Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
The anti-structural nature of psychic ability is something that I’ve always sensed and in many ways I’ve talked around it because I could not specify exactly what was going on. But thanks to a book by George Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal I can now put my finger on it. I’m about half way through this very detailed and fascinating book at the moment and the whole thing just feels right. It has information that helps the pieces fall into place.
So what do I mean by anti-structural? This refers to something or someone that cannot fit into the ordinary social structure. Typically this means low status, although individuals can achieve a high status, but only in an in between sort of way. Social structures, such as the Parapsychological Association are low status and marginal in the scientific field. Parapsychology labs mostly run off of donations by individuals and have a tenuous relationship with academic institutions if any relationship exists at all. This is despite the successes that the science has had. Another example of this is the New Age Movement, which had no leadership, no single ideology and no unifying structure. It was a bit like the hippy movement of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s and was a perfect example of the anti-structural paradigm at work.
Psychics, mediums and psychic healers are also low status, existing in a kind of in between state. This is despite the fact that the public is very interested in the paranormal and a parapsychologist can expect to turn down more media requests in a year than most scientists receive in a lifetime. The money available for parapsychology is limited to donations, they have no departments of their own in universities and are only tenuously associated with them if at all. Efforts to build them into something respectable may succeed for a time, but eventually fail.
For a practicing psychic it isn’t much different. There is no national psychic’s association that is universally recognized; there is no certification or licensing for psychics to establish their credibility and no accredited courses on the field at any university in the world. It is a very unstructured field. Schooling, where available is not accredited and is typically run by a small organization with few if any employees and more often than not, consists of a single person running the classes out of their home.
There is nothing wrong with this state of affairs, it is merely the mysterious anti-structural nature of psi manifested.
I think that it is important for people with strong psychic ability to realize this because this is going to have a very profound effect on our lives. I have mentioned in previous posts that psychic people don’t do well in companies because of the emotional stress of being around so many unhappy people all day long but it goes deeper than that. Even if all the emotional issues are accounted for, we are still fundamentally not able to adjust to a structured environment. I know that for myself, a lot of this has to do with how I perceive status. Since I think that I share this with other psychic people, I’ll go into this in more detail.
Social status is generally structural, meaning that authority and power come from status in an institution, such as a company or a government position. It usually comes with a higher salary and responsibility over other people. The vast majority of status is achieved in this fashion, yet on a psychic level, this status does not exist and psychic people are very aware of this. I know that when I talk to other psychic people I am being judged not on my position in society, but whether I actually carry the energy. In other words, psychic people judge by emotional, social and technical competence, not organizational status. We don’t see specialness in people just because of their title, they have to be competent.
But it’s more than that even. We are not merely filtering by what we don’t want in a leader, we are also focused on what we do want. We place a great deal more emphasis on real charisma and leadership ability, which have psychic components to them. Since nearly all conventional status positions are occupied by people who lack this, we don’t want to be led by them.
We will typically not do well in jobs that are strongly integrated into a structured environment, but we can thrive in those jobs that aren’t. A perfectly normal example of this is the job I have been doing for the past 15 years. I’m a handyman; an anti-structural job if ever there was one. This is a construction position that is much in demand and accounts for a sizable portion of the construction market, yet it goes unremarked in most construction studies. There is no handyman classification or license, (I have a general building contractor’s license although that is not the only one handymen use.) City building departments are not set up for handling this type of job and typically both the cities and handymen largely ignore each other. Despite requiring high level skills and knowledge, often far more than any other construction work, it is considered a low status job.
In keeping with the anti-structural nature of handyman work, there are very few handyman companies and they do not thrive. There are two national companies, but the vast majority of work is done by individuals operating alone outside of companies and outside of normal city regulations. There is no real training and no advancement. This could also perfectly describe the situations that psychics face. There is a word for this: liminal; which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as: 3 : of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional. Not surprisingly, I have thrived in this niche job. The undefined nature of the job suits me perfectly and allows me to succeed where others fail.
To succeed in an anti-structural area, you must be comfortable with not having many set rules and be not only willing to make your own, but prefer it. If there is anything I have experienced in my dealings with psychic people, it’s that we all like to make our own rules. A long time ago, I tried to get a psychic healing class going. On the one hand, I wanted people who were competent and who had the presence to run their own show, but on the other hand had to at least incorporate the material I had developed. No dice. It was like herding cats.
This liminality and strong anti-structural tendency that goes with being psychic is important to understand because it increases with the strength of psychic phenomena. Strong psychic effects will elicit more anti-structuralism. The above mentioned book was filled with examples ranging from parapsychology labs to the CIA Stargate program.
I am convinced that understanding anti-structuralism is important to understanding ourselves. By getting a handle on what this is and how it affects our lives we can understand more about what makes us tick and be clearer about actions we can take that play to our strengths and be favorable to us.
Oh, and along with the anti-structural nature of all things psychic comes one other thing: The Trickster. But that is another story and will be told another time.