William James and the American Society for Psychical Research, 1884-9

Thanks to a travel grant from the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) I was able to present a paper at this year’s British-North American Joint Meeting of the BSHS, CSHPS, and HSS in Canada. The presentation distilled a small part of a chapter in my forthcoming study on the formation of modern … Read more

Can Psychotherapists Benefit from History of Science Scholarship? Open Access to my Article on the Psychology of Belief in Histories of Science and the Occult

Historians rarely have the opportunity to say something that might be of practical relevance to clinicians or workers in other fields of applied scientific knowledge. As mentioned previously, I was therefore particularly chuffed when psychotherapist Nick Totton invited me last year to contribute an article to an envisaged special issue of the European Journal of … Read more

Are you Afraid of the Dark?

Last year I was approached by psychotherapist Nick Totton to contribute an article to a special issue on the ‘occult’, which Totton was about to edit for the European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling. As far as I can tell, my essay will be the only one written by a historian, while all other contributions … Read more

Two Years of ‘Forbidden Histories’

Today is my second birthday as a blogger. To celebrate, I decided to upgrade my free WordPress account, mainly to get rid of the annoying ads which started appearing as ‘Forbidden Histories’ got more views. Besides, the Premium account comes with its own dinky domain, forbiddenhistories.com (though the old address, forbiddenhistories.wordpress.com, is still working). Whoop. … Read more

It’s Happening: ‘Psychical Research and the Formation of Modern Psychology’

I’m chuffed to report that I just received the contract for my book, preliminary titled Psychical Research and the Formation of Modern Psychology. The study, to be published in late 2016 or early 2017 by Stanford University Press, will respond to a growing trend of historical interest in psychical research, i.e. the radical empirical investigation … Read more

Reincarnation Research and Myths of Scientific Practice

Between you and me, I’m so not into the idea that karma will eventually get me and drag my poor soul back into a new body after I die. At the risk of appearing a gloomy Gus, to me one life seems just about enough. The very idea of reincarnation, of course, has a long … Read more

Carl Gustav Jung and the Clairvoyant, Mrs. Fäßler

The investigation of ‘occult’ phenomena associated with spiritualism and mesmerism occupied the minds of psychologists much more than this has been reflected in standard histories of modern psychology. From Gustav Theodor Fechner and William James to Théodore Flournoy and Hans Eysenck, many prominent psychologists were not only interested in the psychodynamics of altered states of … Read more

Temple Medicine, Oracles and the Making of Modernity: The Ancient Greek Occult in Anthropology and Psychology

Among the key figures in the hidden history of the human sciences are the Munich philosopher Carl du Prel (1839-1899) and the Cambridge classicist and psychologist Frederic W. H. Myers (1843-1901). Eclipsed by psychoanalysis, Jungian analytical psychology and other depth psychologies throughout the twentieth century, the contemporary significance and reception of these writers was considerable. … Read more

Pre-Print Introduction to SHPSC Special Issue Now Available: Psychical Research in the History and Philosophy of Science

The final pre-print article from the SHPSC special issue on psychical research, which I had the privilege of guest-editing, is now available online. Although it is not strictly meant as a normative contribution to the philosophy of science, I hope it will still be useful for philosophers interested in the demarcation problem. It basically boils … Read more

One Year of ‘Forbidden Histories’

It was precisely a year ago that I entered the world of history of science blogging by launching ‘Forbidden Histories’. (Incidentally, my first title choice – ‘Hidden Histories’– was already taken, and somewhat reluctantly I decided to go with the more melodramatic-sounding name.) One year later, I’m still not sufficiently blogosphere-savvy to understand what exactly … Read more

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