Jule Eisenbud

Profile of an American psychoanalyst and paranormal investigator (1908-1998) known for his extensive study of ‘thoughtography’ practised by Ted Serios, and for his insightful theorising about the role of unconscious motivation in the manifestation of psi effects.


Jule Eisenbud was born in New York on November 20, 1908. He received his M.D. in 1934 from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and his D.Med.Sc. in 1939 from Columbia University. In 1938, he began private practice in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and for 12 years served as associate in psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical School. In 1950 Eisenbud and his family moved to Denver, where he was appointed Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Medical School. Eisenbud also continued his private practice, and he was the first psychoanalyst to establish a private practice in Denver. Although he published extensively on psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and hypnosis,1 Eisenbud is perhaps best known for his pioneering investigations and theoretical writings in parapsychology, many of which explored the subtle manifestations of ESP in both clinical and everyday contexts. Eisenbud also conducted an extended series of careful experiments with Ted Serios, a Chicago bellhop who apparently projected his mental images onto photographic film.

Early involvement with the paranormal

In an autobiographical essay,2 Eisenbud writes that his first brushes with the paranormal concerned the apparent telepathic ability of his mother. Then, in his teens, he was struck by the seemingly coincidental dream of a cousin’s death on the night the cousin died. However, Eisenbud began to take psi seriously only many years later, when he had ‘worked through some of my resistances to the presumptively telepathic material I began to run up against in my own practice of psychoanalysis’.3  Thus began Eisenbud’s long engagement with two of his primary parapsychological interests: the depth-psychological origins and shaping of paranormal events (often revealed in the latent content of dreams), and the stubborn and pervasive resistance to accepting the reality of magnitude of psi.

Beginning in the 1940s, Eisenbud started meeting regularly with several others who likewise went on to contribute substantially to psi research—including Laura Dale, Gardner Murphy, Montague Ullman and Jan Ehrenwald. Originally the meetings were for the purpose of discussion, but eventually members of the group began experimenting with table-tipping, and that led to Eisenbud’s first encounter with ‘homegrown psychokinesis’.4 On one of these occasions, held in the usual substreet level of a New York brownstone home, ‘the table, seemingly possessed by a stamping, whirling, rushing will of its own, led us out the door and up the steps and into the street and the startled gaze of a couple of dumbly uncomprehending passersby’.5

In 1945, Eisenbud ‘went public’ with his interest in the paranormal. He presented his first paper on the topic, ‘Telepathy and Problems of Psychoanalysis’, to the New York Psychoanalytic Society, and a few months later the paper was published in The Psychoanalytic Quarterly.6 This work was greeted with considerable hostility, and indeed, some of Eisenbud’s colleagues continued thereafter to regard him with suspicion and contempt. Others, though, remained friendly while making it clear that they wanted little or nothing to do with Eisenbud’s interests in the paranormal. Eisenbud reports that one of his colleagues said to him, ‘Look, you’re a nice guy, but you’re crazy’.

When Eisenbud moved his family in 1950 to Denver, the change in venue was not accompanied by a corresponding change in the reactions of his colleagues. Eisenbud writes: ‘On the whole… cordial relations continued at the medical school; but it was 33 years before I was formally invited to talk there on my researches in parapsychology, and even this invitation, which was never followed by another, came about through a pure fluke.’7

Ted Serios

The study of Serios—a Chicago bellhop who could make images appear on unexposed ‘instant’ Polaroid film—is the work for which Eisenbud is best known. It began in April 1964, enjoyed a little more than three years of great productivity, and then continued intermittently until Eisenbud was no longer well enough to carry on. The case was thoroughly described in the first edition of Eisenbud’s book, The World of Ted Serios,8 and then updated and revised considerably for the second edition.9

During the three initial years of study, Eisenbud supervised thousands of trials, witnessed by at least one hundred different observers, most of them scientists and academics, of whom some were experienced conjurors. These trials yielded around one thousand anomalous Polaroid photographs, the entire collection of which now resides in the Special Collections section of the Library at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

More than 400 of Serios’s psychic photographs contained specific images. These images, usually of buildings, were typically somewhat blurry or distorted, but they were nevertheless often recognizable. And on some occasions Eisenbud or another experimenter selected a ‘target’ image beforehand but concealed its identity from Serios (for instance by sealing the image in an opaque envelope). Although the correspondences between target images and photos are often not very close, the fact remains that the Polaroid photos were produced under conditions which seem clearly to rule out fraud, and accordingly which seem to require a paranormal explanation.

