George Zorab

George Zorab (1898-1990) was a Dutch psychical researcher and commentator, who is chiefly remembered for his many books and articles on parapsychological topics.

Life and Career

George Avetoom Marterus Zorab was born in 1898 in Surabaya in Java, formerly part of the Dutch East Indies. In his early teens his family moved to the Netherlands.

Zorab became interested in spiritism after attending a séance which made a big impression on him.1  He joined the Dutch Society for Psychical Research and in 1932 started experimenting, mainly on spontaneous paranormal phenomena and extrasensory perception with psychotics as subjects. He joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1938. He was the first editor of two Spiritualist periodicals, Life after Death and Know Thyself.

Zorab was honorary secretary of the Dutch Society for Psychical Research from 1945 to 1957. In 1956 he was invited by Eileen Garrett to direct her newly founded Parapsychology Foundation European Research Centre at St Paul de Vence, France, occupying the post until 1958.

In the 1950s Zorab came into conflict with WH Tenhaeff, who had been appointed professor of parapsychology at the University of Utrecht and was carrying out experiments with the psychic Gerard Croiset. Zorab criticized what he considered Tenhaeff’s lack of methodological rigour, and dissented from his quantitative approach, preferring qualitative methods. In 1960 he and Jan Kappers, a doctor, founded the Dutch Association for Parapsychology with its own magazine, Spiegel der Parapsychologie, which Zorab edited until his death.

In later life, Zorab ceased experimenting but continued to be active in parapsychology as a writer, critic and popularizer. His books include a study of the nineteenth century medium DD Home, and bibliographies of parapsychology. He also acted as mentor to younger researchers.2

Zorab wrote of his friendships with parapsychologists such as Eric Dingwall, Molly Goldney, Emilio Servadio and Robert Thouless.3 But he often engaged in controversy with them, for instance over his suggestion that paranormal functioning has a biological origin, with which many of his colleagues disagreed.4

Zorab was honoured by the publication of a Liber Amicorum in 1986 that detailed his contributions to psychical research as well as listing his several hundred articles and books.5

Select Publications

Books

The Resurrection Narratives in the Light of Parapsychology (1949). The Hague: H.P. Leopold.

Magnetism and Miracle Healers (1952). Leiden: Numij.

Wonders of Parapsychology (1949). Amsterdam: G.W. Breughel.

Bibliography of Parapsychology (1957). New York: Parapsychology Foundation.

D.D. Home the Medium (1976). Milan: Armenia Editore.

Poltergeists and Their Phenomena (1984). The Hague: H.P. Leopold.

Katie King, a Ghost in Human Form (1988). Amsterdam: Leopold.

Articles

A case for survival (1940). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 31, 142-52.

Collectively perceived apparitions and psychoanalysis (1953). Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie 21, 116-26.

The use of the word ‘paranormal’ in medicine (1956). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 38, 212-15.

A case of clairvoyance (1956). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 38, 244-48.

ESP experiments with psychotics (1957). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 39, 162-64.

Correspondence (1958). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 39, 334-35.

Correspondence (1959). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 40, 149-51.

Comments and letters (1959). Journal of Parapsychology 23, 270-72.

Correspondence (1960). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 40, 373-74.

Correspondence (1961). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 97-99; 167-68; 180-83.

The case of Mrs Maters (1961). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 47-49.

Correspondence (1962). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 330-32; 438-42.

Cases of the Chaffin-Will type and the problem of survival (1962). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 407-17.

Three precognitive dreams (II & III) (1963). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 42, 22-24.

Correspondence (1963). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 42, 85-86; 156-57.

Foreign comments on Florence Cook’s mediumship (1964). Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 54, 173-84.

A further comparative analysis of some poltergeist phenomena cases from Continental Europe (1964). Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 58, 105-27.

An interesting long-termed precognition (1966). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 43, 309-17.

Correspondence (1966). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 43, 331-33; 383-85.

A precognition of death (1969). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 141-44.

A precognitive dream in connection with an examination question (1969). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 146-47.

Precognitive visions during the Second World War (1969). Metapsichica 24, 136-45.

Experiments in extrasensory perception in connection with a scientific investigation (1970). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 211-20.

Test sittings with D.D. Home at Amsterdam 1858 (1970). Journal of Parapsychology 34/1, 47-63.

Were DD Home’s spirit hands ever fraudulently produced? (1971). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 228-35.

The Sitoebondo poltergeist Java, 1893: A firsthand account written soon after the events. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 67, 391-406.

Correspondence (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 466-69; 538-39.

A tribute to Emilio Servadio on his seventieth birthday (1974). Parapsychology Review 5/4, 7-11.

Have we to reckon with a special phantom-form predisposition? (1975). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 19-30.

Obituary: J.G. van Busschbach (1975). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 44.

Parapsychological developments in the Netherlands (1976). European Journal of Parapsychology 3/1, 57-82.

Have we finally solved the problem of D.D. Home’s descent? (1978). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 49, 844-47.

A modern haunting (1980, with A. MacKenzie). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 50, 284-93.

Notes on the Kern City Poltergeist (1985, with G.H. Hovelmann). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 53, 87-92.

Correspondence (1986). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 53, 249-53.

Book Chapters

Belgium and the Netherlands (1967). In Abnormal Hypnotic Phenomena: A Survey of Nineteenth-Century Cases, Vol. II, ed. by E.J. Dingwall. London: J. & A. Churchill.

The Forlorn Quest (1983). In Research in Parapsychology 1982 ed. by W.G. Roll, J. Beloff & R.H. White. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press.

Eight Decades in Parapsychology (1987). In Esprit. Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections, Volume 1 ed. by R. Pilkington. San Antonio: Anomalist Books.

Book Reviews

Haunted Houses and Roman and Modern Law by Enzo Nardi (1961). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 46-47.

Psychic: The Story of Peter Hurkos by Peter Hurkos (1962). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 41, 429-31.

The Crisis in Parapsychology: Stagnation or Progress? by Hans Gerloff (1965). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 43, 153-55.

Croiset the Clairvoyant by Jack Harrison (1965). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 43, 209-12.

The Significance of Hylic Pluralism (1968). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 39, 352-55.

The Occult Aspect of the Mind and The Physical Powers of the Mind both by O. Gonzalez-Quevedo (1971). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 141-44.

Periodical Literature Reviews

Continental - 1967 (1968). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 44, 338.

Continental - 1968 (1969). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 74-81.

Continental - 1969 (1970). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 45, 358-63.

Continental - 1970 (1971). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 235-39.

American – 1970 (1972). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 30-37.

American & Continental – 1971 (1972). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 46, 154-62.

Parapsychological Literature 1972: A survey of the continent of Europe and the United States (1973). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 246-57.

Europe & America – 1973 (1974). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 47, 495-06.

PK reports from various countries (1976). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 48, 322-28.

Reports from other countries (1978). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 49, 742-52.

Melvyn Willin

Literature

Michels, H. (1991). You ain't goin’ nowhere? A tribute to my oldest friend. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 57, 381-82.

Snel, F.W.J.J. (1986). In Honour of G.A.M. Zorab. Amsterdam: Dutch Society for Parapsychology.

Van der Hoeven, H. (2002). Biographical Dictionary of the Netherlands. The Hague.

Zorab, G. (1987). Eight decades in parapsychology. In Esprit. Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections, Volume 1 ed. by R. Pilkington. San Antonio: Anomalist Books.

References

  • 1. Michels (1991), 381; Zorab (1987), 138.
  • 2. Van der Hoeven (2002)
  • 3. Zorab (1987), 141.
  • 4. Zorab (1987), 141.
  • 5. Snel (1986).