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The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a non-profit organization which started in the United Kingdommarker and was later imitated in other countries. Its stated purpose is to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way."

History

It was founded in 1882 by a group of eminent thinkers including Edmund Gurney, Frederic William Henry Myers, William Fletcher Barrett, Henry Sidgwick, and Edmund Dawson Rogers. The Society's headquarters are in Marloes Road, Londonmarker. It publishes the quarterly Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (JSPR), the irregular Proceedings and the magazine Paranormal Review. It holds an annual conference, regular lectures and two study days per year.

Its French equivalent, the Société Française pour Recherche Psychique, publishes the Journal de la Société Française pour Recherche Psychique (JSFRP), which means "Journal of the French Society for Psychical Research" in English. Its American counterpart, the American Society for Psychical Research, publishes the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (JASPR).

Purpose and organization

Its purpose was to encourage scientific research into psychic or paranormal phenomena in order to establish their truth. Research was initially aimed at six areas: telepathy, mesmerism and similar phenomena, mediums, apparitions, physical phenomena associated with séances and, finally, the history of all these phenomena. The Society is run by a President and a Council of twenty people. The organization is divided between London and Cambridge (where the archives are located), the London headquarters were initially at 14 Dean's Yard.

A French branch of the Society was formed in 1885 as the Société Française pour Recherche Psychique (SFRP), which means "French Society for Psychical Research" in English. Later, an American branch of the Society was formed as the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in 1885, becoming an affiliate of the original SPR in 1890. American writers sometimes incorrectly call the SPR the British Society for Psychical Research (BSPR), to distinguish it from the American SPR, but the modifer should not be added.

Today

The Society states its principal aim as "understanding events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area." The Society has gathered and disseminated a great deal of data relating to the paranormal. The SPR publishes a journal, the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research which includes reports of ongoing laboratory and fieldwork, as well as methodological, historical, and theoretical works covering a wide range of specialIties related to the field of parapsychology. The Society has built up an extensive library and archive, part of which is held at the University of Cambridge.

The Society has many well known figures among its members, including Dean Radin, Peter Underwood, Charles Tart and Tom Ruffles. Investigators of spontaneous phenomena (hauntings, etc.) include the late Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair who investigated reports of the Enfield Poltergeist.

References

  1. SPR website
  2. Edinburgh University Website
  3. Playfair, G. L. & Grosse, M. (1988). "Enfield Revisited: the evaporation of positive evidence". Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 55 pp. 208-219.


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