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Title: Crossing the boundaries of mind and body : psychical research and the origins of modern psychology
Author: Sommer, A.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
This dissertation examines the co-emergence of psychical research and modern professionalized psychology in the late nineteenth century. Questioning conservative historical accounts assuming an inherent incompatibility of these disciplines, this thesis argues that from the early 1880s to ca. 1910, it was often difficult if not impossible to draw a clear distinction between psychology and psychical research. Chapter 1 forms the integrative framework of the thesis through a historiographical review of changing attitudes to ‘occult’ properties of the mind in natural philosophy from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Chapter 2 provides a study and comparison of concerns and epistemological presuppositions of the instigators and leading representatives of psychical research in England, France, Germany and the USA. Chapter 3 outlines competing methodological maxims in early experimental psychology, explores the work of the Society for Psychical Research in England and psychological societies conducting psychical research in Germany, and discusses the active involvement of the ‘father’ of modern American psychology, William James, in psychical research. Formulations of transcendental-individualistic models of unconscious or subliminal cognition by Carl du Prel in Germany and Frederic W. H. Myers in England, which informed the mature psychological thought of James in America and Théodore Flournoy in Switzerland, are discussed as landmarks in the history of concepts of the unconscious. Chapter 4 presents case studies of early professional psychologists repudiating psychical research from the territories of fledgling psychology, identifies recurring rhetorical patterns in these controversies, and connects them to wider cultural and historiographical developments studied in Chapter 1.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.626286  DOI: Not available
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