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First Sight

ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life

James C. Carpenter

Often seen as supernatural, unpredictable, illusory and possibly dangerous, ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance and other parapsychological activities are actually happening all the time and help us make sense of everyday experiences. First Sight provides a new way of understanding such experiences and describes a way of thinking about the unconscious mind that makes it clear that these abilities are not rare and anomalous, but instead are used by all of us all the time, unconsciously and efficiently.

Drawing upon a broad array of studies in contemporary psychology, the author integrates a new model for understanding these unusual abilities with the best research in psychology on problems as diverse as memory, perception, personality, creativity and fear. In doing so, he illustrates how the field of parapsychology, which, historically, has been riddled with confusion, skepticism and false claims, can move from the edges of science to its center, where it will offer fascinating new knowledge about unmapped aspects of our nature. The author demonstrates that the new model accounts for accumulated findings very well, and explains previous mysteries, resolves apparent contradictions, and offers clear directions for further study. First Sight also ventures beyond the laboratory to explain such things as why apparent paranormal experiences are so rare, why they need not be feared, and how they can be more intentionally accessed. Further study of this theory is likely to lead to a “technology” of parapsychological processes while drastically revising our conception of the science of the mind toward a new science more humane and more replete with possibility than we have imagined in the past.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 480
978-1-4422-1390-6 • Hardback • March 2012 • $58.00 • (£39.95)
978-1-4422-1391-3 • Paperback • July 2015 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4422-1392-0 • eBook • March 2012 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
James C. Carpenter is a board-certified clinical psychologist and parapsychologist and has been in private practice for more than 30 years. He is currently Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Research Associate at the Rhine Research Center, where he has also served on the board, including two terms as president. Dr. Carpenter has published numerous research articles, book chapters and professional articles in both parapsychology and clinical psychology and has edited the Bulletin of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology. He has lectured in various public venues on topics related to psychotherapy and parapsychology. He served two terms on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology and has also served on the Board of Directors of the Parapsychology Association. In addition, he is a clinical consultant for the Rhine Center, and provides pro bono services for persons who are troubled by ostensive paranormal experiences.
Read more about the author and book here.

Section I: A Point of View
1: A New Conception Guided by Two Analogies
2: A Model and a Theory of Psi

Section II: Elaborations of the Model and the Theory
3: A Model of the Mind and of the Place of Psi in Mental Functioning
4: Psi and Consciousness
5: The Vicissitudes of the Extrasensory: To Be Known or Not to Be Known 59
6: Some Implicit Assumptions That Need to Be Changed
7: Psychokinesis: First Sight and First Act
8: Precursors of the Model
9: A Reiteration of Essential Points

Section III: Psi and Other Preconscious Processes
10: Psi and Ambiguous or Unconscious Sensory Information
11: Psi and Memory: Are the Processes Similar?
12: Psi and Memory: How Do They Affect One Another?
13: Psi and Creativity

Section IV: First Sight and Other Research Findings
14: Fear and Psi
15: Extraversion and Psi
16: Other Individual and Situational Factors
17: Two Vexing Problems: Experimenter Effects and Decline Effects

Section V: First Sight beyond the Laboratory
18: Ordinary Nonpsychic Experience
19: The More Psychic Person
20: First Sight and Personal Exploration of Psi
21: First Sight in the Consulting Room

Section VI: Prospects for Parapsychology
22: Recent Research Pertinent to First Sight
23: Applications of First Sight
24: Suggested Directions for Future Research
25: First Sight, Parapsychology, and Other Branches of Science
26: Psi and a New Science of the Mind

About the Author
This lengthy book offers a detailed and extensive examination of a new model of how the unconscious mind works, which Carpenter (psychiatry, Univ. of North Carolina) labels “First Sight.” Carpenter’s argument is that abilities like extrasensory perception (ESP), parapsychology, psychokinesis, and paranormal experiences are neither unusual nor rare—in fact, humans use them, without knowing it, all the time. The First Sight model asserts that, first, all people have unlimited parapsychological potential and, second, that parapsychological behaviors and experiences occur unconsciously and purposefully. Carpenter supports these two statements by explaining how unconscious parapsychological activities help us make sense of the world, then covers areas of experience like anticipation, summation, intentionality, and frustration, among others. The book concludes with a presentation of research findings that support Carpenter’s theory, as well as suggestions for future directions of research. . . . Recommended for serious readers interested in a scientific theory for parapsychological phenomena that is supported by case studies.
Library Journal

