Palo Alto, CA: The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) announced that it has awarded an honorary doctorate to Rhea White. "White has greatly contributed to the fields of transpersonal psychology, parapsychology and related fields," said ITP core faculty member, Charles T. Tart.
In 1952, Rhea White was forcibly "drafted" into transpersonal psychology, even though there was no such field yet. In her junior year of college, she had a near-death experience resulting from an auto crash that completely changed her life. She has devoted her life to trying to understand "where" she was when she found herself seemingly above the earth, bathed in a sense of unity, peace and aliveness while her body lay unconscious on the hood of her car. She thought she had died--and it was wonderful!
Rhea heard a voice tell her that "nothing that ever lived could possibly die." She felt the "everlasting arms" enfold her. Then she awakened on the hood of her car, unable to move, and in great pain.
After recovering from 11 fractures, Rhea began her studies of mysticism, religion, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and literary criticism. She wanted to understand what she had experienced in those few moments and where she could have been and who could have "spoken" to her and why it was so incredibly meaningful.
She began with a scientific approach and studied for four years at Duke University. After Duke, she went to New York as a Research and Editorial Associate at the American Society for Psychical Research, under the direction of one of America's leading psychologists, Gardner Murphy.
Rhea founded the Parapsychology Source of Information center, and began to publish an abstracting and indexing service, Parapsychology Abstracts International. She also became editor of one of the major parapsychology journals, the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, a position she held for many years. In 1984 she was elected as president of the international society of professional parapsychologists, the Parapsychological Association. In 1992 the Parapsychological Association honored Rhea with its Outstanding Lifetime Research Award.
After nearly forty years of study, Rhea realized that if she wanted to understand her near-death experience, science was not going to show her. In 1990 she decided to go back and study the basic data of parapsychology--the actual experiences people report. However, she soon realized that these data could not be viewed properly without considering them along with all the other sorts of nonordinary and anomalous experiences people have. In a vision she saw the need to study all of them as a single class of experience, which she called "Exceptional Human Experiences." She has been pursuing this aim ever since. Several ITP students have drawn heavily on her work here as part of their dissertation research.
For More Information:
Rhea White: For further sources of information, see Contemporary Authors, Vol. 77-80, 1979; Who's Who of American Women (17th ed., 1990). Also S. Krippner, "Rhea A. White: Parapsychology's Bibliographer" (Journal of Parapsychology, 1992, 56, 258) and M. Ullman's foreword to Exceptional Human Experience: Background Papers. (EHE Network, 1994, pp. i-ii; also published as EHE 11).
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology: www.itp.edu