The Paranormal and Psychology

A hallucination may occur in a person in a state of good mental and physical health, even in the apparent absence of a transient trigger factor such as fatigue, intoxication or sensory deprivation.

It is not widely recognised that hallucinatory experiences are not merely the prerogative of the insane, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance.

The evidence for this statement has been accumulating for more than a century. Studies of hallucinatory experience in the sane go back to 1886 and the early work of the Society for Psychical Research [1][2], which suggested approximately 10% of the population had experienced at least one hallucinatory episode in the course of their life. More recent studies have validated these findings; the precise incidence found varies with the nature of the episode and the criteria of ‘hallucination’ adopted, but the basic finding is now well-supported.[3]

[…]

The main importance of hallucinations in the sane to theoretical psychology lies in their relevance to the debate between the disease model versus the dimensional model of psychosis. According to the disease model, psychotic states such as those associated with schizophrenia and manic-depression, represent symptoms of an underlying disease process, which is dichotomous in nature; i.e. a given subject either does or does not have the disease, just as a person either does or does not have a physical disease such as tuberculosis. According to the dimensional model, by contrast, the population at large is ranged along a normally distributed continuum or dimension, which has been variously labelled as psychoticism (H.J.Eysenck), schizotypy (Gordon Claridge) or psychosis-proneness.[25]

The occurrence of spontaneous hallucinatory experiences in sane persons who are enjoying good physical health at the time, and who are not drugged or in other unusual physical states of a transient nature such as extreme fatigue, would appear to provide support for the dimensional model. The alternative to this view requires one to posit some hidden or latent disease process, of which such experiences are a symptom or precursor, an explanation which would appear to beg the question.

 
 

A person diagnosed with fantasy prone personality is reported to spend a large portion of his or her time fantasizing, have vividly intense fantasies, have paranormal experiences, and have intense religious experiences.[3] His or her fantasizing may include extreme dissociation and intense sexual fantasies. People with fantasy prone personality are reported to spend over half of their time awake fantasizing or daydreaming and will often confuse or mix their fantasies with their real memories. They also report several out-of-body experiences.[3]

Research has shown that people who are diagnosed with fantasy prone personality tend to have had a large amount of exposure to fantasy during childhood. People have reported that they believed their dolls and stuffed animals were living creatures and that their parents encouraged them to indulge in their fantasies and daydreams.[3]

 
 
 
Transliminality (literally, “going beyond the threshold”) was a concept introduced by the parapsychologist Michael Thalbourne, an Australian psychologist who is based at the University of Adelaide. It is defined as a hypersensitivity to psychological material (imagery, ideation, affect, and perception) originating in (a) the unconscious, and/or (b) the external environment (Thalbourne & Maltby, 2008). High degrees of this trait have been shown by Thalbourne to be associated with increased tendency to mystical experience, greater creativity, and greater belief in the paranormal, but Thalbourne has also found evidence that transliminality may be positively correlated with psychoticism. He has published articles on transliminality in journals on parapsychology and psychology. 
 

The categorical view of psychosis is most associated with Emil Kraepelin, who created criteria for the medical diagnosis and classification of different forms of psychotic illness. Particularly, he made the distinction between dementia praecox (now called schizophrenia), manic depressive insanity and non-psychotic states. Modern diagnostic systems used in psychiatry (such as the DSM) maintain this categorical view.[1]

In contrast, psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler did not believe there was a clear separation between sanity and madness, and that psychosis was simply an extreme expression of thoughts and behaviours that could be present to varying degrees through the population.[2]

This was picked up by psychologists such as Hans Eysenck and Gordon Claridge who sought to understand this variation in unusual thought and behaviour in terms of personality theory. This was conceptualised by Eysenck as a single personality trait named psychoticism.[3]

Claridge named his concept schizotypy and by examining unusual experiences in the general population and the clustering of symptoms in diagnosed schizophrenia, Claridge’s work suggested that this personality trait was much more complex, and could break down into four factors.[4][5]

  1. Unusual experiences: The disposition to have unusual perceptual and other cognitive experiences, such as hallucinations, magical or superstitious belief and interpretation of events (see also delusions).
  2. Cognitive disorganisation: A tendency for thoughts to become derailed, disorganised or tangential (see also formal thought disorder).
  3. Introverted anhedonia: A tendency to introverted, emotionally flat and asocial behaviour, associated with a deficiency in the ability to feel pleasure from social and physical stimulation.
  4. Impulsive nonconformity: The disposition to unstable mood and behaviour particularly with regard to rules and social conventions.
 

Psychoticism is one of the three traits used by the psychologist Hans Eysenck in his P-E-N model (psychoticism, extraversion and neuroticism) model of personality.

High levels of this trait were believed by Eysenck to be linked to increased vulnerability to psychoses such as schizophrenia. He also believed that blood relatives of psychotics would show high levels of this trait, suggesting a genetic basis to the trait.

Critics of the trait have suggested that the trait is too heterogeneous to be taken as a single trait. For example, in a correlation study by Donald Johnson (reported in 1994 at the APT International Conference) Psychoticism was found to correlate with Big Five traits Conscientiousness and Agreeableness; (which in turn correlated strongly with, respectively, MBTI Judging/Perceiving, and Thinking/Feeling).[citation needed] Thus, Costa and McCrae believe that agreeableness and conscientiousness (both which represent low levels of psychoticism) need to be distinguished in personality models. Eysenck also argued that there might be a correlation between psychoticism and creativity[1] .

 

Openness to experience (Wikipedia)

Openness to experience is one of five major domains of personality discovered by psychologists.[1][2] Openness involves active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety, and intellectual curiosity.[3] A great deal of psychometric research has demonstrated that these qualities are statistically correlated. Thus, openness can be viewed as a global personality trait consisting of a set of specific traits, habits, and tendencies that cluster together.

Openness tends to be normally distributed with a small number of individuals scoring extremely high or low on the trait, and most people scoring near the average. People who score low on openness are considered to be closed to experience. They tend to be conventional and traditional in their outlook and behavior. They prefer familiar routines to new experiences, and generally have a narrower range of interests. They could be considered practical and down to earth.

People who are open to experience are no different in mental health from people who are closed to experience. There is no relationship between openness and neuroticism, or any other measure of psychological wellbeing. Being open and closed to experience are simply two different ways of relating to the world.

The NEO PI-R personality test measures six facets or elements of openness to experience:

  1. Fantasy – the tendency toward a vivid imagination and fantasy life.
  2. Aesthetics – the tendency to appreciate art, music, and poetry.
  3. Feelings – being receptive to inner emotional states and valuing emotional experience.
  4. Actions – the inclination to try new activities, visit new places, and try new foods.
  5. Ideas – the tendency to be intellectually curious and open to new ideas.
  6. Values – the readiness to re-examine traditional social, religious, and political values.

Openness has also been measured, along with all the other Big Five personality traits, on Goldberg’s International Personality Item Pool (IPIP). The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) measures the preference of “intuition,” which is related to openness to experience.

 

PSYCHOSOMATIC PLASTICITY: AN “EMERGENT PROPERTY” OF PERSONALITY RESEARCH?

by Michael Jawer

Proceeding from this framework of mind-body unity, let us return to the Boundaries concept propounded by Hartmann. The mind of the thin-boundary person, he suggests, is “relatively fluid,” able to make numerous connections, more flexible and even dreamlike in its processing than the thick-boundary person, whose processing is “solid and well organized” but not prone to meander or make ancillary connections.23 It is not surprising, therefore, that thin-boundary people exhibit the following characteristics1:
 
● A less solid or definite sense of their skin as a body boundary;
● an enlarged sense of merging with another person when kissing
or making love;
● sensitivity to physical and emotional pain, in oneself as well as
in others;
● openness to new experience;
● a penchant for immersing themselves in something-whether
a personal relationship, a memory, or a daydream;
● an enhanced ability to recall dreams; and
● dream content that is highly vivid and emotional.
 