Carpenter (psychiatry, Univ. of North Carolina) has presented a model of the mind that is both innovative and compelling. He proposes that so-called "psychic abilities" (such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition) do not comprise an esoteric "second sight" but are an adaptive and ubiquitous "first sight" that permits an immediate encounter with data not immediately available to the known senses. There are other subliminal or incidental factors that influence volition and decision making, and the author proposes that psychic abilities be added to this list. This book will challenge skeptical readers but his model has considerable explanatory power, something missing from most other parapsychological speculations. Carpenter is both a psychotherapist and a research scientist, and he has drawn from both these areas of expertise to illustrate his model with case histories and anecdotes; he also makes connections with the mainstream psychological literature in memory, personality, creativity, and emotionality. Carpenter's chapter on future research directions describes experiments that could put his proposals to the test. Readers may agree or disagree with Carpenter, but they will find his ideas provocative and challenging. Summing Up: Recommended.

James C. Carpenter has presented a model of the mind that is both innovative and compelling. Psychic abilities, such as telepathy and precognition, fit easily into this model and are seen as not only ubiquitous but adaptive. First Sight will challenge readers who are skeptical about so-called "extra-sensory" perception, as well as those who are convinced of its existence or those who are simply curious. Carpenter opens the book with a provocative summary of the assumptions underlying his model, and those who read the first page will have trouble putting the book aside until they are finished. Readers may agree with First Sight, or they might disagree with First Sight, but they will never forget it.
Sally Rhine Feather, Ph.D., executive director emeritus, Rhine Research Center

Jim Carpenter has devoted many decades to study psi phenomena in the lab and the psychological clinic. In First Sight he presents his bold integration of psi phenomena and contemporary cognitive, personality, and clinical psychology, and seeks to demystify phenomena that are part and parcel of what being alive is all about. William James wrote more than a century ago that psi influences at times leak into reality and Jim Carpenter provides a model of how these influences may be at the base of all of our psychological life. It has been decades since we had a comprehensive attempt to integrate psi phenomena into psychology and I hope that this tome will be seriously considered by everyone seriously interested in the nature of all mental processes.
Etzel Cardeña, Thorsen Professor, Lund University, co-author of Altering Consciousness and Varieties of Anomalous Experience, past president of the Parapsychological Association, Division 30 of the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis

In this engaging and beautifully crafted book Jim Carpenter shows in remarkable depth and detail how situating the paranormal in the context of other preconscious receptive and expressive processes allows us to understand a host of existing findings in a way that makes excellent psychological sense - a significant theoretical achievement that should command the attention of parapsychologists and mainstream psychologists alike.
Edward F. Kelly, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia

"In First Sight, Dr. James Carpenter shows that there is nothing 'para' about paranormal abilities; they are a normal, natural, and vital part of the human endowment on which we continually rely. In this important book, Carpenter has given us a new vision of what it means to be human. Highly recommended."
Larry Dossey, M.D., author, Reinventing Medicine and The Power Of Premonitions

“First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life is written from James Carpenter’s unique dual perspective as both a respected research scientist and a practicing psychotherapist. It is an exciting and elegantly written book that simultaneously makes a major theoretical contribution to the science of psychic functioning while providing an accurate, non-technical overview of the field accessible to the interested general reader.”

Daryl J. Bem, professor emeritus of psychology, Cornell University

“Beyond the sixth sense and before second sight there simmers a more fundamental First Sight. In this radical reframing of the meaning and mechanisms of psychic phenomena, James Carpenter proposes that where the edges of mind and matter meet all distinctions between inner and outer, subjectivity and objectivity, disappear. First Sight reigns in this strange place where everyday reality blurs, and it is here where extrasensory perception and other psychic effects suddenly make a good deal of sense. A refreshingly novel approach to understanding psychic phenomena.”
Dean Radin, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences

