Category Archives: News and Events

Exploring the extraordinary conference

7th Conference
Friday 4th – Sunday 6th December, 2015
York Marriott Hotel, Tadcaster Road, York, UK

Since its inception in 2007, members of Exploring the Extraordinary have organised six successful academic conferences that have brought together researchers from a variety of different disciplines and backgrounds. The purpose of these events has been to encourage a wider dissemination of knowledge and research, and an interdisciplinary discussion of extraordinary phenomena and experience. By ‘extraordinary’ we refer to phenomena and experiences that are considered to be beyond the mundane, referring to those that have been called supernatural, paranormal, mystical, transcendent, exceptional, spiritual, magical and/or religious, as well as the relevance of such for human culture. 


5th British Congress on Medicine and Spirituality

A two days event with 10 Speakers.
31st October and 1st November 2015
London – Rudolf Steiner House and Theatre

Come and experience this cutting edge event where pioneering scientists present their research findings on the relationship between medicine and spiritual practice. For the programme and booking information click the link below:

5th British Congress on Medicine and Spirituality

Ethnic Health Initiative – spirit possession and mental health conferences


Spirit possession is recognised worldwide across many cultures and by several religions. Spirit possession is often seen as an idiom of distress causing a change in behaviour and mental well being. Spirit possession is also included in the ICD 10 and DSM IV classifications of mental disorders, yet the extent to which it is recognised and / or discussed in clinical practice is less than we would expect, even in UK cities where there resides a diverse population.
This one day event will consider the critical themes and debates on spirit possession from an anthropological, social, psychological, medical and religious perspective using a range of illustrative case study, clinical practice and research.
• Discuss possible definitions and different kinds of spirit possession
• Debate the key elements which typify spirit possession
• Discuss who can make a diagnosis of spirit possession and how such a diagnosis might be made
• Compare and contrast how spirit possession might be viewed by clinicians, religious leaders, healers, the “the patient”, family and community members
• Discuss the value of using patient’s explanatory model of illness
• Reflect upon the key issues associated with defining what is “normal” and “abnormal”
• Discuss folk healing practices in different cultures and “treatment” options including exorcism
• Consider whether there is a need to enhance joint working between mental health professionals and transitional healers.
This conference will be relevant to all professionals in the field of Mental Health and Social Care, including those from Local Authorities and NHS trusts across the UK, Social Workers, Approved Mental Health Professionals, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Early Intervention Teams, CPN’s, OT’s, Chaplains, Community Faith Leaders & Healers, Equality Leads, Community Development Workers, Service User Representatives, Charities, Third Sector, Educational Establishments, Academics and Policy makers.

2nd edition of The Science of Spirit Possession released

2nd ed cover


This second edition includes an additional chapter on neuro-imaging and automatic writing, together with a draft research protect protocol to test the efficacy of remote spirit release therapy under strictly controlled conditions.

Click on the image to purchase direct from the publisher.

Read what some reviewers say about the book here

SMN Frontiers of science and spirituality

A day of 10-minute talks at Imperial College, London

Costs just £15 and free for undergraduates

More info and booking form here:

Speakers: Prof John Drew, David Lorimer, Dr Sheelah James, Dr Fiona Bowie, Prof Jim Malone, Vasileios Basios, Paul Kieniewicz, Dr Oliver Robinson, Dr Peter Bowman, Prof John Poynton, Prof Kevin Gurney, Prof Brian Lancaster, Hugh Standish Harrison, Brian Isbell, Mark Mathews, Dr Peter Davies

38th SPR annual international conference

The SPR’s 38th International Annual conference will be held at the University of York between Friday 5 and Sunday 7 September 2014. SEE PROGRAMME AND REGISTRATION – NOW OPEN.

The SPR’s 38th International Annual conference will be held at Vanbrugh College, at the University of York between Friday 5 and Sunday 7 September 2014. University of York is on the edge of the city centre and has very easy links to transport and all the attractions of this historic city, so we hope you will enjoy the location. As always, our full conference programme will address a broad range of topics, covering both spontaneous cases and laboratory research. In addition to the talks, conferences are a marvellous opportunity to network and share views, and there will be time to socialise over lunch and the regular coffee breaks, not to mention during the President’s drinks reception on Friday evening and Saturday’s conference banquet. Speakers will come from all over the UK, as well as from Europe and around the world, making it truly an international event. Those who attend, whether this is their first conference or their thirty-eight, can be sure of having both an informative and a very enjoyable time. We look forward to seeing you in York!


