My Last Blog in this Forum

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Atlantic University

In a recent blog I summarized my work of 2012, consisting of scholarly writings and conference presentations ( Here I present my last comments in this forum since my affiliation with Atlantic University will end at the end of the month.


Carlos S. Alvarado, presenting a paper


I have enjoyed publicizing AU via my convention presentations and published papers and bringing to the institution a connection to the scholarly world. I hope someone else can continue working in this position along the same lines.

Cesare Lombroso

I will continue my research work elsewhere because this work is part of me. Among some publications that will appear later in 2013 are some papers about mediumship. These are a survey of the historical importance of mediumship for psychical research, an overview of qualitative work in the area, thoughts on future mediumship studies, and a discussion of the work of Cesare Lombroso.

Do not fear, this is not the end of my blogging “career.” I will continue to post news about my work, as well as the work of others, and about events of interest in a different forum. I have already received an invitation to blog in the website of a different organization and have other options, such as the blog facilities of the Parapsychological Association, which I have used before.

My thanks to all of you who have supported and expressed interest in my work. I particularly appreciated the comments I received about my end of 2012 blog summarizing my work, which are posted at the end of the blog (

If you wish to contact me my email from now on is

Article about Tibetan Psychic Practices

Carlos S. Alvarado, Atlantic University

Dr. Serena Roney-Dougal

Dr. Serena Roney-Dougal has posted an article entitled “Tibetan Psychic Traditions.” She summarizes the article as follows:

“This article describes the early stages of a research project in India with Tibetan meditation practitioners, looking at the relationship between meditation attainment and psychic awareness. As this is an overview to give a flavour of the psychic traditions of the culture, I shall mention several different traditions quite briefly, rather than give an in-depth account of any one of them. There is very little literature about Tibet’s psychic traditions, so much of what follows is based on interviews with various people.”

The author writes: “Tibetan traditions are a unique mixture of original shamanic Bon practices, Buddhism, which came to Tibet about 1,300 years ago, and Indian Buddhist tantric traditions, which came to Tibet about 1,000 years ago . . . . The psychic aspects of Tibetan tradition primarily date from the pre-Buddhist shamanic period, though they are not inimical to Buddhism per se and so have been extensively incorporated by the monks into their practices.”

In the paper Roney-Dougal has sections about beliefs (Tibetan oracles, Mo divination, meditation), and warnings about psi (fear of sorcery, detrimental effects on one’s spiritual development).

The article is available here:


End of Year Reflections: My 2012 Work

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Atlantic University

Marley’s Ghost Appears to Scrooge.
From Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

“Marley was dead: to begin with . . . Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.” Sorry, I could not resist citing this. Instead of reviewing my life a la Ebenezer Scrooge and focusing on mistakes and negative actions, I am inspired at the end of this year to review my intellectual work as an exercise in self-reflection and positive thinking.

In addition to having moved to new offices for Atlantic University, I am happy to say that 2012 has been a productive year for me. While my position as Scholar in Residence in Atlantic University is not funded to be full-time, I tend to work as if it was for the simple reason that I enjoy what I do. It is great to have the opportunity to devote myself to my work. Atlantic University is supportive of these endeavors mainly by the title of Scholar in Residence, an office with a peaceful environment, a printer, and a nice sense of belonging.

Consequently I have time to devote to writing. I use that time  to focus on articles that I send to many publications, but mainly to refereed journals. Among the latter are the Journal of Scientific Exploration and History of Psychiatry. It is my hope that this work, abstracted in many databases, will help me publicize Atlantic University and to associate the institution with the standard peer-review tradition of academic work.

Let me give you a summary of my work during the last year.


Most of my working time has been spent writing papers. Among those published during 2012 in refereed journals are:

(First author, with N.L. Zingrone). Classic Text No. 90: ‘The Pathology and Treatment of Mediomania’, by Frederic Rowland Marvin (1874). History of Psychiatry, 23, 229-244.

Distortions of the past. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 147-168.

Explorations of the features of out-of-body experiences: An overview and critique of the work of Robert Crookall. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 76, 65-82.

(First author, with R. Evrard). The psychic sciences in France: Historial notes on the Annales des Sciences Psychiques. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 117-140.

(First author, with M. Nahm and A. Sommers). Notes on early interpretations of mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26, 855-865.

As you can see the majority of my work these days is focused on aspects of the history of psychical research. Other than increasing my own knowledge and understanding of the past–which by itself is a powerful motivator–my purpose is to rescue from oblivion the work of our predecessors. For example, the paper entitled “The Psychic Sciences in France,” written with clinical psychologist Renaud Evrard, fulfils this function because it serves as a reminder of the existence and content of the journal Annales des Sciences Psychiques, first published in 1891 ( The article is also an attempt to combat the language barrier, because the French literature is neglected by many current English-language students of psychical research.