However, some of Serios’s most important and puzzling results don’t involve the production of images at all. Serios also produced hundreds of so-called blackies and whities. The former photos were apparently either not exposed or at least greatly underexposed, and the latter were apparently severely overexposed. The blackies are perplexing because there’s no reason to think that for those trials light had been prevented from reaching the film. So something should have appeared on the Polaroid film when it was removed from the camera. And the whities are puzzling because they were obtained when all visible light sources had apparently been blocked from the camera lens. Those Polaroids should have been dark.

Interested readers may wish to consult the Encyclopedia entry on Serios for further details, including a discussion of why the predictable charges of fraud are implausible. For present purposes, it’s sufficient to note that many consider the Serios case to provide the most dramatic and compelling evidence in the twentieth century of macro-PK.

Psi and Psychoanalysis

In the 1950s and 60s, Eisenbud wrote a series of papers exploring the application of psychoanalytic tools to the issues in parapsychology. Much of that work found its way eventually into his book Psi and Psychoanalysis,10 in which Eisenbud presents many examples—from both clinical and everyday contexts—of ostensibly ‘psi-conditioned’ dreams and behavior. The aim of the book is to explore both the pitfalls and conceptual rewards of positing extensive and subtle psi activity permeating all of life.

This book’s content resists neat description, and its emphasis on psychoanalytic theory may be off-putting to readers not antecedently sympathetic to that depth-psychological approach. However, one can get a good sense of the subtlety and scope of Eisenbud’s thinking by considering the arguments in two of his seminal papers, both republished in his collection Parapsychology and the Unconscious.11

‘Psi and the Nature of Things’

The overall argument in this paper is multi-pronged and rather circuitous, but very rich. Eisenbud begins by noting that there are two stable and persistent characteristics of the data in parapsychology. The first is the difficulty in reliably replicating the data; indeed, the decline effect (he claims) may be parapsychology’s one repeatable result. The second is the difficulty in convincing people that parapsychology studies something worth investigating—that is, something real or important.

Most parapsychologists assume that these problems (if they acknowledge them at all) are accidental and are not deeply connected to the nature of psi. For example, they assume that we will eventually get reliable and convincing results. But they don’t assume (or even entertain) that the two persistent problems with the data might be due to the fact that, in their hearts, people don’t want to believe in the reality of psi.

As the history of parapsychology clearly shows, resistance to psi is nothing new, and clearly it still persists.. Some think that the obstacle to progress in the field is that psi doesn’t make sense in the overall scheme of things. But a hypothesis doesn’t itself make sense or not. It is up to us to make sense of it. However, we can make sense of a hypothesis only if we want to, or if it appeals to us. Indeed, when we want to make sense of it, we’ll find a way to fit it into our view of things. So perhaps our inability to make sense of psi is a sign of our deeper resistance to it.

Now parapsychologists tend naively to think that others resist psi—not themselves. But once we get away from superficial indications of belief (for example, mere statements expressing belief) and look at what parapsychologists actually do, this seems false. Indeed, parapsychologists often seem to sabotage the scientific quest for psi—for example, with needlessly rigid and complicated experiments, or their refusal to examine psi in real-life settings. As far as the former path to failure is concerned, Eisenbud describes it as ‘a kind of endless pseudo-scientific fussiness and obsessional piddling, which, as often as not, results in never getting anything done unless under conditions that virtually strangulate the emergence of anything faintly resembling a psi occurrence.’12

Moreover, if we take psi seriously, we must take seriously the possibility of deep paranormal effects leading to experimental failures. We might, for all we know, use psi to frustrate our search for it.

