Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 54  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 297-299
Relevance of parapsychology in psychiatric practice: A rejoinder

Department of Psychiatry, Maulana Azad Medical College & G. B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication15-Oct-2012

How to cite this article:
Jiloha RC. Relevance of parapsychology in psychiatric practice: A rejoinder. Indian J Psychiatry 2012;54:297-9

How to cite this URL:
Jiloha RC. Relevance of parapsychology in psychiatric practice: A rejoinder. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Sep 30];54:297-9. Available from:


Dr. Satwant Pasricha's Guest Editorial [1] (Vol. 53 Number 1), 'Relevance of para-psychology in psychiatric practice', makes an interesting reading. There is no denying the fact that many people have personally experienced intuition, gut-feelings, premonitions and dreams, empathy, and inspired creativity. They also include more extreme experience, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, out of body experience (or astral projections), channeling, remote viewing, and even time travel. All of these can be described as extrasensory perceptions as they require the use of sensory perception outside the five physical senses.

The phenomena where effects are suspected, but not necessarily verified to exist, or where the causative element is presumed to exist outside of the normal mien of understood physical interactions, comes under the realm of metaphysics. Metaphysics becomes physics once the principles are understood. Humans have been observing thousands of observable but unexplainable phenomena since long time.

Telepathy is one such phenomenon currently emerging into the physical body of knowledge. [2],[3] The telepathic phenomena currently under study are not called telepathy; they have conventional names such as "modeling," and "mirroring." [4],[5] This rather quiet promotion of a metaphysical notion into physical science came about through advances in brain imaging and monitoring where patterns of neural electrical activation and other measures can be captured quickly, constantly, and simultaneously across multiple participants in experiments. [6],[7]

Near death experience (NDE) is another phenomenon. The conflict in science over NDEs centers not on whether they happen but on what they are. Based on various studies, it is known that between 4% and 18% of people who are resuscitated after cardiac arrest have an NDE. [8] It is argued that an NDE is a purely physiological phenomenon that occurs within an oxygen-starved brain and there is nothing mysterious about it. Many people want it to be a religious, paranormal or supernatural phenomenon.

However, it is further argued that no theory based purely on the workings of the brain can account for all elements of an NDE, and that we should consider the mind-bending possibility that consciousness can exist independent of a functioning brain, or at least that consciousness is more complex than we suppose. Though NDEs are driven in part by neurochemistry and psychology, it has underlying mechanisms in more mysterious realms that cannot currently be described. Many in the scientific community regard such experiences as hallucinatory, [9],[10],[11] while paranormal specialists claim them to be evidence of an afterlife. [12],[13],[14]

The phenomenon of afterlife called reincarnation-a process where the core substance of an individual is reborn in a future lifetime-has existed in all major historical cultures. More than half of the world's people believe in reincarnation. Bhagvad Gita, a Hindu epic explicitly describes rebirth on the basis of karma (Gita, IV-4). [15] It is a common Hindu belief that the spiritual status of an individual is determined by the sum total of his past lives. [16] The metaphysics of Hinduism and Buddhism, and early Judaism and Christianity describe reincarnation in terms that cannot be easily tested. Such supernatural beliefs require unquestioning credulity.

Recently, more objective evidence has included memories of events or knowledge apparently based in the lives of deceased individuals. New research suggests that physical and personality traits may be inherited from the past. It needs to be investigated whether empirical evidence can plausibly account for the apparent non-parental link involved in alleged reincarnation cases. The current thinking that the psychophysical inheritance of a newborn can be completely accounted for by its immediate parental genomes needs to be reviewed. Facial architecture, body types, hair patterns, ear forms, hand-finger proportions, voice, and odor have been noted to correspond in two separate lifetimes. Some physical similarities also include special markings, birthmarks and deformities. [17] Matching psychological traits include levels of mental development, emotional patterns, styles of interacting with others, and areas of creative interest.

All these factors seem to make up a psychoplasm that enfolds and animates the genomic material synthesized at conception. When we have a better understanding of the interaction between the genome and the epigenome, it can be possible to test the psychoplasm concept by comparing a subject's relevant DNA sequences with the genome from his or her alleged incarnation.

There was a time when stars and planets were imagined to be embedded in celestial spheres rolled about the earth by the gods. The spheres and gods were gradually refined and replaced with gravitationally driven orbits as the metaphysical study of the cosmos became the physical study of celestial mechanics. Even today, many realms of scientific endeavor have metaphysical corners. These corners are relevant not only in psychiatric practice but they are relevant in any scientific inquiry. As tangible results emerge from further studies, they migrate into the scientific mainstream.

   References Top

1.Pasricha SK. Relevance of parapsychology in psychiatric practice. Indian J Psychiatry 2011;53:4-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Beauregard M, O'Leary D. Toward a Non-materialist Science of Mind. The Spiritual Brain. New York: Harper One; 2007. p. 368.   Back to cited text no. 2
3.Schreiber D, IACOBONI M. Monkey See, Monkey Do: Mirror Neurons; 2005, Functional Brain Imaging, and Looking at Political Faces, American Political Science Association Meeting, Washington D.C., 2005. Available from:  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Limb CJ, Braun AR. Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance: An fMRI Study of Jazz Improvisation. PLoS ONE 2008;3:e1679.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Overy K, Molnar-Szakacs I. Being Together in Time: Musical Experience and the Mirror Neuron System. Music Percept 2009;26:489-504.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Pacherie E, Dokic J. From mirror neurons to joint actions, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS-EHESS-ENS, 1 bis, avenue de Lowendal, 75007 Paris, France, Available from: [last accessed on 2006 Mar 7].  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Winerman L. The mind's mirror; 2005, Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association 2005. Available from:  Back to cited text no. 7
8.London Telegraph, 10/22/2000 article: Soul-searching doctors find life after death, about Drs. Peter Fenwick and Sam Parnia studies of heart attack survivors.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Buzzi G. Near-Death experiences. Lancet 2002;359:2116-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Britton WB, Bootzin RR. Near-Death Experiences and the Temporal Lobe. Psychol Sci 2004;15:254-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Blackmore S. Dying to Live: Near-Death Experience. London: Grafton; 1993.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Grossman N. Who's Afraid of Life After Death? Why NDE Evidence is Ignored, Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) Indiana University and University of Illinois; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Fontana D. Does Mind Survive Physical Death? Cardiff University and Liverpool John Moores University; 2003.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Levitation. Toys Really Test Brain Power; 2011. Available from:   Back to cited text no. 14
15.Rao V. Karma Theory and Psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry 2001;43:112-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Risley H. The People of India. Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation; 1961.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Stevenson, Ian. Birthmarks and birth defects corresponding to wounds on deceased persons 1993. J Sci Explor 1993;7:403-10.0  Back to cited text no. 17

Correspondence Address:
Ram C Jiloha
Department of Psychiatry, Maulana Azad Medical College & G. B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.102462

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