Sitter Group

sitter group A group of several persons who meet on a regular basis in an effort to produce paranormal physical phenomena such as Table-Tilting or knocks. A sitter group is similar to a Home Circle but differs from it in that the latter is centered around a Medium or mediums.

The concept of a sitter group was developed by an English psychologist, Kenneth Batcheldor, beginning in the 1960s. Batcheldor (who died in 1988) had read widely the literature on Spiritualism and early psychical research and came to the conclusion that psychic energy arising out of interpersonal group dynamics rather than any single individual was responsible for large-scale Psychokinesis (PK), or macro-PK. In a Spiritualistic Séance, the medium played a role in the psychodynamics of the group, but alone was not responsible for producing whatever phenomena occurred.

This meant that it should be possible for a group of people to produce macro-PK without a medium present. In fact, Batcheldor’s theory has been borne out by numerous groups, including the famous “PHILIP” group run by the Toronto Society for Psychic Research. Another example is the BINDELOF SOCIETY, a group of adolescent boys who produced table Levitations, Rapping, psychic photography, and direct writing in the 1930s.

Batcheldor experimented with his own sitter groups and theorized extensively on the psychic dynamics involved. He believed that for a group to be successful, two types of emotional and intellectual resistance (termed “witness inhibition” and “ownership resistance”) had to be surmounted, while at the same time a deep level of acceptance of the possibility of PK had to induced. The latter might occur, Batcheldor believed, through natural (even fraudulent) phenomena that were interpreted as paranormal—things such as the thermal expansion of wood in the walls or the settling of a house that sounded like raps. Once disbelief was overcome, then inhibitions were freed to produce genuine phenomena.

Further Reading:

  • Batcheldor, Kenneth J. “Contributions to the Theory of PK Inductions from Sitter-Group Work.” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (SPR)78 (1984): 105–22.
  • Geisler, Patric V. “Kenneth J. Batcheldor: Friend, Colleague, and Teacher.” ASPR Newsletter 14 (October 1988): 32–33.
  • Playfair, Guy Lyon. “Kenneth J. Batcheldor, 1921–1988.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)55 (1988): 174–75.


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

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