But forgetting for the moment about psi-mediated sabotage, how else might we unconsciously undermine our efforts? Eisenbud argues that we should look, first, at our record of goofs, oversights, or omissions—for example,

not only of the witnesses not interrogated, of the notes not made at the time they should have been, of the precautions not taken against simple errors of observation or recording or even counting, or against alternative hypotheses which after the fact may appear perfectly obvious.13

We should look also at our failures to pursue promising lines of research, such as the failure in the 1880s to follow-up on the successful studies of hypnosis at a distance, the moral implications of which are clearly frightening.14 Thus, Eisenbud argues, we might undermine our own efforts by being both too scrupulous and too careless or neglectful.

Thus, we should not assume that our errors, delays, and so on are inadvertent or caused by external factors. In fact, once we take psi seriously from the beginning, we can’t tell who is responsible for what. But in that case we can’t be sure who or what is responsible for departures from our presumed experimental ideals. For example, if we fall short of those ideals, or get only marginally significant results, or fail to attain the degree of replicability characteristic of most experiments in physics or chemistry, we can’t assume that’s totally unrelated to the phenomena we’re trying to investigate. These ‘miscarriages’ must become part of our body of data.

Parapsychologists often grudgingly admit that unconscious factors must be understood and controlled before experimental replicability can be achieved or assured. But their conception of the unconscious is very superficial. If we are really to accept the unconscious, we must take seriously our inability to specify (even after the fact) all the relevant factors that impinged on or influenced the final experimental outcome, and—a corollary of that—the impossibility of discerning in an experimental setting who did what to whom and when it was done.

At this point, Eisenbud asks a crucial question. He notes that experimental designs by themselves can’t guarantee that participants will agree to use their unconscious psi capacities to produce repeatable positive results. That is, nothing about experimental situations necessarily encourages, much less forces, us to demonstrate psi repeatably. However, nothing forbids it either. So, why don’t we all seem to agree to produce positive results again and again, cooperating like the usually well-behaved objects of study in physical experiments?

However, that question may presuppose a view of the matter that is too literal or superficial. Perhaps we’ve been well-behaved all along, unconsciously agreeing to keep the universe orderly, rather than permit violations on demand.

The trouble with parapsychologists, however, is that they don’t take no for an answer. Now, this may well be in the noblest tradition of scientific research, but sometimes the answer is no. It is all very well to dredge up the flying machine, the incandescent bulb and the many other triumphs of undaunted faith; but there are also perpetual motion, the fountain of youth and a thousand other impossible dreams. Certain considerations led me to believe that the repeatable experiment in parapsychology is in the latter category.15

At this point, Eisenbud addresses one of his favorite and distinctive topics, mentioned as well in some of his other papers—namely, the status of the laws of probability.16 Eisenbud argued that those laws themselves provide a mystery: Why do things in the world conform to them? He suggests, as an answer, that the kinds of psi phenomena we recognize in parapsychology are small-scale aspects of a larger whole in which the laws of probability play a larger role. Specifically, Eisenbud suggests that the same process that produces table levitations might also be what preserves the laws of probability.

… the fact that the laws of probability work—not just that the theorems describing them can be logically derived, but that empirical events fall out in conformity with them—is difficult to comprehend unless something on the order of psi ‘communication’ between events is posited. According to this view, what we have come to identify in our parapsychological studies as psi processes are merely particular manifestations of a much broader operating principle—call it what you will—without which events large or small just wouldn’t hang together. What we know narrowly as psi may thus be construed as in some way an indispensable part of the executive arm, so to speak, of the laws of probability and as such plays an important role as a guardian of various ‘givens’ which can be deviated from only within more or less given limits.

So what Eisenbud proposes is that we might unconsciously agree to preserve order in Nature, and that this is why we can’t reliably overturn our cherished regularities in the relatively petty interests of psi research. He writes:

We… are instruments through which… the laws are maintained on their course; but our inherent psi capacities, in the service of these larger purposes, are mostly not in evidence, since their functioning ordinarily is unobtrusively imbedded in the very nature of things.17     

Analogously, we agree to obey traffic laws and signals, even though we find an occasional offender. And when we do find one, we take steps to keep the person under wraps. So in attempting a repeatable experiment, we are (in effect) asking ourselves both to maintain and overturn the lawlike nature of things—that is, to keep the laws and also to break them.

