Prompted by a personal experience she interpreted as evidence for extrasensory perception, the late author embarked on an exploration into research on the subject. Mayer, who was a psychoanalyst by profession, in this work recounts her journey, which involved collecting ESP anecdotes, interesting her professional peers in the subject, and sifting through formal research into psychic phenomena. The latter process extends back over a century, to investigations supported by philosopher William James, as chronicled in Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters (2006).
Mayer summarizes the work of James’ Society for Psychical Research, delves into one researcher’s projects in the 1930s, describes the CIA’s interest in “remote viewing” in the 1960s, and paraphrases research papers of more recent vintage. She never crossed the scientific Rubicon to announce QED on ESP but was bravely enamored of the possibility of its existence. How else to explain the recovery of her daughter’s stolen harp, whose location Mayer said was pinpointed by a psychic dowser? Mayer’s catalog of personal experience and seemingly rigorous research into “anomalous cognitive events” should inveigle those similarly intrigued. Gilbert Taylor