May 1st, 2014 6:35 PM   through   9:00 PM


Lecture Hall of the Kensington Central Library
Campden Hill Road
W8 7RX
United Kingdom
Phone: 020 7937 8984

Spirit Release Therapy, as a clinical alternative to religious exorcism and traditional shamanistic practice is largely unknown by mainstream medical practice and psychiatry.   This is due to several interrelated factors.  Primarily, materialistic science does not recognise any concept of a spirit world and doctors are therefore not yet trained in SRT principles and techniques.   SRT sits uncomfortably between the disbelief of a materialist secular society and the subjective experience of spirit possession: whether that experience is a symptom of psychosis, symbolic representation, socio-cultural expectation or a veridical manifestation.  In contrast to the monism of mechanistic science, every culture and religious belief system throughout human history has its traditional beliefs of spirit possession in some form or another with corresponding rituals for the release or exorcism of spirit entities.   It is common knowledge that Christianity has its angels, devils and demons (although the majority of modern so-called Christians probably don’t believe they really exist). Islam has its Jinns and the Hindus have a variety of evil spirits.

The conflict between the epistemologies of modern science and religion lies in the conceptual differences in perception that are arrived at through empirical data and radical empirical experience.  In short, it is a difference between what we believe to be true and what we know to be true.

Society for Psychical Research


A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness

  • Department of Psychology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Science thrives when there is an open, informed discussion of all evidence, and recognition that scientific knowledge is provisional and subject to revision. This attitude is in stark contrast with reaching conclusions based solely on a previous set of beliefs or on the assertions of authority figures. Indeed, the search for knowledge wherever it may lead inspired a group of notable scientists and philosophers to found in 1882 the Society for Psychical Research in London. Its purpose was “to investigate that large body of debatable phenomena… without prejudice or prepossession of any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry which has enabled Science to solve so many problems.” Some of the areas in consciousness they investigated such as psychological dissociation, hypnosis, and preconscious cognition are now well integrated into mainstream science. That has not been the case with research on phenomena such as purported telepathy or precognition, which some scientists (a clear minority according to the surveys conducted dis-miss a priori as pseudoscience or illegitimate. Contrary to the negative impression given by some critics, we would like to stress the following:

Access full article here

Action on mental health could help save London up to £26 billion a year

The scale of mental ill health in London is costing the capital around £26 billion a year, a new report commissioned by the Mayor Boris Johnson has revealed today.
In any given year, an estimated one in four Londoners will experience a diagnosable mental health condition. A third of these will experience two or more conditions at once. According to a Department of Health report, the impact of mental ill health is greater than cancer and cardiovascular disease. It represents around 22.8% of the total, compared to 15.9% and 16.2% respectively .
Close to £7.5 billion is spent each year to address mental ill health in London. This includes spending on health and social care to treat illness, benefits to support people living with mental ill health, and costs to education services and the criminal justice system. However, these costs are only part of the total £26 billion lost to London each year through such issues as reduced quality of life and productivity.
The Greater London Authority report provides a range of data, highlighting the direct and indirect costs of mental ill health to the city’s economy. For example, at least one in 10 children is thought to have a clinically significant mental health problem, and the impact of childhood psychiatric disorders is estimated to cost the capital’s education system approximately £200 million per year.
In social care costs alone, London boroughs spend around £550 million a year treating mental disorder, and another £960 million is spent each year on benefits to support people with mental ill health.
The report shows how London’s businesses are also affected – it is estimated that a staggering £10.4 billion is lost each year, including £7.2 billion due to increased worklessness. £920 million alone is lost annually to sickness absence, and a further £1.9 billion is lost to reduced productivity.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘This report is a rallying cry to increase yet further our response to this very pressing and pervasive issue. There are still many misconceptions about what mental ill health is, how it happens and what can be done about it. The result is that those struggling with mental ill health often go unnoticed and unsupported. It affects our relationships with others, limits educational achievement and increases sickness absence and worklessness. Indeed, the effects of mental ill health impact upon each and every aspect of our lives.’
Launching the new report London Mental Health – The Invisible Costs of Mental Ill Health, Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick said: ‘This timely report reveals how far-reaching the effects of mental ill health are, not just on individuals and their loved ones, but on wider society and indeed the economy. It shows that this is not just an issue for health and social care professionals, but also for politicians and business leaders. It is vital that we work together to support people living with mental ill health and to mitigate the wider impacts which are so costly to London’s economy.’
Professor Martin Knapp, Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics, who was on the report’s working group, said: ‘The fact that mental health problems have enormous consequences is well known, but the findings in this report illustrate just what a pervasive impact they have on the capital’s population. £26 billion a year is far too high a price to the city, and much of it is because we are not addressing individual and social needs properly. Those costs will continue to rise if we do nothing. I want the findings of this report to spur the wider London community to help meet those needs.’
Mental ill health is one of the priority areas identified by the London health Board, and the Mayor is keen that it is an issue that will be considered through the London Health Commission led by Lord Ari Darzi. The Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick will also advocate for the issue, including representing the Mayor at the Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance and by acting as a mental health champion as part of the Local Authority Mental Health Challenge. Mental health will also be integrated better into the well-being activities being coordinated through the Mayor’s Healthy Schools London programme. Mental health is also one of the issues tackled by the Mayor’s Workplace Health Charter, which was set up to encourage and support employers that create a health enhancing workplace.
The report is available to download from –