Now if all this is so, we can see why resistance to psi will never disappear (including whatever it is that blocks psi researchers from getting what they consider to be positive results). Psychoanalysis, Eisenbud claims, helps explain all this, by (say) showing the connection between resistance to psi and resistance to (or fear of) the unconscious magical fantasy of omnipotence (especially, the omnipotence of thought). Psychoanalysis also can reveal unconscious mechanisms for resisting psi—for example, the strategies and impulses leading to experimental goofs or oversights, as well as a mere overt refusal to believe in psi.

So from Eisenbud’s viewpoint, our resistance to psi is part of a larger system of bookkeeping that insures that our lawful universe runs smoothly. An imbalance in one area (say, a psi superstar) will be balanced out elsewhere (say, by heightened resistance). So we can now see how resistance can take the form of carelessness as well as over-scrupulousness. Both might be unconscious ways of balancing out psi occurrences, and they help to keep psi baffling and elusive.

We can see, then, that parapsychologists who think psi is separate from the rest of what happens in nature (for example, another, or an occasional, force), and who suppose that it can be studied in isolation from the larger network of goings-on, are as reactionary as those who think there is no psi at all. Both camps are essentially fleeing from having to confront the relationship of psi to our more unsavory or demonic impulses. What scares us deeply about psi is the large-scale unconscious use of it, because if it can be triggered unconsciously, we might not be able to control it at all, and we might use it for purposes we don’t consciously condone.

Finally, Eisenbud notes that experimental data are never negative or wrong. They look that way only to one who expects a particular result. But from a more sophisticated viewpoint, whatever happens is right, because it will be something offering clues about what is really going on, and about the deeper nature of things.

‘Why Psi?’

Eisenbud begins this paper by posing a familiar question: Why, if psi effects can be as pervasive, extensive, and refined as he suggests, do we apparently not use it to get rich, or for some other conspicuous advantage (say, to avoid disaster or death)? Eisenbud counters by saying that this question presupposes that we have psi under voluntary control. So he asks, in return: Why is it that few of us use our ordinary abilities and easily available normal sources of information to secure similar benefits?

For example, if we consider the general goals of health and wealth, we must concede that people frequently fail to act in their own best interest, even though they have both the ability and available information to do so. And in more pathological cases, people unconsciously use their abilities and information to act contrary to their professed interests and goals, all the while insisting that they are victims of external forces. Similarly (as far as we know), not only might psi operate unconsciously, beyond voluntary control, but

... the goals it serves, as is the case also with the rest of the functions in the cognitive spectrum, may be often at variance with those which are consciously espoused and which we all too unthinkingly imagine to be the “natural” or “normal” goals of the individual.18

So Eisenbud suggests that psi, too, might serve goals contrary to those we espouse overtly, or those which we assume to be normal or usual human goals (such as health and wealth). Indeed, our real goals may be self-destructive. Now whether or not Eisenbud is correct about how deeply self-destructive we are much of the time, he has at least drawn attention to an important, and undeniable, fact. Whatever the reason may be, people often seem unable to use their abilities or special skills and knowledge to their own best advantage. For example, therapists and counselors frequently make a shambles of their personal lives, even while they sagely guide those of their clients. Similarly, attorneys often find themselves in thoroughly predictable legal trouble, and physicians often become addicted to drugs or engage in other activities they know will imperil their health. Thus, one can’t simply assume that matters must be different in the case of psi capacities.

Next, Eisenbud speculates about whether our self-destructiveness (assisted by psi) might play a role in the larger scheme of things, and in particular manifest widely in the animal kingdom. He considers whether there’s a kind of cosmic bookkeeping taking place in nature, governing the course of our behaviors and fates, and also those of creatures more generally.

So Eisenbud considers certain curious animal behaviors, and he speculates that perhaps the larger goals of psi are to maintain a cosmic balance of some sort, so that sometimes an organism’s psi may serve to lead to its demise. For example, it might pilot an animal toward (rather than away from) its capture and destruction. We tend to assume that escape is always the goal which an animal’s abilities (psi included) would serve if they could. But that, Eisenbud suggests, is taking too small a view of the matter. There may in fact be larger ecological goals that take precedence, and perhaps our organic inclinations are, first and foremost, to achieve those goals. This might lead to such curious things as a kind of cooperation between predator and prey.

