The invention of telepathy 1870-1900
The Invention of Telepathy explores one of the enduring concepts to emerge from the late nineteenth century. Telepathy was coined by Frederic Myers in 1882. He defined it as 'the communication of any kind from one mind to another, independently of the recognised channels of sense'. By 1901 it had become a disputed phenomenon amongst physical scientists yet was the 'royal road' to the unconscious mind. Telepathy was discussed by eminent men and women of the day, including Sigmund Freud, Thomas Huxley, Henry and William James, Mary Kingsley, Andrew Lang, Vernon Lee, W. T. Stead, and Oscar Wilde. Did telepathy signal evolutionary advance or possible decline? Could it be a means of binding the Empire closer together, or was it used by natives to subvert imperial communications? Were women more sensitive than men, and if so why? Roger Luckhurst investigates these questions in an exciting and accessible study that mixes history of science with cultural history and literary analysis.