Stanley Krippner, Ph.D

Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center


Theodore Xenophon Barber died on September 10th, 2005, in Framingham, Massachusetts. The cause of death was a ruptured aorta; he was 78 years of age. Ted Barber had an early interest in parapsychology, dating back to his high school days, and he served on the editorial board of Advances in Parapsychological Research, a series of research reviews I have edited since 1977 (e.g., Krippner, 1977). He was the J.B. Rhine banquet speaker at the St. Louis convention of the Parapsychological Association, where he discussed the possible connections between parapsychology and hypnosis, a field in which he pioneered what has become known as the social psychological paradigm of hypnotic response (Barber, 1995). With his partner, Sheryl C. Wilson, Barber co-authored the Creative Imagination Scale (1978, 1981), and published the results under the title, "The Fantasy-Prone Personality: Implications for Understanding Imagery, Hypnosis, and Parapsychological Phenomena" (Wilson & Barber, 1983). He also authored the Barber Suggestibility Scale, an instrument he used in a series of studies demonstrating that formal hypnotic induction procedures were not necessary to produce the effects typically associated with hypnosis (Barber & Wilson, 1978/1979). Instead, he conceived of hypnosis as heightened suggestibility, not an altered state of consciousness. Indeed, in some of his early papers, Barber placed the term "hypnosis" in quotation marks (e.g., Barber & Calverley, 1964), denoting that the word was a social construct, what I would consider a product of historically situated interchanges among people specific to times and places. In the late 1990s, Barber wrote a series of articles describing three distinct types of outstanding hypnotic subjects, the "fantasy-prone," the "amnesia-prone," and the "positively set" (e.g., 1999). Hence, there are three major dimensions involved in hypnosis: imagination, dissociation, and motivation. He saw hypnosis not as a single trait but as an interplay of various human potentials (Krippner, 1999). His book, Hypnosis: A Scientific Approach (Barber, 1995), attempted to place hypnosis in the mainstream of social psychology, and his book, Pitfalls of Human Research (Barber, 1976), described ten common errors made by students and scholars alike when studying their fellow humans. In LSD, Marihuana, Yoga, and Hypnosis, Barber (1970) explored human potentials from a scientific point of view and in The Human Nature of Birds (1993),he described how the cognitive capabilities of animals are more like those of humans than scientists thought possible (also see Barber, 1994). This was to have been followed up by a book tentatively titled The Wisdom of the Cell, in which Barber would extend complex behavior to apparently simple forms of life. This book also was to have extended his article, "Changing "Unchangeable" Bodily Processes by Hypnotic Suggestions: A New Look at Hypnosis" (Barber, 1983), proposing a mechanism for parapsychological processes ranging from telepathy to s o -called "materializations" based on recent data from the field of psychoneuroimmunology. I had a preview of these ideas when he sent me a lengthy critique of my 2002 article, "Stigmatic Phenomena: An Alleged Case in Brazil." Not only did Barber accept the probability that my research participant manifested stigmata, albeit from internal processes rather than from external "divine" intervention, but he proposed that the participant's alleged materialization of "apports" was not due to sleight-of-hand but reflected untapped potentials of the human organism. Wilson, his partner of many years, plans to show me his unfinished manuscript in the hopes that we can salvage some of the material for publication. If so, this will be a belated but potentially valuable gift to parapsychology. In a commentary published in American Psychologist, Barber (1996) criticized an article (Blumberg & Wasserman, 1995) that called for the abandoning of anthropomorphic reports. He stated, "When I trained as a psychologist more than 40 years ago, I learned that these and related percepts (which were then associated with Thorndike, Pavlov, Kantor, and Skinner) were useful in understanding behavior. During the past four decades, however, while continuously conducting intensive research in human psychology... and, more recently, in comparative psychology... I gradually realized with increasing certainly that [these] precepts are misguided and hinder the progress of more than one area of psychology. In comparative psychology, these precepts block serious discussion and incorporation of the anomalous results yielded by a series of hard-headed projects conducted by behaviorally oriented investigators" (p. 58; also see Chaves & Barber, 1975). Because of Barber's openness to anomalous phenomena, he was one of the people to whom our book Varieties of Anomalous Experience (Cardeņa, Lynn, & Krippner, 2000) was dedicated, a gesture that he enjoyed and appreciated.