ASPR .NEWSLETTER, Number 10, Summer 1971
©1971 AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, INC., 5 West 73rd St., New York, N.Y. 10023. 212-799-5050
Montague Ullman, M. D.
In the course of a sabbatical leave last Fall, I had the opportunity to learn first hand something about parapsychology in the Soviet Union and in Czechoslovakia. My impressions were both general and specific and were limited, of course, by the brevity of my visit (two weeks in the Soviet Union, ten days in Czechoslovakia).
I arrived in Moscow on October 5, and two days later made contact with Edward Naumov. He is, as I understand it, the only full-time parapsychologist employed as such by the government. In a very enthusiastic and helpful way he provided me with an overview of recent developments in Soviet parapsychology, and programmed my time in Moscow. Many of my general impressions stem from the talks I had with him as well as those with the people I met through him, especially a Russian physicist named Victor Adamenko. Also helpful were Larissa, Naumov's assistant and Ivan, a young linguist who proved to be a very competent translator.
I have formulated these general impressions in the following way: (1) The Russians take the broadest possible view concerning the diversity of phenomena coming under the general heading of parapsychology. Preferring a more physically oriented overall designation such as psychoenergetics or psychotronics, Naumov offered two broad classifications: one under the heading of Bioinformation, the other under the heading of Energetics. Bioinformation includes paranormal events between living organisms (Telepathy, Precognition) and events between living organisms and the inorganic world. The latter are noted under the heading of Biological Location and Indicators, and include Telesthesia, Clairvoyance, Dowsing, Retroscopy and Proscopy. Energetics is likewise divided into two categories. The living-to-living category includes Healing (Bioenergetic Therapy) and the living-to-nonliving includes spontaneous and experimental Psychokinesis and Thoughtography.
He also seemed inclined to include within the purview of his own explorations such miscellaneous oddities as finger reading, a young man who could drive a car while blindfolded, and another young man with demonstrated abilities as a lightning calculator.
(2) The Russian investigators I met seemed intent on a bold new theoretical thrust based on the concept of the bioplasma. The latter is defined as a new form of energy and one that is characteristic of life processes. The evidence for the existence of bioplasma is indirect and derivative, and stems mainly from explorations in the use of Kirlian photography (photography occurring in a field of high-intensity electrical discharges). Flare-like effects can be noted at the edge of living tissue photographed in this way. Naumov and others consider this as evidence of the existence of a fourth or bioplasmic state of matter, i.e., matter in the form of an integrated system of elementary charged particles. Interactions between bioplasmic systems are thought to be related to telepathic phenomena, and the focusing of bioplasmic energy is said to be related to physical phenomena.
(3) Russian investigators are effectively combining the use of modern and sophisticated technology with basic pragmatic approaches. This is evident in their approach to long-distance telepathy experiments where the results were analyzed in physiological (electroencephalographic data) as well as psychological task performance (transmission of data in Morse code). Their approach to the varied abilities of Mrs. Kulagina described below is another example.
(4) The Russian investigators are well informed of investigative work going on in other countries, and seemed particularly motivated to cultivate the active interest of
outside parapsychologists in the work going on in the Soviet Union. Although there may be some political impediments to contend with, there do seem to be the beginnings of a spirit of international cooperation.
It was not until I got to Leningrad that I had the opportunity to witness, first hand, purported paranormal phenomena. This occurred in the context of a visit of Mr. and Mrs. Kulagina to my hotel room, arranged by and in the company of Dr. Sergeyev. I had spent a prior evening with him and a younger colleague of his, Ivachenko. Sergeyev is an electroencephalographer and mathematician and Ivachenko a computer expert. Sergeyev offered a detailed account of his many studies of Kulagina over the past several years. These included testing her for paranormal occipital vision, ability to influence unexposed photographic plates, ability to influence (accelerating and stopping on command) a disembodied frog's heart which had been kept alive, and, finally, the monitoring by a variety of physiological means (electroencephalography, blood pressure, respiration, pulse, blood sugar) of the "activated" periods when Mrs. Kulagina seemed capable of moving small objects about without physical contact.
Mrs. Kulagina is a pleasant-looking 43-year-old Russian housewife, mother and grandmother. She survived the siege of Leningrad, although she did receive an abdominal wound in the course of the fighting. There did not appear to be any significant paranormal experiences in her own life until about eight years ago, when the unexplained movement of objects around her brought her to the attention of Prof. Vasiliev. Sergeyev has been working with her since Vasiliev's death.
After almost two hours of what amounted to history-taking on my part as well as an effort to win her confidence, Mrs. Kulagina indicated her willingness to attempt a psychokinetic effect. We were seated around a table which was six feet in diameter and covered with a tablecloth. After several unsuccessful efforts with a box of wooden matches and a package of cigarettes, she then tried to move an upright plastic pen top. Her characteristic gestures included making frequent passes with her hands over the object and at times moving her torso in a circular rhythmic motion. The pen top began to move toward her in short, jerky intervals of about an inch at a time, remaining upright throughout. After this, she tried again with two pen tops, one plastic and one metal, and succeeded in moving first one and then both together. Again they were upright and remained so as they moved over the tablecloth. Mrs. Kulagina seemed genuinely exhausted after each of the trials. On one occasion her pulse rose to 132. She would rest for several minutes before making another attempt.
In the context of the information conveyed to me by Dr. Sergeyev, as well as what I myself witnessed, the performance of Mrs. Kulagina was most impressive. Inasmuch as the circumstances of the visit did not warrant my introducing any controls, I cannot offer any final judgment. I can only express the hope that further independent studies support the claim of authenticity.
In Prague I was warmly and hospitably received by Dr. Rejdak, who is perhaps the most active parapsychologist in Czechoslovakia. In the company of two other Americans, Dr. Thelma Moss and Dr. Barbara Brown, we were shown films of recent experiments in the telepathic transmission of taste impression on a hypnotic subject. We also saw a film of Rejdak's investigations of Kulagina. We spent one evening with an interested group of Czech professionals, and another evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pavlita. Mr. Pavlita, an industrial engineer, has, in the course of work over the past 30 years, developed a series of metal structures which he refers to as psychotronic generators. These instruments are capable of storing and intensifying bioplasmic energy so that it can be released at a later time. Although we witnessed several minor effects using these generators, the demonstration was too limited and too lacking in explanatory detail to carry much conviction.
I spent a final week in Sofia, Bulgaria, focused around visits to Dr. Lozanov and his Institute for Suggestology. Dr. Lozanov, a psychiatrist, is currently studying the facilitating influence of suggestion in the interest of rapid learning of languages and other subjects. He has long been interested in parapsychology, although he is not currently carrying out any experiments in this area.
(Dr. Ullman is the new President of the ASPR.)