical event; in contrast to telepathy, the information is assumed to derive directly from an external physical source (such as a concealed photograph), and not from the mind of another person; one particular form of extrasensory perception, it is not to be confused with the vulgar interpretation of “clairvoyance” as meaning “knowledge of the future” (for which see Precognition).
As a noun, a person endowed with a special talent for clairvoyance; not to be confused with its colloquial usage meaning “a fortune-teller”; As an adjective, involving or pertaining to clairvoyance.
COINCIDENCE; IN THE PARANORMAL
Two events are said to constitute a coincidence if they occur in such a way as to strike an observer as being highly related as regards their structure or their “meaning”; to dismiss such an occurrence as a “mere coincidence” is to imply the belief that each event arose as a result of quite independent causal chains (that is, they are “acausal”) and that no further “meaning” or significance is to be found in this fortuitous concurrence; sometimes, however, a sense of impressiveness is engendered by the belief that the concurrence is so very unlikely as to have been the result of “pure chance” that there must be some cause or reason for the concurrence, thus investing the coincidence with a sense of meaningfulness. See also Synchronicity.
A set of statements purportedly gained by paranormal means but which in fact is wholly based on broadly accurate generalizations and/or on information obtained directly from the person seeking the reading, such as can be gleaned from facial gestures, clues in conversation, and so on.
A personality, usually manifesting through a medium, and claiming to be that of a deceased individual trying to communicate with the living. See also Drop-in Communicator.
(i) A personality purporting to be that of some deceased individual, believed to take control of the medium’s actions and speech during trance, and/or who habitually relays messages from the communicator to the sitter. (ii) In the context of scientific investigation, a control is something (a procedure, condition, object, set of subjects, and so on) which is introduced with the purpose of providing a check on (that is, of “controlling for”) the influence of unwanted factors.
See under Apparition.
A highly complex series of independent communications delivered paranormally (and ostensibly from one or more discarnate entities) to two or more geographically separate mediums such that the complete message is not clear until the separate fragments are pieced together into a meaningful whole.
Term coined by Theodore Flournoy to refer to a memory of some event or experience which has been forgotten by the conscious mind, and which may appear in awareness without the person recognizing it as a memory; sometimes invoked as a counterhypothesis to apparent paranormal awareness. [From the Greek kryptos, “hidden,” + mnesis, “memory”]
French for “already seen,” the feeling or illusion of having previously experienced an event or place actually being encountered for the first time; also called “false memory,” or “memory without recognition,” although the phenomenon could conceivably involve precognitive or clairvoyant information, in which case Frederic Myers gave it the name promnesia. [From the Greek pro, “prior to,” + mnesis, “memory”]
A phenomenon of physical mediumship in which living entities (sometimes the medium’s own body) or inanimate objects — sometimes previously materialized — are caused to disappear. Compare Materialization.
DERMO-OPTICAL PERCEPTION (DOP)
Term used by G. Razran to refer to the ability to discriminate color and brightness by means of touch. Also known as “skin vision,” “finger vision,” “dermal vision,” “digital sight” [From the Latin digitus, “finger, toe”], or “cutaneous perception” [From the Latin cutis, “skin”]. [From the Greek derma, “skin,” + optikos, “of sight,” derived from opsomai, “I shall see”]
The determination of the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition by means of extrasensory perception. See also Healing, Psychic.
A disembodied being, as opposed to an incarnate one; the surviving personality of a deceased individual or non-human entity; a spirit. [From the Latin dis-, “away, apart,” + caro (carnis), “flesh”]
A process in which a body of awareness (perceptual, memory, physical) becomes separated or blocked from the main center of consciousness; examples are trance-speaking, automatic writing, amnesia, multiple personality, and so on; thought by some to be a psi-conducive state.
Word sometimes used to refer to the acquiring of paranormal information, frequently (but not invariably) by the use of such various practices as tea-leaf reading, palmistry, scrying, the I Ching, Tarot cards and so on.
An apparitional double or counterpart of a living person. See also Astral Body; Bilocation [German for “doublewalker”]
A behavioral automatism in which, generally, a “dowsing rod” (also called a divining rod: often a forked twig but sometimes a pendulum) is employed to locate subterranean water, oil, and so on, or other concealed items by following the direction in which the rod turns in the user’s hands. Some practitioners use their bare hands with no gadget.
An apparently paranormal dream, inasmuch as some of the dream details give information about events normally unknowable to the experient.
