Although little has been published abroad on the history of
Spiritualism and psychical research in Argentina, there has
been considerable activity from the late nineteenth century onward.
In the early period, Argentine Spiritualism was strongly
influenced by the Spiritism of French Spiritualist Allan Kardec.
The journal Constancia Revista semanal, Illustrada de Espiritismo,
Psicologia, y Socialogia was founded as early as 1877. Other
publications during the 1930s included La Nota Espiritista and
Revue Anales. One early organization Spiritualistic Association
Lumen aimed to take the study of Spiritualism in the direction
of humanistic science rather than religion.
With the growth of interest in experimental psychology
stimulated by such pioneers as Dr. Horacio Rinoldi, scientific
techniques were applied to the study of the paranormal. The
first Institute of Psychology was created in the University of
Buenos Aires in November 1931 to investigate general psychology,
psychological pathology, psychometry, and psychotechniques.
Dr. Enrique Mochet, who headed the institute, observed
activities of various clairvoyants and mediums and
included a course on paranormal psychology. Other scientists
at the institute included Dr. Fernando Gorriti, Prof. Dr. Gonzalez
Bosch, and Prof. José Fernández.
In 1933 Fernández founded the ATMAN Spiritualist Circle
and also attended meetings of the Psyke Circle, known for their
séances with clairvoyants and mediums. Their successes or failures
were assessed statistically, and in 1941 Fernández published
the results in the pamphlet Clairvoyance and Probability.
Although these and other investigations were without rigorous
control techniques, they played an important part in the development
of parapsychological method in Argentina.
During the wartime period in the early 1940s, parapsychological
researches were temporarily suspended, but in 1946
Dr. Orlando Canavesio founded the Argentine Medical Association
for Parapsychology and launched its journal Revista Medica
de Metapsiquica. At that time the Argentine government,
which considered Spiritualism a ‘‘social evil’’ and attempted to
control it sponsored the Institute of Applied Psychopathology.
Spiritualists responded by turning increasingly to the research
of parapsychologists to validate and support their work. The
organization was the first known anywhere to encourage doctors
to investigate ESP. Despite the fact that the agency was established
by the government for the purpose of determining
whether spiritualism was dangerous to the health of Argentinians,
Canavesio’s work proceeded to be recognized throughout
the world. In 1953 Canavesio was invited to speaked at the InEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. ARGENTINA
ternational Conference on Parapsychological Studies at the
University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and brought renown
to the work being done in Argentina, and the first of the Hispanic
countries to be so recognized. He died in 1957.
In 1949 the Argentine Association of Parapsychology
brought together scientists and active Spiritualists. The research
of Dr. J. B. Rhine in the U.S. had become well known
to Argentine parapsychologists, and it became possible to develop
statistical methods of psi evaluation.
Through the early 1950s Benjamin Odell, Julio C. Di Liscia,
and J. Ricardo Musso created the Association of Friends of
Parapsychology and its official organ, the Revista Argentina de
Parapsicología in 1955. Musso became president of the Instituto
Argentino de Parapsicología in Buenos Aires, which publishes
the quarterly journal Cuadernos de Parapsicología. The serious
study of parapsychology seemed well established.
By 1970 there were over 130 organizations devoted to the
study of the paranormal in Argentina and many publications.
Then, suddenly, all of the parapsychology courses at both the
Roman Catholic and state universities were canceled, except
for the one at the Universidad del Salvador. One explanation
for this could be the military dictatorship that governed the
country from 1976 until 1983, and the events during the previous
years that lead up to them. The era was most famous for
the unexplained disappearance of reportedly thousands of citizens,
particularly those known as los Desaparecidos, of Spanish
origin and settled in the country from Italy, France, Germany,
the United States and Spain. Academic freedom in universities
became severely restricted as well. Because the Roman Catholic
Church had been known to sympathize with anti-military forces
their university was scrutinized closely. Besides the restriction
of academic freedom, the investigations appropriate to parapsychology
were under suspicion, in addition to being a government
threat. Even after democracy was restored in Argentina,
the military leaders thought responsible for these
disappearances were never put on trial or officially questioned.
While work has continued through two remaining research
centers, a return to the previous level of activity has been slow
to evolve.
As of early 2000, the two research centers that do remain,
are both in Buenos Aires. Enrique Novillo Paulí teaches parapsychology
at the Universidad del Salvador, and the Institutio
Argentino de Parapsicología continues to issue Cuadernos de
Parapsicología. Address Calle Ramon Lista 868, 1706, P. F.,
Sarmiento-Haedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The country’s
major parapsychological publication is, Cuadernos de Parapsicologia,
(Instituto de Parapsicologia).
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
‘‘Los Desaparecidos.’’ httpAbout.comculturesSpanish
Culture. June 16, 2000.
Musso, J. Ricardo. ‘‘Parapsychology in Argentina.’’ Parapsychology
Today A Geographic View. Edited by Allan Angoff and
Betty Shapin. New York Parapsychology Foundation, 1973.