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Ehrenwald, J. (1974). The Telepathy Hypothesis and Schizophrenia. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 2(2):159-169.

(1974). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 2(2):159-169

The Telepathy Hypothesis and Schizophrenia

Jan Ehrenwald

Early advocates as well as informed critics of parapsychology have called attention to the embarrassing similarity of some of its basic propositions with the paranoid schizophrenic's delusions of grandeur, of thought and action at a distance. There is a no less embarrassing similarity with what anthropologists of the Victorian era described as the “monstrous farrago” of magic and animism or with preliterate man's paleological patterns of thinking. A third parallel is with the child's and the neurotic's fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience, especially in relation to the symbiotic mother. As a result, telepathy and related incidents—socalled psi phenomena—still tend to be relegated to the lunatic fringe of our culture.

Men of classical antiquity, to say nothing of ancient Far Eastern cultures, were less squeamish about such resemblances. Occasional veridical features, real or imaginary, in the ravings of the insane, in the ecstasies of saints or seers, in the fabric of dreams, struck the observer with awe, reverence, or fear. The ancient Greeks considered epilepsy as a sacred disease and Plato distinguished divine madness from other types of insanity. Similar notions are still reflected in the writings of Aldous Huxley, Allan Watts, Timothy Leary, and John Lilly.


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