Essays in Psychical Research

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The more than fifty articles, essays, and reviews in this volume, collected here for the first time, were published by William James over a span of some twenty-five years. The record of a sustained interest in phenomena of a highly controversial nature, they make it amply clear that James's work in psychical research was not an eccentric hobby but a serious and sympathetic concern. James was broad-minded in his approach but tough-minded in his demand that investigations be conducted in rigorous scientific terms. He hoped his study of psychic phenomena would strengthen the philosophy of an open-ended, pluralistic universe that he was formulating during the same period, and he looked forward to the new horizons for human experience that a successful outcome of his research would create.

Robert A. McDermott, in his Introduction, discusses the relation of these essays to James's other work in philosophy, psychology, and religion.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674267084
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/14/1986
  • Series: The Works of William James Series
  • Pages: 728
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction by Robert A. McDermott


1. Review of Planchette, by Epes Sargent (1869)

2. Circulars of the American Society for Psychical Research (1884-1906)

a. Organization (1884)

b. Request for Information (1884)

c. Circular Requesting Information on Mediumistic Phenomena (1885)

d. Circular Requesting Financial Support (1892)

e. Notice Concerning Dissolution of the American Branch (1906)

3. Report of the Committee on Mediumistic Phenomena (1886)

4. Notes on Echolalia in Mrs. Piper (1886)

5. Letter on Professor Newcomb's Address before the American Society for Psychical Research (1886)

6. Letters: James on the Religio-Philosophical Journal (1886, 1890)

a. An Enviable and Eminent Place in American Journalism (1886)

b. On Preserving the Journal (1890)

7. Review of Phantasms of the Living, by Edmund Gurney et al. (1887)

8. Letter on Mrs. Ross, the Medium (1887)

9. Review of "The Second Report on Experimental Psychology," by Charles Sedgwick Minot (1889)

10. Notes on Automatic Writing (1889)

11. The Census of Hallucinations (1889-1897)

a. International Congress of Experimental Psychology: Instructions to the Person Undertaking to Collect Answers (1889)

b. Letter on Publicity for the Census (1890)

c. The Name Hallucination (1890)

d. The Statistical Inquiry into Hallucinations in America (1892)

e. Review of Ueber die Trugwahrnehmung, by Edmund Parish (1895)

f. Review of the "Report on the Census of Hallucinations" (1895)

g. A Correction (1895)

h. Final American Report: Letter to Henry Sidgwick (1896)

i. Review of Zur Kritik des telepathischen Beweismaterials and Hallucinations and Illusions, by Edmund Parish (1897)

12. A Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance (1890)

13. What Psychical Research Has Accomplished (1892)

14. Review of Science and a Future Life, by Frederic W. H. Myers (1893)

15. Letter to the Editor of Mind on Ward's Review of Briefer Course (1893)

16. Review of Annales des Sciences Psychiques (1894)

17. Two Reviews of Apparitions and Thought-Transference, by Frank Podmore (1895)

18. Telepathy (1895)

19. Address of the President before the Society for Psychical Research (1896)

20. Psychical Research (1896)

21. A Case of Psychic Automatism (1896)

22. Telepathy: Controversy with Titchener on Lehmann and Hansen (1896-1899)

a. Review of "Ueber unwillk├╝rliches Fl├╝stern," by F. C. C. Hansen and Alfred Lehmann (1896)

b. Review of "Involuntary Whispering Considered in Relation to Thought-Transference," by Henry Sidgwick (1897)

c. Letter: Lehmann and Hansen on the Telepathic Problem (1898)

d. Letter: Lehmann and Hansen on Telepathy (1899)

e. Letter: Telepathy Once More, No. 1(1899)


23. Review of "Telepathic Dreams Experimentally Induced," by G. B. Ermacora (1896)

24. Review of I Fenomeni Telepatici e le Allucinazioni Veridiche, by Enrico Morselli (1897)

25. Letter on Mrs. Piper, the Medium (1898)

26. Review of "A Further Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance," by Richard Hodgson (1898)

27. Frederic Myers's Service to Psychology (1901)

28. Review of Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, by Frederic %V. H. Myers (1903)

29. Telepathy Once More, No. II (1903)

30. Letter to James Hyslop Supporting the Prospectus for an American Institute for Scientific Research (1903)

31. A Case of Automatic Drawing (1904)

32. Letter to J. G. Piddington on Mrs. Thompson in Trance (1904)

33. Letter to Isaac K. Funk on The Widow's Mite (1904)

34. A Case of Clairvoyance (1907)

35. Letter on Dr. Gower and Table Lifting (1907)

36. Physical Phenomena at a Private Circle (1909)

37. Report on Mrs. Piper's Hodgson-Control (1909)

38. The Confidences of a "Psychical Researcher" (1909)

39. A Possible Case of Projections of the Double (1909)



I. Comments on Automatic Writing

II. Questionnaire on Hallucinations

III. Sittings with Mrs. Piper: Kate Walsh and Baby Eliza

IV. Cattell's Review of James's Presidential Address

V. The Case of F. H. Krebs

A Note on the Editorial Method

The Text of Essays in Psychical Research



Textual Notes

Historical Collation

Alterations in the Manuscripts



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