For example, Eisenbud notes how tarantulas neither escape from nor kill a particular kind of wasp (the digger wasp Pepsis) which (unlike other wasps) lays its eggs in the tarantula it paralyzes, although the same tarantulas would attack or escape from any other wasp or thing that triggers its body hairs. Similarly, he notes that

It is known that if moose stand their ground when attacked by wolf packs their chances of being killed are slight because the wolves almost never go in on these dangerous animals and sooner or later, tiring of waiting, move off. In fact, the most effectual attacking behavior in the wolf is instinctually released only by the stimulus of a fleeing moose; at the same time, moose in flight are less able to defend themselves. How is it, then, that ‘standing’ has not been selected in and fleeing out? Would not the answer seem to be that the fleeing moose and the attacking wolf make one ecological (and evolutional) unit, and that fleeing and chasing constitute interspecific cooperation just as effectively as the dovetailing behavior of the tarantula and the wasp? From the conventional point of view such a duet ought to appear the more paradoxical when it is realized that while fleeing obviously takes more energy than standing, it is often the very animals which can least afford such an expenditure, the old ones, that are most likely to flee. Since these happen also to be the animals which can run neither fast nor long, would it not seem that Nature has in this way arranged for these population units, classically expendable from the standpoint of procreative capability, to be expended? To the conventionally tutored eye these animals may appear to be fleeing just as fast as they can, but from Nature’s point of view, judging from the results, they can only be said to be beating a terrified advance.19

Accordingly, Eisenbud wonders if something like this predator-prey relationship permeates all of nature, including human behaviors. He suggests that psi might provide the means for the appropriate communication, including inter-species communication.

More generally, he urges the reader not to be timid in using the psi hypothesis, but instead see how far we can extend it, in order to frame powerful generalizations. But, he cautions, he’s not suggesting that we use the psi hypothesis whenever we wish, as a kind of theological blank cheque. Rather, he proposes that we should not shrink from using it, even if tentatively, whenever we find anomalies in nature, or explanations that don’t seem to hang together sufficiently. Eisenbud notes that we know psi exists. So we shouldn’t be content to use that knowledge just to account for the small-scale phenomena we try to produce in the lab. Rather, he urges us to bring psi back into the world at large, to recognize that it has a natural history, and to see what the psi hypothesis can do when applied to its broader, natural domain.

On Precognition

In addition to presenting some compelling evidence of ostensible precognition in his book Paranormal Foreknowledge,20 Eisenbud challenged the received wisdom about the interpretation of that evidence. He noted, first, that in cases of precognition it seems—on the surface, at least—as if a future event (say, a plane crash) causes an earlier event—namely, a precognitive experience pointing to the future event. But Eisenbud argued that this appeal to backward (or retro, or counterclockwise) causation is conceptually problematical, especially when trying to explain how it can be reconciled with the fact and complexities of human intention.21 Accordingly, Eisenbud explored the analysis of precognition on the supposition that the retrocausal analysis could not be made to work.

Eisenbud claimed that the alternative to the retrocausal analysis was some form of what he called the active analysis. He chose that terminology because the retrocausal approach explains precognition in terms of mere information reception, whereas the active analysis appeals to something the subject does. According to the active analysis, a case of ostensible precognition could be explained by one or both of the following options: (1) psi-mediated inference, (2) psychokinesis, or the closely-related telepathic influence. Consider these in turn.

Psi-Mediated Inference. The idea here is to treat precognition as formally analogous to a familiar kind of inference. Consider the case of an engineer who, after examining a building under construction, claims ‘this building will collapse’. The first thing to observe is that the engineer’s statement is a tacit conditional or hypothetical. He is not maintaining that the building will collapse no matter what. Rather, he is making a claim of the form, ‘the building will collapse unless _____’, and in context one usually knows which conditions are being taken for granted. Presumably, the engineer means that unless (say) the design is modified or unless different materials are used, collapse is probable (if not inevitable). The next thing to observe is that the engineer’s judgment is based on contemporaneous information. The conditional assertion, ‘the building will collapse,’ is justified with respect to, or inductively inferred from, presently available information regarding the blueprints, the state of the building, or the materials being used to build it.

