Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Atlantic University
Satwant Pasricha published a paper entitled “Relevance of Para-psychology in Psychiatric Practice” in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (2011, 53(1): 4-8. Available in text form here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056186/).
She writes: “There may be phenomenological similarities between parapsychological experiences and psychiatric conditions. However, with adequate knowledge and training a detailed evaluation would show that the two conditions are entirely different and require different management strategies.”
“I shall not go into the amount of evidence available on paranormal phenomena; it is beyond the scope of the present article. Suffice it to say that enough evidence is available on the authenticity of the phenomena to understand its relevance to psychiatry. Independent surveys of general populations have shown that between 10% and 15% of persons reported having had communications from persons not in contact with them; perception of such communications generally occurs in visual or auditory modalities. Such visions usually occur during an altered state of consciousness (dozing or daydreaming) and the person perceived is usually a close relative or a friend in a crisis or stressful situation, often in a life-threatening situation. Some of the persons having such experiences may be confused or perplexed. A psychiatrist who is not at least open-minded about the possibility of paranormal experiences will almost certainly be unable to distinguish psychopathological from paranormal and equally unable to assist the occasional person who is perplexed about unusual experiences that he would like to report and discuss with someone outside his family.”
“Just as the diagnosis of a major depressive episode would not be given when depressive symptoms result from normal, uncomplicated bereavement, so too paranormal experiences and their effects should not be viewed as evidence of a mental disorder, but rather as normal reactions to stress . . . A number of articles and chapters concerning parapsychological experiences and psychiatric disorders have been published in journals and textbooks.”
Pasricha concluded her article listing ways in which parapsychology is relevant to psychiatry. The field, she said, could provide us with knowledge to differentiate the psychic from the abnormal, and thus help us to implement adequate therapies. Furthermore, parapsychology “would enhance understanding of certain medical, psychological and psychiatric disorders that can not be explained in terms of currently available theories of the genetic or environmental influences.” Finally, she stated that we could obtain further knowledge about the mind and brain relationship.
On this topic see:
Coly, L., & McMahon, J. D. S. (Eds.) (1993). Psi and Clinical Practice. New York: Parapsychology Foundation.
Hastings, A. (1983). A counseling approach to parapsychological experience. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 15, 143-167.
Kramer, W.H., Bauer, E., & Hovelmann, G.H. (Eds.). (2012). Perspectives of Clinical Parapsychology: An Introductory Reader. Bunnik, The Netherlands: Stichting Het Johan Borgman Fonds.
Mintz, E. E., with Schmeidler, G.R. (1983). The Psychic Thread: Paranormal and Transpersonal Aspects of Psychotherapy. New York: Human Sciences Press.
Parra, A. (Ed.). (2006). Psicologia de las Experiencias Paranormales. Buenos Aires: Akadia.