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From Shaman to Scientist: Essays on Humanity's Search for Spirits Paperback – August 5, 2004

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ISBN-13: 978-0810850545 ISBN-10: 0810850540

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In Chapter 1, Annekatrin Puhle and Adrian Parker explore 'edges' between the scientific and shamanic worldviews. A brief history of parapsychology emphasizes that the 'experimenter effect,' far from being mere artifact, is 'part of the beast we are investigating.' They point out that the most successful Ganzfeld experiments are those that give prominence to ritualistic and spiritual context. This supports their conclusion that 'our experimental techniques may be the modern day equivalent of rituals for bringing forth the phenomena.' In Chapter 2, a detailed exploration of psi-shamanic associations, James McClenon suggests that many of the core phenomena manifest cross-culturally. Michael Winkelman in the next chapter surmises that 'Spirits are part of thestructure of human consciousness [and]...can be understood as representing psychological complexes, organized personality dynamics that are dissociated from awareness, normal personality and identity.' Christa Tuczay in Chapter 4 explores ghosts in medieval sources, and this is followed by Peter Mulacz in what, for me, was the most fascinating chapter in the book, reviewing the history of poltergeist research and leading theories of the phenomenon. Sylvia Grider's chapter on American children's ghost sto (The Christian Parapsychologist)

Ghosts have haunted us from time immemorial. Rationalistic criticism casts them as the poster children of superstitious credulity, yet we still refuse to outgrow them. This persistence under fire has even begun to win a new and more respectful look at these old friends, these shadows in the dark and things that go bump in the night. If few scholars are convinced that ghosts mean the soul survives death, many now regard belief in ghosts as a significant and intriguing subject with cultural and psychological causes worthy of serious study. Any effort to reckon with belief in ghosts must also reckon with prior efforts. They are numerous and reflect hopes and prejudices, fashions and agendas more often than dispassionate scholarship, leaving behind a clutterof confusion for subsequent scholars to overstep. A new book raises a welcome light among the midnight corners of ghostly belief and leads readers through a grand tour of this perennial subject. From Shaman to Scientist collects articles exploring the mystery of ghosts in both breadth and depth. The book illuminates the cultural history of ghosts and the effort of the living to understand them, how they function as the subject of narratives and how old ideas meld with new technology to create a popul (Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D.)

The writing within this volume commendably reflects a diversity of beliefs, and approaches to understanding the fundamentally human experience of spirits and hauntings. This topic benefits considerably from this type of approach. (Christine Simmonds-Moore Journal Of Scientific Exploration)

Anthropologists, psychiatrists, and others who have researched parapsychology phenomena provide a number of case studies in which people have looked for what are popularly called ghosts in various contexts. Among their topics are shamanism in terms of human evolution, dissociation, and anomalous experience; interactions with apparitions, ghosts, and revenants in ancient and medieval sources; American children's ghost stories; and ghost hunting in the 21st century. (Reference & Research Book News)

...provocative and well constructed....Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. (Choice)

Highly recommended reading for academic researchers, students of the subject, and those working in the media. (John Maltby, Ph.D. Department Of Psychology, University Of Leicester, Uk)

In Chapter 1, Annekatrin Puhle and Adrian Parker explore 'edges' between the scientific and shamanic worldviews. A brief history of parapsychology emphasizes that the 'experimenter effect,' far from being mere artifact, is 'part of the beast we are investigating.' They point out that the most successful Ganzfeld experiments are those that give prominence to ritualistic and spiritual context. This supports their conclusion that 'our experimental techniques may be the modern day equivalent of rituals for bringing forth the phenomena.' In Chapter 2, a detailed exploration of psi-shamanic associations, James McClenon suggests that many of the core phenomena manifest cross-culturally. Michael Winkelman in the next chapter surmises that 'Spirits are part of the structure of human consciousness [and]...can be understood as representing psychological complexes, organized personality dynamics that are dissociated from awareness, normal personality and identity.' Christa Tuczay in Chapter 4 explores ghosts in medieval sources, and this is followed by Peter Mulacz in what, for me, was the most fascinating chapter in the book, reviewing the history of poltergeist research and leading theories of the phenomenon. Sylvia Grider's chapter on American children's ghost stories will be of interest to the folklorist, and finally, in Chapter 7, John Potts continues the ethnographic drift by reviewing twenty-first century ghost hunting, including 'ghosts on the web.' Loyd Auerbach's Afterword pulls the diverse streams together, remarking: 'I might never have made the connection between 'ghost hunter' and 'shaman' were it not for the preceding pages.' The ghost hunter or paranormal researcher, he suggests, is in many respects a shamanic figure in our modern world. (The Christian Parapsychologist)