The fluidity evidenced by the thin-boundary personality roughly equates to Thalbourne’s concept of “transliminality,” defined as “tendency for psychological material to cross thresholds in or out of consciousness.”24 Thalbourne has found that the following are part of the personality cluster of the highly transliminal person:
● creativity;
● a penchant for mystical or religious experience;
● absorption (a bent for immersing oneself in something, be it a
sensory experience, an intellectual task, or a reverie);
● fantasy proneness;
● an interest in dream interpretation;
● paranormal belief and experiences; and
● a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimulation.

 

Thin and Thick Boundaried Personalities

Studies show that one’s personality type plays a big role in the intensity of the dream experience and the amount of dream recall present in our waking life. The two types are described as thin boundary and thick boundary personalities. A Hartmann study shows that those who are classified as the thin boundary type tend to experience longer dreams, with a higher intensity of emotion, feeling, color, vividness, and interaction in them than did those classified as thick boundary types.  Those who are considered to be thin boundary personalities tend to have a heightened emotional sensitivity within their dream states.  The best way to describe this idea is that every type of emotion a thin boundaried person has is much more exaggerated within their dreams, which leads to the possibility of more nightmares.  They do not differentiate dreams from reality like a thick boundaried person does.

What differentiates the the two boundary types is a separation between mental process, thoughts and functions. Those with thin boundary type tend to often merge thought with feeling, have a difficulty with focusing on one thing at a time, daydream or fantasize, experience forms of synaethesia, have more fluid sense of self and tend to “merge” more with those who are close to them.
Those with thick boundaried personalities have much more separation between what is real and what is imaginary. They tend to have a distinct focus on one thing at a time, differentiate between thoughts and feelings, real and fantasy, self and others, lack strong memories from childhood, well organized and has a strong sense of self.
It is not to say that thick boundaried people do not suffer from nightmares, it is just that they seem to seperate the two worlds of dreams and thier waking life much more so.  They also tend to do the same between their emotions and thoughts.
 
 
by Ernest Hartmann, Robert Harrison, and Michael Zborowski
 
There are a number of suggestive studies indicating that people with thin boundaries may be not only creative and open, but may have a series of other interesting and so far poorly understood characteristics.  For instance, there appears to be a relationship between thin boundaries and multiple chemical sensitivities (Jawer, 2001).  There is also a correlation between thin boundaries and a belief in or tendency to experience paranormal phenomena. Factor V of the BQ – see table 3 – appears to pick up this aspect of thin boundaries and has been labeled “clairvoyance.”.  Groups of people who characterize themselves as shamans or psychics score thin on the BQ (Krippner, Wickramasekera, Wickramasekera, & Winstead, 1998).  Thalbourne and his collaborators, in their studies of persons who experience paranormal phenomena, have devised a “Transliminality scale” to measure these traits ( Lange,  Thalbourne, Houran, & Storm 2000;  Thalbourne, 1991).  Preliminary analysis suggests a high correlation (r = 068) between thin boundaries and the Transliminality Scale.
These relationships may be worth exploring further, since two very different hypotheses may explain them.  The most parsimonious view would be that all “paranormal” phenomena are imaginary, and that people with thin boundaries simply have better or looser imaginations, are more suggestible, or are more sensitive with a tendency to elaborate creatively on their sensitivities.  On the other hand, we could consider the possibility that phenomena such as telepathy, now considered paranormal could be related to transmission of information using perhaps portions of the electromagnetic spectrum which we are not usually able to detect.  Under unusual circumstances our ability to detect such information could be altered slightly, and quite possibly there might be inter-individual differences in the ability to detect information of this kind.  If so, it is possible that persons with thin boundaries who are sensitive in so many other ways, may also be sensitive to detecting such portions of the spectrum.

 

You don’t have to be crazy to believe in the paranormal but does it help?

by Chris French

Psychopathological Tendencies and Paranormal Belief/Experience 

    * Paranormal beliefs/experiences correlate with tendency towards bipolar (manic) depression

Dissociativity 

    * Dissociativity has been shown to be related to the tendency to report a wide range of paranormal and anomalous experiences

Fantasy Proneness 

    * fantasy-prone individuals spend much of their time engaged in fantasy, have particularly vivid imaginations, sometimes confuse imagination with reality, and report a very high incidence of paranormal experiences

Schizotypy 

    * Multidimensional
    * Different factors of schizotypy relate to different factors of paranormal belief/experience in complex ways (e.g., Irwin & Green, 1998-1999)
    * Unusual Experiences factor most consistently related to paranormal beliefs/experiences
    * Concerned with aberrant perceptions and beliefs
    * Sub-clinical tendencies towards hallucinations and delusions

Does Paranormal Belief/Experience = Psychopathology? No! 

    * High levels of belief/experience in general population
    * Correlations around 0.6
    * Believers scores raised but not typically to pathological levels
    * Atypical groups of believers (e.g., psychical research groups) have quite low levels of schizoptypy

A Link with Childhood Trauma? 

    * Both fantasy proneness and tendency to dissociate are associated with reports of childhood trauma
    * Defence mechanism?
    * Paranormal belief also correlates with reports of childhood trauma

 

Dissociations of the Night: Individual Differences in Sleep-Related Experiences and Their Relation to Dissociation and Schizotypy

by David Watson

I examined the associations among sleep-related experiences (e.g., hypnagogic hallucinations, nightmares, waking dreams, lucid dreams), dissociation, schizotypy and the Big Five personality traits in two large student samples. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that (a) dissociation and schizotypy are strongly correlated―yet distinguishable― constructs and (b) the differentiation between them can be enhanced by eliminating detachment/depersonalization items from the dissociation scales. A general measure of sleep experiences was substantially correlated with both schizotypy and dissociation (especially the latter) and more weakly related to the Big Five. In contrast, an index of lucid dreaming was weakly related to all of these other scales. These results suggest that measures of dissociation, schizotypy and sleep-related experiences all define a common domain characterized by unusual cognitions and perceptions.

 

by Shelley L. Rattet and Krisanne Bursik
 
Do individuals who endorse paranormal beliefs differ from those reporting actual precognitive experiences? This study examined the personality correlates of these variables in a sample of college students, 61% of whom described some type of precognitive experience. Extraversion and intuition were associated with precognitive experience, but not with paranormal belief; dissociative tendencies were related to paranormal belief, but not precognitive experience. The importance of conceptualizing and assessing paranormal belief and precognitive experience as separate constructs is discussed.
 
 
by J.E. Kennedy
 
Paranormal beliefs and experiences are associated with certain personality factors, including absorption, fantasy proneness, and the Myers-Briggs intuition and feeling personality dimensions. Skepticism appears to be associated with materialistic, rational, pragmatic personality types. Attitude toward psi may also be influenced by motivations to have control and efficacy, to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life, to be connected with others, to have transcendent experiences, to have self-worth, to feel superior to others, and to be healed. The efforts to obtain reliable control of psi in experimental parapsychology have not been successful. Given the lack of control and lack of practical application of psi, it is not surprising that those who are by disposition materialistic and pragmatic find the evidence for psi to be unconvincing. When psi experiences have been examined without a bias for control, the primary effect has been found to be enhanced meaning in life and spirituality, similar to mystical experiences. Tensions among those with mystical, authoritarian, and scientific dispositions have been common in the history of paranormal and religious beliefs. Scientific research can do much to create better understanding among people with different dispositions. Understanding the motivations related to paranormal beliefs is a prerequisite for addressing questions about when and if psi actually occurs.

 

by Joe Nickell
 
Despite John Mack’s denial, the results of my study of his best thirteen cases show high fantasy proneness among his selected subjects. Whether or not the same results would be obtained with his additional subjects remains to be seen. Nevertheless, my study does support the earlier opinions of Baker and Bartholomew and Basterfield that alleged alien abductees tend to be fantasy-prone personalities. Certainly, that is the evidence for the very best cases selected by a major advocate.
 
 
 
by Per Andersen

While most of the studies of the psychopathology of UFO witnesses have demonstrated no pathological patterns in general, many of the studies nevertheless have discovered some specific personal traits for various groups of witnesses.

It has been difficult in most studies uniquely to characterize these personality traits of UFO witnesses and to describe them in a simple way. To that it should be added, that traits described in different studies vary a great deal from each other.

