Psi Phenomena

Psi phenomena are anomalous superhuman capabilities as a result of one’s ability to overcome marginalization caused by the interdisciplinary disharmony between transpersonal psychology and parapsychology. Psi phenomena (telepathy, precognition, sensing of presence, and out-of-body experiences) are ubiquitous and atavistic with empirical correlation to neurobiology. Confirmed in half the population of surveyed countries (Targ, Schlitz, & Irwin, as cited in Dein, 2012, p. 62), an accounting for this ubiquity is atavism which characterized as the ancient and ancestral connection of primal instincts of animals and humans, for example, Freud’s Wolf Man (Seitler, 2008, p. 53) who embodied psychic hybridity (i.e., the psychical and psychological joining of human with animal) (Kripal, 2014, p. 243). This intersection creates a liminal space or threshold (Van Gennep, 1960, p. 11) where one can access altered state in the right brain hemisphere (Wade, 2016) and is empirically observable in limbic system activation (e.g., telepathy with right parahippocampal gyrus) (Venkatasubramanian et al., 2008). Though ubiquitous and atavistic with empirical correlation, why are psi phenomena still anomalous?

Accounting for this psi anomalousness (Dein, 2012, p. 61) is the discord between psychological disciplines, specifically transpersonal psychology and its subdiscipline of parapsychology, as in MacDonald and Friedman (2012). Transpersonal psychology views psi phenomena as spiritual in nature, but conversely, parapsychology views them as mere expressions of consciousness involving anomalous transfer of energy (p. 50). Consequently, parapsychology has directed focus on empirical data collection by using neurobiology in a reductive and causal way which jeopardizes unbiased empirical and theoretical exploration of spiritual experiences. An example of this reductionistic approach is Persinger’s God Helmet which was capable of changing the magnetic fields around the temporal lobes (Persinger & Makarec, cited in MacDonald & Friedman, 2012) and is associated with the limbic system implicated in spiritual and paranormal experiences (Neppe, 1984; Neppe, cited in MacDonald & Friedman, 2012). This ability to change magnetic fields and reproduce paranormal experiences, led to the marginalization of spiritual experiences (i.e., psi phenomena) but provided an opportunity for transpersonal psychology to reframe empirical data, collected by parapsychology, as correlative (i.e., relationship between brain and psi) instead of causal (i.e., brain causes psi) (Daniels, 2005, p. 61). This much needed correlative collaboration between transpersonal psychology and parapsychology may close the burgeoning interdisciplinary disharmony (MacDonald & Friedman, 2012) and psi phenomena can become less anomalous with greater implications for species-wide access to superhuman experiences of psi phenomena.


Daniels, M. (2005). Shadow, self, spirit: Essays in transpersonal psychology. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic.

Dein, S. (2012). Mental health and the paranormal. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 31(1), 61-74.

Kripal, J. J. (2014). Comparing religions. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

MacDonald, D. A., & Friedman, H. L. (2012). Transpersonal psychology, parapsychology, and neurobiology: Clarifying their relationships. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 31(1), 49-60.

Neppe, V. M. (1984). The temporal lobe and anomalous experience. Parapsychological Journal of South Africa, 5(1), 36-47.

Seitler, D. (2008). Atavistic tendencies: The culture of science in American modernity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Van Gennep, A. (1960). The rites of passage. New York, NY: Routledge.

Venkatasubramanian, G., Jayakumar, P. N., Nagendra, H. R., Nagaraja, D., Deeptha, R., & Gangadhar B. N. (2008). Investigating paranormal phenomena: Functional brain imaging of telepathy. International Journal of Yoga, 1(2), 66-71.

Wade, J. (2016, Nov. 4). Critical TP 9 Psi [Video file]. Retrieved from

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