Author Topic: The History of Psi  (Read 28258 times)

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May 07, 2005, 09:48:04 PM
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kobok

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The history of psi comes from a number of paths.  First, there is the fact that people have been doing psi since the dawn of time, and so records of things that sound like occurrences of psi are scattered throughout human history.  But what's more interesting is to examine the modern emergence of the cultural perspective of viewing the abilities as "psi".

The history of modern psi begins in the late 1700's, with the work of Frank Anton Mesmer, a physician who began to study abilities, such as the ability to see other locations, that arose during trancelike states.  These abilities became known as "mesmerism", named after Dr. Mesmer.  Mesmer considered this to be the product of another force, similar to electricity and magnetism which were then being investigated by science.

However, at this time science was undergoing a period known as the Enlightenment, in which many scientists were discarding ideas that sounded too religious.  So there was a split, and mesmerism moved into the realm of the Spiritualist movement for a time.

Then in 1882, the Society of Psychical Research (SPR) was founded, by three spiritualists at Cambridge University.  The SPR gained support from members of the British Royal Society, giving it a unique convergence of spiritualist practices and the scientific method.

During the early period of the SPR, most of the work focused on examining individuals who claimed psychic abilities, and the work was called "psychic research".  From the 1920s through the 1940s, there was a revolution of maturity in this research, with significant contribution by Joseph B. Rhine.  During this period, the term "parapsychology" was coined, and controlled statistical research replaced anecdotal research, turning the field into a rigorously controlled experimental science.

In 1937, the Journal of Parapsychology was founded, and in 1957, the Parapsychology Association.

The term "psi" was first introduced around 1942 by Thouless and Wiesner.  They wanted a new term which could describe both the causation of change and the sensing of information through non-classical means, but without encumbering the description with the implications of previous terminology.  This term was adopted by the parapsychological community as a more neutral description for the effects they studied.  Rather than dividing effects into numerous categories, such as separating clairvoyance from precognition, or separating psychokinesis from biokinesis, the term psi could simply be divided into active
psi, for causing change with psi, or passive psi, for receiving information with psi.

Russia launched an investigation into psychic abilities for warfare and intelligence gathering in the 1960s.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the CIA and DIA responded by launching an investigation into psi called "Project Star Gate", resulting in the system of intelligence gathering called "remote viewing". There were a number of books released throughout these years discussing psychic abilities, and describing ways to learn them.

The phenomenon of psi on the internet really took off in 1993-1994 when Skywind released the online book "Playful Psychic", and showed that psi could be effectively taught and learned via the internet.  Small loose-knit communities quickly sprang up, and over time these communities evolved and grew into the contemporary online energy communities.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2014, 03:31:35 PM by kobok »
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May 07, 2005, 10:02:20 PM
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Aganlex

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Very interesting and useful article, Kobok! It was nice to read the history of psi!
Life is a complicated game of choices and events: the one affects the other...

May 23, 2005, 02:38:20 PM
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oedipus

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Hey
Does anyone know a place where I could download "the playful psychic?" (talked about in this article)

June 09, 2005, 02:23:14 PM
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Underworlder

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Nice kobok!
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June 13, 2005, 01:02:33 PM
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Abi X

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Very nice!
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June 13, 2005, 09:24:20 PM
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Drawingthesun

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Good post, very informative  :)

June 23, 2005, 11:28:17 AM
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ChezNips

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Just a quick added note that I've been around IRC since the early 90's and around the internet as a whole since the bullitin boards and the term psiball was around before Skywind used it although thats probably the source most young people on the net are going to remember the most.
some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield.

June 23, 2005, 02:06:25 PM
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kobok

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Quote from: -}Star{-
the term psiball was around before Skywind used it


Well, since you gave me book references on IRC which use the term prior to her usage, I have modified that section of the article.  If anyone can successfully track down the origin or evolution of the concept of a psiball, please let me know.
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April 12, 2006, 07:51:21 PM
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Emira

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Why is psi primarily an English speaking phenomenon?
“The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” –The 14th Dali Llama

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1993/morrison-lecture.html

April 13, 2006, 11:49:59 AM
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ChezNips

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I don't believe psi to be remotely a primaryily english speaking phenomena however other languages might use different terms but its fairly universal.  What might make a difference is why you get the impression that its a primarily english phenomena and then trace from there back to the article where kobok talks about Mesmer who was french and also the russians.  The idea of psi origionated in Europe but because it was developed in many different areas by many people also not listed, you have a huge almalgamation of ideas that we read about in english so it might give the impression that its primarily english.
some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield.

April 13, 2006, 06:39:04 PM
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Emira

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Sorry, I should have explained that question a little more, or phrased it better.  I've only ever heard of Mesmer (Franz, not Frank, by the way) as the father of hypnosis, the instigator of neurophysics, the creator of the idea that astrology works through magnetic fields, or as a complete charlatan.  I'd never previously heard of him as having any direct role in the field of psionics (unless one decides to put hypnosis under psioncis, which seems iffy.)  Many of his students did go on to be prominent in the early development of parapsychology (oddly enough you can trace Freud back to him as well.)  I don't know about in Russia, because I don't speak Russian, but in French the term psi is an acronym attributed to technical colleges.  Most links to information about parapsychology on French sites talk about poltergeists and UFOs and if one does happen upon a link that relates to psychokinesis or ESP, one will eventually find themselves on an English site.  Sometimes magie mental acts as something of a substitute to psi, but they're still not exactly the same thing, and there tends to be less intrest in magie mental then in magie haut or magie blanch.  Hence my view of psi as being an English speaking phenomena.  So I guess my really question should have been something along the lines of:  If there was a linguistic split in parapsychology does anyone know when it occurred?  Or, what other linguistic groups primarily use the term/idea of psi?
“The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” –The 14th Dali Llama

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1993/morrison-lecture.html

April 14, 2006, 08:21:59 AM
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ChezNips

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I dont know of any linginstict split in parapsychology but it wouldnt surprize me that each language uses different terms.  As kobok described, the term psi was a more neutral term adapted by scientists but it also goes under many other terms and names which has been difficult for those that have done psi research for years.  The most common term in early research would be ESP.
some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield.

June 12, 2007, 10:47:59 AM
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Wonderland

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Quote from: -}Star{-
the term psiball was around before Skywind used it

Well, since you gave me book references on IRC which use the term prior to her usage, I have modified that section of the article.  If anyone can successfully track down the origin or evolution of the concept of a psiball, please let me know.

I had always assumed it came from Pokemon or something of the sort, but I decided to give it a shot on my ability to intuit the answer.  I'm guessing it comes from sending up a weather or hot air ballon and/or like when the witches in The Wizard of Oz float in and out or send out the monkeys...or Mary Poppins.
Yeeesh!  Apparently I forgot the signature changes on all posts....AND until you change it again...oh well enough then...sorry 'bout that