Term coined by Ian Stevenson for a communicator who appears unbidden at a sitting, and who is entirely unknown to the medium, sitters, or anyone else present.
Term introduced into parapsychology by Charles Richet to describe the “exteriorized substance” produced out of the bodies of some physical mediums and from which materializations are sometimes formed. [From the Greek ektos, “outside,” + plasma, “something formed or molded”]
The mechanical device employed in the technique which known as electroencephalography.
A technique for amplifying and recording the fluctuations in electrical voltage in a living brain using electrodes attached to key positions on the person’s head; this technique has proved to be particularly important for sleep-research (and thus also for research on dream-telepathy), where characteristic brain waves have been identified and related to the successive stages of sleep. [From the Greek enkephalos, “the brain,” derived from en, “within,” + kephale, “the head,” + graphein, “to write”]
ELECTRONIC VOICE PHENOMENA (EVP)
Phenomena first reported by Raymond Bayless and popularized by Konstantin Raudive, consisting of sounds said to be the faint voices of deceased individuals, recorded on previously
unused magnetic tapes.
See Extrasensory Perception.
A special deck of cards, developed by perceptual psychologist Karl Zener for use by J. B. Rhine in tests of extrasensory perception: a standard pack contains 25 cards, each portraying one of five symbols — circle, cross, square, star or wavy lines. Also called Zener cards.
EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Expression coined by Rhea White (see, for example, 1994, p. 5) as “an umbrella term for many types of experience generally considered to be psychic, mystical, encounter-type experiences, death-related experiences, and experiences at the upper end of the normal range, such as creative inspiration, exceptional human performance, as in sports, literary and aesthetic experiences, and the experience of falling in love.”
An experimental outcome which results not from manipulation of the variable of interest per se, but rather from some aspect of the particular experimenter’s behavior, such as unconscious communication to the subjects, or possibly even a psi-mediated effect working in accord with the experimenter’s desire to confirm some hypothesis.
EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION (ESP)
The acquisition of information about, or response to, an external event, object or influence (mental or physical; past, present or future) otherwise than through any of the known sensory channels; used by J. B. Rhine to embrace such phenomena as telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition; there is some difference of opinion as whether the term ought to be attributed to Rhine, or to Gustav Pagenstecher or Rudolph Tischner, who were using the German equivalent aussersinnliche Wahrehmung as early as the 1920s. [From the Latin extra, “outside of,” + sensory]
See Healing, Psychic.
A personality construct first described by Sheryl Wilson and Theodore Barber (1983, p. 340) to refer to a small percentage of the population “who fantasize a large part of the time, [and] who typically ‘see,’ ‘hear,’ ‘smell,’ ‘touch’ and fully experience what they fantasize”; such persons tend to be able to hallucinate voluntarily, to be excellent hypnotic subjects, to have vivid memories of their life experiences, and to report experiencing parapsychological phenomena.
Term referring to a special type of environment (or the technique for producing it) consisting of homogenous, unpatterned sensory stimulation: audiovisual ganzfeld may be accomplished by placing translucent hemispheres (for example, halved ping-pong balls) over each eye of the subject, with diffused light (frequently red in hue) projected onto them from an external source, together with the playing of unstructured sounds (such as “white” or “pink” noise) into the ears, and generally with the person in a state of bodily comfort; the consequent deprivation of patterned sensory input is said to be conducive to introspection of inwardly-generated impressions, some of which may be extra-sensory in origin. [From the German for “entire field”]
The use of the word “manual” refers to the fact that the target selection is carried out by manual access to computer or random number tables as well as the fact that all the important events in the experiment are recorded by hand. Consequently, the technique has limited safeguards against fraud or data selection compared with the autoganzfeld.
An implementation of the ganzfeld technique in which many of the key procedural details, such as selection and presentation of the target and the recording of the evaluation of the target-response similarity given by the percipient are fully automated and computerized, the goal being to reduce as far as possible errors and sensory communication on the part of the human participants.
The ability to bend metal by paranormal means; named after the Israeli stage performer Uri Geller, who was the first person to claim publicly the metal-bending ability; the term has been largely superseded by “PK-MB,” or, more simply, “metal-bending.” See also Mini-Geller; Psychokinesis.
GENERAL EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION (GESP)
A non-committal technical term used to refer to instances of extrasensory perception in which the information paranormally acquired may have been derived either from another person’s mind (that is, as telepathy), or from a physical event or state of affairs (that is, as clairvoyance), or even from both sources; experimental parapsychologists rarely use the term “telepathy” because of the difficulty, in tests of so-called telepathy, of excluding the possible operation of clairvoyance.
