Parapsychology Foundation

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"The Parapsychology Foundation began, fittingly, as a dream — or rather, to be more precise, as hypnogogic revelation. Eileen J. Garrett, in her 1968 autobiography, Many Voices, vividly recalls the circumstances..." It was another woman, the Honorable Frances P. Bolton, "who generously supplied the funds and who, in a solid, practical, way, allowed for the Foundation’s creation and continued existence.... She’d already — even prior to the establishment of the Foundation — made significant contributions to the field. It was she, for example, who'd been responsible for setting up the McDougall Research Fund at Duke University, during William McDougall’s lifetime...

"Utrecht was the landmark conference, (the first of what were to be many), an international gathering at a prestigious university. From July 30 to August 5 1953, less than two years into the Foundation’s history, 63 members, drawn from 14 nationalities and comprised largely of physicists, chemists, biologists, psychologists, engineers and mathematicians, met to discuss and present the latest insights and pool and exchange ideas. While many of the participants were already known to each other through the appearance of their work in technical journals, the opportunity to meet for a week under University auspicies — to “keep the contact alive” as Garrett had put it — marked a crucial step.

"Parapsychology itself, was re-defined at Utrecht and would continue to be re-defined in the Conferences to come, most recently again Utrecht II: Charting the Future of Parapsychology (Available here.) The old split between “quantitative” and “qualitative” research, laboratory work and “spontaneous phenomena,” was both recognized and, to some significant degree, transcended. The extraordinary range of perspectives presented was matched with detailed resolutions and plans to give fuller attention to what had not been sufficiently addressed. The next two Conferences — an “International Philosophic Symposium” and an “International Study Group on Unorthodox Healing,” both meeting the following year in the Foundation’s then regional headquarters, St. Paul de Vence, in the south of France, were direct results of resolutions made at the Conference.

"In retrospect, the 1953 Conference at Utrecht set the agenda for the years ahead. Subsequent Conferences both built on it and, as new areas of research opened up, permitted forums for state-of-the-art (state-of-the-sciences!) address. The eminent novelist, Aldous Huxley, for example, one of the most active and valued research advisors for the Foundation, was a prime mover in establishing the Foundation’s front-line research, during the 1950s, in the field of Parapsychology and Pharmacology (a Conference in 1958 in New York City on “Parapsychology and Psychedelics” was followed by one on “Parapsychology and Pharmacology,” the following year, in St Paul de Vence). Similarly, the Foundation was, very early, on the cutting-edge of research involving Parapsychology and Quantum Physics (“Quantum Physics and Parapsychology,” a two-day international Conference held in Geneva 1974, stands as another of the Foundation's landmark Conferences). Conferences have continued on into the 1980s and 1990s. Forty, so far, to date. Mention should be made, perhaps, of two of the most recent — “Women and Parapsychology,” held in Dublin, Ireland (Mrs Garrett’s home turf!) in 1991 — the first such Conference of its kind, wherein all Conference participants were women — and, “Parapsychology and Thanatology,” 1993, a groundbreaking multi-perspective look at death and dying, up-dating and amplifying the earlier concerns of the precursors of parapsychology, the pioneers of psychic research...

"What remains striking is the extraordinary range of the Foundation’s involvement from anthropology and sociology to neuroscience, from in-field exploration of poltergeists and hauntings to the most detailed statistical and methodological work. The invaluable assistance given to experiments, in the 1960s and early 1970s, conducted by Montague Ullman, Stanley Krippner, and others at Maimonides Medical Center, on Dream Telepathy, stands as a classic testament (the experiments first began in-house at the Foundation’s then-quarters on 57th Street). Out of such research developed the all-important “Ganzfeld” approach to ESP phenomena (the late Charles Honorton, pioneer of Ganzfeld research, was, it should be noted, a central figure in the Maimonides team).

"Pioneering work in this field has been done by Allan Angoff, in his biography of Garrett, Eileen Garrett And The World Beyond the Senses, fondly recalls the Foundation’s founder’s unbridled enthusiasm: “You never know,” she (Garrett) used to say, “there might be something, and we musn’t miss it, must we?” Eileen Garrett died in 1970 (Frances Bolton, in 1977) but the Foundation lives on, indeed flourishes, under the capable hands of its current President, Garrett’s daughter, Eileen Coly, and her grand-daughter, the current Executive Director, Lisette Coly. The fourth generation - Garrett's Great Grandchildren are presently serving their apprencticeship dedicated to the continuation of the goals of the Parapsychology Foundation as set by Eileen J. Garrett and the Honorable Frances P. Bolton. "[1]

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  1. Parapsychology Foundation Founders, organizational web page, accessed May 16, 2012.