Ghosts have haunted us from time immemorial. Rationalistic criticism casts them as the poster children of superstitious credulity, yet we still refuse to outgrow them. This persistence under fire has even begun to win a new and more respectful look at these old friends, these shadows in the dark and things that go bump in the night. If few scholars are convinced that ghosts mean the soul survives death, many now regard belief in ghosts as a significant and intriguing subject with cultural and psychological causes worthy of serious study. Any effort to reckon with belief in ghosts must also reckon with prior efforts. They are numerous and reflect hopes and prejudices, fashions and agendas more often than dispassionate scholarship, leaving behind a clutter of confusion for subsequent scholars to overstep. A new book raises a welcome light among the midnight corners of ghostly belief and leads readers through a grand tour of this perennial subject. From Shaman to Scientist collects articles exploring the mystery of ghosts in both breadth and depth. The book illuminates the cultural history of ghosts and the effort of the living to understand them, how they function as the subject of narratives and how old ideas meld with new technology to create a popular current form of "techno-mysticism." Questions of where belief in ghosts originates find an intriguing answer in shamanism, an archaic relationship between mortals and the spirit world that seems to provide a template throughout history. Asking why these beliefs persist in stubborn defiance of rational skepticism leads to the prospect that innate cognitive structures sustain ghostly experiences as phenomenal realities, whatever their ontological nature may be. The contributors to this book respect the complexity of ghost belief in history and culture even as they advance our understanding along sound scholarly lines. And if the writers are willing to allow now and then that there is still something mysterious about a fine ghostly encounter, well, let us b (Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D.)

About the Author

James Houran Houran serves as a peer-reviewer for many psychological and parapsychological journals, and is an associate editor for the Australian Journal of Parapsychology and a consulting editor for the European Journal of Parapsychology. He is a former Instructor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His research has produced more than 80 professional publications in psychology and parapsychology journals, and his work has been frequently profiled in print and electronic media worldwide, such as A&E, History Channel, BBC, ABC News, and several commercial documentaries.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (August 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810850540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810850545
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,373,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Psychology Fan on October 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
This collection of academic chapters addresses the different psychological and sociological motivations people have had (and have today) for searching for ghosts and evidence of life hereafter. According to the general premise of the book, the search arguably started with shamanism and continues to this day in the guise of self-styled ghost hunting groups everyone has heard of on the Internet. However, readers will also be treated to analyses on the psychology of believing in and experiencing ghosts, the functions of children's ghost stories, and the influence of science and religion on how societies conceptualized and attempted to interact with "spirits." The contributors are well respected authorities that hail from various disciplines: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, and parapsychology. This is fun and stimulating reading that goes beyond the formula that has been way overdone and sensationalized in recent years -- namely, serving the public collections of "true" ghost stories and "real life" ghost investigations. Highly recommended!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mariessa on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I was so impressed with James Houran's other text on ghosts ("Hauntings & Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives"). This book also is for people with intellect, but it was an over all fun read (some chapters can get a little hard to follow if you don't have a background in psychology). I especially loved the chapter on Internet ghost hunters! That was the first academic examination of these groups that I've ever read, and it was fascinating. No hype in this book; just serious writings that will hold your attention.
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From Shaman to Scientist: Essays on Humanity's Search for Spirits
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