In a [U.S.] Fund for UFO Research-sponsored experiment, 9 witnesses were tested for psychopathology (MMPI) and their personalities were described by Dr. Elizabeth Slater. All nine had reported UFO abductions. The most significant aspect of the experiment was, however, that Dr. Slater did not know what the 9 persons had in common (if anything) (Bloecher 1985).

Dr. Slater did in fact find some similarities between the nine subjects, although these were played down by the sponsors. She described the subjects as a very distinctive, unusual and interesting group. They did not represent an ordinary cross- section of the population from the standpoint of conventionality in lifestyle. Several of the subjects could be labelled downright “eccentric” or “odd”. They had high intellectual abilities and richly evocative and charged inner worlds — highly inventive, creative and original.

What then about “ordinary” UFO witnesses that have not been abducted or in regular contact with space beings, but have experienced what I would label low strangeness sightings of UFO phenomena? For these groups of witnesses also some special personality traits have been identified in various studies.

Over [a period of] 17 years, Dr. Leo Sprinkle [University of Wyoming] tested 225 persons reporting mixed UFO experiences ranging from a light in the sky to being abducted. A study of these 225 witnesses showed that they had profiles with certain unique characteristics. Witnesses exhibited a high level of psychic energy, a tendency to question authority or being subject to situational pressure or conflicts, and to be self-sufficient and resourceful. Other characteristic were: above-average intelligence, assertiveness and a tendency to be experimenting thinkers (Parnell 1988).

Another major study of 264 persons did not find any significant differences between witnesses of various types of sightings (Ring 1990). However, the research showed that UFO witnesses reported more sensitivity to non-ordinary realities and having a higher tendency towards dissociation. It also documented that UFO witnesses and people with near-death experiences had very similar personality traits. There also seems to be a significant relationship between having UFO sightings and the personal belief system of the witnesses. This has been documented by T.A. Zimmer who found relationships between sightings and belief in occultism and science fiction (Zimmer 1984, 1985) as well as Spanos et al from the University of Ottawa. They found that witnesses to low-strangeness sightings had a tendency to esoteric beliefs and belief in UFOs (Spanos 1993).

 

by Martin Kottmeyer
 
It seems logical at this point to ask if the psychology of nightmares can throw any light on what is happening in alien abduction experiences. While not all the puzzles of nightmares have been solved, psychology has recently made significant strides in understanding why some people develop them and others do not. In building a profile of nightmare sufferers Ernest Hartmann developed a conceptual model termed boundary theory which expands on a set of propositions about boundaries in the mind formulated by a handful of earlier psychoanalytic theorists. It is from Hartmann’s study “The Nightmare” that we will develop the blueprint of our argument. (8)
 
Boundary theory begins with the axiom that as the mind matures, it categorises experiences. It walls off certain sets to be distinct from other sets. Boundaries become set up between what is self and what is non-self, between sleep and waking experiences, between fantasy and reality, passion and reason, ego and id, masculine and feminine, and a large host of other experiential categories. This drive to categorise is subject to natural variation. The determinants of the strength of that drive appear to be biochemical and genetic and probably have no environmental component such as trauma. When the drive is weak the boundaries between categories are thinner, more permeable or more fluid. When the boundaries become abnormally thin one sees psychopathologies like schizophrenia. Hartmann discovered individuals who suffer from nightmares have thin boundaries. >From this central mental characteristic one can derive a large constellation of traits that set these people apart from the general population.
From earliest childhood, people with thin boundaries are perceived as “different”. They are regarded as more sensitive than their peers. Thin character armour causes them to be more fragile and easily hurt. They are easily empathic, but dive into relationships too deeply too quickly. Recipients of their affection will regard them as uncomfortably close and clinging and they are thus frequently rejected. Experience with their vulnerability teaches them to be wary of entering into relationships with others. Adolescence tends to be stormy and difficult. Adult relationships — whether sexual, marital or friendships — also tend to be unsettled and variable. A slight tendency to paranoia is common.
 
One-third will have contemplated or attempted suicide. Experimentation with drugs tends to yield bad trips and is quickly abandoned. They are usually alert to lights, sounds and sensations. They tend to have fluid sexual identities. Bisexuals are over-represented in the nightmare sufferers’ population and it is rare to find manly men or womanly women in it. Macho pigs apparently do not have nightmares. They are not rule followers. Either they reject society or society rejects them. They are rebels and outsiders. There is a striking tendency for these people to find their way into fields involving artistic self-expression; musicians, poets, writers, art teachers, etc. Some develop their empathic tendencies and become therapists. Ordinary BLUE or white collar jobs are rare.
Hartmann believes the predominance of artists results from the fact that thin boundaries allow them to experience the world more directly and painfully than others. The ability to experience their inner life in a very direct fashion contributes to the authenticity of their creations. They become lost in daydreaming quite easily and even experience daymares — a phenomenon people with thick boundaries won’t even realise exists. This trait of imaginative absorption should also make nightmare sufferers good hypnotic subjects. (9)
Boundary deficits also contribute to fluid memories and a fluid time sense.
 
To be considered a candidate for the hypothesis that one is a victim of alien abduction a person must present certain symptoms. Among the factors which are looked for are conscious memories of an abduction, revealing nightmares, missing time, forgotten scars, or dramatic reactions to seemingly trivial stimuli like distant nocturnal lights. The last four factors act as screening devices to yield a population of boundary deficit individuals. This is blatant in the case of people whose candidacy is based on nightmares of aliens. It is subtler in the other symptoms.
People who have thin boundaries in their time sense virtually by definition will experience episodes of missing time. People with fluid memories could easily lose track of the event that led to the creation of a scar. People with weak ego-id boundaries and a sense of powerlessness probably would over- react to distant inexplicable lights as symbols of power. These candidates, in turn, are subject to further screening by their performance under hypnosis. The thicker the boundary, the less likely it is that a convincing narrative will emerge or be accepted as emotionally valid. We would predict the final population of abduction claimants would be biased in favour of a high proportion of boundary-deficit personalities.
 
The evidence that abductees have boundary-deficit personalities is, if not definitive, reasonably convincing. The points of correspondence between abductees and nightmare sufferers are several and consistent.
Ufology regards the Slater psychological study of nine abductees as an experimentum crucis for the view that abductees are victims of real extraterrestrial intrusions. It affirmed not only the normality of abductees, but offered a hint of traumatisation in the finding that abductees showed a tendency to display distrust and interpersonal caution. It is time to remind everyone, however, of what Slater’s full results were reported to be. Slater found abductees had rich inner lives; a relatively weak sense of identity, particularly a weak sexual identity; vulnerability; and an alertness characteristic of both perceptual sophistication and interpersonal caution. (10)
All four of these traits are characteristic of boundary-deficit minds. Clearly the abduction-reality hypothesis is, in this instance, unparsimonious. It fails to explain the presence of rich inner lives, weak identities and vulnerability. (I reject Slater’s post hoc attempt to account for the weak sexual identity via childhood trauma induced by involuntary surgical penetrations as undocumented, and just plain weird.) It should not be over- looked that Slater volunteered the opinion that her test subjects did not represent an ordinary cross-section of the population. She found some were “downright eccentric or odd” and that the group as a whole was “very distinctive, unusual, and interesting”. (11)
This nicely parallels Hartmann’s observation that boundary- deficit personalities are perceived as “different” from “normal” people. Slater’s study does indeed seem to be an experimentum crucis, but the conclusion it points toward is perfectly opposite from what ufologists have been assuming.
The boundary-deficit hypothesis evidently can also be invoked to explain the unusual proportion of artist-type individuals that I discovered in testing Rimmer’s hypothesis. Roughly one-third of abductees showed evidence of artistic self-expression in their backgrounds in my sample population, as you may recall. Hartmann’s study would also lead us to expect an unusual number of psychotherapists among abductees. In a recent paper, Budd Hopkins reported that in a population of 180 probable abductees he found many mental health professionals: two psychiatrists, three PhD psychologists and an unstated number of psychotherapists with Master’s degrees. (12)
 
by Neil Douglas-Klotz
 
Recent studies in cognitive psychology suggest that Western psychology still struggles for the language to describe the difference between a “psychotic” and a “spiritual” state in a nuanced way (for instance in the new anthology on psychosis and spirituality edited by Isabel Clarke, 2000). For instance, Claridge (2000) and others have sought to define a new personality type called “schizotypy” which is neutral with respect to illness or pre-disposing to illness and yet describes a person prone to “skinlessness” (or weakened cognitive inhibition), enhanced access to internal and external events, the reduced ability to limit the contents of consciousness and “transliminaliy.” In this view, the difference between non-pathological “psychoticism” and actual “psychosis” depends on history, circumstances and genetic pre-disposition.
 
