Austrian Society for Parapsychology

Austrian Society for Parapsychology

and Border Areas of Science

was established in Vienna in 1927 under the name of  ‘Austrian Society for Psychical Research’ – following the example of its senior counterpart, the SPR (Society for Psychical Research, London, 1882).  Re-established in 1946, after the Second World War, the Society became a member of the ‘Federation of Austrian Scientific Societies’.  In 1971, the name of the Society was changed to  ‘Austrian Society for Parapsychology’; eventually in 1997 the amendment  ‘Border Areas of Science’ was added in order to emphasize the interdisciplinary network with neighbouring fields and to follow the international trend towards integration into (a future discipline)  ‘Anomalistics’.       

The driving force behind the formation of a Society devoted to the study of parapsychological phenomena was Zoë, Countess Wassilko-Serecki, the researcher who in 1926 brought the Romanian poltergeist medium Eleonore Zugun to Vienna;  Prof. Hans Thirring (Institute for Theoretical Physics at Vienna University) who had conducted experimental studies in ‘physical mediumism’ as early as 1924 was the first one to be elected President of the Society.                                     

The decade between the foundation of the Society and Austria's  ‘Anschluss’ in 1938 was very fruitful, mainly due to the activities of Countess Wassilko serving as the Honorary Secretary General.  The Society, being research-oriented, was fully integrated into the international parapsychological scene and many of the leading members contributed articles to scientific journals and/or published scholarly books such as psychoanalyst Alfred, Baron Winterstein Ph.D., just to mention one.            

After the interruption caused by the Nazi regime and WWII the Society was not able, owing to the shift in paradigm brought along by J. B. Rhine's new approach, to continue as efficiently as before that break.  Since then, emphasis has shifted from research to educational activities.  For more than three decades, up to 1997, Prof. H. Hofmann (Institute for Theoretical Foundations of Electric Engineering, Vienna University of Technology) held the office of the Society's President.  In particular it was the publicity of Uri Geller in the 1970s that caused a wave of increased interest by the public as well as prompting some research in the effects of paranormal metal bending.  In the meantime, this peak of activity is long since over, and the focus of the Society's activities now rests again in organizing public lectures (ten each year, open to members and guests) and in maintaining a library.  For the time being, there are some 200 members of the Austrian Society for Parapsychology and another 200 associates who are on record as being interested in the field.  In summer 2000, the Society which has been based at the Technical University for a period exceeding 30 years eventually moved to its new location at Vienna University (Institut für (Ethnologie,) Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie [= Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology {Ethnology}] der Universitaet Wien, 1010  Wien, Universitaetsstrasse 7).   In the meantime – following the untimely death of its then preident, Manfred Kremser (a professor at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology – the postal address of the Society has changed again (now 1170 Wien, Hernalser Hauptstrasse 38/13, c/o Prof. Peter Mulacz) whereas the lectures continue to be held at a lecture hall of the University at 1010 Wien, Universitaetsstrasse 7.  Unfortunately, the use of the library had to be suspended until further notice.                                    

The Austrian Society for Parapsychology was host to the 47th Annual Convention of The Parapsychological Association in Vienna in 2004.

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