Back to Archive Index

It may be well to give a word of warning to those who find that they possess any unusual power in the psychic direction, and to counsel regulated moderation in its use. Every power can be abused, and even the simple faculty of automatic writing can with the best intentions be misapplied. Self-control is more important than any other form of control, and whoever possesses the power of receiving communications in any form should see to it that he remains master of the situation. To give up your own judgement and depend solely on adventitious aid is a grave blunder, and may in the long run have disastrous consequences. Moderation and common sense are required in those who try to utilize powers which neither they nor any fully understand, and a dominating occupation in mundane affairs is a wholesome safeguard.

Sir Oliver J. Lodge
Raymond or Life and Death
Methuen, London, 1916

The serious literature, the literature of the journals, is hardly known at all. The difference between psychic research as a serious discipline and as a form of “common knowledge” is enormous. If a reasonably well-informed and thoughtful person were to wander up and down the highways and byways of the civilized world, listening to street-corner conversations, stopping in coffee houses and the lobbies of hotels, reading a fragment here and there in each of many popular magazines, and scanning judiciously what the papers, and the radio and television programs had to offer, he would get the following preliminary impressions, which he would try to sort out and understand:

A large number of people...believe themselves to have received impressions regarding distant realities which did not reach them through their sense organs, or through their normal processes of drawing inferences. They report that they have caught impressions of distant catastrophes to loved ones, or have had curiously exact and detailed premonitions of future events. It is not hard to find people who do automatic writing or operate a Ouija board which, communicating with the first person singular, purports to offer messages from the deceased. A smaller number, but still a considerable number of persons report that they have seen apparitions of the deceased while in good health and under conditions of good illumination; or that they have seen objects move without any easy physical explanation; or have received through spiritist mediums information purporting to come from deceased persons which they regarded as correct and characteristic, and not easily explained away.

If now our thoughful investigator followed through on these street-corner impressions by undertaking to talk about such experiences, he would often encounter among his interlocutors considerable excitement and vigorous asseveration on the one hand, and on the part of many of their friends much coolness, hostility and scoffing. He may conclude that these are phenomena precious to many, but full of absurdity or of dangerous implications to many others. Looking still more closely, he would find that many of the persons who vouch for these matters are poorly informed as to the nature of science; that they are confident about amazing phenomena of which there are no records; that cross-examination may yield damaging results. He would find that the automatic writing, if taken in considerable quantity just as it comes, is mostly childish, and that those small fragments of it which are interesting, coherent, and make a reasonable claim to be communication from the deceased, usually reproduce items which are known to the writers themselves and therefore have no great psychological interest. The witnesses to these occurrences are indeed frequently unaware that automatic acts like writing, gesticulating, doodling, even talking and singing may occur without full conscious control. The material communicated is often just what is wanted by the writer. In such a situation it may at first be hard for our thoughtful observer to see why one should take psychical research seriously.

Yet if he persists our observer will here and there encounter an individual who knows of the existence of the research in this field which began with the founding of the (London) Society for Psychical Research in 1882...My aim is to offer exhibits of data; to suggest ways in which the data may be interpreted; and to leave the reader to decide—or to decide not to decide—what to make of it all. He may decide: “It's all rubbish.” He may decide: “It could be; but who knows?” He may decide: “Here is an area that calls for more and better research.” Or he may take one of the many directions which it is not my task—or my privilege—to foresee.

Dr. Gardner Murphy
Challenge of Psychic Research:
A Primer of Parapsychology

Harper and Brothers, New York, 1961

The Education of most of us has been dominated by modern emphasis upon substance, “reality,” and the senses. But deep in the structure and quality of human nature there reside supersensory capacities, known of old but temporarily neglected, by means of which man is capable of achieving knowledge of the immaterial world, capable of perceiving events that occur in space-time beyond the reach which science claims for the senses.

This immaterial field of human perception is as factual to awareness and as real to life as the field of substance, and we are constantly brushing the edges of its reality in our intuitions, our day-dreams, and our creative inspirations. All of these constitute the fringes of supersensory perception, though for the most part they occur outside the areas of our awareness. We have not been adequately taught how to grasp these gossamer filaments of the future, which tomorrow, will be present; nevertheless the human consciousness is becoming aware of itself and of its affinities throughout the universe. The visions, apparitions, premonitions, and other supersensory manifestations of being, which men and women experience in times of impersonal tension and uplift, are factually true in consciousness...

Curiosity, courage, experience, understanding—these are the steps in the ever-rising development of individual lives and of the human consciousness as a whole. Science seeks to discover the established, the repeatedly demonstrable, and religion seeks to serve and sustain the basic laws and truths of being, even those which are incomprehensible to our finite abilities. And between these two broad racial highways the individual follows a middle path, each one according to his ability and his talent, seeking and finding his measure of truth, receiving and reflecting the light of life according to his capacity and need.

These activities in consciousness are not illusions, but foreshadowings of the future toward which we are so swiftly moving—which we are already experiencing, in fact, in our more subtle sensitivities. In our own field, and by virture of our own nature, we are active collaborators with the creative principle in the universe; and as we become indentified with it, we expand both our nature and our field of life.

Eileen J. Garrett
Helix Press, New York, 1943

Back to Archive Index

Parapsychology Foundation   |   PO Box 1562, New York, NY, 10021
Phone (212)-628-1550   |   Fax (212)-628-1559

 Send us any comments / questions. © 2015 by Parapsychology Foundation. All rights reserved.
Visit our other websites:,, and
  Graphic web design by Illuminations Design    Web development and hosting by WebsiteOut