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Interview With
Berthold E. Schwarz, M.D
Berthold E. SchwarzInterview by Michael E. Tymn

Few people still living in this realm of existence have been involved in the study of Psi, or ESP, however we label it, longer than Dr. Berthold E. Schwarz, now a resident of Vero Beach, Florida.  In his 1968 book, A Psychiatrist Looks at ESP, Schwarz, a long-time Academy member, offers psychiatric case reports on the lives of three individuals, each with psychic ability. In the Introduction to the book, he states that “the facts of  psychical research are more urgently in need of serious study today than ever before.”

Among his other books are The Jacques Romano Story; Psychic Nexus: Psychic Phenomena in Psychiatry and Everyday Life; Parent-Child Telepathy; Miracles of Peter Sugleris; Psychiatric and Paranormal Aspects of Ufology; and UFO-Dynamics.  He is the co-author of several other books and of 185 scholarly or scientific articles, including many in the Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Medical School, and Bellevue Medical Center, New York University, Dr. Schwarz practiced in New Jersey before moving to Florida in 1982.  In addition to being a long-time member of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, he is a Fellow of the American Society for Psychical Research, a Fellow of the American Association for The Advancement of Science, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. I recently put some questions to him by e-mail:

When and how did you become interested in ESP and paranormal phenomena?

“Hearing the Dunninger radio broadcasts when I was a child fascinated me, as did my father’s occasional accounts of a railroad worker’s telepathic demonstrations before the Kiwanis Club, and more so my mother’s ‘private conversations’ with her best friend who frequently wondered about various mediums, fortune tellers, etc.  My mother was down-to-earth, open minded, and frequently advised Edith in so many words that she, Edith, had as much ability as those she consulted and should ‘be herself.’  I also read about psi and was later jolted by my mother’s telepathic apprehension of my brother, Eric, being killed in action in WWII when I was on leave from the Navy while in medical school.  

“During internship, I heard more about Henry Gross, the Maine dowser, from friends and books, and wanted to meet him.  Then, during my fellowship in psychiatry, I had contact with some psi gifted patients which made me more curious and led to further readings on the subject. Later, in private practice, I expanded the practical aspects of telepathy in psychotherapy and embarked on the in-depth studies of gifted paragnosts. On a field trip to Kentucky with dowser Henry Gross, I also studied the ordeals by serpents, fire and strychnine in the Holiness people.  Other super paragnosts that I got to know well were Jacques Romano, Joseph Dunninger, Arthur Ford, Gerard Croiset, and Professor Tenhaeff’s extraordinary paragnost from the Netherlands when he visited the United States.

“Also, Kreskin, my New Jersey neighbor, and I became friends.  In those years I also reported on a series of parent-child telepathic experiences from my own family. In addition to these varied projects and in some instances concomitant electrographic researches (EEG), UFO’s and its psychiatric paranormal aspects captured my attention. The latter centered largely on Stella Lansing and her UFO motion pictures and the renowned abductee Betty Hill, whom I first met at a UFO conference.”

In what area of ESP was your initial focus?

“My initial focus was on the nonagenarian-telepath-genius Jacques Romano who could demonstrate a variety of telepathic skills and who beyond that had a most creative mind.  It was uplifting to be with him for what happened, was happening or would happen around him. This led to an enhanced awareness of psi with my patients and also with my  wife and two children, plus frequent telepathy with my parents.  By making near ab initio records of the telepathic exchanges between patients and myself largely in face-to-face psychotherapy plus other circumstances, and becoming familiar with the extensive psychiatric literature on psi, and meeting some of the leading figures in those areas, I found my situation similar to the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of the Emperor’s New Suit of Clothes, i.e., how could anyone in this field who cared to examine (and experience) the wealth of psi data possibly miss the boat? … the surprises, challenges, intrigues, and above all potentials for understanding.”

How did your friends and colleagues react to your interest in ESP?

“Fortunately, my family and friends shared my interests in psi and also participated in many experiences with me and in their own lives. My neighbor, Bartholomew A. Ruggieri, a distinguished pediatrician who co-authored a book on child-parent relationships with me, got to know many of the gifted people/paragnosts who visited my office; and Bart also shared and wrote about some of his newly acquired psi awareness with his patients and with myself.  My psychiatric colleagues were always respectful and treated me kindly. My practice was active and even though many of my referring physicians knew of my psi research, they continued to send me patients, some with remarkable psi aspects. At no time was I ridiculed, and to the contrary, when I had ‘Romano parties’ or Dunninger visits to my home/office my physician-colleagues-attendees were most appreciative and to this day some who are still living ask about events of long ago and what subsequently happened. Indeed, the experiences at the ‘parties’ might have changed their lives.”