As popularly used, this term denotes only the apparition of a deceased person, and is not sufficiently precise for use in psychical research. [Ashby, 1972]
Speaking in “tongues,” that is, in a language which is either unknown to linguistic science, or completely fabricated; it usually occurs in a religious context or is attributed to religious inspiration, as from the Holy Spirit; not to be confused with xenoglossy. [From the Greek glossa, “tongue, language,” + lalia, “chat, gossip, talking,” derived from lalein, “to make an inarticulate sound”]
Term originally used by Gertrude Schmeidler (1943) to describe a subject who rejects the possibility that extrasensory perception could occur under the conditions of the given experimental situation; this somewhat narrow meaning has been extended to refer also, or alternatively, to persons who do not believe in the existence of ESP in general (that is, under any conditions!), or even to persons who obtain low scores on various so-called “projective,” “scalar” or “checklist” measures of belief in (and/or experience of) different sorts of putative psi phenomena. Compare Sheep. See Sheep-Goat Effect.
An experience having the same phenomenological characteristics as a sense-perception,and which may lead the experient to suppose the presence of an external physical object as the cause of that experience, but in which, in fact, there is no such object present.
The more or less regular occurrence of paranormal phenomena associated with a particular locality (especially a building) and usually attributed to the activities of a discarnate entity; the phenomena may include apparitions, poltergeist disturbances, cold drafts, sounds of steps and voices, and various odors.
Healing apparently brought about by such non-medical means as prayer, the “laying on of hands,” Psychic healing; immersion at a religious shrine, and so on, and inexplicable according to contemporary medical science; not to be confused with merely unconventional medicine.
Term referring to the transitional state of consciousness experienced while falling asleep, sometimes characterized by vivid hallucinations or imagery of varying degrees of bizarreness; sometimes used to refer also to the similar state of awareness experienced during the process of waking up. Compare Hypnopompic State. [From the Greek hypnos, “sleep,” + agogos, “leading”]
Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to the transitional state of consciousness experienced while waking from sleep; the term “hypnagogic” is sometimes used to refer to this state also. [From the Greek hypnos, “sleep,” + pompos, “escort, guide”]
A condition or state, commonly resembling sleep, which is accompanied by narrowing of the range of attention, is characterized by marked susceptibility to suggestion, and can be artificially induced.
Somewhat ill-defined term referring to the faculty of coming to an idea directly, by means other than those of reasoning and intellect, and indeed often outside of all conscious processes; the source of these messages is often said to be in the normal, mundane, unconscious, but it is often also said to be the result of mystical or paranormal processes. The word sometimes refers to the process, sometimes to the product of intuition. [From the Latin intueri, “to look at, contemplate”]
The process whereby a rating or a rank-score (that is, “1st,” “2nd,” “3rd,” and so on) is awarded to one or more responses produced (or targets used) in a free-response test of extrasensory perception, in accordance with the degree of correspondence obtaining between them or one or more targets (or responses); also, the attempt to match, under blind conditions, a set of targets with a set of responses.
A type of high-voltage, high-frequency photography, developed in the Soviet Union by Semyon Davidovich Kirlian, which records on photographic film the so-called “corona discharge” of an object caused by ionization of the field surrounding that object; it is claimed by some that this process indicates the existence of hitherto unknown radiations or energy fields such as “bioplasma” or the “psychic aura.”
The raising or suspension of persons or objects into the air without any apparent agency as required by known physical laws of motion and gravity.
A dream in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that they are dreaming.
The paranormal production of light phenomena, generally in the presence of certain physical mediums.
See under Psychokinesis.
A phenomenon of physical mediumship in which living entities or inanimate objects are caused to take form, sometimes from ectoplasm. Compare Dematerialization.
A broad term embracing a number of techniques for achieving various altered states of awareness, with some of these altered states resulting in the ecstatic qualities of so-called “peak experience;” most meditative techniques are ways of learning to still the agitation of the mind so that more subtle and valuable aspects of self and reality may be perceived; some techniques involve concentration, in which attention is focused on a particular object and restrained from wandering, while others involve giving one’s total attention to whatever spontaneously happens, with no attempt to control or focus attention.
A predominantly Spiritualistic term applied to a person who regularly, and to a greater or lesser extent at will, is involved in the production of psi in the form mental and/or physical phenomena. See also Communicator; Control; Sensitive; Trance; Apport; Ectoplasm; Levitation.
