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Glossary
Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology
[Click for Historical Terms Glossary]

 

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LEVITATION
The raising or suspension of persons or objects into the air without any apparent agency as required by known physical laws of motion and gravity.  Back to top of page

LUCID DREAM
A dream in which the dreamer is conscious of the fact that they are dreaming.  Back to top of page

LUMINOUS PHENOMENA
The paranormal production of light phenomena, generally in the presence of certain physical mediums.  Back to top of page

MACRO-PK
See under Psychokinesis.  Back to top of page

MEDITATION
A broad term embracing a number of techniques for achieving various altered states of awareness, with some of these altered states resulting in the ecstatic qualities of so-called “peak experience;” most meditative techniques are ways of learning to still the agitation of the mind so that more subtle and valuable aspects of self and reality may be perceived; some techniques involve concentration, in which attention is focused on a particular object and restrained from wandering, while others involve giving one’s total attention to whatever spontaneously happens, with no attempt to control or focus attention.  Back to top of page

MENTALISM
The practice of simulating telepathy, performed for the purpose of entertainment.  Back to top of page

METAL-BENDING
See Psychokinetic Metal-bending.  Back to top of page

MICRO-PK
See under Psychokinesis.  Back to top of page

MINI-GELLER
A child or young person who can to some extent duplicate by paranormal means the metal-bending feats of Uri Geller. See also Geller Effect.  Back to top of page

MUSCLE-READING
A phenomena which mimics telepathy, in which a person is able, for example, to find a hidden object by means of physical contact with the person who knows its whereabouts, probably due to subtle muscular cues that the latter provides unconsciously; also known as “Cumberlandism,” after Stuart Cumberland, a nineteenth century practitioner of this art.  Back to top of page

MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE
An experience which, according to Michael A. Thalbourne (1991a, 1991b), consists of a majority of the following features: it tends to be sudden in onset, joyful, and difficult to verbalize; it involves a sense of perceiving the purpose of existence; an insight into “the harmony of things;” a perception of an ultimate unity — of oneness; transcendence of the ego; an utter conviction of immortality; and it tends to be temporary, authoritative and to be attributed supreme value. Some people interpret the mystical experience as an experience of unity with God.  Back to top of page

NDE
See Near-Death Experience.  Back to top of page

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE (NDE)
Term applied to experiences undergone by persons who either seem to be at the point of death (or who are even formally declared dead) but then recover, or who narrowly escape death (as in a motor car accident) without being seriously injured; it has been suggested that there is, upon coming close to death, a “core” NDE made up of certain common elements, such as a feeling of indescribable peace, a sense of being out of one’ s body, a movement into a dark void or down a tunnel, seeing a brilliant light, and entering that light; there may also be reported the experience of so-called “panoramic memory” (the “life review”), the encountering of an “unseen presence,” or being greeted by deceased relatives or religious figures.  Back to top of page

OBE
See Out-of-[the]-Body Experience.  Back to top of page

OCCULT
Term referring to certain reputed sciences and practices such as magic, astrology, witchcraft, sorcery, and so on, involving esoteric knowledge or the employment of mysterious agencies; not to be confused with scientific parapsychology. [From the Latin occultus, “covered over, concealed”]  Back to top of page

OUT-OF-[THE]-BODY EXPERIENCE (OBE, or OOBE)
An experience, either spontaneous or induced, in which one’s center of consciousness seems to be in a spatial location outside of one’s physical body; Celia Green distinguishes two types of such “ecsomatic” [From the Greek ek, “out of,” + soma, “body”] experiences: the “parasomatic” [From the Greek para, “along side of”] in which the person appears to themselves to possess a duplicate body, sometimes connected to the physical body by a “silver cord;” and the “asomatic” [From the Greek a-, “without”] in which they feel themselves to be entirely bodiless; in either case, many experients claim to perceive their physical bodies lying inert, to see and hear people while remaining unperceived themselves, and to perceive objects and events normally beyond the range of their physical senses; of special interest to parapsychologists on account of its alleged connection with clairvoyance, and to students of survival as providing an example of what disembodied existence could be like. The term “OBE” is preferred by parapsychologists for the phenomena also known as “astral projection,” “traveling clairvoyance.” See also Astral Body. [Dale & White, 1977]  Back to top of page

ESP PROJECTION
Term coined by Hornell Hart to refer to a type of OBE in which the person “projecting” their consciousness out of their body actually feels that they are out of their body, may be seen by other people at a distant point, and afterwards reports a veridical description of what he or she observed at that point.  Back to top of page

PARANORMAL
Term applied to any phenomenon which in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible on current scientific assumptions; often used as a synonym for “psychic,” “parapsychological,” “attibutable to psi,” or even “miraculous” (although shorn of religious overtones). [From the Greek para, “beside, beyond,” + normal]  Back to top of page

PARAPSYCHOLOGICAL
Involving or pertaining to parapsychology or paranormal processes.  Back to top of page

PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Term coined in German by Max Dessoir (1889) and adopted by J. B. Rhine in English to refer to the scientific study of paranormal or ostensibly paranormal phenomena, that is, psi; except in Britain, the term has largely superseded the older expression “psychical research;” used by some to refer to the experimental approach to the field. [From the Greek para, “beside, beyond,” + psychology, derived from the Greek psyche, “soul, mind,” + logos “rational discussion”]  Back to top of page

PAST-LIFE REGRESSION
A process in which a hypnotized person is mentally “taken back” (or “regressed”) by the hypnotist to one or more apparent previous life-times, thus suggesting reincarnation Back to top of page

PERCIPIENT
Broadly speaking, someone who perceives or who has a perception-like experience, in particular, the person who experiences or “receives” an extrasensory influence or impression; also one who is tested for ESP ability. Compare Agent. [From the Latin percipiens (percipientis), derived from percipere, “to receive, understand”]  Back to top of page

PHOTOGRAPHY, PARANORMAL
The paranormal production of images on photographic film; also known as “thoughtography,” a term used to describe the experiments of Tomokichi Fukurai (1931) but adopted by Jule Eisenbud to describe the phenomena produced by Ted Serios, as if mental images were “projected” onto the film. See also Thoughtography; Spirit Photography.  Back to top of page

PK
See Psychokinesis.  Back to top of page

POLTERGEIST
A disturbance characterized by bizarre physical effects of paranormal origin, suggesting mischievous or destructive intent: these phenomena include the unexplained movement or breakage of objects, loud raps, the lighting of fires, and occasionally personal injury to people; in contrast to a haunting, the phenomena often seem to depend upon the presence of a particular living individual, called the “focus,” frequently an adolescent or child; and apparitions are rarely seen. [German: literally, “noisy ghost”]  Back to top of page

PRECOGNITION
A form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some future event that cannot be deduced from normally known data in the present. Compare Retrocognition. [From the Latin præ-, “prior to,” + cognitio, “a getting to know”]  Back to top of page

PREMONITION
A feeling or impression that something is about to happen, especially something ominous or dire, yet about which no normal information is available. See Precognition. [From the Latin præ, “prior to,” + monitio, “warning”]  Back to top of page

PSI (Ψ)
A general blanket term, proposed by B. P. Wiesner and seconded by R. H. Thouless (1942), and used either as a noun or adjective to identify paranormal processes and paranormal causation; the two main categories of psi are psi-gamma (paranormal cognition; extrasensory perception) and psi-kappa (paranormal action; psychokinesis), although the purpose of the term “psi” is to suggest that they might simply be different aspects of a single process, rather than
distinct and essentially different processes. Strictly speaking “psi” also applies to survival of death. Some thinkers prefer to use “psi” as a purely descriptive term for anomalous outcomes, as suggested by Palmer (1986, p. l39), who defines it as “a correspondence between the cognitive or physiological activity of an organism and events in its external environment that is anomalous with respect to generally accepted basic limiting principles of nature such as those articulated by C. D. Broad.” [From the Greek, psi, twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; from the Greek psyche, “mind, soul”]  Back to top of page

PSI-CONDUCIVE
Favorable to, or facilitative of, the occurrence of psi, whether it be manifested as psi-hitting or psi-missing.  Back to top of page

PSI-HITTING
The use of psi in such a way that the target at which the subject is aiming is “hit” (that is, correctly responded to, in a test of extrasensory perception; or influenced, in a test of psychokinesis), more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating; the term is also sometimes used, misleadingly, to refer merely to nonsignificant positive scoring. Hence, “psi-hitter,” a subject who exhibits a tendency to psi-hit. Compare Psi-Missing. [Abbreviated to Ψ H by James Carpenter]  Back to top of page

PSI-MISSING
The use of psi in such a way that the target at which the subject is aiming is “missed” (that is, responded to incorrectly, in a test of extrasensory perception; or influenced in a direction contrary to aim, in a test of psychokinesis) more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating; the term is also sometimes used, misleadingly, to refer simply to nonsignificant negative scoring. Hence, “psi-misser,” a subject who displays a tendency to psi-miss. Compare Psi-Hitting. [Abbreviated to Ψ M by James Carpenter]  Back to top of page

PSI PHENOMENON
Any event which results from, or is an instance of, the operation of psi; examples are the forms of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis.  Back to top of page

PSYCHIC(AL)
As a noun, “psychic” refers to an individual who possesses psi ability of some kind and to a relatively high degree; as an adjective, it is nowadays applied to paranormal events, abilities, research, and so on, and thus means “concerning or involving psi,” or “parapsychological.” [From the Greek psychikos, “of the soul, mental,”
derived from psyche, “soul, mind”]  Back to top of page

PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
The original term for “parapsychology,” still widely used, especially in Britain.  Back to top of page

PSYCHIC ARCHEOLOGY
Archeological research which is pursued with the assistance of a sensitive or other source of paranormal information.  Back to top of page

PSYCHIC HEALING
See Healing, Psychic.  Back to top of page

PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY
See Photography, Paranormal.  Back to top of page

