Journal of Anomalistics
Zeitschrift für Anomalistik

JAnom / ZfA 22-2

Special Issue

Women and Parapsychology

Observations - Reflections

edited by
Cedar S. Leverett and Nancy L. Zingrone

ISBN 978-3-937361-13-0


ZfA 22-2


Contents / Inhalt






Nancy L. Zingrone
An Editorial Reflection on Women in Parapsychology from the Perspectives of St. Louis, Montreal, and Dublin, and the Pages of this Journal   (226 –240)
Eine editorische Reflexion über Frauen in der Parapsychologie aus den Perspektiven von St. Louis, Montreal und Dublin und den Seiten dieser Zeitschrift  (241 –253)

Cedar S. Leverett
Between Two Worlds – Unmasking Commonly Shared Female Experiences of Women in Parapsychology (254 –263)
Zwischen zwei Welten – Aufdeckung allgemein geteilter weiblicher Erfahrungen von Frauen in der Parapsychologie (264 –273)

Gerhard Mayer
Delayed Start of a Project  (274 –276)
Verzögerter Start eines Projekts  (277 –279)



Main Articles / Hauptbeiträge


All articles include English and German abstracts


Caroline Watt
On Being a (White, Middle-Class) Woman in Parapsychology  (280–285)

In this paper the author provides a personal perspective on the theme of women in parapsychology. She reflects on her journey in academia, from being the first in her farming family to go to university, to joining the University of Edinburgh in 1986 as Research Assistant to the first Koestler Professor Robert Morris, to her current position as the second holder of the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology. Equality of opportunity is complex, and the author has benefitted greatly from the privileges of being white and middle-class, and of having an open-minded boss (indeed, she speculates that parapsychologists may be particularly open-minded). At the same time, she has experienced gender-related obstacles in her career, including periods of maternity leave, and disproportionate responsibility for dependants and housekeeping. The latter challenges have mostly been managed with part-time working. Perhaps as a consequence, progression to more senior academic positions (notably being promoted to the Koestler Chair in 2016 aged almost 54) has been slow relative to male colleagues. Studies of the profile of UK academics indicate that this is a typical experience for many female researchers. But the same data also show that other less privileged groups are even more poorly represented in academia, most notably black people. In 1994 Rhea White memorably highlighted the advantages of taking a feminist approach to parapsychology. This paper concludes by suggesting that parapsychological research – the questions that we ask, the methods that we employ, and what we learn as a result – will benefit from an even more inclusive academy.

Ina Schmied-Knittel
Occultism as a Resource. The Parapsychologist Fanny Moser (1872–1953)  (286–307)

Fanny Moser was a Swiss natural scientist who devoted the second half of her life to the study of occult phenomena, especially hauntings, and wrote two influential and extensive monographs on the subject. As one of the early female sponsors of the Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, she also provided the necessary support for the research institute and, in this respect, contributed to the establishment of a parapsychological research scene in Germany. The article first reconstructs Moser’s research biography, which is already remarkable because she was one of the very first female students and doctoral candidates in the German Empire. In a second step, it will be shown at which point and how exactly Moser was confronted with parapsychological topics and what role and function they had in her life. It will be shown that Moser’s engagement with parapsychology was situated in a dynamic field between subjective experiences of evidence, a personal crisis, and scientific self-empowerment, and that gender-specific factors also played a role. In this context it will be asked whether the publication of one’s own paranormal experiences and the introspection as a form of presentation represents a "typical female" aspect, since comparable statements by male parapsychologists are mostly absent in the scientific publications.

Eberhard Bauer
Mrs. Lotte Böhringer (1917–1994) – The "Anima of the Freiburg Institute" A Personal Appreciation   (308–315)

The dominant and most popular figure in German parapsychology after the Second World War was Professor Hans Bender, who founded in 1950 the "Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene e.V." (IGPP for short) [Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health] in his birthplace and hometown of Freiburg im Breisgau, directed it until his death on 7 May 1991 and represented the field of scientific parapsychology in research and teaching at the University of Freiburg for decades between 1954 and 1975 as an internationally renowned professor of frontier areas of psychology. In his attempts to build up the IGPP and to realize a central wish of his scientific life, Bender received decisive help and support by Mrs. Lotte Böhringer (1917–1994) who became his close collaborator quite early in 1946, when he developed his first plans to build an Institute devoted to parapsychological research and its social implications under the label "Grenzgebiete der Psychologie" Mrs. Böhringer was educated as a commercial employee and she left no trace in the formal parapsychological literature, except figuring in some pictures documenting the early history of the IGPP, mostly taken by a professional photographer Leif Geiges (1915–1990), who helped to popularize the Institute and its founder. It was decisively thanks to her initiative, her ingenuity and her sense of reality that the Institute could be built during the post war years on a plot of land in the city of Freiburg in a most beautiful location. After the IGPP building was completed in 1950, Mrs. Böhringer moved into a flat inside that building where she stayed all her life. The Institute and its social life became the center of her life, comparable to an ‘apple of her eye’ (Augapfel). In summary, one could describe her role as "Geschäftsführerin" (manager) responsible for all possible aspects of the daily life of the Institute. So, understandably, Professor Bender used to characterize Lotte Böhringer as "Seele des Instituts" (Anima of the Institute).