The practice of simulating telepathy, performed for the purpose of entertainment.
The original term for what has since become known as “hypnotism,” named after the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1733-1815), who believed that it involved the transfer from operator to patient of a subtle fluid, force or energy known as “animal magnetism.”
See Psychokinetic Metal-bending.
Anglicization of a French term coined by Charles Richet as an alternative designation for the subject matter of parapsychology. [From the Greek meta, indicating change of condition, + psychikos, “of the soul, mental”]
See under Psychokinesis.
A child or young person who can to some extent duplicate by paranormal means the metal-bending feats of Uri Geller. See also Geller Effect.
A phenomena which mimics telepathy, in which a person is able, for example, to find a hidden object by means of physical contact with the person who knows its whereabouts, probably due to subtle muscular cues that the latter provides unconsciously; also known as “Cumberlandism,” after Stuart Cumberland, a nineteenth century practitioner of this art.
An experience which, according to Michael A. Thalbourne (1991a, 1991b), consists of a majority of the following features: it tends to be sudden in onset, joyful, and difficult to verbalize; it involves a sense of perceiving the purpose of existence; an insight into “the harmony of things;” a perception of an ultimate unity — of oneness; transcendence of the ego; an utter conviction of immortality; and it tends to be temporary, authoritative and to be attributed supreme value. Some people interpret the mystical experience as an experience of unity with
See Near-Death Experience.
A person who has undergone a near-death experience.
NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE (NDE)
Term applied to experiences undergone by persons who either seem to be at the point of death (or who are even formally declared dead) but then recover, or who narrowly escape death (as in a motor car accident) without being seriously injured; it has been suggested that there is, upon coming close to death, a “core” NDE made up of certain common elements, such as a feeling of indescribable peace, a sense of being out of one’ s body, a movement into a dark void or down a tunnel, seeing a brilliant light, and entering that light; there may also be reported the experience of so-called “panoramic memory” (the “life review”), the encountering of an “unseen presence,” or being greeted by deceased relatives or religious figures.
See Out-of-[the]-Body Experience.
A person who undergoes an out-of-[the]-body
Term referring to certain reputed sciences and practices such as magic, astrology, witchcraft, sorcery, and so on, involving esoteric knowledge or the employment of mysterious agencies; not to be confused with scientific parapsychology. [From the Latin occultus, “covered over, concealed”]
A device consisting of a board marked with words, alphabetical letters and numerals,together with a smaller board on three legs, one of which serves as a pointer; the device is employed to spell out messages, answers, and so on, by having the fingers of one or more persons rest lightly upon the pointer, which moves over the larger board and stops at the various markings; some of these messages may be extrasensory in origin. Nowadays an upturned glass is frequently used to spell out messages. [From the French oui + German ja, both meaning “yes”]
OUT-OF-[THE]-BODY EXPERIENCE (OBE, OR OOBE)
An experience, either spontaneous or induced, in which one’s center of consciousness seems to be in a spatial location outside of one’s physical body; Celia Green distinguishes two types of such “ecsomatic” [From the Greek ek, “out of,” + soma, “body”] experiences: the “parasomatic” [From the Greek para, “along side of”] in which the person appears to themselves to possess a duplicate body, sometimes connected to the physical body by a “silver cord;” and the “asomatic” [From the Greek a-, “without”] in which they feel themselves to be entirely bodiless; in either case, many experients claim to perceive their physical bodies lying inert, to see and hear people while remaining unperceived themselves, and to perceive objects and events normally beyond the range of their physical senses; of special interest to parapsychologists on account of its alleged connection with clairvoyance, and to students of survival as providing an example of what disembodied existence could be like. The term “OBE” is preferred by parapsychologists for the phenomena also known as “astral projection,” “traveling clairvoyance.”
See also Astral Body. [Dale & White, 1977]
Term coined by Hornell Hart to refer to a type of OBE in which the person “projecting” their consciousness out of their body actually feels that they are out of their body, may be seen by other people at a distant point, and afterwards reports a veridical description of what he or she observed at that point.
Term applied to any phenomenon which in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible on current scientific assumptions; often used as a synonym for “psychic,” “parapsychological,” “attibutable to psi,” or even “miraculous” (although shorn of religious overtones). [From the Greek para, “beside, beyond,” + normal]
Pertaining to paraphysics; synonym for “psychokinetic.”
