Chojougenshou No Toraenikusa.
Chojougenshou no Toraenikusa is "a sequel to Sai no Senjo that was published six years ago". Sai no Senjo (reviewed by Hagio)(2) was an anthology of psi controversies featuring both skeptics and para-psychologists. Kasahara's aim was to "illustrate the irrationality of the arguments made by the critics of paranormal phenomena".(3) In Chojougenshou no Toraenikusa, he goes one step further and collects and translates over 30 articles that deal mainly with the elusiveness of psi, including five especially prepared for this Japanese book.
In the preface, J. Eisenbud points out that the elusiveness which has been annoying parapsychologists may be an inherent characteristic of psi itself. Along with the fact that this volume is dedicated to the late K. J. Batcheldor, Eisenbud's suggestion illustrates well the main theme of this anthology.
In Part I, "State of the Art in Psychical Research and Parapsychology," the editor presents six articles that discuss the current situation in parapsychology. Included are the articles by A. R. G. Owen, J. B. Rhine, J. Palmer, G. Hovelmann, R. A. White and I. Stevenson. The readers will find that this field is not yet accepted by conventional scientists and that the parapsychologists themselves are not so sure about what they can do to advance the field. Kasahara suggests that the elusiveness of paranormal phenomena may be the key to the understanding of this situation.
Part II, "Elusiveness Syndrome," shows that the elusiveness of psi phenomena appears in many aspects of parapsychology. This section contains 15 articles on various topics, including psi-missing, displacement effects, the repeatability problem, and resistance to psi found among both parapsychologists and skeptics. The last four articles focus on witness inhibition and ownership resistance which are "the direct manifestations of the elusiveness of paranormal phenomena".
To provide an answer to this elusiveness problem, Part III focuses on the "Batcheldorian Approaches." Following two articles that explain and discuss the methodology are three papers that try to view the approaches in broader contexts. R. Reichbart discusses the relationship between magic and psi and, by reviewing the techniques used by shamans, suggests that the former is conducive to the latter, which is the main assumption of Batcheldorian approaches. J. McClenon urges the exploration of elusiveness per se by applying sociological approaches to populations experiencing psi phenomena. P. V. Giesler reports his research on the shamanism in Brazil and interprets his findings in terms of Batcheldorian psychodynamics. The readers who finish this part will notice that the Batcheldorian approaches are quite incompatible with traditional experimental parapsychology, but still have support from various disciplines that deal with paranormal phenomena in broader perspectives.
Finally, Part IV considers "Theoretical Considerations of the Elusiveness of Psi." Three articles on this topic (by J. Ehrenwald, J. Eisenbud, and W. von Lucadou et al.) try to provide theories on elusiveness. Then comes the discussion by Kasahara on "The Elusiveness of Psi From the Viewpoint of the Human Mind." In this article, Kasahara presents a unique theory on the working of the human mind that is drawn mostly from his daily experiences as a psychotherapist. The description of his theory is a tentative one, and Kasahara promises to go into detail in his future work, but the outline presented here is inspiring enough.
According to Kasahara, many of his patients show "avoidance of a sense of happiness." In situations which should lead to happiness, such patients show strong resistance to admitting that they are happy "at heart." And this discrepancy, according to Kasahara, is the cause of various psychopathological symptoms. These patients, when confronted by the clinician's hint that they may actually be "happy," show some typical "reactions," namely, yawning, sleepiness, and changes in psychosomatic conditions such as pain, itch, nausea, and so on. Kasahara points out such "reactions" resemble the reactions of people exposed to psi phenomena or just to the notion of the paranormal and he hypothesizes that resistance to psi occurs in the same context as the denial of "sense of happiness" that he has observed in clinical situations.
We have to wait until he elaborates his theory and presents his data more in detail. But it is worth pointing out that he assumes that psi "ability" (which is attributable to individuals) is happy and positive in nature, rather than fearful and negative as some psychoanalytical theoreticians suggest. Kasahara's idea seems to fit better with the descriptions of Batcheldorian sittings. Also, the clinical techniques used by Kasahara seem to correspond to Batcheldorian methods in several ways.
The last article is by K. J. Batcheldor. Unfortunately, Batcheldor passed away before he could finish it, and P. V. Giesler compiled and edited his colleague's notes into an impressive speculation on the nature of paranormal phenomena. In this highly speculative discussion, Batcheldor introduces the notion of the "Universal Creative Principle (UCP)." This UCP creates and maintains reality. Paranormal phenomena are those phenomena that occur under exceptional, unstable local conditions of UCP. And human beings cooperate with--or "allow--such conditions to produce psi phenomena. As a result of their doing this repeatedly, such conditions will become stable and psi phenomena will be observed more frequently.
As Batcheldor admits, this article is highly speculative and it may be easy to rebut the UCP theory as a nonscientific hypothesis in a Popperian sense. But recalling that Batcheldor was very cautious about introducing any kinds of "models" or "hypotheses" and that he focused on describing his methods and techniques in his papers, I believe that this article really is a valuable contribution to the field of parapsychology. According to Batcheldor's model, we must facilitate the "instability" of the UCP to produce psi. This process naturally rules out the rigorous controls by experimenters. So, it becomes clear that Batcheldor is proposing a radical research program that is totally incompatible with existing experimental parapsychology.
Chojougenshou no Toraenikusa is an impressive anthology because it persuasively presents the elusiveness problem of contemporary para-psychology in a unique, creative context. It is also exciting because it includes two original articles by Kasahara and Batcheldor which specifically deal with the elusiveness problem of psi in theoretical terms. Both may be regarded as too radical in their approaches but that is the editor's aim. It seems to me that Kasahara has had enough of the so-called "psi controversy" and is stepping forward toward a radical, progressive change in research programs and interpretations of psi phenomena.
Kasahara's theory seems to fit well with Batcheldorian findings. Kasahara is also equipped with much empirical data obtained during his practice as a psychotherapist. Considering the fact that his patients are "cured" by accepting and allowing themselves the "sense of happiness," it is not unreasonable to assume that if his clinical techniques were applied to skeptical individuals and bewildered parapsychologists, their experiences and understanding of psi phenomena could be greatly advanced. I hope that Kasahara will elaborate his theory in his next book and communicate his findings to the Western world of parapsychology.
YOSHIHISA WADA 1-29-2-303, Heiwadai Nerima-ku, Tokyo, Japan
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|Publication:||The Journal of Parapsychology|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1993|
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