PSYCHIC SURGERY
A form of psychic healing practiced particularly in the Philippines, in which diseased tissue are said to be removed without the use of surgical instruments, and bleeding, infection, and the like, are inhibited paranormally. The term is also used of surgery in which the surgeon operates while in a trance, as performed by J. Arigo and other Brazilian exponents of this practice, usually using unsterilized knives as scalpels.  Back to top of page

PSYCHOKINESIS
Paranormal action; term coined by Henry Holt and adopted by J. B. Rhine to refer to the direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy. See also Psi-Kappa under Psi; Retroactive PK; Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis. [From the Greek psyche, “mind, soul,” + kinesis, “a moving, disturbance,” derived from kinein, “to set in motion”]  Back to top of page

PSYCHOKINETIC METAL-BENDING (PK-MB)
A psychokinetic effect in which metallic objects such as keys, cutlery and so on are subjected to more or less permanent deformation or other structural change.  Back to top of page

PSYCHOMETRY
Term coined by Joseph Rodes Buchanan (1893) to refer to the practice in which sensitives hold an object in their hands and obtain paranormal information about the object or its owner; owing to the confusion with a psychological term, “psychometry” has in recent years been superseded by “token-object reading.” [From the Greek psyche, “soul, mind,” + metrein, “to measure”]  Back to top of page

PSYCHOTRONICS
Czech term for “parapsychology” (excluding the study of survival), but embracing certain phenomena that are not now generally accepted as parapsychological. According to (the late) Larissa Vilenskaya (1983, p. 107), the term was first pro-posed with the analogy of “bionics” in mind, to refer to “the field dealing with the construction of devices capable of enhancing and/or reproducing certain psi phenomena (such as psychokinesis in the case of ‘psychotronic generators’ developed by Robert Pavlita) and later embraced some other phenomena.” [Dale & White, 1977]  Back to top of page

QUALITATIVE EXPERIMENT
(i) Any test for extrasensory perception which uses target material and forms of response which do not allow a definite probability-value to be attached to the response items made; examples are most free-response tests, tests of psychometry, mediumistic utterances, and so on; statistical evaluation of such data must therefore proceed in an indirect fashion, by assigning a probability-value to the matching-performance of a judge; (ii) Any attempt to demonstrate qualitative phenomena. Compare Quantitative Experiment. [Ultimately derived from the Latin qualis, “what kind of?”]  Back to top of page

QUANTITATIVE EXPERIMENT
Any test for psi which uses targets each of which has a specific prescribed value for the probability of its occurrence; such a test therefore allows for direct statistical evaluation of the results obtained. Compare Qualitative Experiment. [Ultimately derived from the Latin quantus, “how great,how much?”]  Back to top of page

RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR (RNG)
An apparatus (typically electronic) incorporating an element (based on such processes as radioactive decay or random “noise”) and capable of generating a random sequence of outputs; used in tests of psi for generating target sequences, and in tests of psychokinesis may itself be the target system which the subject is required to influence, that is, by “biasing” the particular number or event output; a binary RNG has two equally-probable outputs; the term “RNG” is increasingly being used to refer to any system which produces naturally random outputs, such as bouncing dice, radioactive decay, or even, perhaps, the brain.  Back to top of page

READING
The statements made by a sensitive (or as a result of the process of divination) in the course of an attempt to obtain paranormal information or “messages.”  Back to top of page

RECEIVER
An expression which is less technical than “percipient,” used to indicate the subject designated as the “recipient” of telepathic information. Compare Sender.  Back to top of page

RECURRENT SPONTANEOUS PSYCHOKINESIS (RSPK)
Expression coined by William G. Roll to refer to paranormal physical effects which occur repeatedly over a period of time, especially used as a neutral description of poltergeist disturbances. See also Psychokinesis.  Back to top of page

REINCARNATION
A form of survival in which the human soul, or some aspects of self, is, after the death of the body, reborn into a new body, this process being repeated throughout many lives. From the Latin re-, “again,” + in-, “into,” + caro (carnis), “flesh”]  Back to top of page

REMOTE VIEWING
A neutral term for general extrasensory perception introduced Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff (1974), especially in the context of an experimental design in which a percipient attempts to describe the surroundings of a geographically distant agent.  Back to top of page
ASSOCIATIONAL REMOTE VIEWING (ARV)
As described by Targ (1983), a form of remote viewing in which the area where a desired item might be located is divided up into a finite number of discrete locations; each of the possible locations, or addresses, is associated or linked with a laboratory-based token object or picture (such as of the Golden Gate Bridge); the viewer is then asked to describe the associated target-object, thereby indirectly choosing a particular target-location or address.  Back to top of page

RETROACTIVE PK
Psychokinesis occurring in such a way as to be an instance of retroactive causation; to say that event A was caused by retroactive PK is to say that A would not have happened in the way that it did had it not been for a later PK effort exerted so as to influence it. Sometimes abbreviated to “retro-PK;” also referred to as “backward PK” or “time-displaced PK.”  Back to top of page

RETROCOGNITION
Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to a form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some past event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means. Compare Precognition [From the Latin retro, “backward, behind,” + cognitio, “a getting to know”]  Back to top of page

RSPK
See Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis.

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