The Psychological Society

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The Psychological Society

The Psychological Society, a precursor to the Society for Psychical Research, was founded in England in April 1875 by Edward William Cox. Cox counted among his associates William Stainton Moses, Walter H. Coffin, and C. C. Massey. Cox articulated the aim of the society was the study and elucidation of those Spiritualist and related problems now grouped under the term psychical research, to which he somewhat loosely attached the designation of "psychology."

To this end Cox proposed to collect and consider the available material bearing on psychic phenomena. In reality the members accomplished little of any practical value, as may be seen from their published Proceedings (1875-79), published in London in 1880. Cox did not possess the necessary scientific background for investigation of such phenomena. In November 1879, on his death, the society came to an end.

Although the Psychological Society regarded psychic phenomena from a more or less popular standpoint, and conducted its investigations in a somewhat superficial manner, it nevertheless contained the germ of scientific inquiry into the domain of psychic science that, a few years later with the founding of the Society of Psychical Research, was to raise the study to a level where it became worthy of the attention of the academy. Up to that time, those intrigued by Spiritualist phenomena had to content themselves with the explanation of spirit intervention. The Psychological Society was the crystallization of a small body of "rationalist" opinions which had existed since the days of Mesmer.

Sergeant Cox, in his book The Mechanism of Man (2 vols., 1876-79) stated that "spirit" was refined matter, or molecular matter split into its constituent atoms, which thus become imperceptible to our physical organism; this view may have been shared by some members of the Psychological Society.

(See also London Dialectical Society )

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The Psychological Society

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