Studievereniging voor Psychical Research
The Studievereniging voor Psychical Research (Dutch Society
for Psychical Research), the oldest of the Dutch parapsychological
research facilities, was founded in 1920 by Gerardus
Heymans and I. Zeehandelaar. The organization was soon
joined by a young psychology student at the University of
Utrecht, W. H. C. Tenhaeff. In 1928 Tenhaeff and Paul A.
Deitz founded the society’s journal, Tijdschrift voor Parapsychologie.
The early work of the society focused upon the study of the
phenomena generated by the spreading Spiritualist movement
in the Netherlands, but over the years laboratory parapsychology
found its place in the society’s work. Among the impressive
research reported by the society was the 1950 study of telepathy
in schoolchildren conducted by J. G. Busschbach. Through the
remainder of the decade parapsychology gained status in the
country, as signaled by the holding of the First International
Conference of Parapsychological Studies at Utrecht in 1953
and the establishment of a chair of parapsychology and a Parapsychology
Institute at the University of Utrecht that same
Tenhaeff was named to the chair in parapsychology and
given the directorship of the institute at Utrecht. From that
time forward he came to dominate the society and resentment
grew over his authoritarian leadership. The tension between
Tenhaeff and some of the other leading members culminated
in 1960 with the withdrawal of a group led by George A. M.
Strutt, Robert John (4th Baron Rayleigh) Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Zorab, who founded the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Parapsychologie.
During the 1960s Tenhaeff became famous both in the
Netherlands and throughout the West because of his studies of
and extraordinary claims for the psychic abilities of Gerard
Croiset, the psychic who became well known for his work in assisting
police to solve crimes, especially cases involving missing
persons. Tenhaeff authored many articles and books that initially
brought him some acclaim, but as people began to give
his work close scrutiny, it was discovered that he had falsified
data in a number of cases. During the late 1970s his exaggerations,
misrepresentations, and alterations of findings became
a major scandal in European parapsychology. Tenhaeff tried
to withstand the massive attack by calling the religious to his
support and suggesting that Communists were behind the attacks
upon him. However, by the time of his death in 1981, he
had been rejected by his colleagues.
The Studievereniging voor Psychical Research survived the
Tenhaeff scandal and was led by Henri van Praag from
1978–1986. Under his management the Parapsychology Institute
was transformed into a private organization that existed
independently from the university. In 1986, Douwe Bosga became
the institute’s director and he was succeeded by Dick
Bierman who was appointed in 1991. The institute continues
a program of lectures for the public and the publication of its
journal, Tijdschrift voor Parapsychology. Address Springweg
7, 3511 VH Utrecht, The Netherlands.