Saturday, October 18, 2008

Profiling the Psychic

So now, the question is “What kind of a person is psychic?” From the beginning of the popular use of personality tests in the 1940’s psychologists have been trying to find the answer to this question. What type of a person, what kind of a mind sees the future in dreams, or hears warnings from voices, or senses the presence of spirits? The answer is beginning to take shape.

In earlier postings to this blog I have detailed much of what has been found. Psychics are able to keep their cool in the mist of confusion. They are creative and many of the artists of all kinds have had psychic experiences to tell. At the time of their psychic flashes a person is self confident and sure of themselves. A psychic is typically a person who is in the mood to reach out and include people in their lives, extroverted. Quite often a feeling of disassociation accompanies a psychic experience. Yet psychic ability also is accompanied by a greater than average stability. And finally those who do will on ESP tests are observed to be in the more spontaneous group. All of these traits are considered “Socially desirable” by our society. Yet people in our society continue to have problems when they reveal their psychic ability. As we can see by the results of a Gallop Poll. Though 73% believed in one of the list of “paranormal items” including witches and astrology. When individual paranormal beliefs were tallied they found that, for instance, only 41% of those interviewed believed in ESP.

One of the most interesting things about the personality profile that has been drawn up in the “typical psychic” is that it also seems to fit the “typical entertainer.” I like to occasionally use some incident reported by entertainers because I can also easily find biographical information about them. It is easy to find quite a few incidents. Dick Kleiner, the Hollywood columnist said, “A surprisingly large percentage did have a tale to tell me (about their psychic experiences). I estimated that 75% of the show business people I have interviewed claim they have ESP in varying degrees.”

There are two main areas of research into “parapsychology,” as the broad study is called. There is the gathering and analysis of incidents telepathy, dreaming the future, ghosts, etc.; then there are the researchers who attempt to bring these psychic things into the laboratory. Case histories, or spontaneous psychic phenomena are the best type to study in order to chart the hidden depths of the unconscious.

Spontaneous psychic phenomena are the things that have come without our asking. The dictionary defines spontaneous as “arising from a momentary impulse not apparently contrived nor manipulated.” And things that show a person to be psychic show him to be “sensitive to nonphysical or supernatural forces and influences.” By “non- physical” we mean “not within our present understanding of the physical or natural.” Of course, these are only apparently uncontrived or manipulated and much of what interests me is the mental activity involved.

What has been called “extrasensory perception” I find is simply a sensory perception, but one that is only used occasionally; and one has resisted easy study. So spontaneous psychic events will tell us about the activities in the person’s mind that will govern the emergence of these rarely used senses.
Kleiner, Dick. “The Ghost Who Danced with Kim Novak.” New York: Ace Publishing Corp., 1969.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spontaneous Psychic

As I have warned before attempts to understand human behavior by using personality tests have limited validity. It can be an aid but we should not rely too heavily on them. At best, they tell what mood the person was in when they took the test. But again sometimes that is just what we need to know. As I said in earlier blogs those personality tests that were given along with some test of a group’s psychic ability may be very useful in understanding what made a psychic event happen in the mind of someone.

Attempts to measure spontaneity with ordinary written tests have not been very successful, at best you get that person’s self image which may not be what is seen by others. Still this has been studied by a number of parapsychologists. Ways have been devised to define and measure spontaneity. One test was done by Drs. Alan C. Ross, Gardner Murphy, and Gertrude R. Schmeidler. They tested grade school children between the ages of 4 and eight-and-a-half for ESP. Then the judges divided the children into two groups: one was “spontaneous” the other group wasn’t. The judges were psychologists and teachers.

Spontaneity was defined as, “a quality which is found in the young child before he becomes encrusted by the habits of social routine and invention. It is shown a wholehearted, fresh, and unconstrained approach to life situation. A zestful, fluid approach and usually an unreflective originality are considered attributes of the spontaneous individual.”

They found a high degree of correlation between their various estimates of which child was and was not spontaneous, so it is reasonable to assume that there is such a thing as spontaneity, and that they all knew it when they saw it. There were only thirty students used yet they had correlation with high ESP and high spontaneity. The correlation was P = .06. This was still not the .05 that makes for a “marginally significant” result but they did say, “it was concluded that the highly spontaneous subjects seem to have a tendency to score higher in ESP than the less spontaneous subjects and that this was especially true in the spontaneity-favoring situation.

One of the possible tests is the Factor R on the Gifford Inventory used by Nicol and Humphrey. They call it “Rhathymia” and describe those who score high as “happy-go-lucky types.” It gave a P = .05 correlation. But not every attempt at duplicating this was successful. Some tests have attempted to find out who reacts to projects in an uninhibited way, occasionally these scores correlated significantly with psi ability.

“Adequate spontaneity” is one of the measures that a psychologist will consider important for a normal person, it is good. So again we find that what is considered a good personality factor will also be seen at the time a person is psychic.

Yet, it can lead to “impulsiveness.” Many tranquilizing drugs inhibit spontaneity. Impulsive people say things they are sorry for later, or they may behave immorally on an impulse and cause embarrassment to themselves or others sometimes. Impulsiveness is not good. But where do we draw the line between spontaneity and impulsiveness? To answer that we must take a larger view. What goals you are working toward? What behavior does your society need?
Ross, A.O.; Murphy, G.; and Schmeidler, G.R. 1952. The spontaneity factor in extrasensory perception. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 46: 14-16.

Nicol, J. F., Humphrey, B.W. 1955. The repeatability problem in ESP personality research. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 49: 125-156.