Hector Durville

During the current year I published in the Paranormal Review, the magazine of the London-based Society for Psychical Research, the last two papers of a twelve paper series on subtle bodies and out-of-body experiences in which I presented reprints of texts from the old spiritualist and psychical research literatures. These were: “Historical Notes on Doubles and Travelling Spirits: XI. Hector Durville” ( and “Historical Notes on Doubles and Travelling Spirits: XII. Ernesto Bozzano.” In addition two other papers of mine appeared in the Paranormal Review. These were entitled “Introducing and Situating Psychical Research: Eleanor M. Sidgwick’s Perspective” and “Mediumship and Dreams.”

Kylie Harris

I have written other papers about mediumship during the current year that should appear in books published in 2013. “Mediumship and Psychical Research” is an entry for a reference work compiled by Christopher Moreman that will come out next year published by Praeger. The work is entitled: The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World. Another paper, “A Review of Qualitative Mediumship Research,” on which I am second author with Kylie Harris, is destined for another anthology about mediumship scheduled to appear next year.

Ernesto Bozzano

I was also happy to contribute a paper to a special issue of the Italian journal Luce e Ombra prepared to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Ernesto Bozzano, well-known for his bibliographic studies of psychic phenomena ( The paper’s title is “Studiare Ernesto Bozzano: Suggerimenti per Futuri Studi Storici” (Studying Ernesto Bozzano: Suggestions for Future Historical Studies). I recently completed preparing an English-language version of this paper that I plan to submit for publication soon.


Including this one, during 2012 I have posted 61 blogs on various topics. The blogs are centered on parapsychology, with emphasis on historical aspects and on specific research projects appearing mainly in scientific and scholarly journals. Some of this has been my own work, but I have also tried to feature the work of others. On occasion I have also covered some conferences, and my own conference presentations.

I am aware that many will see the blogs as too dry and even boring, but my purpose is not to entertain but to spread around information about serious academic developments that sometimes do not get much publicity. The following are examples of blogs about scientific research:

Psychological Study of Mediums

Poltergeist Article by William G. Roll and Colleagues

Study of Spiritual and Paranormal Experiences

New Experiments by Dean Radin and Colleagues

Pranic Healing Study

As I said before, I particularly enjoy presenting information about various aspects of the history of psychic phenomena. This includes the work of past students of the topic, as well as discussions of books, and the listing of resources through bibliographies, and the presentation of some of the holdings of relevant virtual libraries. Some examples posted during 2012 are:

Digital Libraries with Holdings of the Old Literature-V.

Recent Articles About the History of Mesmerism: 1

Charles Richet and Unconscious Mental Activity

Books From the Past: I. William H. Harrison’s Spirits Before Our Eyes (1879)

Studying the Life and Work of Frederic W.H. Myers


2012 Bial Symposium, Carlos S. Alvarado Presenting

2012 also presented me with the opportunity to participate in three interesting conventions. The first one was the 9th Bial Foundation Symposium on “Sleep and Dreams,” held in Porto, Portugal, in March 28-31. I was invited to participate in a session of papers about “Dreams and Anomalous Cognition.” I presented on “Dream ESP Studies Before Maimonides: An Overview, 1880s-1950s,” in which I reviewed some conceptual discussions and research on the subject published before 1960. I was also an author in a research paper presented at the convention, “Absorption Experiences and their Relationships to Dreams, Imaginary Companions and Parapsychological Experiences,” by Nancy L. Zingrone, myself, and Natasha Agee.

The second convention was held by the Parapsychological Association, in Durham, North Carolina, from August 9th to 12th. I was in charge of the convention program, that is, receiving submissions, selecting referees to evaluate them, and getting back to the submitters either rejecting the paper, or accepting it, usually with requested changes. This means I spent some months working on this before the convention, and then put together the abstracts of the papers accepted for presentation for a booklet and for a Web document (

Dr. William G. Roll

For the same convention I had both the pleasure and the sadness to organize a panel in honor of Dr. William G. Roll, who died recently ( Furthermore I prepared a poster paper about Dr. Roll in which I reviewed some aspects of his use of the old psychical research literature (“Attending to the Past: William G. Roll and the Old Psychical Research Literature”).

I was also an author in a research paper presented as a poster. This was part of Dr. Christine-Simmonds Moore’s research program on the relationship between synesthesia and ESP and other experiences (C. Simmonds-Moore, C.S. Alvarado, and N.L. Zingrone, “The Relationship Between the Synesthesias and Anomalous Experiences”).

Spirit Leaving the Body at Death

The third convention took place at Chesham, Buckinghamshire (near London) between August 24-26. It was organized by the Scientific and Medical Network and was entitled “Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives on the Subtle Body” ( I presented “The Double: Concepts of Subtle Bodies in the Spiritualist and Psychical Research Literatures” (see the abstract in the link above).