According to this approach, the situation is much the same when a person precognizes a plane crash. First, the precognizer’s judgment that the plane will crash is a tacit conditional, ‘the plane will crash unless _____’ (for example, unless repairs are made, unless the plane takes a different flight path, or unless a different air traffic controller is on the job). Second, this judgment is based on contemporaneous information gained via real time ESP of relevant states of affairs (for example, the mental state of the pilot or air traffic controller, the projected flight path, or the condition of the plane’s engines or electrical system). The principal difference (apart from the use of psi) between the precognitive case and that of the engineer is that in the former, neither the precognizer nor anyone else will (usually) know how to fill in the blank in the conditional ‘event E will occur unless _____’. Presumably this is because not even the precognizer needs to be consciously aware of the data on which the inference about the future is based.

In fact, the inference itself need not be conscious. It may occur subconsciously or unconsciously as part of the precognizer’s ongoing need-determined psi-scanning, and its overt manifestations may be types of behavior other than first-person reports of precognitive experiences. For example, the precognizer might cancel his reservation on a train that he unconsciously infers will crash.22 However, he needn’t be aware consciously of so much as a hunch that the train will derail. It might even be in his best interest psychologically to mask the source or nature of his information, in which case he might simply appear to lose his desire to make the trip. In other cases, the paranormally acquired information and unconscious inference might find their way into a dream or produce a somatic disorder. For example, rather than ride on the train he unconsciously fears will crash, the ticket holder might suddenly develop a disabling migraine headache.

One virtue of this form of the active analysis is that it avoids the Intervention Paradox many see as afflicting the retrocausal analysis. This is the problem of making sense of how a person can have a veridical precognition and then take the steps that successfully prevent its occurrence. For example, how can the plane crash be prevented if the precognizer correctly perceived psychically that the event will occur? The appeal to psi-mediated inference makes easy sense of this, because the implicit inference, ‘the plane will crash unless ­­­___’ is a conditional statement, not a categorical future-tense statement that the crash will occur. That statement can’t have been true if the crash is prevented, but the implicitly hypothetical ‘the plane will crash’ can be true if the crash is prevented. Thus, the appeal to psi-mediated inference explains how a precognition can be veridical even if falsified.

The primary limitation of this form of the active analysis is that it can’t handle cases where precognitive targets are selected after the precognition by random processes (whose outcomes, we may assume, are non-inferable in principle from contemporaneous states of affairs). But for those cases, the active analysis proposes a second option—namely, that the precognizer brings about the state of affairs precognized—for example, that the precognizer of the plane crash psychokinetically or telepathically influences events in such a way that the apparently foreseen crash occurs (or will occur unless appropriate countervailing measures are taken). That influence could be on physical states of affairs (such as the plane’s engines) or a person’s mental states (such as those of the pilot, mechanic, or flight attendant). Clearly, this view encourages us to consider the underlying psychodynamics of precognition cases, to look for reasons why one or more ostensible precognizers might (probably unconsciously) want to bring about the (sometimes unfortunate if not tragic) events in question. It is no wonder, then, that the psychoanalyst Eisenbud took this view seriously.

Eisenbud recognized, however, that one can never be certain about underlying motives, much less know the full story—that is, the complete array of relevant unconscious goings-on and under-the-surface interactions (normal and paranormal). At best, one can proceed as in other speculative areas of science, by generating hypotheses that tie together systematically as many loose ends as possible.

Eisenbud also countered the predictable objection that people are unlikely to will or wish for—even unconsciously—the tragic large-scale disasters that they sometimes seem to precognize (such as the sinking of the Titanic or the Aberfan mine disaster). According to some, even if people were able psychokinetically to bring about events of that magnitude, it is implausible to suppose that they would. Eisenbud’s response, in addition to pointing out that psi-mediated inference is still an alternative to the retrocausal hypothesis, is simply to deny that humans are incapable of such a degree of malevolence. He argued, correctly, that

... there is no disaster, of whatever magnitude of degree or horror, that has ever been foreshadowed in dream, premonition, or Delphic utterance that cannot be matched in effect by one that has been brought about by some individual deliberately and with full awareness of the consequences... The record on this score is so extensive and so clear—from fatal child abuse to Hiroshima, from capriciously started wars to shocking acts of political terrorism—that there can be no reasonable argument about human propensities in this domain. The only question is whether there is a hidden part of the average well-acculturated human being, who cannot consciously imagine himself battering a child or bombing a school building, that is subject to the same impulses that actuate persons who are openly destructive.23

For the reader coming to Eisenbud’s works for the first time, it is  probably best to begin—for experimental work—with The World of Ted Serios. But to appreciate the depth and breadth of Eisenbud’s work generally (both empirical and theoretical), one should begin with Parapsychology and the Unconscious. Many of the essays tackle topics explored more thoroughly in other works, and others deal with particular cases covered nowhere else.