Renaud Evrard
Parapsychology and Women’s Emancipation: A Historical Cliché?  (316–323)

Becoming mediums or psychics is framed as an opportunity for feminist commitment. Through the paranormal, the classical view of domesticized and dominated women was challenged by new cultural norms pertaining to gender and corporeality. But is this claim reliable, or is this a historical reconstruction in order to culturalize a scientific controversy, which sidesteps examination of experimental evidence? No empirical studies support this claim. The culturalist interpretation that spiritualist mediumship was above all a privileged mode of expression for oppressed women should therefore be put into perspective.

Fatima Regina Machado
Being A Psi Researcher in Brazil: My Career and Perceptions as a Woman  (324–354)

This paper presents my career as a psi researcher in Brazil with a focus on obstacles and strategies to establish the study of psi in the academy, which includes my work with anomalistic psychology. Implications of religious and therapeutic perspectives for the development of parapsychology in the country are discussed. Gender issues are also addressed: the invisibility of female researchers/collaborators in the field and perspectives that reinforce the stereotype of women as unbalanced and naturally more connected to the paranormal and to religious/supernatural attributions to paranormal events than men, although surveys conducted in the country do not necessarily corroborate that. Besides efforts to establish psi research in academy, I also mention my actions to try to deconstruct the popular image of women – especially teenager girls – as inevitably unbalanced and connected to paranormal events. Finally, I comment and suggest guidelines to deal with gender issues and religiosity as a constitutive trait of subjectivity based on my own practices as a teacher, researcher, and clinical psychologist.

Sonali Bhatt Marwaha
A View From India on Women Achievers, Knowledge Systems, Psychology, and Psi  (355–399)

In the millennia old cultural moorings of the Indian sub-continent, the feminine principle, Shakti (prakrti, primordial cosmic energy, nature), is a core principle. Shakti is venerated in her benign and malevolent forms across the country. Despite the uncertainties of life, human nature, and society, women have played a significant role in the survival and progress of this ancient civilizattion. Indian women, in the formal and informal sectors, have contributed to the knowledge systems and the scientific enterprise. In the first part of this paper, I present a brief historical background on the status of women, and few recent examples of Indian women achievers. As a psi theorist, my interest rests in understanding the phenomena, for which understanding core concepts becomes a necessity. India is home to a diversity of philosophical schools and a vast body of literature that cover the body-mind-consciousness complex, with several scholars from the past to the present, contributing their views. Based in the Indian knowledge systems, Indian psychology has much to contribute the theoretical issues in psi. In the context of this special issue, an inter- and intra-school discussion becomes too vast. Thus, in this paper I take the approach of presenting a consolidated view without fidelity to any specific school of thought. In the first section relevant core concepts are briefly described. This is followed by briefly describing the views on psi perceptions, both in agreement and disagreement, as noted by scholars from the various schools of thought.

Donna Thomas
Rethinking Methodologies in Parapsychology Research with Children  (400–426)

In contemporary parapsychology research, children are missing. The wealth of literature with adults highlights children‘s paranormal experiences as an under-researched topic. Through this article, I argue for children‘s inclusion in parapsychology research, but with a caveat – as active agents, rather than passive objects. I consider the convergences between missing children and absent women researchers in parapsychology and argue for a rethinking of traditional research methodologies in the field of parapsychology. Traditional methodologies rooted in a patriarchal system could explain the exclusion of children, and the othering of women researchers in the field. I include a discussion around my own research with children, which produces different kinds of meanings and data in the act of knowledge production around paranormal or unexplained experiences.

Jacob W. Glazier
Feminism at the Forefront: A Critical Approach to Exceptional Experiences  (427–446)

Feminist theory today is now more relevant than ever. Reactionary cultural and political shifts have taken away long held rights of women and those that remain are under threat. Far from being divorced from scientific practice, the implications of this trend have a bearing on research, communities, and institutions. By returning to some key insights from feminist thinkers in parapsychology, most important herein is Rhea White (1990, 1994a, 1994b, 2002) but also Carl Williams (1996) and Beverly Rubik (1994), we can more reflectively consider such cultural changes as necesssarily implicated in parapsychological science. In this essay and opinion piece, I interface some of these insights gathered from the Women in Parapsychology conference (Coly & White, 1994) with selected feminist scholarship outside of parapsychology to argue for a revived feminist objectivity that counters the traditional androcentric view of science. In turn, I draw a connection between feminine embodiment and the paranormal that aids in disentangling both from political co-option. Finally, I suggest one critical strategy taken from the work of Félix Guattari (2015) called transversality that pushes interdisciplinary research further by demonstrating the political potential such collaboration entails. Critical approaches to exceptional experiences remain largely untapped by parapsychologists when their various concepts, interventive strategies, and reading tools could be put in the service of challenging unfair ideologies while also shifting psi studies toward a more transdisciplinary paradigm.