Clarke herself (2000) proposes a “discontinuity” theory, which states that polarization of psychotic states and spiritual ones is a false dichotomy. She combines work by Kelly (the “personal construct theory”) as well as Teasdale and Barnard (“interacting cognitive subsystems,”1993) to suggest, among other things, that a “transliminal experience” means operating beyond a construct system and that, from an informational processing model point of view, a transliminal experience is created by a breakdown between the implicational and propositional subsystems of the mind. According to Clarke, the advantage of mystics of all traditions, many of which also include a very practical ability to this model is that it brings psychosis into the realm of universal human experience.
 
In both of these models, however, the attempt to describe a spiritual or mystical state in terms of modern psychology suffers from the need to begin with the Western language of pathology. In other words, does the mere presence of transliminality, reduced ability to limit the contents of consciousness, and the other definitions offered really describe the diverse experiences of the great mystics of all traditions, many of which also include a very practical ability to handle interpersonal relationships and accomplishment in the world?
 
Recent studies in cognitive psychology suggest that Western psychology still struggles for the language to describe the difference between a “psychotic” and a “spiritual” state in a nuanced way (for instance in the new anthology on psychosis and spirituality edited by Isabel Clarke, 2000). For instance, Claridge (2000) and others have sought to define a new personality type called “schizotypy” which is neutral with respect to illness or pre-disposing to illness and yet describes a person prone to “skinlessness” (or weakened cognitive inhibition), enhanced access to internal and external events, the reduced ability to limit the contents of consciousness and “transliminaliy.” In this view, the difference between non-pathological “psychoticism” and actual “psychosis” depends on history, circumstances and genetic pre-disposition.
 
Clarke herself (2000) proposes a “discontinuity” theory, which states that polarization of psychotic states and spiritual ones is a false dichotomy. She combines work by Kelly (the “personal construct theory”) as well as Teasdale and Barnard (“interacting cognitive subsystems,”1993) to suggest, among other things, that a “transliminal experience” means operating beyond a construct system and that, from an informational processing model point of view, a transliminal experience is created by a breakdown between the implicational and propositional subsystems of the mind. According to Clarke, the advantage of handle interpersonal relationships and accomplishment in the world?

30 thoughts on “The Paranormal and Psychology

  1. ‘In contrast, psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler did not believe there was a clear separation between sanity and madness, and that psychosis was simply an extreme expression of thoughts and behaviours that could be present to varying degrees through the population’

    What I also believe. This seems to be a psychiatrist who’d walk well with Jung.

    Mmm… I wonder about a juxtaposition of Hartmann’s boundary types and multiple intelligences (I forget the theorist’s name).

    ‘From earliest childhood, people with thin boundaries are perceived as “different”. They are
    regarded as more sensitive than their peers. Thin character armour causes them to be more fragile and easily hurt. They are easily empathic, but dive into relationships too deeply too quickly. Recipients of their affection will regard them as uncomfortably close and clinging and they are thus frequently rejected. Experience with their vulnerability teaches them to be wary of entering into
    relationships with others. Adolescence tends to be stormy and difficult. Adult relationships — whether sexual, marital or friendships — also tend to be unsettled and variable. A slight
    tendency to paranoia is common. One-third will have contemplated or attempted suicide.
    Experimentation with drugs tends to yield bad trips and is quickly abandoned. They are usually alert to lights, sounds and sensations. They tend to have fluid sexual identities. Bisexuals are over-represented in the nightmare sufferers’ population and it is rare to find manly men or womanly women in it. Macho pigs apparently do not have nightmares. They are not rule followers. Either they reject society or society rejects them. They are rebels and outsiders. There is a striking tendency for these people to find their way into fields involving artistic self-expression; musicians, poets, writers, art teachers, etc’. This theory is either complementary or supplementary to the Jung theory or a stand-alone depending on viewpoint. Though I see it to be complementary, I however see it in terms of expression-repression so that it isn’t as ‘natural’ as it looks. I have some transgender attitudes, I am even currently contemplating painting my fingernails. With more fluid memory, they are more prone to confabulation then?

    My posts seem to lead me, if you check out my latest posts, you’d see what I’m talking about ‘leading’.

    • Boundary types is one of my favorite topics. There is research correlating boundary types with MBTI, but that isn’t how I discovered boundary types. I think I first heard about Hartmann’s research from a book about science, the paranormal, and the Trickster. It was that book that also made more interested in the work of Max Weber.

      I’ve never had any transgendered attitudes. However, I’ve never been a manly man despite not being effeminate either. Mostly for me the issue is being a male Feeling type. I’ve never specifically had a sexual identity crisis, but I’m constantly having an identity crisis that involves all aspects of my life including my sexuality. I did for a time paint my nails, no particular reason, just testing the boundaries of social identity. It actually began when a girlfriend once painted my nails and I thought it looked interesting. As a GenXer, I associate painted nails on guys with Punk music.

      I don’t know that fluid memory makes one prone to confabulation. It’s just that there is a thinner boundary between reality and imagination. However, this imagination allows the thin boundary type to imagine another’s experience through empathy. Is empathy real? I think empathy is real to the extent that it’s accurate and some people are able to accurately empathize with what others are experiencing. Also, thin boundary types are more likely to have spiritual/supernatural experiences. Are spiritual/supernatural experiences real? It depends on who you ask. All of that said, whether or not the thin boundary type has experiences that are real, I don’t think they are any more likely to confabulate in the sense of intentionally lying and deceiving.

      Yeah, I checked out some of your recent posts. I noticed that your very focused on identity at the moment. I liked the post you have about teaching. You wrote about the “non-idolization of thoughts”. That is an interesting phrase.

  2. So you’re a genXer? Never knew, or did I?

    I’ve realised something, which I realised long ago, again: my mind moves significantly faster than my information-transcription processes (words etc) so that my communication is very packed. I related that to a positive relationship with epigrams but that’s just a proto-theory or a potentiator. The other seems the real deal.

    Not confab as deception but just the act of injecting imagination into memory.

    All those words. Hm! No one reads them and I don’t feel the urge to popularise them

    I think telepathy is possible. If man has a common origin, we have a common link(s) and this could be one which doesn’t need exchange in ‘physical’ (cos e-m waves are physical) terms. I think Fort woulda believed as well as Jung. You know I was thinking Fort was an entp but a well-developed one.

    • Yep, I’m a GenXer. I don’t know if it’s ever come up before in any of our discussions. I mostly identify as a typical GenXer (cynical, realistic, skeptical, a bit anti-authoritarian, not a team-player, etc). On the other hand, I’m on the younger end of GenX. I was born in 1975 (the year before the US Bicentennial) and graduated high school in 1994 (the year when Kurt Cobain died). I became a young adult just as the rightwing culture wars and rightwing militants were gaining national attention. As a younger GenXer, I have some sympathy with GenY/Millennials. I’m of the MTV Generation which includes younger GenXers and older Millennials.

      In the US, there is a lot of awareness about the differences with generations. I don’t know if other cultures are the same. Do you identify with your generation in your country?

      “my mind moves significantly faster than my information-transcription processes (words etc) so that my communication is very packed.”

      My mind also moves faster than my information-transcription processes. Still, I sense a difference in our minds. Your way of communicating always seems more like some INFJs I’ve known. INFPs don’t have the same convoluted and layered way of expressing their thoughts/feelings. It’s the difference between INFJ’s dominant Ni and INFP’s dominant Fi. INFPs tend to more direct. An INFP may have a crazy thinking process, but it’s often very much out in the open. Some INFJs, however, seem to be constantly circling some hidden truth that can never be fully communicated.

