The Stepchildren of Science

The Stepchildren of Science

Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, C. 1870-1939

eBook - 2009
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Book News
Parapsychology is a field that has been satirized in film and fiction. Wolffram (history, University of Queensland, Australia) sets herself the daunting task of extricating the development of psychical research in Germany from 1870-1939 from both the fictional depiction of the parapsychologist and the myth of the Nazi regime steeped in occultism. She succeeds admirably. While she addresses both these topics, her main focus is the attempts by German scientists and psychologists to make systematic experiments that would elicit and record parapsychological responses. Wolffram notes that advances in studying the mind and the new theories of physics made this seem a rational form of science. However, the position of this "border science" infringed on the provenance of other studies and was resented within the academic community. Her discussion involves the problem of attempting to make a rational study of something considered to be highly irrational. This is an enlightening look at a pivotal time in science and in Germany. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Brill USA
Leading the reader through the darkened séance rooms and laboratories of Imperial and inter-war Germany,The Stepchildren of Science casts light on the emergence of psychical research and parapsychology in the German context. It looks, in particular, at the role of the psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing - a figure who fashioned himself as both propagandist and Grand Seignior of German parapsychology - in shaping these nascent disciplines. In contrast to other recent studies in which occultism is seen as a means of dealing with or creating “the modern”, this book considers the epistemological, cultural and social issues that arose from psychical researchers’ and parapsychologists’ claims to scientific legitimacy. Focusing on the boundary disputes between these researchers and the spiritualists, occultists, psychologists and scientists with whom they competed for authority over the paranormal, The Stepchildren of Science demonstrates that in the German context both proponents and opponents alike understood psychical research and parapsychology as border sciences.

Blackwell Publishing
Leading the reader through the darkened seance rooms and laboratories of Imperial and inter-war Germary, The Stepchildren of Science casts light on the emergence of psychical research and parapsychology in Germany. In particular, it looks at the role of the psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing in shaping these nascent disciplines, fashioning himself as both propagandist and Grand Seignior of German parapsychology. In contrast to recent studies in which occultism is seen as a means of dealing with or creating `the modern', Heather Wolffram considers the epistemological, cultural and social issues that arose from psychical researchers' and parapsychologists' claims to scientific legitimacy.

Focusing on the boundary disputes between these researchers and the spiritualists, occultists, psychologists and scientists with whom they competed for authority over the paranormal, The Stepchildren of Science demonstrates that in the German context both proponents and opponents alike understood psychical research and parapsychology as border sciences. It will be of interest to historians of medicine and psychology, as well as anyone interested in the paranormal.

Heather Wolffram is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland, Australia. She is the author of several articles on the history of German parapsychology and is currently researching late nineteenth-century debates over hypnosis, sexuality, human observation and crime in Central Europe.

Clio Medica: The Wellcome Series in the History of Medicine provides an active forum for the publication of research into the history of medicine and healthcare in all their branches in various cultures and all time periods.

Publisher: Amsterdam ; New York : Rodopi Bv Editions, 2009
ISBN: 9789042027299
9042027290
Characteristics: 1 online resource (342 pages) : portraits

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