"Psychic abilities like ESP are usually treated as great mysteries, either to be desperately and illogically explained away since they don't fit into our predominant materialistic world view, or embraced uncritically as a prop for unexamined personal belief systems. While we still don't have (and perhaps won't ever have) a simple, physicalistic explanation for psychic abilities, we have a lot of psychological data on what effects it and how it fits in with the psychology of our minds. This data has been pretty scattered and unconnected, though, so Carpenter's book is a brilliant integration of what we know. I'm supposed to be an expert on the subject, but I know this book is going to take me in whole new directions!"
Charles T. Tart, professor emeritus of psychology, University of California, Davis

Carpenter’s First Sight theory integrates many previously scattered and little understood findings in psi research and is richly generative in suggesting new lines of research. Overall, the theory constitutes a transformational contribution to both psi research and the psychology of consciousness.

This book is an extremely stimulating alternative to current models of explanation for paranormal phenomena represent, and the book also offers a wide-ranging. . .overview of selected fields of experimental parapsychological research of the last half century. This alone makes it already a worthwhile purchase that should be in every bookcase a parapsychological interested reader.
Zeitschrift für Anomalistik

First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Daily Life makes an enormous contribution to parapsychology—and an even greater contribution to psychology. It belongs in every medical and psychology library. I would love to use this book as a text in a graduate psychology course. Research ideas and hypotheses jump from the pages. . . . Carpenter’s First Sight is an intellectual tour de force that deserves a place in the pantheon of groundbreaking scientific works.
Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing

By reading this book, conventional clinicians who are occasionally faced with such a unique presenting problem in psychotherapy can now be better prepared for that challenge. Carpenter’s use of familiar psychological concepts not only helps the uninformed clinician understand how psi functions, but alerts them to the type of client who may be most inclined to present such anomalies. . . .In addition to providing information that can be helpful to unwitting professionals in the consulting room, [the] later chapters also provide some interesting examples of how psi works in certain gifted individuals. . . .Like this process of expanding our emotional consciousness, I believe psi can also be brought into consciousness. And I know from personal correspondence that Carpenter shares this belief. As a part of all of our overall evolution of consciousness, it is my contention that we can come to better understand the workings of psi, normalize its functioning, and become conscious of it in our everyday lives. First Sight theory helps put a definable handle on this particular aspect of our consciousness.
Journal of Scientific Exploration

Scientifically minded readers will quickly gravitate to First Sight. Carpenter's thorough and technical analysis on a paradoxical topic sheds refreshing enlightenment not only in the field of parapsychology, but also a clearer understanding of the psychic experience in our daily lives.
San Francisco Book Review

First Sight by James Carpenter, a practising psychologist, is one among many recent publications with a high standard of scholarship that seeks to rethink mainstream psychological understandings of mind, consciousness, etc. As Carpenter rightly notes, parapsychology is often framed as dealing with the abnormal, and parapsychologists are apt to argue that it is the anomalous events that are ignored or even denied by mainstream psychologists, but that they must somehow be worked into our understanding of the self, mind, etc. Carpenter, however, argues that a paranormal or para-psychological (psi) phenomenon is not always a rare or an atypical event (although he acknowledges them as well), but it can be traced out in everyday and normal cognitive functions of ordinary people.

Carpenter’s 'first sight' theory of psi is that we should also look for the paranormal in the normal as well as the extraordinary. There is an unconscious and unbounded origin to normal waking consciousness, one that can be studied and one that must be included if our picture of the human self is to be complete. He attempts to show us how psi is present within ordinary consciousness, and how this psi can help us better understand ordinary human decision making, creativity, cognition-formation, anxiety- management, memory, etc. He also applies his theory to some of the traditional paranormal 'practices' such as remote viewing, and tries to make sense of paranormal events like pre-cognition using first sight.
Network Review

First Sight surely has a place in the future of parapsychology. . . .[I]t is always impressive, and often intriguing, putting it in a league of its own, but hinting at the possibility that only the more serious and able-bodied academics will take it on. First Sight is handsomely presented; the editing and proof-reading is exceptional, leaving a lot to be desired in other textbooks of the same calibre. It is a top-quality book in more ways than one, and a must for any serious parapsychologist.
Australian Journal of Parapsychology

• Presents First Sight as a model and a set of theory

• Offers a summary statement of the major ideas involved in the First Sight model and theory of psi and the mind