ABSTRACT

In the 1970s, the Toronto Society for Psychical Research conducted a series of experiments in which they attempted to prove that the psychokinetic phenomena that were normally described in the context of spirit communication were indicative of a dormant, psychological power within the individual. The group created a fictional character—Philip, the imaginary ghost—and spent several years of regular séances successfully producing table raps and levitations as they attempted to communicate with him. Importantly, the group often compared their experiences with each other and with Philip as a form of “group therapy.” This article examines the collaborative, playful nature of the Philip Experiment in relation to psychoanalytic theories of play, transitional and intersubjective experiences, and the mediated communication of unconscious fantasies in the context of clinical analysis.

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