I must close hoping that you will forgive my self indulgent inventory of my 2012 work. Perhaps you will accept the excuse that this exercise serves both as a reorganization of old and new goals, and as a reminder of the importance of doing what fulfills you.

My best wishes to those of you who celebrate Christmas, and, with apologies to Dickens and Tiny Tim, good New Year wishes to us, every one!

Theodore Flournoy’s Forgotten Study of Helene Smith

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D., Atlantic University

Theodore Flournoy

Many students of the history of mediumship, the subconscious and psychical research are familiar with the phenomena and investigations of medium Helene Smith, whose real name was Catherine Elise Muller. She was brought to fame by the research of Swiss psychologist Theodore Flournoy, who achieved much prominence both in popular and in psychological circles when it appeared published in a book entitled Des Indes a la Planete Mars: Etude sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie (1900) (translated to English as From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnambulism, 1900). In addition, Flournoy (1901) published a second study of the medium which is much less known, and which is the subject of these comments.

This second study was “Nouvelles Observations sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie” [New Observations about a Case of Somnambulism with Glossolalia], an article of over 150 pages published in the journal Archives de Psychologie in 1901 (see the Appendix below for comments about the date of appearance).

Regardless of reviews of this work in English-language journals by figures such as Joseph Jastrow (1902) and F.C.S. Schiller (1902), this article by Flournoy is not frequently cited in many discussions of Helene Smith published in English. In addition to an introduction and a conclusion section, the article is divided in segments entitled:

*Mlle. Smith After the Publication of Des Indes

*Leopold and the Subconsciousness of Mlle. Smith

*The Astronomical Cycles and Astral Languages

*The Oriental Cycles

*The Royal Cycle and the Barthez Episode

*Regarding the Supernormal

In the article Flournoy stated his conviction about the “good faith of the medium.” He also described the purpose of Des Indes as an attempt to show “how the phenomena of a sincere medium can be explained by subliminal psychic processes . . . .”

According to Flournoy, after the publication of Des Indes the medium went through four phases. The first phase was one of irritation in which the medium resented public discussion in the press and being called an actress. Then came a revival in which she produced new phenomena and was still friendly to Flournoy. During the Americanist phase she started giving seances to admirers, including American ladies. In the last phase, in which she had no interest in science, Flournoy lost access to her as a research subject (readers intereted in the relationship between Smith and Flournoy should see their correspondence published by Olivier Flournoy, 1986).

The medium was able to dedicate herself only to mediumship due to the financial support of a benefactress. She is cited as writing: “The science that I served in a simple and disinterested fashion today shows more than ever her ingratitude and all its ignominy.” But Flournoy stated this referred to articles in the press and not to writings by scientists.

The article was summarized by Jastrow (1902):

“Following the Martian revelations which were detailed in the former volume, the medium removed the scene of her visions to a further planet, which is here designated as ultra-Mars; and here again we have descriptions of scenes and peoples, occasional sketches, a new language of strange sounds though of French structure, as was the Martian tongue. Pages of the texts are given, as are also samples of the scenery and interiors of the ultra-Martians . . . . Worthy of note are the ultra-Martian ideograms or set of symbols by which the words are presented . . . . But there are further worlds beyond Mars; and the next trance cycle takes place on Uranus, from which in turn the scene shifts to the moon. Again a curious geometrical alphabet, different from the others, and yet for brief passages consistently maintained; again descriptions of strange scenes and the usual accompaniments of her remarkable imagination. . . . Still more important is it to note that the genesis of these cycles follows one genetic course. They all begin, so far as the linguistic part is concerned, with the subject’s hearing a few words of the unknown tongue, and later on repeating them; still later she sees the characters, and finally is able to reduce them to paper by automatic writing. Leopold, her spirit guide, takes a variable part in the translation. There are always considerable intervals between the stages of such a cycle . . . . There are likewise further revelations of the Hindu cycle, in which the medium had produced a language with recognizable Sanscrit elements, and had become the incarnation of a former Indian princess. . . . The origin of the information which Mlle. Smith possesses in this cycle is not clearly set forth, but enough is shown to make it evident that a retentive memory would have found the data in various incidents accessible to her reading and experience.

The royal cycle in which the medium becomes Marie Antoinette is likewise not neglected . . . . Here too, a historical character is introduced with very unhistoric concomitants, Dr. Barthez, a physician of the court of that period . . . .

Perhaps the most striking part of this sequel is that it differs so little from the former chapters of the detailed story. The story still goes on, and in its continuance emphasizes the correctness of Professor Flournoy’s diagnosis. The source of all this peculiar intellectual activity is the subconscious romancing imagination of Mlle. Smith.”

