THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY
Dr. Massimo Biondi is the PF International Affiliate for Italy. The following informal biography was written for a booklet distributed to other International Affiliates. Each affiliate was asked five questions about their background and interest in the field, the situation in parapsychology in their countries, and about their hopes for the future. A more formal biography will be posted in the coming months.
From Dr. Biondi:
My family originates in an area of Italy where stories about haunting, apparitions, folk healing are common, so I have had a first-hand knowledge of some of these beliefs. In my university years I studied and also did research in some medical areas (I wanted to be a professional researcher), and it was natural for me to ask to myself if it was possible do some “scientific” research also in those strange topics. Parapsychology gradually became for me a strong interest and when I could, I did few studies. Firstly I did experiments following “Rhinean” methodology (cards and dice), but after many failures, I turned my attention to spontaneous cases and historical studies. My first contacts with competent parapsychologists in Italy were with Cassoli, Servadio and Rinaldi – I think they are known also in USA. After that time (the 1980s) I continued to work in parapsychology, as I could.
In the past, I was a medical researcher in the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Since 1980, I’m a free-lance journalist and I haven’t affiliations in this area. For parapsychology and allied fields, I’m affiliated to the main Italian Society of Parapsychology (Centro Studi di Parapsicologia, Bologna), and to few organizations in the world: Parapsychological Association (associate member), S.P.R. (London). I’m also affiliated to IANDS and am one of founding member of ASEPS, the Italian Association for the study of NDEs.
I’m a science writer. From 1996 I’m editor-in-chief of an Italian Publishing House (Phoenix, in Rome); from 1980 editor-in-chief of monthly and quarterly journals of medicine (“Tabloid”, “AIDS News”, “Vector”; now “Diagnostica Bios”) and from 1989 consultant for some pharmaceutical companies (Wellcome, Sigma Tau, Kedrion, and so on). For these works, I founded a Society of editing, communication and marketing (its name: GSE – Gestioni e Servizi Editoriali) and I’m presently its administrator. I often give lectures and participate in congresses about a series of topics (psychology, handicaps, history of medicine, parapsychology, altered states of consciousness). Also, with an Italian PA member, Dr. Giovanni Iannuzzo, I manage a web site on parapsychology (http://www.psichica.it). At this moment, for parapsychology I’m writing some articles and two books (one about Italian psychical research, and one about RSPK). For scientific matters I regularly write articles.
Italian parapsychology is at a very primitive stage. Because of long-lasting economic shortages, the geography of our country, the lack of education, strong interests in spiritual topics by almost all parapsychologists (partly because we are in a Catholic country), and personality problems, in Italy we haven’t got a tradition of planned studies, experiments, research. We have, certainly, some good work in a few topics, but these are isolated efforts without any continuity. There are, now, some interesting inquiries (above all, on some psychics) done at Bologna (by Cassoli, Marabini, few of CSP members), and some historical studies (on spontaneous cases and past Italian psychical research)performed by myself and Iannuzzo; but certainly they aren’t works of worldwide relevance. We lack a Center to coordinate the studies and we haven’t got new scholars to continue our work. And we have the bookshops invaded, under “parapsychology”, by books on revelations from deceased sons, new age spirituality, angels, religious miracles, astrology, and UFOs. Very few are really parapsychological books - none of which by Italian authors (recently a little book on “parapsychology” by Cassolis has been published: but it is a very introductory text).
Despite all this, some feeble interest by academic personalities emerged, as manifested in many graduate theses on areas as: the poltergeists, psychoanalysis and parapsychology, epistemology of psychical research, the NDEs, the apparitions, the history of Luce e Ombra, synchronicity and parapsychology; even a thesis about some cases of reincarnation-type in India. All this, however, hardly become programs of experiments, field investigations, courses or academic lectures on parapsychology. Recently, few attempts to change this status are been performed, by me, Iannuzzo, Piero Cassoli. We are trying to enlist some people interested to orthodox parapsychology and to perform a collective inquiry: but it is very difficult.
Part of the poor situation of parapsychology in Italy is due to the action of CICAP members (CICAP is a skeptical organization like American CSICOP): some of them are very industrious and often their interventions are presented in Italian mass-media (they have a bimonthly review, a friendly publishing house and a good communication strategy; some of them are journalists with important roles in newspapers, television and monthly reviews). One of them in particular, Massimo Polidoro, in the last few years published many books with a very negative image of spiritualism and parapsychology: these books (and related articles) are packed with historical and factual errors, but few people realize that.
I hope to see, one day: a well-organized parapsychological program performed by more researchers working together; an Italian journal of parapsychology widespread all over the country, and possibly a library with important publications, old books and materials about parapsychology (the important Library Bozzano-De Boni, in Bologna, is devoted primarily to Spiritism and is managed by spiritists, interested more in spiritual, mediumistic and religious themes than in parapsychological research). To help this program I plan to continue to publish in Italian “specialized” journals (to stimulate new research in parapsychology) and on the website; publish some books (perhaps by translating some texts from English); continue to do my researches on my preferred areas: RSPK cases and collections, and in history of Italian spiritualism and parapsychology.
In all I would say it is clear - I think – that I’m interested in “classical” areas of parapsychology (apparitions, poltergeists and so on), and above all want to work to clarify them, not to close the discourse with a word (“telepathy”, “clairvoyance”, “mind power” and so on) or do research in spiritual field. It is for this reason that it is difficult - I fear - to see a large increase in parapsychology, now or in the future.
Submitted by Dr. Biondi in June of 2001.
Other Sources of Biographical Information on Biondi
Autobiography: Biondi, written for PF Lyceum Blog #11, “Lives in Parapsychology.”