      Confab as imagination. Yeah, that would be thin boundary type. By the way, there is an important difference between imagination and the imaginal. The imaginal is a concept that would appeal to many thin boundary types. There is also another way to think about it. A thin boundary type perceives the world more openly which can mean with less filtering. A thick boundary type is less likely to see what they don’t want to see, what doesn’t fit into their preconceptions.

      All those words… do you mean your blog posts? How many views do you normally get?

      I suppose telepathy is possible (many things are possible), but I have no personal experience of telepathy. I just know the world is a strange place. So, why do you think Fort was an ENTP? I wouldn’t be surprised if he would have tested as one of the NT types. I’d probably be more likely to guess he was an Introvert, but I don’t know… just a guess.

  3. As for my p-type, I just don’t know. I’m far too goofy to be an infj.

    We don’t particularly look at gens here but I think I see some patterns. Some do take that into account but problem is it’ll be speculation, facts are not there

    An entp with well-developed Ti could easily pass as introverted. From what I read, he lookd to be very out-n-about in his youth, chasing one novelty after another. Also, he was always ‘lawyering’ the work of others. Showing them the alternatives while showing how their work would be skewed by their M.O. He saw unseen patterns far too easily. This whole passage doesn’t sit well with me cos I know better

    What I think is unless he gets tested, we’ll never know cos the dynamics of the mbti system means that one can easily look like the other when there is adequate development e.g. Se-Ni/Ne-Si. One function complements the other

    Yeah, my blog. The highest I’ve got for a day was 60 or so. Something in me wants more but an equally strong voice says it doesn’t matter. It’s like I want to share but don’t care, paradoxical innit? Plus, I’m always apprehensive of being misunderstood. The way I write and the nature of the material makes it easy for that to happen. Even though I have clarified my writing style, the material itself is hard to communicate clearly and succinctly. Paradox is not intentional but that’s how the thing really is, reason can’t really grasp some things

    • “We don’t particularly look at gens here but I think I see some patterns. Some do take that into account but problem is it’ll be speculation, facts are not there”

      Are there not many polling organizations in Africa. In North America, we are awash with people gathering data on every issue and demographic. In social/political discussions in the MSM here, various data will almost always be brought up.

      I have the 2010 CIA World Factbook. I just looked up Ghana.

      The CIA doesn’t keep (or at least doesn’t share) much detailed info about generations, but there is a bit about generations. For example, there is a shift in the ratio of males to females being born in Ghana. There used to be more females in the older generations (which is typical for most populations), but the youngest generation has fewer females. I wonder why that is the case.

      I also see that there is a literacy rate of 57.9%. That seems like a decent percentage. It’s good to have more than half of your population capable of reading and writing. I was looking at a map of literacy in different countries. There seems to be about 20 countries that have below 50% literacy rates. It makes me wonder about those countries. Do they have negative consequences because of the low literacy rates? Or do some cultures do just fine with lower literacy rates?

  4. By the way,

    Wow! You’re a big man. I thought you were 32 or 33. Don’t mind me, just my playful side playing

    You know, there’s this site ‘Typealyzer’ that types the style of writing and it concurs with you, that I’m INFJ but I don’t identify with that esp my younger self, the one that I usu use to type myself, I’m easier to classify then. Recently, I realised after some work in personal memory that I was actually more extraverted than I thought but I think it was more of the postponing perceiving extravert than the judgmental one. I’ll look again and see. Did I get the designation right? Extravert/extrovert? I hope it doesn’t confuse you as to where it’s going, perhaps the distinction is very crucial for the meaning, I don’t know, I’ve not met that distinction inside mbti literature besides their telling that social extrovert is not equal to psych extravert. Perhaps, in mbti, their meanings are more expanded?

    • Yep, I’m an aging GenXer. Being a GenXer in the US is a bit odd. The media took briefly notice of my generation just as I was hitting adulthood. And then the media almost immediately forgot about my generation as they turned their attention to the massive Millennial generation (about twice the number as GenX). As Boomers age, the media declares it as news on a regular basis. But aging GenXers are of no consequence.

      I’ve heard of the Typealyzer. I guess it agrees with me that your writing style seems INFJ, but writing style may not indicate actual type. You could have picked up an INFJ writing style from an INFJ teacher or by reading INFJ writers.

      I think I might have used the Typealyzer in the past with my blog, but I don’t remember what the results might’ve been. I just tried it now. I tried it with 6 different posts: 1 tested as INTJ, 2 as ISTJ, and 3 as ESTJ. I’m severely questioning the accuracy of the Typealyzer. Two of those (1 ISTJ result and 1 ESTJ result) were based on two of my weird fiction posts, but I’m fairly sure that ISTJs and ESTJs aren’t known for writing weird fiction.

  5. There’s my biggest problem with the mbti dynamic. Just cos some types are not known for say wittiness or orderliness doesn’t make a person who has either trait not belong to the unassociated type. It always beats my mind how people can so freely state a type of a person beyond conjecture. You and I, for instance, are always tentative, but mainly, on sites, the analysis is always towards an unbalanced type. Whatz up with that? The descriptions are anything but analytical. Though, I get that the data says so, I just can’t also say so, I always prefer to analyse and refer the judgment to the air (hehe), I can analyse the theory but practicalising it is somewhat difficult. I even think the whole dynamic is time-dependent, a given function at a given time. Ah, there it is, I always infuse my own conceptions into what I ingest, ain’t it curious? I wonder if you also do that and if the research says so

    I was telling my mum (don’t be telling me “aren’t a lil too old…”) about that interesting fact of our lit rate and we both concurred that getting that info here, ourselves would be hard. I suppose it would be on one of the dedicated Ghana websites but I hardly go there. It’s not been a prime topic here, maybe in the future

    You know, I read Kafka’s bio recently and was close to tears how he died. According to wikipedia, he starved to death. I’ve seen that the creative types seemed to always have some incurable disease or other. Harrowing (now that’s hyperbole).

    By the way, how’s your metabolism, do you feel hungry often? And I mean hungry, not the hunger pangs. Me, I start to feel like energy is just being sapped from me, esp when I’m thinking. I remember a woman said once that melancholics (four temperaments) are always tired and she linked it to their imaginative disposition, their fantasizing and other imaginings, interesting theory, ain’t it? At the time, I had not thought of it before so it was very fascinating (it still woulda been for the simple reason that someone else had also observed it)

    Do you have a post distinguishing the gens? I think you had, if so, please link me

    • I often separate theory from research. There is a lot of interesting theories about Jungian typology, but not all of it is backed by research. One of my favorite theories is Beebe’s archetypal roles for the functional ordering of each type. I’ve known many people who have found Beebe’s theory helpful, but it’s highly speculative. Your comment about “time-dependent” reminds me a bit of models like that of Beebe. A lot of Jungian typology is helpful in terms of giving one a language to speak about subjective experiences that are difficult to talk about. I think that was mostly the purpose Jung had in mind.

      As for research, the evidence is less clear about whether types can be proven to exist. There has been a lot more research done on traits, but there is also a fair amount of research done with the MBTI (and other Jungian typology tests). There is some correlation between trait research and MBTI research. The difference with the trait research is that most traits seem to exist more on a spectrum which undermines type theory. But MBTI Step II is a very promising test in that it combines the best of both the type model and the trait model.

      I didn’t know that Kafka starved to death. I did know that he was sick for a very long time. As I recall, he had tuberculosis or something like that. I wonder why he starved to death. Did he become so sick that he stopped eating? By the way, my favorite story of Kafka is the Hunger Artist.

      Hunger? I can say that I’m presently not in any danger of starving to death. I am a low energy person (I prefer to think of it as ‘efficient’ use of energy) and I tend to snack regularly more than eat meals. I’m just the opposite of hyper, although my mind can be ‘hyper’ when something gets my curiosity going. I know that some people have correlated temperament body types with Jungian typology, but I don’t recall much about it.

      I’m not sure if I have any posts distinguishing the gens. I have plenty of posts that refer to the various gens, but most of them are about specific topics. There are actually some useful Wikipedia pages about the generations. Most of what I know about the topic relates to the US population which seems to be similar to other Western countries, but I don’t know if African countries are at all similar in their generational demographics.

