Forgive me; I just returned from this year’s Parapsychological Association conference, and my mind is still digesting five days of intense engagement with the scientific study of exceptional human experiences. So this column will necessarily be very brief. Rather than regurgitate some half-chewed material, I’d like to share a few insights from Dr. Stanley Krippner, professor of psychology at Saybrook University, who was honored at the convention for his contributions to the field on the eve of his 80th birthday, which is coming up in October.
It’s difficult to write a brief summary of the career of a man whose work in various fields has provided a cornerstone for social progress in the 20th and early 21st centuries. For close to a decade, starting in 1964, Krippner was the director of the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Research Laboratory in Brooklyn, which was started by Montague Ullman in 1962 to study ESP in dreams. Serious study in all of the areas currently in vogue within the consciousness studies field, from dream studies to shamanism to distance healing, were all in some way progressed by Krippner’s efforts over the years to bring scientific rigor to the study of exceptional experiences.
He also has the rare honor of being equally respected by both the most vehement skeptics and those working in the field of parapsychology. During his address to the convention, he joked that he was one of the rare public parapsychologists to have received not one but three letters of apology from James Randi. Such a feat makes his advice to young researchers, and to those hoping to come into such a contentious field of study, very pertinent.
We are currently seeing a resurgence of focus on parapsychology after a 20-year lull, with more and more university groups and institutes returning to an area of study that held the world’s fascination for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. From the research work currently being conducted at the Rhine Research Center, University of West Georgia, University of Virginia, Windbridge Institute, Institute of Noetic Sciences, and University of Northampton, to the educational opportunities offered by organizations such as Atlantic University and the Monroe Institute, it is once again possible for students and young researchers to look forward to a career in parapsychology. However, we haven’t crested the hill yet, and much work still needs to be done to carry things forward into the 21st century.