Vasiliev, Leonid Leonidovich (1891–1966)
Soviet physiologist and parapsychologist. Born in Russia, he
graduated from Petersburg University in 1914. He was a teacher
of biological sciences at Ufa, Bashkir (1914–21), head of the
Physiology Department, Bekhterev Brain Institute, Leningrad
(1921–38), and a professor of physiology at Leningrad University
from 1943 onward. Vasiliev pioneered parapsychology in
the Soviet Union, and helped to establish the first parapsychology
laboratory at Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). His work is
both contemporaneous with and of equal quality as that of J.
B. Rhine. He began by attempting to replicate some of the experiments
of Pierre Janet, the nineteenth-century French psychologist.
His spectacular success gave parapsychology some
recognition in the highly politicized atmosphere of Stalinist
Russia. He first developed a ‘‘politically correct’’ hypothesis of
the material basis of telepathy, but his experiments to establish
his theory proved quite the opposite. Financial support was
withdrawn and Vasiliev’s work was not published until the
1960s, after Stalin’s death.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Ebon, Martin, ed. Psychic Discoveries by the Russians. New
York Parapsychology Foundation, 1963; New York New
American Library, 1971.
Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology.
New York Helix Press, 1964.
Vasiliev, Leonid L. Experiments in Distant Influence. London
Wildwood House, 1976; New York Dutton, 1976.
———. Experiments in Mental Suggestion. Church Crookham,
Hampshire, U.K. Study of Mental Images Publications, 1963.
———. Mysterious Manifestations of the Human Psyche. 1959.
Reprinted as Mysterious Phenomena of the Human Psyche. New
Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1965.