  6. According to the article, his throat was so sore that he had to avoid food trans-orally. At that time, alternative methods had not been discovered.

    I agree with what you say about a common language as well as Jung intending it as so. I, for one, hold knowledge and hence pedagogy to be more of ‘this is what we’ve discovered so far’ down to the most currently infinitesimal tidbit, the rest is up to the student. This was portrayed in the post you mentioned as ‘non-idolization of thought’.

    To be sure, without that common language, we’d be speaking in terms of who one is similar to and boxing people in occupations, roles etc like I do when I say I identify with the lawyer (artful one, at that) make-up. Or when you said that my way of thinking would probably match me with Charles Fort as friends. It is surely a useful language but I don’t think I can use it beyond mere description i.e. application, cos people will expect one-time answers and that would be against my nature and they’ll call me a liar.

    U know, when I was younger, they said lawyers were evil, that they were liars. I believed them and joined the bandwagon, with time, I came to see that I was very much like them and I realised they were not lies at all but just different perspectives. So up to that time, one could say I hated my prime functions, but if Jung is true and these functions are collective then the people hate themselves. It’s ok, you can laugh at me.

    • I can tell you that lawyers don’t have the best reputation in America either. Do lawyers have a good reputation anywhere? I think lawyers have a bad reputation because most lawyers seem to work for major corporations and other rich people.

      On the other hand, there are some inspiring real life stories of lawyers standing up for the little guy and when a case against some big business. It would be nice, though, if there were more of those inspiring stories.

      I can laugh at you? Oh boy!

      Hating prime functions… yeah, I think I can understand that. You can hate your prime functions, but don’t ever EVER hate Starfleet’s Prime Directive. If a lawyer is your prime function, can Captain Picard be my prime function?

  7. Haha, I wish I had met you when I was younger, we’d have had some very beautiful discussions! So, you like Star Trek uh? I didn’t really like Star Trek when I was younger, I liked Star Wars. The fact that all there was all the Jedi stuff and a singular man wielded so much power (Skywalker) intrigued me more. But I was unfair cos I never gave Star Trek a chance. Do you still watch Star Trek?

    O ok, that kind of work I don’t like, I always get behind the underdog, that’s my thing, the little guy who looks doomed. Well, sometimes a corporation can be in desperation (could it happen in legal world, realistically?), that trait will push me to their defense but not until I see that they have potential for mitigating their execrable arrogant can’t-touch-me attitude which is common with these sorts. Plus, I’ll inevitably argue both ways cos I can’t stand a win-lose situation, the other party, for me, should also benefit, like a modern-day boxing match. For me, that’s justice cos in my mind, everybody got a case.

    Mostly, I’m my own judge, a person might not complain, but you’ll see me there crying injustice. Curious thing is you won’t see me complaining for myself or do I allow others to. In some ways, few things hurt me, I only cry for others, it’s always been like that

    By the way, how do you like Robert Downey Jr? I don’t know, he’s becoming a fave of mine but I think it’s perhaps cos he’s taking roles that interest me viz. Ironman, Sherlock. What about Johnny Depp? I’m pretty certain, you’ll call some actors I ain’t never heard of 🙂

    Someone might think I should like Denzel Washington given that I’m black but my fave black actor is Tupac and ain’t no question about that!

    • I like both Star Trek and Star Wars. I watched the original Star Trek when a kid and then Next Generation in high school. I also enjoyed the later series of Deep Space Nine and Voyager (the latter was maybe my least favorite). I don’t remember when I first watched the Star Wars movies. Do I still watch Star Trek? No, I haven’t watched Star Trek in a while… but I probably should.

      I like all SF (Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction in general). As I write this, I’m watching Firefly which you might enjoy. The world portrayed is somewhere between Star Trek and Star Wars. I enjoyed the recent Battle Galactica series, but I didn’t like the ending (I’ve been watching the prequel Caprica which maybe is slightly more interesting). I really enjoyed Lost, but the ending was massively disappointing. I loved the show Heroes and I wish it had continued for a few more seasons.

      I personally don’t have anything against lawyers in principle. I’m not an anarchist. I’m glad the legal system exists, but I wouldn’t mind if it were a bit more fair. I tend to favor win-lose situations. The problem is that those with wealth and power often seem to prefer win-lose situations. Maybe most people prefer win-lose situations… for lack of imagination of more beneficial solutions. It’s easier or can appear easier to win by forcing others to lose.

      How do I like Robert Downey Jr? I didn’t have much opinion about him at all until I saw him in A Scanner Darkly. I was very impressed by his acting in that movie. He has been in a number of movies I’ve seen over the years, but he never stood out to me before. I didn’t remember that he has been in so many movies including some classics (Less Than Zero, Back to School, Natural Born Killers). Ironman was fine, but not a favorite of mine. I haven’t seen Sherlock.

      What about Johnny Depp? He is a solid actor. Of all his movies I’ve watched, I don’t think I’ve disliked any of them. I guess his first movie was A NIghtmare on Elm Street which came out when I was only 9 yrs old. I forgot that he was on 21 Jump Street. The first movie of his that I really liked was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape which is a story that is supposed to be set in my home state of Iowa but was filmed in Texas.

      I watch many movies and I can name many actors I like. I tend to like actors in terms of specific roles, but there are some actors that I’ve enjoyed in different roles.

      One actor who has been consistently good is Leonardo DiCaprio who was also in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I also like Woody Harrelson who was in A Scanner Darkly and Natural Born Killers.

      Actually, I like all the actors in A Scanner Darkly. Winona Ryder is a good actor. Many people don’t like Keanu Reeves, but I thought he played his role in that movie perfectly (and I thought he was good in the Matrix series). I first saw Keanu Reeves in the Bill & Ted movies which are classics, and he is awesome in My Own Private Idaho.

      I’ve always been a fan of Christian Slater (Heathers and True Romance being my favorites), although I haven’t seen his recent work. A very interesting actor is Philip Seymour Hoffman. He often takes odd roles. His best movie was Love Liza.

      In terms of comedy, my favorites are Pee Wee Herman (he rocks! but his career has been a bit limited), Will Ferrell, and of course the great Jim Carrey.

      In terms of black actors, I always liked Eddie Murphy.

  8. By the way, have you seen Pan’s Labyrinth before? That movie was significant in my dev’t. I saw it during 2006 christmas I suppose. At the time, there was this special christmas program such that some big movies would be aired and Pan’s labyrinth happened to be one of em. Great, wasn’t it? Good to take chances as they come but it’s astonishing how many of those can pass by in life

    • Yep, I’ve seen Pan’s Labrynth. An awesome movie! It was synchronicitous that my friend just mentioned this movie when we were talking today. He just bought a copy of it.

      In life, we rarely know about the opportunities missed. I used to go out to see more random movies than I do now. I’m sure I let many chances pass me by. Fortunately, the internet keeps me informed about all that is out there.

  9. Since you like Johnny Depp, have you seen The Ninth Gate? Or Secret Window? He seems to take on very conceptual stories, and he slices every role like a masterchef. I’m waiting for Pirates of the Carribean 4, my favorite quote from that series is ‘the rules are just guidelines’ said by Jack Sparrow.

    So what makes a favorite movie for you? I’m mostly drawn to the concepts in the movie but bad acting I am sensitive to. Like Ironman, I liked it because of the sheer amount of ideas on show, wow!

    Keanu Reeves is a fave of mine also. He’s taken some conceptual stories like Matrix, Sweet November, Constantine and really really done them.

    Do you like toons and anime? My faves are Top Cat and Rurouni Kenshin. It’s amazing how much adult content can go into toons like these. Wow! I used to watch these mentioned ones when I was like 9y old and coming back to them now, I see that it really was a lot for a kid to take. But if we keep seeing the kids as stupid, anything would be a lot for the kid to take. Cos, there are subtle ideas behind everything out there.

