Hyslop, James Hervey (1854–1920)
Professor of logic and ethics and prominent psychical researcher.
He was born on August 18, 1854, in Xenia, Ohio. He
was educated at Wooster College, Ohio (B.A., 1877), the University
of Leipzig (1882–84), and Johns Hopkins University
(Ph.D., 1877). He was one of the first American psychologists
to connect psychology with psychic phenomena. He joined the
philosophy department at Columbia University as a professor
in ethics and logic, during which time he became deeply involved
with psychical research.
As early as 1888, in a skeptical frame of mind, he was
brought for the first time into contact with the supernormal
through the mediumship of Leonora Piper. Messages from his
father and relatives poured through. Out of 205 incidents mentioned
as of his sixteenth sitting, he was able to verify 152.
The personalities of the communicators were so impressive
that after 12 sittings he publicly declared,
‘‘I have been talking with my father, my brother, my uncles.
Whatever supernormal powers we may be pleased to attibute to
Mrs. Piper’s secondary personalities, it would be difficult to
make me believe that these secondary personalities could have
thus completely reconstituted the mental personality of my
dead relatives. To admit this would involve me in too many improbabilities.
I prefer to believe that I have been talking to my
dead relatives in person; it is simpler.’’
Early in the new century ill health forced him to retire from
his teaching post. He used the occasion to found the American
Institute for Scientific Research to stir interest and raise funds
for psychical research. However, in 1905 Richard Hodgson,
the research officer and real force in the American Society for
Psychical Research (ASPR), died. The following year the
ASPR was dissolved. Hyslop quickly revived it as a section of his
institute. It soon absorbed and replaced the institute altogether.
Hyslop dominated, somewhat autocratically, the ASPR for
the rest of his life. He assumed Hodgson’s role as chief investigator
of Piper’s continuing mediumship. He issued the first
Journal in January 1907. He recruited both Hereward Carrington
and Walter F. Prince to assist in the work.
Hyslop became a significant propagandist of human survival
of death. In his Life After Death (1918), for example, he forcefully
‘‘I regard the existence of discarnate spirits as scientifically
proved and I no longer refer to the skeptic as having any right
to speak on the subject. Any man who does not accept the existence
of discarnate spirits and the proof of it is either ignorant
or a moral coward. I give him short shrift, and do not propose
any longer to argue with him on the supposition that he knows
anything about the subject.’’
Hyslop also contributed many ingenious theories to psychical
literature. He made a deep study of multiple personality
and of obsession, and came to the conclusion that in many
cases it could be attributed to spirit possession. In his will he
left money to found an institute for the treatment of obsession
through the instrumentality of mediums. He died June 17,
1920, in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. The evidence of his own
spirit return is discussed by his longtime secretary, Gertrude O.
Tubby, in her book James Hyslop X.—His Book (1929).
Hypocephalus Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Hyslop, George H. ‘‘James H. Hyslop His Contribution to
Psychical Research.’’ Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research (October 1950).
Hyslop, James H. Borderland of Psychical Research. London
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906.
———. Contact with the Other World. New York Century,
———. Enigmas of Psychical Research. Boston H. B. Turner,
———. Life After Death Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature.
New York E. P. Dutton, 1918.
———. Psychical Research and Survival. London G. Bell and
Sons, 1913.
———. Psychical Research and the Resurrection. Boston Small,
Maynard, 1908.
———. Science and a Future Life. London G. P. Putnam’s
Sons, 1906.
Knopf, A. Adolphus. A Reminiscence of and a Promise to Professor
James Hervey Hyslop. New York The Author, 1921.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.
Tubby, Gertrude. James Hysop X—His Book. York, Pa. York
Printing, 1929.

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