The book draws upon both empirical approaches (e.g., personality
assessment measures) and more theoretical constructs proposed by analytical
psychologists and psychoanalysts.
Some of the topics of particular interest to psychologists
are briefly outlined here.
Ernest Hartmann developed a concept of mental boundaries.
His boundary questionnaire includes items assessing paranormal experience.
His theories have surprising parallels with Jungian psychiatrist Jean Bolen’s
analysis of the Greek trickster Hermes. He is the god of boundaries.
Jung - Freud Hillman - Lacan
Jung discussed the trickster in collaboration with
anthropologist Paul Radin. He commented on the tricksterish aspects
of poltergeists. Jung’s writing on alchemy addressed the union and
separation of opposites—a theme central to anthropological findings on
binary classification schemes.
Freud wrote favorably on telepathy, but he displayed
an “exquisite oscillation” (Ernest Jones’ term) toward the supernatural.
His book Totem and Taboo (1913) attempted to explain “primitive”
religion, its use of magic, and its apparent irrationality. But Freud
was forced to admit his befuddlement. The trickster governs the irrational,
and he was the cause of Freud’s confusion.
James Hillman’s book Re-Visioning Psychology
(1975) explains how the imagination and personification have been disparaged
by psychologists. But they are key to grasping the trickster.
Jacques Lacan’s work on the imagination has some
parallels with that of Hillman. Lacan apparently said little about
the paranormal, but his life was full of trickster and anti-structural
Hypnotism’s association with the paranormal goes
back at least to the time of Mesmer. Prominent psychologists who
investigated hypnosis include Vladimir Bechterev, Pierre Janet, Sigmund
Freud, William James, and William McDougall. These figures also contributed
to psychical research.
Hypnosis remains somewhat ambiguous, marginal, and
controversial within psychology. The phenomenon is illuminated with
the anthropological concept of liminality (which shares important properties
of the trickster).
Robert Rosenthal’s research on experimenter effects
is discussed in the chapter on reflexivity. Theories of the trickster
directly apply to reflexivity.
Deception in Animals
Research on animal deception is reviewed, particularly
its implications for the development of consciousness.
Paranoia frequently accompanies paranormal experience.
A full chapter is devoted to the topic, and a variety of perspectives are