Psychical Research Foundation

The Psychical Research Foundation is a Nonprofit organization devoted to research and education on Survival After Death and related phenomena such as Out-of-Body Experiences, Near-Death-Experiences, and Poltergeists.

The Psychical Research Foundation (PRF) was founded in 1960 by Charles E. Ozanne, longtime benefactor of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University (see Rhine Research Center), who had become impatient with the slowness of progress in survival research. J.G. Pratt was named president of the Board of Directors, a position he retained until his death in 1979. William G. Roll was given responsibility for the day-to-day operations as project director.

Initially the PRF was based at the Parapsychology Laboratory. However, in 1962, when the laboratory prepared to close at Duke, Roll found quarters elsewhere in Durham. When Roll left Durham to take a teaching position at West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia, in 1987, he took the PRF with him.

The PRF published a journal, Theta, from 1963 to 1991. After 1987 it was issued by the Parapsychological Services Institute (PSI), established as a membership organization. PSI continues in existence but as a conduit for research grants only.

Perhaps the best-known research conducted by the PRF is Roll’s investigations of poltergeists (such as the Miami Poltergeist) described in his 1972 book The Poltergeist.

The PRF was also the site of an important series of studies of the Out-of-Body Experience. These experiments involved psychic Keith Harrary, who had previously participated in research with Karlis Osis at the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). At the PRF, Harrary’s tests achieved the most striking success when one of his kittens was used as a percipient. When the kitten was placed in a small enclosure by itself, it ran around mewing except at those times when Harrary attempted to visit. On these latter occasions, the kitten calmed down and seemed attentive to something no human could see.

Further Reading:

    • Black, David. Ekstasy: Out-of-the-Body Experiences. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975.
    • Roll, William G. The Poltergeist. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972.

The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007