Among the various cases you have personally studied, which do you consider the most interesting?

“When I moved to Florida in 1982, I thought that my psi researches were at an end but synchronicity intervened and I became immersed for the past twenty-five years in studying two spectacularly psi gifted people. My formal studies of Joe A. Nuzum of Pennsylvania have included his mental psi, i.e., telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and his physical psi,  i.e., virtuoso metal bending and its derivatives, such as transposition of markings/inscriptions of metallic surfaces, genuine escapes from various restraints, psi induced combustion, telekinesis, levitation, variegated matter through matter feats and teleportation. Through synchronicity I met Katie, a Florida housewife who had many diverse psi abilities, and in the course of our sessions developed apportations and the presumed materialization of ‘gold foil’… actually, on analysis, copper and zinc… upon her body and sometimes on the bodies of others including myself, and when entranced illiterate Katie would also write the quatrains of Nostradamus in its English translations with Greek, Latin, and French phrases. Recently, her son, James, who had been observed through the years, discovered a carving of a mammoth on a fossilized mammoth bone that he found during his paleontology diggings. Sandwiched in between these years I also studied Peter Sugleris and his super psi abilities, including a well documented, videographed and recorded episode of a Peter’s levitation in his mother’s backyard.”

Which case would you rank second?

“Stella Lansing, a Massachusetts housewife, had taken hundreds of movies of UFO’s.  I was with her many times when she was filming, and also saw many of her films. The UFO pictures sometimes overlapped…in dividing frames…an optical impossibility. She also, beginner’s luck, separately filmed a UFO-like craft and its four occupants; and once when with Stella, I filmed and apparently out of nowhere came a nocturnal mystery auto with strange alternating signaling headlights.  In addition, Stella had many paranormal experiences, films and audiotapes. Her friend Fran, when with Stella and alone, obtained similar UFO psi filmic percepts as once did my son, Eric. Stella provided many clues to the UFO mystery and offered insights about the phenomena. I am indebted for the expert assistance of Fortean photographer, August C. Roberts, Joseph Dunninger, ufologists Brent Raynes, and Shirley Fickett, my son Eric and others. Everything is relative and it is difficult to rank something “second”… some of the best examples can not be reported, as they are too personal, or must be consigned to footnotes or the “time capsule.”

            Do you see your colleagues in psychiatry today as being any more open minded than they were 50-60 years ago? What about the rest of the world? Are they  any more accepting today than back then?

“My psychiatric colleagues always have their hands full with their patients, and although friendly towards me, most were not interested in paranormal research.  Had they bothered to look into it further like my neighbor, Dr. Ruggieri, I think that they too would have had their eyes opened, and found the subject to have practical value in behavioral states, telesomatic reactions and ‘healing.’  In Florida a colleague attended a Joe Nuzum demonstration and also once came to a Katie session.  I regret how I failed to interest my county medical society to have Joe Nuzum perform at one of their meetings, or to have Katie appear at a state psychiatric conference. I miss my colleagues-friends and famous researchers Jule Eisenbud, Jan Ehrenwald, Nandor Fodor, Joost Meerloo, Ian Stevenson and Montague Ullman, who in their magnificent works opened whole new vistas  for psi exploration and medicine, and whose seminal thoughts are still waiting wider acknowledgement and exploration.  Although these luminaries have all passed on, I am sure that new psychiatric researchers will enter the field, for psi is as inviting today as in the past, and there is no reason why, for example, many of the spectacular, but so sadly missing for so many years, phenomena like materialization of whole body forms with speech, movement, thought and levitations, should not reappear, be investigated and understood with new techniques and instruments. Is medicine, and psychiatry in particular, ready for such a potential explosion of knowledge? As in the past, there are deep psychological resistances. The road is bumpy yet it can be traversed.”

What are your thoughts on Super Psi? Do you think it can explain messages   coming through mediums and otherwise defeat the survival hypothesis?