Involving or pertaining to parapsychology or paranormal processes.
Term coined in German by Max Dessoir (1889) and adopted by J. B. Rhine in English to refer to the scientific study of paranormal or ostensibly paranormal phenomena, that is, psi; except in Britain, the term has largely superseded the older expression “psychical research;” used by some to refer to the experimental approach to the field. [From the Greek para, “beside, beyond,” + psychology, derived from the Greek psyche, “soul, mind,” + logos “rational discussion”]
A process in which a hypnotized person is mentally “taken back” (or “regressed”) by the hypnotist to one or more apparent previous life-times, thus suggesting reincarnation.
Broadly speaking, someone who perceives or who has a perception-like experience, in particular, the person who experiences or “receives” an extrasensory influence or impression; also one who is tested for ESP ability. Compare Agent. [From the Latin percipiens (percipientis), derived from percipere, “to receive, understand”]
Any hallucinatory sensory impression, whatever sense may happen to be affected. See also Apparition; Hallucination. [From the Greek phantasma, “appearance, image, phantom”] [Nash, 1978]
The paranormal production of images on photographic film; also known as “thoughtography,” a term used to describe the experiments of Tomokichi Fukurai (1931) but adopted by Jule Eisenbud to describe the phenomena produced by Ted Serios, as if mental images were “projected” onto the film. See also Thoughtography; Spirit Photography.
A disturbance characterized by bizarre physical effects of paranormal origin, suggesting mischievous or destructive intent: these phenomena include the unexplained movement or breakage of objects, loud raps, the lighting of fires, and occasionally personal injury to people; in contrast to a haunting, the phenomena often seem to depend upon the presence of a particular living individual, called the “focus,” frequently an adolescent or child; and apparitions are rarely seen. [German: literally, “noisy ghost”]
The complete control, by an ostensible discarnate entity, of the body of a living person.
A communication or message said to be from a deceased to a living person, usually delivered through a medium.
A form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some future event that cannot be deduced from normally known data in the present. Compare Retrocognition. [From the Latin præ-, “prior to,” + cognitio, “a getting to know”]
A feeling or impression that something is about to happen, especially something ominous or dire, yet about which no normal information is available. See Precognition. [From the Latin præ, “prior to,” + monitio, “warning”]
A general blanket term, proposed by B. P. Wiesner and seconded by R. H. Thouless (1942), and used either as a noun or adjective to identify paranormal processes and paranormal causation; the two main categories of psi are psi-gamma (paranormal cognition; extrasensory perception)aand psi-kappa (paranormal action; psychokinesis), although the purpose of the term “psi” is to suggest that they might simply be different aspects of a single process, rather than distinct and essentially different processes. Strictly speaking “psi” also applies to survival of death. Some thinkers prefer to use “psi” as a purely descriptive term for anomalous outcomes, as suggested by Palmer (1986, p. l39), who defines it as “a correspondence between the cognitive or physiological activity of an organism and vents in its external environment that is anomalous with respect to generally accepted basic limiting principles of nature such as those articulated by C. D. Broad.” [From the Greek, psi, twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; from the Greek psyche, “mind, soul”]
Favorable to, or facilitative of, the occurrence of psi, whether it be manifested as psi-hitting or psi-missing.
The use of psi in such a way that the target at which the subject is aiming is “hit” (that is, correctly responded to, in a test of extrasensory perception; or influenced, in a test of psychokinesis), more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating; the term is also sometimes used, misleadingly, to refer merely to non-significant positive scoring. Hence, “psi-hitter,” a subject who exhibits a tendency to psi-hit. Compare Psi-Missing. [Abbreviated to Ψ H by James Carpenter]
The use of psi in such a way that the target at which the subject is aiming is “missed” (that is, responded to incorrectly, in a test of extrasensory perception; or influenced in a direction contrary to aim, in a test of psychokinesis) more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating; the term is also sometimes used, misleadingly, to refer simply to non-significant negative scoring. Hence, “psi-misser,” a subject who displays a tendency to psi-miss. Compare Psi-Hitting. [Abbreviated to Ψ M by James Carpenter]
Any event which results from, or is an instance of, the operation of psi; examples are the forms of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.
As a noun, “psychic” refers to an individual who possesses psi ability of some kind and to a relatively high degree; as an adjective, it is nowadays applied to paranormal events, abilities, research, and so on, and thus means “concerning or involving psi,” or “parapsychological.” [From the Greek psychikos, “of the soul, mental,” derived from psyche, “soul, mind”]
The original term for “parapsychology,” still widely used, especially in Britain.
