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fro ec For Release 2001/03/07 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000700730001-0 The Jou arasyc o ogy Parapsychology in the Ibero-American World 195 minished by increasing communication and collaboration with for- eign parapsychologists. Early psychical research in Puerto Rico was strongly influenced by the nineteenth-century Spiritualist movement that had also spread to other countries. Mediumistic seances in which raps and communication with the spirits were common drew attention mostly from people with a religious interest. It was perhaps this influence that led Agapito Morales to publish in 1904 a more critical examination of these phenomena. In his booklet Breve Tratado de Hipnotismo, Magnetismo, Espiritismo y Suges- toterapia, Morales contended that all those occurrences could take place without assuming the action of spirit agencies. He interpreted possession as being autosuggestion and attributed paranormal phe- nomena to our own psychic faculties. He considered that all of the experiments made until today demonstrate that there is an invisible force in our being that is capable, for instance, of playing a guitar, lifting a table, or lifting our own bodies. According to him this force is under our control. He also believed that mediumistic communi- cation could be explained by means of telepathy between the me- dium and the sitter. Another major influence in the formation of a more empirical and critical approach to parapsychology was the work of Francisco Ponte, a dentist who became president of the Puerto Rican Feder- ation of Spiritists. Ponte visited Europe in 1912 to familiarize him- self with the work of several Spiritualistic centers, as well as psychi- cal research centers. He had had the opportunity to participate in mediumistic seances in Italy with famous mediums such as Lucia Sordi and Eusapia Palladino. During these seances he witnessed manifestations of apparent telekinesis and materializations (Alva- rado, 1987; Ponte, 1914). Later Ponte returned to Puerto Rico and tried to reproduce the same phenomena with local mediums. He reported some of his find- ings on materializations of body parts during seances to Walter Franklin Prince, then Research Officer of the ASPR. Ponte's work was important because of the critical and empirical approach he brought to his research on seance phenomena (Alvarado, 1979a). "This section on Puerto Rican parapsychology partly summarizes information contained in an article by Alvarado (1979a). The theoretical ideas of Ralph U. Sierra are also interesting. Sierra, who was interested in the psychology of ESP, believed that to develop telepathy it was necessary to develop first an internal state of tranquility so that the electrical activity of the brain did not interfere with the telepathic process (Sierra, 1966). Some of the most important developments, however, took place during the last two centuries. At the educational level, it is impor- tant to note the work of Celinda Madera who, during the 1970s, offered a series of courses and lectures at different campuses of the University of Puerto Rico. Madera's courses focused on the human- istic and transpersonal aspects of psi. She herself had received train- ing at Duke University's Parapsychology Laboratory (Alvarado, 1979a). In 1914, Nestor A. Rodriguez Escudero, a lawyer, published a series of essays about parapsychology and Spiritualism in his book Los Caminos de Dios. He discussed a great variety of paranormal phe- nomena. His main objective was to show that parapsychology dem- onstrates the spiritual aspect of man (Rodriguez Escudero, 1974). Another development in 1977 was the creation of the Instituto de Investigaciones Psicofisicas at the University of Puerto Rico, May- aguez campus. Founded to conduct investigations in parapsychology and related areas, the Institute carried out studies of various param- eters of Kirlian photography and of the effects of hypnosis on ESP. However, these research investigations were never made available for publication. During this period Alfonso Martinez Taboas began to publish a newsletter Explorando lo Paranormal, a semipopular mag- azine later edited by Carlos Alvarado starting in 1976. Martinez Taboas and Carlos Alvarado wrote articles on parapsy- chology in Spanish for the Spanish journal Psi Comunicacion; they also published in other journals. Their articles covered a wide range of topics. Among these, Alvarado wrote on experimental studies of OBEs (1976), historical precedents of the so-called psychic discov- eries behind the Iron Curtain (1978), the use of historical knowl- edge (1979b), and on J. B. Rhine (1980). Martinez Taboas published a review of the problem of repeatability in parapsychology (1979), critiques of psychological and physiological concepts of poltergeist research (1977, 1980, 1984; Martinez Taboas & Alvarado, 1981), and a discussion of the concept of parsimony applied to parapsy- chology (1983). The work of Martinez Taboas and Alvarado has been very im- portant in the effort to bridge the language barrier between the Spanish researcher and the non-Spanish-speaking researcher. This Approved For Release 2001/03/07 : CIA-RDP96-00792R000700730001-0 jlpp XcF od F9r Ieas% 2p9' /03/07: CIA-RDP96-00792R000700730001-0 0 lot . fD tD :w! i ; w 'G c~ p cyo w 'ti o p C o rh 40 Cs C ~' y. o d pi iD p~ p `C w n 0< o'fD a CL C" 0 _ ? rT ~ -. --I n. C CD o' er CD o ,Y a s a `D o~ b q ~ 6 A A (D -. 0 z A on. CD 1 (D ~~??^O ~~,. CD a. = ,., y_ ~D rn ~ o to a (D pq F n .~7 gyp` C. ~D .~ ai co w A tD .3 O O f"n tD P A Caro h -y n .. d !D y N y