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New Directions in Parapsychological Research  (Paperback) 
Author(s): Joseph H. Rush
61 pp. (1964) ISBN 0-912328-07-X 
Price: $10.00
PE Club Discount Price: $9.00

The author, a physicist and science writer, reviewed the experimental and spontaneous case literature of scientific parapsychology and psychical research and drew some conclusions about the likely relationship of sensorimotor systems and psi. He argued that spontaneous psi experiences and experiments with free material such as pictures, exhibit similarities between objects and percepts that are typically associative rather than explicit. Rarely is the objective situation in spontaneous experiences perceived with full sensory clarity; and rarely is the response to a target in a pictorial experiment clearly depicted and identified. Usually, if impressive similarities are evident at all, they are similarities of discrete perceptual elements — fragmentary or distorted glimpses or sounds in the spontaneous experience, incomplete or unintegrated geometrical elements of the experimental target. In this respect, psi manifestations resemble free association more than rational thought.

Recent developments in information theory make possible a more sophisticated approach to psi manifestations and relationships. Critics of parapsychology have cited the apparently pointless, capricious, illogical relationships that so frequently characterize psi manifestations. Yet these peculiarities apply to psychological interactions generally. Association of ideas and images is intelligible in terms of informational linkage. Elements of similarity may be regarded more specifically as equivalent patterns of information. In these terms, free association is the perception of two ideas as equivalent because they have in common one or a very few units of information. Among spontaneous case reports that mention the environmental context immediately preceding the psi experience, an impressive number suggest associative relationships between this context and the content of the experience. Examples of this are a woman staring into a dark pool who saw a vision of her brother drowning, and a woman writing to her daughter who felt a burning pain in her hand at about the same time her daughter’s hand was burned. Such cases suggest that, of all the psychic information potentially available to the subject, that which associates in some essential respect with the subject’s immediate sensorimotor field is most likely to be perceived. Further, a notable element in many such incidents is a substantial degree of frustration of the sensory functions, as if the tendency of the mind to “fill in” subjectively what it cannot perceive clearly is satisfied by associated psi material.

Such considerations suggest a complementary relation between the sensorimotor and psi modes of cognition and expression. The author draws further support from the experimental literature and suggest some new experimental approaches for future research.




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