Archeological research which is pursued with the assistance of a sensitive or other source of paranormal information.
See Healing, Psychic.
See Photography, Paranormal.
A form of psychic healing practiced particularly in the Philippines, in which diseased tissue are said to be removed without the use of surgical instruments, and bleeding, infection, and the like, are inhibited paranormally. The term is also used of surgery in which the surgeon operates while in a trance, as performed by J. Arigo and other Brasilian exponents of this pratice, usu-ally using unsterilized knives as scalpels.
Paranormal action; term coined by Henry Holt and adopted by J. B. Rhine to refer to the direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy. See also Psi-Kappa under Psi; Retroactive PK; Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis. [From the Greek psyche, “mind, soul,” + kinesis, “a moving, disturbance,” derived from kinein, “to set in]
PSYCHOKINETIC METAL-BENDING (PK-MB)
A psychokinetic effect in which metallic objects such as keys, cutlery and so on are subjected to more or less permanent deformation or other structural change.
Term coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan (1893)to refer to the practice in which sensitives hold an object in their hands and obtain paranormal information about the object or its owner; owing to the confusion with a psychological term, “psychometry” has in recent years been superseded by “token-object reading.” [From the Greek psyche, “soul, mind,” + metrein, “to measure”]
Czech term for “parapsychology” (excluding the study of survival), but embracing certain phenomena that are not now generally accepted as parapsychological. According to Larissa Vilenskaya (1983, p. 107), the term was first proposed with the analogy of “bionics” in mind, to refer to “ the field dealing with the construction of devices capable of enhancing and/or reproducing certain psi phenomena (such as psychokinesis in the case of ‘psychotronic generators’ developed by Robert Pavlita) and later embraced some other phenomena.” [Dale & White, 1977]
(i) Any test for extrasensory perception which uses target material and forms of response which do not allow a definite probability-value to be attached to the response items made; examples are most free-response tests, tests of psychometry, mediumistic utterances, and so on; statistical evaluation of such data must therefore proceed in an indirect fashion, by assigning a probability-value to the matching-performance of a judge; (ii) Any attempt to demonstrate qualitative phenomena. Compare Quantitative Experiment. [Ultimately derived from the Latin qualis, “what kind of?”]
Any test for psi which uses targets each of which has a specific prescribed value for the probability of its occurrence; such a test therefore allows for direct statistical evaluation of the results obtained. See also Forced-Choice Test. Compare Qualitative Experiment. [Ultimately derived from the Latin quantus, “how great, how much?”]
A term which has largely supplanted “radiæsthesia” in English usage.
RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR (RNG)
An apparatus (typically electronic) incorporating an element (based on such processes as radioactive decay or random “noise”) and capable of generating a random sequence of outputs; used in tests of psi for generating target sequences, and in tests of psychokinesis may itself be the target system which the subject is required to influence, that is, by “biasing” the particular number or event output; a binary RNG has two equally-probable outputs; the term “RNG” is increasingly being used to refer to any system which produces naturally random outputs, such as bouncing dice, radioactive decay, or even, perhaps, the brain.
Percussive sounds, often tapping out an intelligible message, sometimes said to be produced by paranormal means.
RAUDIVE VOICE PHENOMENA
See Electronic Voice Phenomena.
The statements made by a sensitive (or as a result of the process of divination) in the course of an attempt to obtain paranormal information or “messages.”
An expression which is less technical than “percipient,” used to indicate the subject designated as the “recipient” of telepathic information. Compare Sender.
RECURRENT SPONTANEOUS PSYCHOKINESIS (RSPK)
Expression coined by William G. Roll to refer to paranormal physical effects which occur repeatedly over a period of time, especially used as a neutral description of poltergeist disturbances. See also Psychokinesis.
A form of survival in which the human soul, or some aspects of self, is, after the death of the body, reborn into a new body, this process being repeated throughout many lives. See also Rebirth. [From the Latin re-, “again,” + in- “into,” + caro (carnis), “flesh”]
A neutral term for general extrasensory perception introduced Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff (1974), especially in the context of an experimental design in which a percipient attempts to describe the surroundings of a geographically distant agent.
