Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death

By Carl B. Becker

Subjects: Spirituality
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791414767, 257 pages, September 1993
Hardcover : 9780791414750, 257 pages, September 1993

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Table of contents



Chapter 1: Proof of Reincarnation?

Phenomena Not Considered



Child Prodigies

Mediumism and Spiritualism

Phenomena Considered

Spontaneous Possession

Hypnotic Age-Regression

Spontaneous Memories of Former Lives

Objections to the Phenomena as Evidence of Survival

Refusal to Accept the Evidence

Objections to Population Increase and Lack of Memories

Normal but Forgotten Memories?

The Super-ESP Hypothesis

Objections to All Super-ESP Hypotheses

Chapter 2: Invisible Bodies?

Phenomena Not Considered


Phantom Limbs


Hauntings of Place

Phenomena Considered


Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs)

Objections to the Phenomena as Evidence of Survival

Refusal to Accept the Existence of the Evidence

Theoretical Objections about Animals and Doppelgängers

Normal or Physiological Explanations

Super-ESP Theories


Chapter 3: The Heart of Near-Death Experiences

Phenomena Not Considered


The Life-Review

Physiologically Explicable Sounds and Lights

Phenomena Considered

Deathbed Visions Down Through History

Visions of Departed Relatives or Friends

Visions of Religious Figures

Visions of Another World

Objections to the Phenomena as Evidence of Survival

Patients Pronounced Dead were Not Really Dead

Patients' Visions were Hallucinations

Siegel's Similarities

NDEs are Defense Mechanisms or Mental Disease

Attacks on the Veridicality of NDEs

Super-ESP Accounts for True Information in NDEs

Chapter 4: Philosophy of Science

The Ontology of Modern Physics

Views of Physical Entities

Views of the "Nature of Things"

Compatibility of Physics and Parapsychology

Unresolved Philosophical Questions

Rational Objections to Paranormal Evidence



Inherent Probabilities

Survival Research as Empirical Science

Nonrational Objections to Paranormal Evidence

Psychological Resistance to Cognitive Dissonance

Intellectual Resistance to Reeducation and Paradigm Shift

Religious Resistance to Heretical or Occult Forces

Social Resistance and Fear of Ridicule

Chapter 5: A Model of Resistance and Change in the Sciences

Rejection of the Evidence

Refusal to Consider

Discrediting by Association

Criticism by Authority


Limiting Opportunities for Publication

Suppression of Academic Fraternity, Opportunities and Funds


Independent Growth


Professional Organizations

Grants and Funding

Assimilation and Acceptance

Recognition without Paradigm Conversion

Paradigm Conversion by Personal Persuasion

Nonconversion and Supersession of the New Paradigm

Public Opinion and Scientific Change

Chapter 6: What Will the Next World Be Like?

The Wide Range of Experiences at Death


An Apparitional World

Ethereal Bodies Reconcilable with Materialism

Astral Bodies are Not Enough

An Idealist Next World

A Nonmaterialist Hypothesis?

Personhood and Personal Identification

The End: A New Beginning





Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death amasses data and surveys from a century of research on the paranormal on four continents: Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Studying the tensions between religious and scientific perspectives, Becker reviews numerous substantiated accounts of demon-possession, of memories of past lives, of ghostly apparitions, and out-of-body experiences. He analyzes the medical evidence and what such experiences imply about survival after death. The author then looks at the reasons for the taboos on scientific discussion of such research within the social sciences, and proposes a new paradigm for a more holistic view of the field.

Carl B. Becker is Professor of Comparative Thought at Kyoto University, Japan. He has also written Survival: Life After Death in Christianity, Buddhism, and Modern Science; American Ideals; and Communication: East and West.


"This book is lucidly written, well organized, and succinct as an overview of the empirical evidence for survival. The author efficiently summarizes the arguments and counterarguments surrounding alleged cases of reincarnation, apparition, out of body experiences and near death experiences. Some of the theoretical material is superb. For these reasons, it is a book I want on my shelf. Most other studies of this kind are hopelessly partisan; this study is highly reputable. The author deftly distinguishes between different facets of paranormal phenomena, and thus clarifies discussion that is usually muddied. " — Carol Zaleski, Smith College

"…if you really want an honest look at the state of paranormal research, there really is only one, Paranormal Experiences and Survival of Death … comprehensive, possibly the best effort at explaining things that go bump in the night … well organized and can offer the reader concrete 'empiric' evidence for the survival of the human spirit after death. " — Texas Bookworm