By Heather Wolffram

Best the reader during the darkened séance rooms and laboratories of Imperial and inter-war Germany, The Stepchildren of Science casts mild at the emergence of psychical examine and parapsychology within the German context. It seems, specifically, on the position of the psychiatrist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing - a determine who formed himself as either propagandist and Grand Seignior of German parapsychology - in shaping those nascent disciplines. unlike different fresh stories during which occultism is visible as a way of facing or growing "the modern", this publication considers the epistemological, cultural and social concerns that arose from psychical researchers' and parapsychologists' claims to medical legitimacy. concentrating on the boundary disputes among those researchers and the spiritualists, occultists, psychologists and scientists with whom they competed for authority over the magical, The Stepchildren of Science demonstrates that during the German context either proponents and competitors alike understood psychical study and parapsychology as border sciences.

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Lehmstedt and A. Herzog (eds), Das Bewegte Buch: Buchwesen und soziale, nationale und kulturelle Bewegungen um 1900 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999). 48. D. Sawicki, Leben mit den Toten: Geisterglauben und die Enstehung des Spiritismus in Deutschland, 1770–1900 (Munich: Schöningh, 2002). 49. Freytag, op. cit. (note 23). 50. Treitel, op. cit. (note 41), 40–55. 51. Pytlik, op. cit. (note 11). 52. Kaiser, op. cit. (note 18) 53. Lachapelle, op. cit. (note 12). 54. In its focus on the boundary disputes between psychology and the study of the paranormal – which increasingly involved the ‘psychologisation’ and ‘pathologisation’ of psychical research and parapsychology in the Imperial and inter-war periods – this book also hopes to make a small contribution to Rhodri Hayward’s argument about the role of psychology and psychical research in the construction of ‘historicist’ conceptions of self.

One of the more popular was ‘scientific occultism’ [wissenschaftliche Okkultismus], see E. Bauer, ‘Periods of Historical Development of Parapsychology in Germany – An Overview’, Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 34th Convention (Parapsychological Association, 1991), 10. The word parapsychology was coined in 1889 by the psychologist Max Dessoir, but did not come into use until the mid-1920s when Schrenck-Notzing renamed a major periodical in 26 Introduction 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

It also has the advantage of demonstrating the significance of psychical research and parapsychology within a broader social and cultural milieu. An emphasis on conflict throughout much of this book – particularly Chapters 2, 5 and 6 – is intended to illustrate the highly controversial nature of parapsychology’s claim to be a legitimate science. The disagreements and credibility contests that were an habitual feature of psychical research and parapsychology in this period illustrate what was at stake in the scientific study of somnambulism and mediumship.

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