Classification of Phenomena-Differences Between
Parapsychology and Spiritualism

Psychic experiences have occurred since the beginning of mankind and as man has grown in knowledge, he has sought to investigate those experiences as part of the workings of the natural world.

The practice of Spiritualism has produced many people who have taken a keen interest in investigating and classifying the psychic phenomena demonstrated in mediumship from both the Spiritualist’s and the Scientist’s point of view. In some areas, these classifications overlap but in many more ways they do not.

One of the earliest attempts at classifying the phenomena of mediumship was by Andrew Jackson Davis, who many consider a Founding Father of Spiritualism. While he recognized that there are two broad classifications of mediumship, that is, physical and mental, he further classified mediumship into four main areas: outward, inward, onward and upward with various sub-classes in each. He set up this system of classification to demonstrate the “systemic stratification of individual workers.”

He believed these classes and sub-classes showed the way up the ladder of spiritual development in the medium (the “worker”) from the lowest-Outward, which included several phenomena of the physical medium-to the highest-Upward, which included the highest spiritual attunement of the mental medium.

Davis himself was a medium and studied the phenomena with scientific detachment but also with a firm belief in the fact that the phenomena proved the existence of the Spirit World and that we could indeed make relevant and intelligent contact.

Sir William Crookes was a scientist who investigated some of the greatest mediums of his day in a time when physical mediums were highly popular and so his classifications are primarily concerned with the physical phenomena demonstrated at the time. Several of his greatest discoveries proved that many of these mediums were exhibiting real phenomena and that there was no fraud involved.

In more modern times, psychic phenomena have been investigated by the new science of parapsychology in many different labs and settings. They have come up with three classifications of psychic phenomena (or psi as they call it): 1) Survival, 2) Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP) and 3) Psychokinesis (PK).

Under survival, they have put mediumship and anything that appears to have a relationship to discarnate beings-or beings without a physical body-including hauntings, apparitions, poltergeists and so on.

Under ESP they have put things like clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition and retrocognition.

Under PK, they have included teleportation and materialization, psychic healing and others.

The classification of phenomena according to parapsychology is very different than the earlier classifications of phenomena done by Davis, Crookes and others. Spiritualism considers many of the classifications under ESP and PK as proof of survival after death but parapsychology does not.

It is wonderful that there is this new science that attempts to rationally and methodically prove that which Spiritualists, for over a century, have known to exist but the Spiritualist must understand that the interpretation of the phenomena by the parapsychologist differs greatly from our own.

We know, because we have seen and experienced it ourselves, that psychic phenomena in every form are a demonstration of mediumship and proof of a spiritual connection to another world. It is that connection that confirms to us that we will never die and that there are things from the unseen world that are just as real as the things in the world we see with our eyes.

Parapsychology only considers data which it can document in the same way every time by using the same test and conditions as proof of psychic phenomena but the Spiritualist knows that the phenomena itself is the proof. We know that the phenomena does not always manifest in the same way every time but the fact that we have connection and communion with Spirit is proof that it exists.

As scientific investigation improves and as Spiritualists increase their knowledge as well, there will come a time when the science of Spiritualism and the science of parapsychology come to the same conclusions: We are surrounded by the Spirit World and are spiritual beings having a human experience. And when that human experience is over, we will return to the Spirit World and continue our communication with those who remain behind as proof of the existence of that world.


Learn more about Spiritualism and it's classification of phenomena.




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