Presentation on theme: "Christine Simmonds-Moore, PhD."— Presentation transcript:
1 Christine Simmonds-Moore, PhD. Personality Variables in Spontaneous Psi Research: Contextualizing the Boundary Construct in its relationship to Spontaneous Psi PhenomenaUTRECHT II – CHARTING THE FUTURE OF PARAPSYCHOLOGYChristine Simmonds-Moore, PhD.
2 Spontaneous psi experiences Are more common among certain individualsBoundary thinness, Transliminality, Positive Schizotypy, Temporal lobe lability, Dissociation, Absorption, Extraversion, CreativityAre also more likely in certain states of consciousness/situationsDreams, hypnagogia, meditation, being wide awake, right hemisphere, consciousness binding processes, subliminal perception“Boundaries” are a parsimonious way of understanding these superficially disparate variables
3 Introducing the “boundary construct” and its relevance to parapsychology Boundaries reflect the functional/anatomical level of connectivity between neural, biological, and cognitive structures in the mind-brain and the extent to which conscious experiences are experienced as fused or separated.Boundary thinness may also be observed interpersonally (e.g., as empathy) and between the person and the environmentBoundaries are not a new idea in parapsychology – (e.g., Myers, James, Bergson)Recent attention to the idea in the work of Hartmann (1991) on Boundary Thinness and Thalbourne on Transliminality (e.g., Thalbourne & Houran, 2000)
4 Psychometric (trait) measures of boundary thinness Hartmann’s Boundary Questionnaire (e.g., Hartmann, 1991)Thalbourne’s Transliminality (e.g., Thalbourne & Houran, 2000)Positive schizotypy (e.g., unusual experiences of Mason et al’s O-LIFE)Temporal lobe lability (e.g., Persinger & Makarec’s Complex Partial Epileptic like Signs)All correlate with psi experiences These variables load on one unified factor (Simmonds-Moore, 2008; Thalbourne and Maltby, 2008).Psychometric boundary thinness also relates to other psi relevant variables:- including dissociation, absorption, extraversion and creativity
5 Physiological boundaries Neural connectivityReduced inhibitionVertical connectivity or increased connection between sub-cortical and cortical brain structuresReduced cortical dominanceLateral connectivity or increased connection between the left and right hemispheresReduced dominance of left hemisphere, more input of RH processesNeural connectivity (particularly of circuits underpining social cognition in schizophrenia)
6 Cognitive-perceptual boundaries I Representational/memory-related boundariesAssociational processingSynaesthesiaI see a shape!
7 Cognitive-perceptual boundaries II Attentional boundariesWider “attentional spotlight”Greater availability of subliminal informationConsciousawarenessThin boundariesThick boundariesPreconsciousprocesses
8 Boundaries of conscious experience The extent to which meaningfulness/emotion/significance is attached to a perceptual experienceE.g., thoughts are fused with feelingsDistinctness of states of consciousnessE.g., sleep states interject into wakefulness“Consciousness binding”
9 Interpersonal/environmental boundaries Emotional closeness/empathic connection with another person or the worldE.g, emotional closeness and psi
10 Types of boundary may have different relationships to psi and mental health Personality boundaries relate in different ways to psi experiencesDifferent types of boundary may relate differently to psi experiencesLittle empirical work has focused on attempting to testPsi and pseudo psi hypotheses associated with different boundary typesDifferent types of boundary thinness and mental health/pathology
11 Boundaries as a stateThe hypnagogic state of consciousness seems to be associated with several forms of boundary thinnessAssociated with over as well as under-arousal and can occur during the daytimeMore likely among those with psychometric thin boundariesMeditation also seems to be associated with several forms of boundary thinnessFundamentally liminal – “between wakefulness and sleep”Not restricted to falling asleep, and can occur during daytime (in response to stress as well as sleepiness)Characterised by:Reduced inhibition (reduction in norepinephrine and serotonin)Less cortical dominance (e.g., Mavromatis, 1987)Greater associational processingGreater contribution of processes associated with the right hemisphereMeditation - Vertical connectivityLateral connectivitySynaesthesiaGreater awareness of subliminal information
12 Implication I of boundaries as state and trait Reformulation of notion of boundary thinness – trait boundary thinness may reflect a greater likelihood of entering thin boundary statesWhat is the best balance of boundary thinness?Is flexibility/control the issue?
