Gardner Murphy (1895-1979) was an American psychologist specialising in social and personality psychology, and parapsychology. His career highlights included serving as president of the American Psychological Association, and of the British Society for Psychical Research.
2 Afterlife hypothesis,
5 Sources and further reading,
Murphy was born on July 8, 1895 in Chillicothe, Ohio, US. Upon graduating with a B.A. from Yale University in 1916, Murphy attended Harvard University, working with L. T. Troland in a telepathy experiment, and achieving his M.A. in 1917. Murphy succeeded Troland as holder of the Hodgson Fellowship in Psychical Research at Harvard University. After the war, in 1919, Murphy continued his studies at Columbia University, working towards his Ph.D., and combined this, until it was awarded in 1923, with work under the Hodgson Fellowship.
He studied the medium Leonore Piper, and collaborating with French chemist and psychical researcher René Warcollier in a transatlantic telepathy experiment. The latter involved 35 trials, conducted over the course of two years, with groups in Paris and New York alternating the roles of sender and percipient. From 1921-1925, he served as lecturer in psychology at Columbia University. In 1925, Clark University hosted a symposium on psychical research, and, together with Harvard psychologist William McDougall, Murphy argued for the respect of the field as an academic discipline, while recognizing the difficulties of scientific acceptance and experimentation. From 1925-1929, he continued at Columbia University in the capacity of instructor and assistant professor in psychology. He was re-appointed as Hodgson Fellow at Harvard in 1937. From 1940-1942 he was professor and chairman of the Department of Psychology at City College in New York. From 1952, he worked as director of research for the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas. He was elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association in 1944. He subsequently served as the President of the British Society for Psychical Research in 1949 (which he had joined in 1927), and was Director of the Parapsychology Foundation in 1951.
Murphy authored several texts in psychology, including Historical introduction to modern psychology (1929; 1949), Personality (1947), and Human potentialities (1958). He was a contributor to personality, social and clinical psychology and an early exponent of humanistic psychology. During these years, he continued his association with psychical research, including sitting on the council of the American Society for Psychical Research and serving as chair of its research committee; serving as an editor of the Journal of Parapsychology (1939-1941);, speaking at professional symposia on psychical research; writing report, review and critical articles in general scientific, psychological as well as parapsychological journals; supporting (through his own book royalties) experimental studies by J. G. Pratt at Columbia (1935-1937); authoring an introductory review to the field, The challenge of psychical research (1961), as well as William James and psychical research (1960) (with R. Ballou) and a 20-page article on parapsychology for the Encyclopedia of Psychology (1946); editing an English-language publication of Warcollier's reports (1938); and writing forewords for several parapsychological monographs.
Although illness repeatedly interrupted his research, Murphy pursued an experimental program that addressed psychological processes involved in parapsychological phenomena. He especially explored motivational, personality and creative processes. His work also promoted use of graphemic methods of participant response, and he argued for abiding respect for investigating the question of the postmortem survival of human personality.
Murphy died in 1979 in Washington, D.C..
Influenced by Whately Carington, Murphy published a paper in 1973 titled Caringtonian Approach to Ian Stevenson's Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation. In the paper Murphy wrote that reincarnation could be explained by a type of collective consciousness and that a persons mind might survive death in a fragmentary state in the collective consciousness. Murphy had described the collective consciousness as an "interpersonal field" he also wrote that the field may be able to explain reported paranormal phenomena. He opposed the idea that an individual mind with personality as an entity would survive, instead he claimed the mind and all of its memories would merge itself into a larger field of consciousness. Influenced by Buddhism he wrote there would be no personal soul or ego but that the consciousness would be able to take on new qualities.
There is more beyond: selected papers of Gardner Murphy (1989),
Humanistic psychology (1989),
William James on psychical research (1973),
Asian psychology (1968),
Challenge of psychical research: a primer of parapsychology (1961),
Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology (1960),
Human potentialities (1958),
In the minds of men: the study of human behavior and social tensions in India (1955),
An introduction to psychology (1951),
A briefer general psychology (1935)