Commenting about the mediumistic personality of Leopold Flournoy wrote: “The subconscious of Helene possesses . . . a fluid consistency, or at least is very plastic, and Leopold is but a favorite form of temporary crystallization . . . .” Leopold, who manifested the poetic imaginative side of the medium’s subconscious, was an “exaggeration of completely common phenomena that ordinarily are latent, the fanciful and the coarse personality favored by a temporary hypnoid state of subliminal associations ending in an automatic result.”

Flournoy used the article to answer some of his critics (e.g., Anonymous, 1901), but also to present several general comments about mediumship. A particularly interesting one was his admonition that it is not good for a medium to be investigated all the time by the same person. Such situation, he believed, “inevitably ends in shaping the much suggestible subconsciousness of its subject . . . .” This may limit the performances of the medium to phenomena he or she are used to produce. Studies conducted by others, he believed, may bring the appearance of new phenomena.

Flournoy compared “normal” people (his phrasing) and mediums on their dreams. While the former showed a large separation between wakefulness and dreams, the latter, Flournoy believed, had no “stable barrier between sleep and wakefulness.” In mediums dreams are always waiting to emerge during waking life, possibly caused by all kinds of normal behavioral and social aspects such as surprise, boredom, perplexity, things that may cause in them “psychic dissociation and disaggregate the personality.”

In addition to the above, readers must be aware that the story of Helene Smith was not limited to Flournoy’s writings. The works of others need to be considered to achieve an understanding of her life and fascinating phenomena (some examples include: Anonymous, 1901; Deonna, 1932; Henry, 1901; Lemaitre, 1907).


On the Date of “Nouvelles Observations sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie”

I cite this article as 1901 but this requires an explanation. “Nouvelles” was first published in the Archives de Psychologie (Flournoy, 1901) and reprinted as a booklet (Flournoy, 1902). The Archives article is generally cited as having been published in 1902 (e.g., Ellenberger, 1970, p. 874). But a few others (e.g., Claparede, 1907, p. 334), including Flournoy (1911, p. 1), cited it as 1901.

The use of 1902 may be due to the fact that the first volume of the journal (available online in Google Books and Hathi Trust) shows the date 1902 in its title page and in the introduction written by Flournoy and Claparede. The first page of the “Nouvelles” article in the Archives has a footnote indicating it was published on December 1901 in the first volume of the Archives (Flournoy, 1901, p. 191). A later article uses the date 1902 for the same volume (Lemaitre, 1902), indicating that volume 1 of the Archives covered the 1901-1902 period.


Anonymous. (1901). Autour “des Indes a la Planete Mars.” Bale: Georg.

Claparede, E. (1907). Rapport sur le Laboatoire de Psychologie de l’Universite de Geneve 1897-1907. Archives de Psychologie, 6, 305-338.

Claparede, E. (1921). Theodore Flournoy: Sa vie et son oeuvre. Archives de Psychologie, 28, 1-125.

Deonna, W. (1932). De la planete Mars en terre Sainte: Art et subconscient. Paris: E. de Boccard.

Ellenberger, H. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious. New York: Basic Books.

Flournoy, O. (1986). Theodore et Leopold: De Theodore Flournoy a la Psychanalyse. Neuchatel: La Baconniere.

Flournoy, T. (1900a). Des Indes a la Planete Mars: Etude sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie. Paris: Felix Alcan.

Flournoy, T. (1900b). From India to the Planet Mars: A Study of a Case of Somnabulism.New York: Harper & Brothers.

Flournoy, T. (1901). Nouvelles observations sur un cas de somnambulisme avec glossolalie. Archives de psychologie, 1, 101-255.

Flournoy, T. (1902). Nouvelles Observations sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie. Geneve: Eggiman.

Flournoy, T. (1911). Esprits et mediums: Melanges de metapsychique et de psychologie. Geneve: Kundig.

Henry, V. (1901). Le langage martien: Etude analytique de la genese d’une langue dans un cas de glossolalie somnambulique. Paris: J. Maisonneuve.

Jastrow, J. (1902). Review of Observations sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie, by T. Flournoy. Psychological Review, 9, 401-404.

Lemaitre, A. (1902). Hallucinations autoscopiques et automatismes divers chez des ecoliers. Archives de Psychologie, 1, 357-379.

Lemaitre, A. (1907). Un nouveau cycle somnambulique de Mlle Smith: Ses peintures religieuses. Archives de Psychologie, 7, 63-83.

Schiller, F.C.S. (1902). Review of Observations sur un Cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie, by T. Flournoy. Mind, 11(n.s.), 262-263.

Shamdasani, S. (1994). Encountering Helene: Theodore Flournoy and the genesis of subliminal psychology. In T. Flournoy, From India to the Planet Mars: A Case of Multiple Personality with Imaginary Languages (pp. xi-li). Princeton: Princeton University Press.