13 Suggestion one for future research/development: Develop more of an understanding regarding which boundaries and psychometric measures of overall boundary thinness relate to which anomalous and psi phenomenaSome boundaries relate more to pseudo psychic experiences, whilst others may relate to genuine ESPSome boundaries (and combinations of boundaries) relate to mental health, while others may relate to ill health
14 Implication II of boundaries as state and trait If boundaries are a state, we might be able to manipulate them and potentially learn more about how to gain control over experiencing paranormal experiencesImplications for mental healthImplications for parapsychology
15 Suggestion two for future research/development: Explore different ways of manipulating “boundary thinness”Previous work implies that a range of variables/circumstances may affect boundary thinnessFasting (Persinger, 1989)Sleep quality (Simmonds, 2005a)Reduced nocturnal dreaming (after Giesbrecht & Merckelbach, 2004)Meditation (Persinger, 1989; Travis & Arendander, 2006; Woodfolk, 1975)Intense emotional states (Thalbourne, Crawley & Houran, 2003).Boundaries might be manipulated by exploration of improving sleep/systematically reducing sleep, meditation, the use of “hemi-sync” stimulation.
16 Suggestion three for future research/development: Use profiles of personality rather than unidimensional scalesAnomalous experiences are associated with both pathology and transcendenceThere are adaptive and less adaptive components associated with boundary thinness (as positive schizotypy) which underpins the tendency to experience anomaliesRecent evidence - employing cluster analysis - implies that there are two types of positive schizotypeThis reflects scoring on how people score on the other aspects of schizotypy (cognitive disorganisation, introvertive anhedonia and to a lesser extent impulsive nonconformity)
17 Four Profiles of schizotypy 1. Happy or healthypositive schizotypyhigh scoringon unusual experiencesin isolationHigh score on ameasure of mental health2. Low schizotypyLow scoring on all aspects of schizotypy- Highest score on a measure of mental health3. Negative schizotypyHigh scoring onintrovertive anhedoniaLow score on a4. High or mixed schizotypyunusual experiences,cognitive disorganisationand introvertive anhedoniaLowest score on a measureof mental health
18 Suggestion five for future research/development: Consider boundary thinness from the perspective of evolutionIt has been argued that there may be adaptive elements associated with the schizophrenia gene - observed in positive schizotypyMainstream literature argues that these are creativity and religion/spirituality; I argue that this might also include psiI will argue that evolutionary considerations will allow for further insight into boundaries and psi
19 Evolutionary considerations: Traits should have a genetic component, associated with better survival benefitsIncreased “fitness” (traits are associated with mating success)Traits demonstrated an original adaptation to the environmentTraits demonstrate current adaptivenessBehaviour will favour those carrying similar genesBehaviour will be biased toward biological survival of self and genes
20 The evolutionary context of boundary thinness and psi There is evidence for schizophrenia as an adaptationThere is evidence for adaptiveness of schizotypy related (thin boundary) traitsEvidence for psi from an evolutionary perspectiveRecent work indicated that healthy positive schizotypy was the only cluster to be associated with significant psi performance (Holt & Simmonds-Moore, 2008)Might psi be selected indirectly by evolution?Creativity and religious experiences (both underpinned by schizotypy) greater fitnessNettle and Clegg found that “healthy” positive schizotypy does seem to relate to evolutionary fitnessEvidence for psi from an evolutionary perspectiveRecent work indicated that healthy positive schizotypy was the only cluster to be associated with significant psi performance (Holt & Simmonds-Moore, 2008)Is psi selected indirectly by evolution?
21 Summary of evolutionary approach to boundaries and psi: Allows for greater insight into the reasons for and purpose of psi experiencesAllows for greater understanding of when psi experiences might happen in those with thin and thicker trait boundariesAdds to existing arguments in favour of an adaptive element to the schizophrenia gene
22 Suggestion five for future research/development: Consider boundary thinness and psi phenomena in terms of interactionism and situationismBoundaries are state and trait and as such anyone can experience phenomena associated with thinner boundaries, given the right circumstancesBoundary thinness interacts with other variables (geomagnetism, gender) with regard to anomalous experiencesDifferent circumstances may encourage psi/pseudo psi experiences for some but not others
23 Summary of suggestions for future research/development for personality variables in spontaneous psi researchDelineate which boundaries (psychometric and types of boundary) relate to which anomalous and psi phenomena and mental healthExplore methods for manipulating boundary thinness to control anomalous experiencesUse personality profiles rather than scoring on unidimensional boundary scales/develop new scales to distinguish healthy from unhealthy forms of boundary thinnessConsider boundary thinness and psi phenomena from an evolutionary perspectiveConsider boundary thinness in terms of interactionism and situationism