Jessica Utts
General and Personal Reflections on Succeeding as a Woman Science Researcher  (447–464)

In 1991 the Parapsychology Foundation sponsored a conference on Women in Parapsychology. In my paper for that conference (Utts, 1994) I discussed research identifying multiple factors that contributed to gender inequity in research careers in science, with a focus on academia. These factors included cultural norms, institutional barriers to success for women, implicit biases, and social pressures that deterred women from entering and succeeding in careers in science. In the past three decades, progress has been made on some of these factors, but not all of them. The first part of this paper discusses the extent to which the situation has improved (or not) for seven of the factors identified in the earlier paper, citing a combination of research and personal observation. The second part of this paper discusses multiple avenues of research showing the impact of subtle influences throughout childhood and early adulthood on career success. For example, cultural norms depicting scientists as men have gradually improved over the years, but children are still more likely to draw a man than a woman if asked to draw a scientist. Role models, as well as encouraging mentors, are important factors in determining whether a woman will pursue a career in science. Many successful women in science can identify a single mentor whose encouragement was a major contributing factor to her success. A sense of meaning in ones‘ work, and a supportive community are additional factors contributing to success. The final part of the paper is autobiographical, illustrating how the factors documented by this body of research played a role in my life. In a narrative starting from childhood and continuing through my career, I identify individuals and circumstances that contributed to my success. One significant factor was the welcoming parapsychological community, and details of how I was led to work with that community are discussed. The paper provides suggestions for specific actions that individuals and communities can take to encourage more women to succeed in careers in science, including in parapsychology.

Gerhard Mayer, Cedar S. Leverett, Nancy L. Zingrone
Women and Parapsychology 2022 – An Online Survey  (465–498)

In 1991, the Parapsychology Foundation organized an international conference on the topic "Women and Parapsychology," held in Dublin, Ireland. The survey aimed for an assessment of the situation in parapsychology 30 years after this conference. Our team asked women active in the research field of parapsychology and related areas about their scientific careers, authoring articles, contributions to the field and gender-specific experiences. We distributed the link to the extensive online questionnaire on several e-mail lists and websites and also sent the link specifically to individuals. 30 women completed the questionnaire. We got a selective, non-representative sample, with a high average age and level of education. Due to these limitations, the survey did not provide complete clarity as to whether parapsychology differed from other disciplines with regard to the status and situation of women. Several aspects are comparable to the situation of women in other research fields. As is generally the case in academia, women tend to be paid less. They have to make greater efforts to be taken seriously by male colleagues, which can slow down their careers, in addition to career interruptions due to raising children, greater difficulties balancing work and family life, and the like. We found a relatively low proportion (10%) of women who reported sexual intimidation or harassment in the field of parapsychology. General funding problems in parapsychology are even greater for women because of the additional childrearing responsibilities and less institutionalized research. Some findings lead us to the thesis that it is not necessarily the gender aspect that is responsible for rude and inappropriate behavior on the part of male colleagues, but rather a tendentially greater openness on the part of female researchers for worldviews and heterodox research subjects outside of the scientific mainstream. This thesis must be validated in further studies.

Christine Simmonds-Moore
Feminizing the Paranormal  (499–531)

This paper discusses how the discipline of parapsychology should acknowledge and integrate attributes from its shadow in order to grow. More women and feminine scholars should be encouraged into the field, and feminine approaches should be integrated with traditional masculine approaches in a both/and approach which draws from transpersonal psychology. This perspective is informed by the observation that psi phenomena are relational, embodied, meaningful, and participatory and rest on healthy connections that can be nurtured by integrating multiple perspectives, methodologies, and ways of knowing.



Continued discussions on previous contributions

Fortgesetzte Diskussionen zu früheren Beiträgen

Zum Artikel "Ein neuer europäischer Fall vom Reinkarnationstyp" von Dieter Hassler,
Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, 14(1) (2014), 25–44.

Dieter Hassler: Nachtrag zum Artikel "Ein neuer europäischer Fall vom Reinkarnationstyp" (532–535)



Book Reviews / Rezensionen


Yuval Noah Harari (2022). Homo Deus: Eine Geschichte von Morgen

Rezensentin: Gabriele Lademann-Priemer, Hannes Leuschner  (536–540)

Heiner Schwenke (Hrsg.) (2022). Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche: Liebe und Glaube:

Morgengedanken An meine Sally, die Verklärte
Rezensentin: Gabriele Lademann-Priemer  (541–543)

Ronald Hutton (2022). Queens of the Wild. Pagan Goddesses in Christian

Europe: An Investigation
Rezensentin: Meret Fehlmann  (544–549)



Fanny Moser Award / Fanny-Moser-Preis





The 2023 Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies Grants Program





Guidelines for Autors









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