“Before considering Super Psi, it might behoove the experimenters to become thoroughly familiar with the telepathy of everyday life.  A psychiatrist, if so interested and trained, is in an exceptional position to undertake this task.  He/she will have the challenges of having an assortment of telepathic transactions between his patients and himself, as well as spilling over into the sessions with other patients and into their lives outside formal sessions.  Many of these episodes, by experts already mentioned, have been written up but I particularly recommend the classic, Encyclopedia of Psychic Science by the psychoanalyst, Nandor Fodor.  In my opinion this is still the most comprehensive, best book ever written on psi.  Psi research can become engrossing in its demanding attention and memory attributes but it can also be rewarding in understanding the complexity of thought, how it originates, is shared, and influences behavior, decisions, creative invention, and bodily functions.  For example, my own early volley of telepathic drawing experiments graphically show how psi might operate in surprising, unintended, sometimes proscopic ways.  Indeed, how it might and does happen in everyday communications.  Life and much of its complexity can be dissected. Although Super PSI can be an explanation and be involved, for example, with experimental book tests as done by Dunninger, Joe Nuzum and others, it does not denigrate nor rule out other possibilities.  There are many examples of Super Psi versus discarnate-other dimensional communications in the literature, and I applaud your excellent, recently published, The Articulate Dead.  Although not in the league of some of your exquisite examples, I have had some personal experiences which might make Super Psi less likely, if not inexplicable, compared to alternative hypotheses, including survival.  Such psychiatric examples might include my articles connected with the deaths of Gertrude Ogden Tubby and Nandor Fodor.  Some of the best examples are so personal that they are saved for the ‘time capsule.’  They might be spectacular and meaningful to the experient but not interesting to the reader who would have to connect all the dots…not as easy or scientifically appealing as studying and documenting measured physical psi, e.g., levitation or telekinesis, matter through matter.”

Many of the early researchers held that the medium’s spirit control was a “secondary personality” capable of telepathically feeding back information. How do you feel about that?

“When I first met Nandor Fodor he told me how he had solved the origin of Eileen Garrett’s spirit control (Uvani), but before Dr. Fodor could elaborate he died. Although the personality of the medium is often the main feature of the communication in many cases this is clearly not always the case. It is almost too far fetched to try and fit it into that notch, i.e., multiple personality…forms of dissociation, than to utilize the spirit control hypothesis.   Joe Nuzum and Katie when entranced frequently alluded to the source of their communicators, as ‘spirits,’ or with names of deceased people known to them,, or in general terms as Katie’s ‘the watchers,’ or for Nostradamus, the ‘old guy.’  In many cases it is more plausible to accept on face value the identification claims of the communicator, as you have done recently in your article on Mrs. Piper’s Phinuit, than to go to abstruse-alternative meandering.  Some of Joe Nuzum’s most spectacular experiences, which I have transcribed, involved communications with deceased, and for which the ‘secondary personality feeding-back telepathic’ explanation would take unusual gyrations as a suitable explanation.  For example, at a Joe Nuzum performance, a woman wrote the name of her deceased husband on a piece of paper, placed it on a table which then levitated. After gliding back to the floor the woman examined the paper.  In her deceased husband’s handwriting it said, ‘Please Honey, don’t go.’ The woman was slated to go to Iraq for a job.  Later, Joe learned that the husband, while working in a steel mill, fell into the furnace and was consumed (JNT XVI: 248-250).”

What do you see as the future of parapsychology and psychical research?

“The data of psychical research are as challenging and momentous as ever. They demand attention and revived investigations using new techniques from many scientific disciplines. Paradoxically, it seems it might be that the physicists…‘objectivist-materialists’…will be the ones to pry open psi’s secrets with the exciting developments of quantum theory.  Yet this does not leave out the still pressing need for concomitant psychiatric-paranormal research, since these studies involve people, emotions, rapport, behavior, the unconscious with the trance and forms of dissociation, neurosciences and biology.  Reexamined data from the past as well as more recent discoveries such as those by Eisenbud on thoughtography, Stevenson on reincarnation, and precognition in the neglected ‘chair tests’ with Croiset by the late professor Tenhaeff all merit renewed attention.  Similarly future parapsychological considerations should include the spectacular filmic recorded ‘Psi Physics’ obtained by Wm. Edward Cox in his SORRAT researches, and the equally compelling, companion, spiritistic, motivation factors reported by leading SORRAT protagonists, Alice Neihardt Thompson in her The Great Adventure Handbook for Living.  All these explorations in addition to electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and related instrumental trance communications (ITC) although written up largely in popular forms have not received the attention they merit in parapsychogical and other scientific journals.

“The future might have been delayed but it cannot be denied. The medical-practical applications of psi in the study of immune mechanisms and its role in causation (telesomatic), defense, ‘cure’ - healing and or amelioration of diseases can be further explored. The medical sciences are equipped to investigate and analyze these cases. The influence of psi discoveries on philosophy is no less provocative than its implications for psychopathology, behavior, ethics, conscience development and pointing to new ways of studying mankind.  Perhaps an overlooked key to the understanding of psi might be synchronicity, a psychic nexus aspect including and extending beyond telepathy and which might loom large for the future. The theme is developed in several books by English professor, SORRAT protagonist-paragnost, John Thomas Richards.”

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