Psychology and Spiritualism

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Self-assessment:

I struggle with being concise in my writing. I want to make every point. I worry about missing the most important ones altogether. APA can be confusing, the amount of rules and the similarity of those rules leaves my head aching. Lastly (but not least), but most importantly, I struggle with using of my own words and the fear of plagiarism. There is a fine line to what I already know, what I have read and the difficulty of putting it on paper without it sounding like someone else’s thoughts.

On a positive note, I feel I have a clear understanding of the material I am reading. I am not a terrible writer and try very hard in using correct grammar, spelling and form. I have a love of words and tend to research meanings including the prefix or suffix and their importance. I think this love of words gives me a unique perspective when reading difficult or confusing material.

As for the writing process, I chose to do an outline while reading the article. I just typed as I read to pull out ideas and key points. Knowing I was not passing in the outline gave me permission to write whatever struck me. This in turn allowed me to do a second and third reading without being concerned with anything but reading. It may be a little more work at first but writing the paper went a little quicker since every thought, idea, and key point was already written.

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References

Coon, D. (1992). Testing the limits of sense and science. American Experimental Psychologists Combat Spiritualism, 1880-1920. American Psychologist, 47, 143-151

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Spiritualism and psychology; blurred lines.

Tracey Aella
Psychology 371, section 2
History and systems
Dr. Johnson

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Commentary:

This article was quite compelling in the arguments Deborah Coon presented. She did a good job remaining (mostly) neutral. Her uses of certain terms woven throughout the article appeared intentional and a little comical. Like the use of, “Haunt,” and “Physics envy” but I wondered about her intent with her article title. The term sense made me wonder if she was thinking about how much sense, or non- sense played a role in the battle of words used to discredit the distant relatives of psychology. I thought of common sense and what that implied regarding common beliefs of the time. Spiritualism and psychology have their own belief systems as well as followers.

The term nemesis and war as well present a more aggressive attitude. Instead of an intellectual debate it felt like an argument where one needed to choose sides and depending on the side you chose decided what judgment may fall upon you. I wondered if this waged war made sense? Perhaps it did for the time.

I had an underlining feeling that she didn’t agree with the tactics used by psychologists. Spiritualism was and is a useful practice. There is a cathartic quality to the thought that one may be able to communicate with a loved one. I don’t even think it mattered if it was fraudulent. Like Coon quoted in her article from George M. Beard, “spirits only dwell in the cerebral cells…not our house but our brains are haunted.” With tremendous fear during this time of civil unrest and the speed of technological advances that created even more anxiety the public looked for relief in any way form.

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Regardless of the fraudulent practices that existed in the popular psychologies, psychology is tied to them in a historical way. Phrenology and mesmerism did not begin as fraudulent and are distant relatives of psychology; they were also useful at the time. Spiritualism is very important to some people, even today. Philosophy is the grandfather of psychology and most people respect if not tolerate their grandfather’s.

I would even go as far as to say fraudulent practice exists in psychology and other disciplines as well. We know...
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