ASSOCIATIONAL REMOTE VIEWING (ARV)
As described by Targ (1983), a form of remote viewing in which the area where a desired item might be located is divided up into a finite number of discrete locations; each of the possible locations, or addresses, is associated or
linked with a laboratory-based token object or picture (such as of the Golden Gate Bridge); the viewer is then asked to describe the associated target-object thereby indirectly choosing a particular target-location or address.
Psychokinesis occurring in such a way as to be an instance of retroactive causation; to say that event A was caused by retroactive PK is to say that A would not have happened in the way that it did had it not been for a later PK effort exerted so as to influence it. Sometimes abbreviated to “retro-PK;” also referred to as “backward PK” or “time-displaced PK.”
Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to a form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means. Compare Precognition [From the Latin retro, “backward, behind,” + cognitio, “a getting to know”]
An apparition of a deceased person. [From the French revenir, ultimately derived from the Latin revenire, “to come back”]
See Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis.
A technique for obtaining paranormal impressions by staring into a crystal ball, pool of water, coffee grounds, tea leaves and so on, which causes the practitioner to experience images or exteriorized hallucinations. [Variant of descry]
A meeting of one or more persons, generally, but not always, with a medium, for the purpose of eliciting physical phenomena and/or for receiving communications from the deceased; the term has also been used without Spiritualistic connotations, that is, to refer to the purpose of getting together to observe phenomena, without the intent to communicate with the dead. Also called a “sitting” or “session.” [From the French, derived from the Old French seoir, “to sit,” ultimately derived from the Latin sedere, “to sit”]
Concept used in the Celtic folklore of the supernatural,
and encompassing what would today be referred to as “psychic ability.” Also sometimes called “deuteroscopy.” [From the Greek deuteros, “second,” + skopia, derived from skopein, “to look at”]
Less technical expression than “agent,” used to denote the person or subject designated as the “transmitter” of telepathic information. Compare Receiver.
A person who frequently experiences extrasensory perception and who can sometimes induce it at will. Compare Medium.
A tribal medium, witch-doctor, or priest accredited with supernatural powers as originally exemplified by Siberian tribes. [From the German Schamane, derived from the Russian shaman, derived from Tungusic samân]
Term originally used by Gertrude Schmeidler 1943) to describe a subject who does not reject the possibility that extrasensory perception could occur under the conditions of the given experimental situation; this somewhat narrow mean-ing has been extended to refer also, tentatively, to persons who believe that ESP exists as a genuine phenomenon, or even to persons who obtain high scores on various so-called “projective,” “scalar,” or “checklist” measures of belief in (and/or experience of) different sorts of putative psi phenomena. Compare Goat. See also Sheep-Goat Effect. [Taken from the New Testament simile, Matthew 25: 31-33: “But when the Son of Man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory; and before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”]
SUPER-SHEEP (OR WHITE SHEEP)
Term introduced by John Beloff and David Bate (1970) to describe a subject who is sure that their score on a test of
extrasensory perception will be high, by virtue of their own psychic ability.
SHEEP-GOAT EFFECT (SGE)
Term first used by Gertrude Schmeidler to describe the relationship between acceptance of the possibility of extrasensory perception occurring under the given experimental conditions, and the level of scoring actually achieved on that ESP test: subjects who do not reject the possibility (“sheep”) tend to score above chance, those rejecting the possibility (“goats”) at or below chance; the terms “sheep” and “goat” are nowadays often used in a more extended sense, and “sheep-goat effect” may thus refer to any significant scoring difference between these two groups as defined by the experimenter.
A person who sits with a medium at a seance and who receives a communication through the medium.
As defined by Kenneth Batcheldor (1984, p. 105), “a small, semi-informal group that seeks to develop paranormal physical phenomena by meeting repeatedly under conditions that resemble those of a Victorian seance. No spiritistic assumptions are made, however, and the phenomena — such as rapping noises and levitation of tables — insofar as they may be paranormal are interpreted in terms of the PK abilities of the sitters.”
A session or interview with a medium, generally by an individual or a small number of people, and often for the purpose of obtaining communications from the deceased; also termed a “seance.”
ABSENT (OR PROXY) SITTING
A sitting at which the person desiring to receive a communication via a medium absents themselves from the actual sitting and is represented by another person,
called a “proxy sitter.”
See Dermo-Optical Perception.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
See Glossolalia; Xenoglossy.
A discarnate entity.
The theory that individual consciousness survives the death of the body in the form of a spirit, and that it may be communicated with by living persons, especially via a medium. Compare Survival.
The photographing of supposed self-portraits of discarnate entities (called “extras”) upon film or photographic plates. Compare Photography, Paranormal.
