Physicians and Séances on the Road Towards the Spectacularization of Spiritualism

Germana Pareti


Riding on the wave of the neo-vitalist reaction to mechanistic philosophy, which swept through the fields of medicine and biology in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century, a large group of scientists embraced the psychical research that had emerged in England not to be confused with spiritualism because the aim was to study the spirit-phenomena with scientific tools and methods. In addition to French psychologists and psychiatrists (including Richet and Janet), this group of psychical researchers also included German (Driesch and Schrenck-Notzing), Italian (Lombroso and Morselli) and American (James) scholars. Contributions were also made by poets, writers and musicologists who were attracted to the occult. Meanwhile, the fusion of different types of knowledge gave rise to investigations (more or less scientific) into the growing spectacularization of the paranormal, which today is studied by experts in communication theories.


Key words: Psychical research - Spiritualism - Religion - Entertainment 

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