    When I was young, and still, I held the view that cartoons held a lot of potential impact notwithstanding the contemporaneous impact it held. It’s outstanding, to put very subtle concepts in such a kid-friendly way is no short of intelligent. I guess I was precocious as a kid but it doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s good intellectual stimulation. I’m sure those toons I mentioned would be classified teen or mature or even adult in the US but I am of the view that if parents can support the kids with alongside guidance, there’s less risk of corruption.

    I did like the Flintstones and the Jetsons cos of the humor and the themes of marriage, family and child-rearing (in Jetsons), friendship, the overbearing boss, and the schemes of Fred and Barney much like Top Cat

    Like I said before, you’ve done very well in keeping young. I’m partly surprised by your enjoyment of ‘Heroes’

    I listened to Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’, he’s a good lyricist (if only he wrote it) and his musical style is nice, eclectic

    • I’ve seen The Ninth Gate but not Secret Window. Both my friend and I enjoyed The Ninth Gate. The Pirates of Caribbean are all around good movies.

      In movies, the aspects that are most important to me are (in approximate order of importance) story, character development, acting, concepts/themes, and imagery/aesthetics. However, depending on the type of movie, I’d emphasize the importance differently. I tend to judge movies on their own merits (one of my favorite sayins is, “It’s good for what it is” which isn’t intended as an insult), For example, I judge a kids movie based on whether it seems like an enjoyable movie for kids and if it is I can enjoy it on that level.

      Some movies I may judge more harshly, despite it being “good for what it is”, if I can’t easily connect with the story or characters. Emotional connection, even at it’s most basic, is important for my appreciation of a movie. I particularly dislike movies that try to hard to be clever. The most obvious example I can think of is Amelie. It was mildly amusing, but didn’t go beyond that and the ending was predictable. Even so, Amelie was a popular movie. According to popularity, I suppose Amelie is “good for what it is”, but I’d rather watch a stupid kids movie that doesn’t try so hard to be clever. I don’t have anything against actually being clever, but failing in one’s attempt to be clever is worse than not trying.

      I do love movies that push the bounds. And I’m sure Amelie’s director was trying to push the bounds. It just didn’t do anything for me. Some movies that I feel successfully push the bounds: A Scanner Darkly, The Fountain, Altered States, etc. I’m sure I could name some more, but those are the first to come to mind. There is some really weird stuff such as from the Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer which of course pushes the bounds.

      Let me use The Fountain to explain my view. The Fountain is a movie that many people don’t get. It’s convoluted, layered, and forces the viewer to pay attention. What makes it succeed for me is that the characters are so convincing, the acting is so pitch perfect, the dialogue emotionally draws me in, the themes are so interesting, and the imagery is breathtakingly beautiful. However, if all that didn’t come together just right, it would just be a convoluted pretentious mess. For me, it does come together, but I have a high tolerance for convoluted.

      I have a query. Your mention of Pan’s Labyrinth got me thinking. I guess that is a movie that was popular in many different countries. Of the movies you watch, how many are from Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, etc? What movies are mostly available in Ghana?

      Do I like toons and anime? Yep. I loved all kinds of cartoons animated movies as a kid and watched nearly everything that was on tv (some that I particularly liked were Garfield and Friends, Animaniacs, Scooby Doo, Winnie the Pooh, Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, and Disney), but these days I don’t keep up with all that is new in the world of animation. What I like as an adult is Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, Metropolis (there was an anime version), Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Witch Hunter Robin, and Spawn. I’ve also watched some of the series such as Oh My Goddess! and Fullmetal Alchemist which I found somewhat amusing. Some stuff I enjoyed in the years during and shortly after high school are: The Maxx, Beavis and Butthead, The Ren and Stimpy Show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, The Simpsons, South Park, and Futurama. I still watch The Simpsons and South Park. I also like stuff such as Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christsmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Shrek movies.

      Why are you surprised by my enjoyment of Heroes? I enjoy almost anything that is imaginative in any way: SF, fantasy, supernatural, horror, mythology, fairytales, comic book superheroes, graphic novels, anime/toons, claymation, etc. The more imaginative the better.

      I wasn’t familiar with Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’. I had to look it up. I’m listening to a live version of it. I do like the vocals.

  10. You know, those attributes of a movie count to me as well but like you I think of them in terms of the movie. If the movie is about personal transformation, do it well, let the actor portray it well, let me feel the emotion of the character development as if it is I doing the climbing. My emphasis is on doing it well. If it’s a farcical movie, speak Farsi (hehe)

    We get movies from all over down here. But mostly, hollywood, bollywood and nollywood (Nigeria). And mostly, blockbusters but you’ll still find lesser-knowns if you ask and seek. I’ve not watched a movie for about 3 or 4 months but most of my movies are from US. That’s what gets the most publicity so gets shown or people have i.e. more accessible

    ‘The Fountain’ by the director of ‘Black Swan’ – Darren Aronofsky. He does intriguing movies. I haven’t seen The Fountain but I read about it and I’ve been hoping to come upon it. There’s this other movie with Jared Leto about some last mortal on Earth, I forget the title, I think it’s good though I haven’t seen it

    Most adults think toons and crazy stuff are for kids, that’s why I found your enjoyment of ‘Heroes’ surprising. They see movies as entertainment and nothing serious with their ‘I have my life to lead’ syndrome thinking the Arts are all just whimsical, unaware that Art started the whole thing in the beginning

    • I didn’t know that Nigeria was a center of movie production. Maybe I’ve seen some movies from Nigeria, but I can’t say offhand. What are some popular nollywood movies?

      My friend and I are still planning on seeing ‘Black Swan’. I thought ‘Requiem for a Dream’ was high quality, but it was suicidally depressing. What a bleak vision of life… and absolutely different than ‘The Fountain’. Aronofsky is talented.

      ‘Mr. Nobody’ looks like a possibly interesting movie. I’ll have to keep it in mind.

      Toons and crazy stuff is for kids. Ha!

      I have more interest in such stuff than the average American, but interest in such stuff has become more mainstream and popular. For example, ‘Lost’ was a bit on the side of crazy and yet was one of the most popular shows when it was on. For God’s sake, even Philip K. Dick has gone mainstream.

      In recent years, an increasing number of toons and SF entertainment has been made for an adult audience. Americans, for some reason, have become more accepting of the weird. I see two reasons for this.

      First, the US had laws and codes that stifled creativity during the Cold War Era. When that ended, all the underground entertainment came into the mainstream. This is why there was a cultural explosion in the late 80s through the mid 90s. When imagination is suppressed it erupts with a vengeance.

      I guess it’s different where you live. I’m sure the Cold War Era didn’t have the same kind of impact on your own culture.

      Second, I heard another theory a few years ago that made sense. During socially stressful times, the public supposedly turns to more imaginative entertainment (I guess similar to how people turn to religion during hard times). The theory is based on comparison to prior eras of US history that were socially stressful. The example I recall is that more imaginative entertainment such as ‘The Wizard of Oz’ became very popular during the Great Depression.

      Obviously, this is a socially stressful time for Americans (and for people around the world). 9/11 traumatized the American psyche and the economic situation has put us into a cultural tailspin. So, for the last decade, Americans have turned to fantasy for comfort, turned to imagination for meaning.

      Maybe, if America finds equilibrium again, the interest in such stuff will wane. I hope not, but many things in society go in cycles.

  11. That Leto movie is ‘Mr. Nobody’. Another interesting movie by Aronofsky is ‘Requiem for a Dream’. So what kinds of people follow weird fiction, SF, fantasy; is there any data? (maybe my choice of word ‘kind’ is inapt but hope you get the picture)

    • “So what kinds of people follow weird fiction, SF, fantasy; is there any data?”

      I don’t know of any data about entertainment. But, as we were talking about earlier, there is a fantasy prone personality type which correlates to the thin boundary type.

      This ‘kind’ of person is more open to unusual experiences which I’d assume includes unusual entertainment. Someone who is prone to fantasize would probably make them prone to enjoying the fantasies of others.

      Also, thin boundary types identify more with their childhoods… meaning their childhood self and adult self aren’t separate identities. This would seem to imply that the thin boundary type would be more likely to enjoy as an adult that which they enjoyed as a child (e.g., toons).

      That is all I can think of. Maybe one of these days I’ll look for studies and polls that specifically show what ‘kind’ of person follow, weird fiction. SF, fantasy, etc.