Quasi-religious cult based upon the belief that survival of death is a reality, and upon the practice of communicating with deceased persons, usually via a medium.
A discrete incident of ostensible spontaneous psi.
Term used to refer to the marks or hæmorrhages which appear spontaneously on the surface of the body in imitation of the wounds believed to have been received by Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion; sometimes observed on the bodies of certain devout individuals, and may also be induced by auto-suggestion or under hypnosis. [Plural of the Greek stigma, “puncture, mark, spot”]
Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to events occurring beneath the “threshold” of conscious awareness. [From the Latin sub, “below, under,” + limen (liminus), “threshold”]
A theological and folkloristic term for paranormal, generally avoided by parapsychologists because of its implication that psi is somehow “outside of” or “over and above” nature.
A belief that a given action can bring good luck or bad luck when there are no rational or generally acceptable grounds for such a belief.
Continued existence of the consciousness of the individual person in some form and for at least some time after the destruction of their physical body; life-after-death; not to be considered synonymous with “immortality,” which implies unending existence. See also Reincarnation; Spirit Hypothesis.
Term coined by Carl Jung (with Wolfgang Pauli, 1955) to refer to the occurrence of acausal but meaningful coincidences. [From the Greek synchronos, derived from synchronizein, “to be contemporary with,” derived from syn-, “with,” + chronos, “time”]
A form of motor automatism in which several persons place their finger-tips on a table top, causing it to move and rap out messages by means of a code. Also called “table tipping” or “table turning.” [Dale & White, 1977]
A set of playing-cards first used in Italy in the fourteenth century, consisting of a series of 22 cards bearing figures (21 of them being numbered) and referred to as the “Major Arcanum,” together with a set of 56 cards (in four suits)constituting the “Minor Arcanum,” forming a pack of 78 cards.
Older term for “psychokinesis,” coined by Alexander Aksakof (1895/1890), and still preferred in the former USSR; Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. [From the Greek tele, “far away,” + kinesis, “a moving, disturbance,” derived from kinein, “to set in motion”]
Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to the paranormal acquisition of information concerning the thoughts, feelings or activity of another conscious being; the word has superseded earlier expressions such as “thought-transference.” See also General Extrasensory Perception. [From the Greek ele, “far away,” + pathein, “to have suffered, been affected by something”]
An instance of telepathy in which there seems to be a time lag between the agent’s attempt to transmit the target, and the percipient’s awareness of that target.
The paranormal acquisition of information concerning the future mental state of another conscious being.
In general, any school of thought claiming to have special insight into the nature of God; specifically, the religious and philosophical doctrines of the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 in New York by Madame Helene Petrova
Blavatsky based on Hindu and Buddhist notions, it taught the conscious development of paranormal abilities, and belief in reincarnation. [From the Greek theos, “God,” + sophia, “wisdom”]
See Photography, Paranormal.
A state of dissociation in which the individual is oblivious to their situation and surroundings, and in which various forms of automatism may be expressed; usually exhibited under hypnotic, mediumistic or shamanistic conditions. [From the Old French transe, “passage,” ultimately derived from the Latin transire, “to go across”]
See Communicator; Control.
Term introduced by Michael A. Thalbourne (1991a), meaning literally “the tendency to cross the threshold into awareness.” Persons exhibiting a high degree of transliminality are more likely to believe in, and claim experience of, paranormal phenomena, as well as to report more magical ideation, a more creative personality, more mystical experience, greater religiosity and more fantasy-proneness, as well as a history of experience resembling clinical depression and mania. Therefore, transliminality is defined as “susceptibility to, and awareness of, large volumes of imagery, ideation and emotion — these phenomena being stimulated by subliminal, supraliminal and/or external inputs.” [From the Latin trans, “across, beyond,” + limen (liminis), “threshold”]
See Healing, Psychic.
Truthful; corresponding to, or conveying fact. [From the Latin veridicus, derived from verum, “truth” + dicere, “to say”]
See Electronic Voice Phenomena.
See Automatic Writing.
Term coined by Charles Richet (1905) to denote the act of speaking in a language ostensibly unknown to the speaker. To be distinguished from glossolalia. [From the Greek xenos, “foreign, alien,” + glossa, “language”]
The original name given to the ESP cards; named after the perceptual psychologist Karl Zener, a colleague of Rhine’s, who apparently suggested the symbols to be used on the cards (circle, cross, square, star, and wavy lines).
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