Institutionalisation and the history of psychical research in Great Britain in the 20th century.

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Three groups of psychical research institution in Britain not linked to universities are distinguished from some that were or are so linked. In the early part of the 20th century the former predominated, notably the Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1882 and still in existence. Activity increased in the inter-war years but metaphysical and methodological disagreements opened the way for the formation of new groups. Notable amongst these were the National Laboratory of Psychical Research and the University of London Council for Psychical Research set up by Harry Price in the 1920s and 1930s. For a while, these gained the support of academics as well as the general public. Currently there are a number of research groups on anomalous experience, of which the most outstanding is the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh.
It is doubtful whether the term ‘institutionalisation’ is appropriately applied to the British scene. Psychical research occupies a position between orthodox science and spiritualism and suffers from attendant tensions between these. It has not become accepted by mainstream science and no major academic institution has been established. Funding has been predominantly private but parapsychologists have utilised all available media to promote their cause. The most successful groups have been those that manage to appeal to a range of constituencies and opinions, for example the Society for Psychical Research and for a while Harry Price.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOkkultismus im Gehäuse. Institutionalisierungen der Parapsychologie im 20. Jahrhundert in internationaler Perspektive
EditorsAnna Lux, Sylvia Paletschek
Place of PublicationOldenburg, Germany
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-046376-7
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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