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Spiritualism spread to Hungary in 1853, and several groups were formed to investigate the claims of mediums and other psychic phenomenon. One of the major investigators of the time was Elemer Chengery Pap. Pap was born in 1869 to Karoly Chengery Pap, a clerical writer and reformed pastor in Budapest. Pap became a chemist and was eventually appointed chief chemist in the city.

Pap was introduced to Spiritualism by his relatives in 1897. He met medium Adolf Grunhut a year later. When he retired, he visited metaphysical institutes in London, Munich, Graz and Paris. He was impressed with their research and decided to focus on the investigation of various psychic phenomena in the mid-1920s. He experimented with clairvoyants Irma Farkas and Berta Secherf as well as medium Lajos Pap (no relation to him).

The mediums were kept under strict controlled conditions while being tested. Pap made detailed records of each session. In 1929, the mediums were marked with fluorescent dyes on their legs and wrists rule out any suspicion of cheating. In 1933, he created suits that buttoned up the back and were marked with luminous strips.

The medium, Lajos Pap, produced several different phenomena during his sessions. They included levitating tables and objects, touching members of the séance from a distance, and many apported objects. Apports included: food, coins, pins, liquids, cigarettes, and flowers. Dead animals such as a dog skull, birds, fish, and frogs appeared. Live insects, lizards, turtles, and birds were also reported. All the apported objects were displayed in a museum that was unfortunately destroyed by bombings during World War II.

Along with Pap, psychoanalyst, Sandor Ferenczi conducted experiments and developed a number of theories about mediumship and telepathy. Ferenczi viewed spiritualist phenomena like trance states as a mechanism to increase sensitivity and bring forth telepathic abilities as well as highlight psychological problems. His investigation was to understand altered states of consciousness and hypnosis.

Ferenczi worked hard to find reliable mediums so he could investigate telepathy. His research was conducted with enough rigor that Sigmond Freud acknowledged the possibility that thought transference could be possible. Ferenczi’s work was carried on by his followers, Istvan Hollos and Mihaly Balint.

Baron Janos Mikos was an important writer in the 1890s. After publishing in Light, based in London, and the Progressive Thinker, based in Chicago, he started a new journal, Rejtelmes Vilag (Uncanny World), in 1897. The focus of the journal was to be on religion and science. Mikos also planned to research hypnotism, somnambulism, telepathy and clairvoyance. Unfortunately, the journal had financial difficulties and ended in 1900.

The Metapsyhikai Folyoirat (Journal of Metaphysics) which began in 1932 had a similar fate. The chief editor was lawyer Janos Toronyi. He worked with Elemer Pap to create the publication. Their association led to the creation of the Hungarian Metaphysical Society in 1932. Toronyi received international recognition and represented the society at the Society of the International Psychical Congress in Oslo in 1933. Unfortunately, the last issue of the journal was published in 1936.

Additional Reading:

Gyimesi, Julia. (2014) Between Religion and Science: Spiritualism, Science and Early Psychology in Hungary. Department of Philosophy, Karoli Guspar University, Budapest.






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