Irreducible Mind

Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century is a 2007 parapsychological book by Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Alan Gauld, Michael Grosso, and Bruce Greyson.[1] It attempts to bridge contemporary cognitive psychology and mainstream neuroscience with “rogue phenomena”, which the authors argue exist in near-death experiences, psychophysiological influence, automatism, memory, genius, and mystical states.[1]

Irreducible Mind
AuthorEdward F. Kelly
Emily Williams Kelly
Adam Crabtree
Alan Gauld
Michael Grosso
Bruce Greyson
Published2007 Rowman & Littlefield
Pages800 pp.

The authors' approach repudiates the conventional theory of human consciousness as a material epiphenomenon that can be fully explained in terms of physical brain processes and advances the mind as an entity independent of the brain or body. They advance an alternative “transmission” or “filter” theory of the mind-brain relationship. In so doing, they are reviving the century-old dualism of the British parapsychologist Frederic W. H. Myers (1843-1901) which was further developed by his friend and colleague the American psychologist and philosopher William James (1842–1910).[1]


The authorship of the book is diverse, with representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.[2] The book is interdisciplinary in that the authors also come from various fields of psychology, science studies, and psychical research.[3] Lead author Edward F. Kelly is Professor of Research in the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.[4]


The book begins by presenting a brief overview of contemporary neuroscience followed by a summary of the approach to scientific psychology proposed by Frederic W. H. Myers. Myers (and William James) posited that a "true science of mind should seriously take into account all kinds of human experiences before prematurely accepting a theory of mind".[2]

The book endorses phenomena related to psychosomatic medicine, placebo effects, near-death experiences, mystical experiences, and creative genius, to argue for a "strongly dualistic theory of mind and brain".[3] Irreducible Mind depicts the mind as an entity independent of the brain or body, with which it causally interacts and the death of which it survives.[3] The book "challenges neuroscientific reductionism"[5] as it argues that properties of minds cannot be fully explained by those of brains.[2]

The book is broken into 9 sections followed by an introductory bibliography on psychical research and 100 pages of references.

  • Chapter 1: A View from the Mainstream: Contemporary Cognitive Neuroscience and the Consciousness Debates
  • Chapter 2: F. W. H. Myers and the Empirical Study of the Mind-Body Problem
  • Chapter 3: Psychophysiological Influence
  • Chapter 4: Memory
  • Chapter 5: Automatism and Secondary Centers of Consciousness
  • Chapter 6: Unusual Experiences Near Death and Related Phenomena
  • Chapter 7: Genius
  • Chapter 8: Mystical Experience
  • Chapter 9: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century


Critics in the American Journal of Psychology argued that the authors overvalued and gave special significance to the alleged evidence for paranormal claims in order to substantiate their hypothesis.[3] The authors of Irreducible Mind, in a reply, claimed that other arguments in the text substantiated their hypothesis, that "the empirical inadequacies of physicalism are evident whether one takes the evidence from psychical research seriously or not."[6] The critics in their rejoinder noted the significance of the arguments of F.W.H. Myers' psychical research text Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death to the authors to the point that they included a CD-ROM copy of that text in the book, as well as the authors' inclusion of "a long chapter (by Emily Kelly) on the history of psi and related research since the 19th century."[7]

Clinical neurologist Sebastian Dieguez argued that the book is "painstakingly redundant, astoundingly arrogant in its claims and intents". Dieguez wrote that the authors of Irreducible Mind took reports of paranormal phenomena and wild claims at face value, utilized "quantum babble" and formed an ignorant "soul of the gaps" argument.[8]

The book received positive reviews in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,[2] Journal of Consciousness Studies,[5] and Journal of Mind and Behavior.[9]

See also


  1. Edward F. Kelly; Emily Williams Kelly; Adam Crabtree; Alan Gauld; Michael Grosso; Bruce Greyson (2007). Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-4792-6. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  2. Alexander Moreira-Almeida. Book Review: Irreducible Mind. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Volume 196, Number 4, April 2008, pp. 345-346.
  3. Mitchell G. Ash, Horst Gundlach, Thomas Sturm. Book Review: Irreducible Mind?. American Journal of Psychology, Volume 123, Number 2, Summer 2010, pp. 246-250
  4. Edward Francis Kelly, Ph.D. Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia.
  5. Paul Marshall. Book Review: Irreducible Mind. Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 14, No. 11, 2007, pp. 125-128.
  6. Edward F. Kelly. Yes, Irreducible. American Journal of Psychology, Volume 124, Number 1, Spring 2011, pp. 111-112
  7. Mitchell G. Ash, Horst Gundlach, Thomas Sturm. A Cross-Disciplinary Misunderstanding: Reply to Kelly. American Journal of Psychology, Volume 124, Number 1, Spring 2011, p. 112
  8. Dieguez, Sebastian. (2008). The Soul of the Gaps. (Review of Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century by Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Alan Gauld, Michael Grosso, and Bruce Greyson). Skeptic 15: 75-77.
  9. Andreas Sommer. (2008). E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, and B. Greyson: Irreducible Mind. Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 29, pp. 359-370.
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