Telepathy: Concepts, criteria and consequences


The psychiatrist discussing the problem of telepathy can proceed Mong one of two lines. He can give a condensed survey of recent work in the field; he can amass clinical and experimental evidence, quote statistical data, standard deviations and critical ratios--in short he can try to make the case for the reMity of telepathy as eonvinoing as possible. Such an approach may, however, leave the problem suspended in mid-Mr, without tying together loose ends or trying to arrive at meaningful generalizations from the facts reviewed. But one can approach the problem from a different angle. Without giving a mass of unrelated data--seeking to prove the credibility of e:~perimental findings or clinical observations whose faerum evidence has Mready been established by many investigators one can try to assemble the facts within a consistent eonceptuM scheme and to offer a few ideas as to the way in which he thinks they ought to be integrated within our familiar scheme of the universe and, in particular, within our current system o~ dynamic psychology and psychiatry in which they belong. This manner of presentation has been chosen here in the belief that it is not the dearth, or the poor quality, of the available evidence, but the lack of a rationale, which is responsible for the slow progress in the field under review. This does not mean that no steps have been made ~oward developing appropriate coneeptuM tools for dealing with the problem. The trouble is that most such attempts have put the cart before the horse and have been more concerned with the formulation of theories than with the evaluation of the relevant data. The fact is that the first serious investigations into so-cMled telepathic experiences were already based on certain tacitly-implied presuppositions regarding their nature. Telepathy was described in terms of "mind reading" or of "thought transference," transgressing the barriers of space that was supposed to intervene between an alleged "agent" and an alleged "percipient." Or it was assumed that telepathy consists of a transmission in some unaccountable way of such isolated sense data as spe-


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