Book Review: “The Invisible Picture: A Study of Psychic Experiences” by Louisa E. Rhine

In 1981, Dr. Louisa E. Rhine published her findings from a thorough review of letters received by the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory. The letters often related individual experiences with spontaneous ESP (extrasensory perception). Through a detailed analysis, she categorized every letter by conviction level, form of experience (unrealistic dream, realistic dream, waking hallucinatory, waking intuitive, or spontaneous psychokinesis), and time of event (concurrent to the ESP experience or yet to happen/precognitive). She used her review to consider the process in which ESP occurs and gain an understanding of who (agent or percipient) may control how the experience is perceived. Her detailed analysis helped to suggest new experimental avenues for the lab but also led to more questions regarding how the ESP information is initially received.

“The Invisible Picture: A Study of Psychic Experiences” by Louisa E. Rhine

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about ESP anecdotal research. This is a very thorough look at spontaneous ESP cases and gives the reader a good idea of the various forms experienced by ordinary people. This book also gives some insight into why some view haunt type phenomenon as an ESP type experience; specifically a hallucinatory waking experience.  

Pros: I really enjoyed reading the cases that she reviewed and her analysis of how they fit into specific categories of phenomena. This is a tough subject to wrap your head around and she does her best to break each idea down into its smallest components in order to understand the bigger picture. I was fascinated by the frequency of subject matter analysis she conducted and was honestly surprised by how many cases involved strangers and trivial topics. Not all cases were in reference to death or serious illness/injury. I also appreciated that this was research focused on ordinary people and not psychic mediums.

Cons: This is a scientific publication and therefore contains a detailed analysis of each parameter reviewed by Dr. Rhine. Parapsychology texts can become difficult to read just by the nature of how they must navigate the research. Things that seem redundant are often necessary statements to show that all possibilities are being considered. I occasionally had trouble following the line of thought, but she did a good job of summarizing each section to bring things back around.

You can purchase your own copy of the book here.

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