What is Parapsychology?
What is Parapsychology? I was recently asked the question what the heck is Metaphysical Parapsychology. Parapsychology is simply the study of things beyond the normal experiences that do not seem to be explainable in terms of everyday understanding or by using known scientific principles. Some will argue that Parapsychology is simply the study of all things paranormal. This is a misconception as not all things considered by some as paranormal are truly paranormal.
Looking back to the late 19th century, many of the early researches of parapsychology were basically interested in phenomena that was directly related to after death experiences. In the 1930's the parapsychology was "coined" to refer specifically to controlled experimental research into other paranormal abilities such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psycho kinesis. In more recent years, parapsychology has broadened the approaches so the distinction between parapsychology and psychic research are near impossible to distinguish. The basic difference is the scientific approach in which the study is approached.
Some of the phenomena that are currently being studied in the parapsychology research are mental phenomena which includes extrasensory perception, telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychometry, precognition and premonitions, remote viewing, mental medium ship, dowsing, past life memories, possession, out of body and near death experiences, apparitions, automatic writing, and xenoglossy. In the physical phenomena examples may include psycho kinesis, physical medium ship, psychic photography, thoughtography, healing modular ties, materialization and dematerialization, and levitation. There are other various studies that are also studied in the parapsychology world such as miracles, lucid dreaming and glossolalia.
What does this really mean? There are three basic kinds of events that there is both scientific and scholarly study that fall into this field of study. They are ESP, mind-matter interaction and survival which are integral with the human experience. Most parapsychologists today expect that as research continues most anomalies will be explained in scientific terms. Although there are some researchers that believe that existing science can explain away many of the phenomena anomalous. Parapsychology is not the study of astrology, searching for bizarre creatures, paganism, alchemy or looking for UFO's. Due to the fact many in the Metaphysical realm in fact have close relations with many other psychic studies and beliefs some link parapsychology with paranormal investigators or psychic practitioners. That is not what a parapsychologists does.
The major interest in the scientific world comes from the implication that there may be a misunderstanding about space and time. More importantly we may have a gross misunderstanding about the transmission of energy and information. The understanding of how we sense the world in changing. Psychologists are taking interest in parapsychology for the implications that it has on the nature of perception and memory. The role of the mind in the physical world and the nature of the objective verse the subjective of how energy plays in the manifestation of health are the basis of many of the paraphysciological studies.
There is also a venue of parapsychologist that focus on the materialistic perspective of study. Human consciousness is a by product of the human system. It is completely dependent on the functioning of the brain and the human nervous system. When either the brain or the nervous system dies, so does human consciousness.
With the understanding of how the current laws of science work, it was the assumption that phenomena such as out of body experiences or psi can happen. Yet since the recorded times, phenomena have occurred and continue to occur. Since it seems that psi phenomena transcend all limits of material functions as we currently know them, it leads to the interpretation that there is something more to the mind than simply the brain and nervous system. There must be some sort of "soul" that is within the human consciousness. This "soul" or non-physical aspect of the human consciousness does not seem to have the limitations and bounds that all present scientific models require. This simple fact leads us back to spiritual ideas and practices. With the state of research currently, parapsychology is a long way from proving any specific religious doctrines.
It is important to emphasize that not all parapsychologist are looking for the implications of findings on spiritual concepts. All though spiritual agenda's are not the sole objective of every parapsychologist, it is the reason why even the serious investigators that are drawn to parapsychology tend to have diverse backgrounds.
This is by no means a complete listing of what parapsychology is and isn't. However, it is my hope that it will answer many of the questions that people have asked in a general enough way that they have a better understanding of the term and of what a Metaphysician Parapsychologist does.
A majority of the studies in Para psychological phenomena are those which "blur" the line between mind and matter. The phenomena that know no limitations of boundaries in space or time. Extra-sensory perception is an event that allows a person to obtain information about events that they can not possible know about using their normal senses. This would include subset studies in telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and presentiment. Clairvoyance is the study of remote viewing which obtains information about remote locations again beyond the use of normal senses. Precognition or premonition is the study of how one obtains information about future events such as dreaming.
Presentiment is where physiological parameters may change prior to the application of a stimulus. Basically a person on an unconscious level the person knew what was coming before it occurred. Telepathy, near death experience, out of body experience, reincarnation, and place memory. The largest area studied is psycho kinesis or mind-matter interaction. This is the direct mental interaction with physical objects which are both animate or inanimate.
There are a variety of practical applications from the study of mind - matter phenomena. The studies of direct mental interaction with any living systems suggest that traditional mental healing techniques may actually be of a higher scientific value than skeptics believe. In future research the studies to develop enhanced methods of healing based solely on the mind - matter phenomena are near endless.