Categorical Approach to Classification
The need for a classification system of extrasensory and psychokinetic experiences has been clear throughout the history of the field of parapsychology. The Classification & Statistical Manual of Extrasensory Experiences (CSM-EE) is a categorical classification designed for clinicians that divides extrasensory experiences into types based on criteria sets with defining features.
The CSM-EE is a classification of extrasensory experiences that was developed for use in clinical, educational, and research settings. The classification categories, criteria, and textual descriptions are intended to be utilized by individuals with appropriate clinical training and experience and an appropriate professional education in scientific parapsychology.
Types of Information in the CSM-EE
The CSM-EE systematically describes each type under the following headings: “Phenomenological Features”; Subtypes and/or Specifiers”; “Associated Research and Laboratory Findings”; “Associated Mental Health Findings”; “Associated Medical Condition Findings”; “Specific Culture, Age, and Gender Features”; “Development and Course”; “Familial Pattern”; and “Differential Classification.”
- Phenomenological Features. This section clarifies the phenomenological criteria and provides descriptive examples.
- Subtypes and/or Specifiers. This section provides definitions concerning applicable subtypes and/or specifiers.
- Associated Research and Laboratory Findings. This section provides limited information pertaining to qualitative and quantitative research findings that are associated with a particular type of extrasensory experience.
- Associated Mental Health Findings. This section includes mental disorders that are somewhat commonly reported by experients of a particular type of extrasensory experience being discussed, but that are not always present. These disorders may precede, co-occur with, or may be a consequence of the type of extrasensory experience in question.
- Associated Medical Condition Findings. This section includes physical medical conditions that are somewhat commonly reported by experients of a particular type of extrasensory experience being discussed, and are not essential to classification. As with associated mental disorders, physical conditions may precede, co-occur with, or may be a consequence of the type of extrasensory experience in question.
- Specific Culture, Age, and Gender Features. This section pro-vides guidance for the clinician concerning variations in the presentation of the type of extrasensory experience being dis-cussed that may be attributed to the individual’s cultural setting, developmental stage (e.g. childhood, adolescence, adulthood, etc.), or gender.
- Familial Pattern. This section describes data on the frequency of the type of experience being discussed among biological relatives of experients of that particular extrasensory experience type in the general population.
- Associated Terminology. This section provides the clinician with a wide array of associated terminology used by experients of the type of extrasensory experience being discussed, ranging from parapsychology to popular culture, to assist in classification.
- Development and Course. This section describes the typical lifetime patterns of presentation and evolution of the type of extrasensory experience discussed. It contains information on typical age at onset and mode of onset (e.g. visual or auditory hallucinations) of the type of extrasensory experience discussed.
- Differential Classification. This section discusses how to differentiate one type of extrasensory experience from associated exceptional experiences that have similar presenting characteristics.
The Classification & Statistical Manual of Extrasensory Experiences (CSM-EE) is a classification of extrasensory experiences with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable classification in hopes of one day becoming a standard reference, through future expert review, public commentary, and independent peer review; for clinicians, educators, and researchers challenged with treating, teaching, studying, or investigating into the nature of exceptional experiences. While a comprehensive description of underlying extrasensory processes is not currently possible, it is imperative to highlight that the current classification criteria are detailed descriptions of how extra-sensory experiences are expressed and can be recognized by trained professionals.
CSM-EE is intended to assist as a practical, functional, and flexible guide for a wide array of experiences, often viewed as religious or spiritual in nature, that otherwise vary greatly in subjective experience due to varying knowledge and belief systems in experients. CSM-EE assists in identifying like experiences that are similar in phenomenology, but otherwise widely differ in narrative due to culture, language, and religious/spiritual belief. Whereby, the CSM-EE can assist in accurate classification and is therefore a valuable resource for clinicians and students, and a valuable reference for researchers, dealing with extrasensory experiences in a wide diversity of context.
The criteria are concise and fairly explicit and are intended to assist in an objective evaluation of associated phenomenology and experiential presentations in a wide variety of settings by trained professionals. The criteria and associated phenomenological features and specifiers serve in part as a textbook for students who require a well-structured method to understand and classify extrasensory experiences as well as for experienced professionals encountering these experiences for the first time. Criteria and specifiers in this manual were primarily designed to classify the extrasensory experiences of those that are on the initiating end of the experiences (e.g. an agent of telepathic interactive experiences). However, criteria and specifiers can also be utilized to classify the extrasensory experiences of those whom are not on the initiating end of the experiences (e.g. a subject of telepathic interactive experiences).
The criteria and specifiers in this manual were designed to guide clinicians, researchers, and educators in the detailed classification of extrasensory experiences. However, extrasensory experiences can be abstract more often than complex. Because of this, detailed classification will not be an option for all experiences and it is recommend-ed that the user of this manual only use and record specifiers in which are supported by evidence. In other words, if the user is presented with the decision to either vaguely classify an experience or wildly speculate, the user is encouraged to vaguely classify the experience and build upon that classification over time (i.e. as the client/patient reports more experiences). I also hope that the CSM-EE may assist in identifying anomalies in past exceptional experience research and to allow for more informed experimental designs in the future.
Theresa M. Kelly, MSD.
Center for Exceptional Human Experiences
Citation: Kelly, T.M. (2014). Classification & Statistical Manual of Extrasensory Experiences. Center for Exceptional Human Experiences. Copyright © 2014 Theresa M. Kelly, MsD. Interested professionals are welcome to download a complimentary copy of the CSM-EE. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.