Transpersonal Psychology and Parapsychology: Lessons from the Near-Death Experience

Chris Roe*, Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson, Mike Daniels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


In this article we contrast the approaches that transpersonal psychology and parapsychology take in studying phenomena of common interest. We note the effects of adopting different epistemological and methodological approaches upon how those phenomena are understood and represented. Taking the case of near-death experiences as exemplar, we consider how transpersonal psychology and parapsychology have separately determined what is important to discover and how they go about discovering it. Both disciplines can be criticised as having limitations and shortcomings, and it is not clear that they necessarily complement or compensate
for each other. In particular, we would argue that, in their historical emphases on seeking out ‘universal’ features of, respectively, paranormal and spiritually-transformative experiences, both
have neglected the role of sociocultural factors and participatory processes in shaping both the
phenomena and our understanding of them. Contextual and participatory approaches have become increasingly prominent in recent years, especially within transpersonal psychology, and these could provide the foundation for greater future collaboration and convergence between
transpersonal and parapsychological disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Nov 2020


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