Stephen Braude


Braude, S.E. (1997). The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science, Revised Edition. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Cox, W.E. (1956). ‘Precognition: An Analysis, II.’ Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 50: 99-109.

Eisenbud, J. (1937). ‘The Psychology of Headache: A Case Studied Experimentally.’ Psychiatric Quarterly, 11 (4): 592–619. doi: doi 10.1007%2Fbf01562884

Eisenbud, J. (1939). ‘A Method for Investigating the Effect of Repression on the Somatic Expression of Emotion in Vegetative Functions: A Preliminary Report.’ Psychosomatic Medicine, 1: 376–387.

Eisenbud, J. (1946). ‘Telepathy and Problems of Psychoanalysis.’ Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 15: 32-87.

Eisenbud, J. (1964). ‘The Oral Side of Humor.’ The Psychoanalytic Review, 51 (1): 57-73.

Eisenbud, J. (1967). The World of Ted Serios. New York: William Morrow & Co.

Eisenbud, J. (1970). Psi and Psychoanalysis. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Eisenbud, J. (1976). ‘Evolution and Psi.’ Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 70: 35-53.

Eisenbud, J. (1982). Paranormal Foreknowledge: Problems and Perplexities. New York: Human Sciences Press.

Eisenbud, J. (1987). ‘My Life With the Paranormal.’ In R. Pilkington (Ed.), Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections (pp. 7-18). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Eisenbud, J. (1989). The World of Ted Serios (2nd edition). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

Eisenbud, J. (1992). Parapsychology and the Unconscious. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books. (Label: 114)

Eisenbud, J. (1996). Love and Hate in the Nursery and Beyond: Voices from the Unconscious. Berkeley, CA: Frog, Ltd.

Janet, P. (1885). ‘Note sur quelques phenomènes de somnambulisme.’ Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etrangere, 21: 190-198. Trans. ‘Report on Some Phenomena of Somnambulism.’ Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 4(2): 124-131, 1968.

Janet, P. (1886). ‘Deuxième note sur le sommeil provoqué à distance et la suggestion mentale pendant l'état somnambulique.’ Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etrangere, 22: 212-223. Trans. ‘Second observation on sleep provoked from a distance and mental suggestion during the somnambulistic state.’ Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 4(3): 258-267, 1968. 


  • 1. For example, Eisenbud, 1937, 1939, 1964, 1996.
  • 2. Eisenbud, 1987.
  • 3. Eisenbud, 1987, p. 9.
  • 4. Eisenbud, 1987, p. 12.
  • 5. Eisenbud, 1987, p. 12.
  • 6. Eisenbud, 1946.
  • 7. Eisenbud, 1987, pp, 14-15.
  • 8. Eisenbud, 1967.
  • 9. Eisenbud, 1989.
  • 10. Eisenbud, 1970
  • 11. Eisenbud, 1992.
  • 12. Eisenbud, 1992, p. 153.
  • 13. Eisenbud, 1992, p. 155.
  • 14. Janet, 1885, 1886.
  • 15. Eisenbud, 1992, p. 161.
  • 16. See also ‘Psi and the Problem of the Disconnections in Science’ and ‘Why Psi?’ in Eisenbud, 1992.
  • 17. Eisenbud, 1992, p. 162.
  • 18. Eisenbud, 1992, p. 171.
  • 19. Eisenbud, 1982, p. 179. Eisenbud borrowed this passage and explores related topics in Eisenbud, 1976.
  • 20. Eisenbud, 1982.
  • 21. This line of reasoning was later taken up and expanded by Braude, 1997, Chapter 6.
  • 22. Cox, 1956
  • 23. Eisenbud, 1982, p. 175.