  12. I think we’ve talked about that before; how people turn to imagination during hard times; or not? It simply seems familiar, I don’t know how. Now, you’ve gone and flipped a switch; Wizard of Oz, what a lovely story. I enjoyed it with all the ‘Snow Whites’, ‘Rapunzels’ and the others. I didn’t care whether it was a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ story, I just dug in, so far as there was fantasy in it. However, I never enjoyed the live-action movie, ‘I imagined it better in my head’, I always used to say. Perhaps, I could have appreciated it just for its other qualities but for some set of reasons, I didn’t like that movie. And the illustrations I got access to were, being more modern, far better. Perhaps too, I over-read the story so it kinda got cant.

    I myself don’t know the titles of these nollywood movies, I mostly meet the movies. And, owing to their prolificacy (hope that’s not a ‘very British word’), there isn’t any particular popular picture here. There aren’t collations or critical programs that would say some movie is a classic or is hugely popular (and I’m so out of touch with current trends plus I don’t have many contacts to have an extensive info web). So, I’ll say whatever’s new is what’s popular. But there’s one program that I know off that is unanimously regarded as a classic, a teen series ‘Things We Do For Love’. It followed multiple characters’ stories (what’s the name of that) within a set area but the mildly main character was ‘Pusher’, named so cos he was so good at influencing people. He had status among his cohort, boy n girl, in his area. Was a traditional trickster character, wit and irresponsibility, but he sometimes showed his gentle side. It was his character that interested me. It was a radio drama prior to it’s TV status which I partook of also. It never ended, like most series

    ‘Karishika’ – about a girl who came to be queen of darkness at the devil’s side, ‘The Witches’, ‘Last Burial’ – about a man who joined a cult, an occultic lodge, ‘Asimo’ – the name of the water spirit who people consulted in the movie (I forget the subject of the movie, to me, that was the subject) were pretty popular around 98/99 and are still regarded as classics. But that was a time when the Naija (as we call Nigeria) movies were starting to come in so there wasn’t much competition. Still though they were very significant as they were extraordinary (in relation to what we were used to at the time). And I’ve watched so many, just like bolly n holly, whose titles are lost on me, I’ll probably mix them up. I remember those that had personal value for me and I’ll make sure I try to tell you everything I remember.

    If I try to look back, I’ve been a big student of the Arts, no wonder I’m so unrealistic. So many movies, I can’t remember esp those that I that I watched on TV. Around about 2003-2007, one of our stations would do an all-night-long moviefest, Metro TV and I’d watch from 10pm to 5am, depending on duration, an average of 4 movies per session. It was mostly done on Saturdays and extended to other days during Easter, Xmas holidays; when the others would also join in. Around those times, even the day was full of em. It got to a point that this Metro tv was just doing the special program anytime, ah, all’s well for me. I don’t know if they still run it, I’ve been sleeping early since 2008

    I realised about my intro/extravert status that it’s particularly dicey, I just can’t say.

    I wish I was born in the age of exploration, I woulda made a fine explorer. But, that is if I woulda been the same person mentally. Perhaps, my reading of adventure and exploration has romanticised the whole thing for me

    • Flip a switch? I’m not sure what you mean by that. Maybe I get what you mean. I switched by referring to “a lovely story”.

      What I love about fantasy is that it can include a mix: of the dark and the light, of the childlike and the mature, of the real and the unreal. Wizard of Oz starts out in the real, enters the ‘unreal’, and returns to the real. Wizard of Oz is simple enough to be understood by children and complex enough to be enjoyed by adults. Wizard of Oz is, of course, about the struggle between good and evil. I like how fantasy allows such contrasts.

      I’ve watched the Judie Garland version many times throughout my life, but I’ve never read the book nor had it read to me as a child. It’s kind of a shame. For some reason, my parents weren’t big on reading to me as a child and we didn’t have a lot of the children’s classics at home. I’ve had to discover many children’s books as an adult such as The Velveteen Rabbit. On my Kindle, I just purchased the entire Wizard of Oz series. I shall be reading it in the near future. I’m particularly interested story about Santa Claus having grown up as an orphan in Oz.

      By the way, what do you mean by having over-read the story? Do you just mean you read it too many times? And what do you mean that it became cant?

      I’ll look up on Netflix to see what nollywood films they might have. If I can find some of them, I’ll watch a bit and see what I think. I’m just curious about it, but I imagine it would be difficult for me to get into. I might not understand the cultural context. I often have difficulty with foreign films, especially if they are non-english. A few foreign films I can really get absorbed in such as those by Kurosawa. Maybe it’s because Kurosawa influenced American films that I as an American can connect to his films. Plus, I like the Japanese language.

      So you used to watch a lot of movies. Why don’t you watch as many movies these days? I love movies… or, rather, I love stories. It would be a sad world without stories.

      I was just tonight sitting at work pondering the relationship of stories and ‘truth’. I was wondering if we humans can ever really understand any kind of truth without stories. I sometimes feel that we all are trapped in stories, but each of us thinks the story we’re stuck in is ‘truth’. It’s other people’s stories that are fictional, not our own stories.

      Is there a relationship between the two last things you brought up? You said your intro-extravert status is dicey and then you mentioned that you woulda made a fine explorer. Being an explorer sounds kinda extraverted, but romanticizing about being an explorer sounds kinda introverted. As for me, I don’t think I’d want to be an explorer. Of the history I’m familiar with, it seems exploration was too often filled with lots of suffering, violence, sickness, and death.

  13. I didn’t even think they were connected. The last one was just a chip-in. I always loved the explorers; going to the remotest places (where no one has been before) always was an exciting proposition. I personally loved to discover things and they were like my ‘big boys’, big brothers; Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, even the great conquerors had that meaning for me, the adventure and novelty of the experience. The pushing of limits further and further backward. That probably led me to love spirituality, cos like I said before, like Alan Watts, I had a deep interest in Ultimate Things. For me, the tribulation was all part of the exhiliration, I feel like ‘ha, I have conquered it’. In our patois, we say ‘I dey form’ meaning I am great, strong, et cetera positive qualities depending on context. I recently conquered our highest mountain, the Avadzato and what an elation I felt

    Yeah, I experienced the Wizard of Oz story too much in my youth. I watched it, read it, played it (there was a board game) so much that I got tired of it somehow but something like that can’t really become trite so I kept goin back. My big sister read a lot to me in my youth. I told you she was instrumental in my development in reading. From then on, I never stopped reading but I always enjoyed it when she read to me. And, there were a lot of kids shows on tv that I’d watch plus I had neighbours who had cable (they moved when I was about 9) so I had access to the animated versions of the stories; fairy tales, super-hero toons, etc

    The first horror movie I enjoyed was ‘Interview with a Vampire’ and from then on horror has never really scared me. Before then, the horror was really horrifying, won’t sleep cos of em

    A sad world without stories uh? Interesting thought. Normally, I’d say ‘you can’t tell’ but truly, keeping all else constant and removing stories makes the world look pretty drab in my head. But, should it all be left as the mutable world, something might substitute, I just don’t know what, perhaps our imagination would be more intense?

    My personal maxim is ‘live thy life as story’. I don’t really know what truth is, to me all is just story but like every story that one is emotionally attached to, it starts to abut on truth. As for others’ stories, they’ve always been substrate for me; I like to follow people’s lives, see how they turn out, it’s all like movie to me, like character dev’t. And I actively do this too, you know. I’ve been thinking of some form of video that would document one’s whole life and be accessible anytime, by anyone, better than pics, no?

    I don’t really know why I don’t watch movies as much these days. But I watched a bollywood movie (btw, those indian ladies are fine) today ‘3 idiots’ and it was very nice. A poor kid, son of a rich man’s garderner, who liked learning so would slip into school in the rich man’s kid’s uniform and attend any class. He was solving 10th grade math in 6th grade. Very unconventional (they say mischievous) kid. Got to university and tried to turn the school from a cramming college to a more human one; ’twas an engineering college so wanted them to be inventors rather than books or machines. Nice movie. The guy was probably entp. I see p-type everywhere now, you’ve charmed me, my friend

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