Joseph Rodes Buchanan

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Joseph Rodes Buchanan

Joseph Rodes Buchanan (December 11, 1814 in Frankfort, Kentucky – December 26, 1899 in Louisville, Kentucky) was an American physician and professor of physiology at the Eclectic Medical Institute in Covington, Kentucky. Buchanan proposed the terms Psychometry and Sarcognomy.

Buchanan came to prominence in the 1840s when mesmerism and spiritualism were popularized.[1] He is given credit for coining the term "Psychometry"[2] (soul-measuring) as the name of his own "science" whereby knowledge is acquired directly by the "psychometer" (the instrument of the soul).[3] Having promoted his science from the 1840s onward in 1893 he released a comprehensive treatise entitled Manual of Psychometry: the Dawn of a New Civilization in which he predicted that Psychometry would eventually supersede and revolutionize every other field of science.[4] Though himself a physician in lectures he denounced contemporary schools of medicine as "educated ignorance" while promoting Psychometry and appealing to Spiritualists.[1] His work inspired other Spiritualism-based scientists such as Stephen Pearl Andrews.[5]

Psychologist Joseph Jastrow criticized Buchanan's work on psychometry as based on delusion and wishful thinking.[6]



  1. ^ a b Dr. J. R. Buchanan Speaks Before Some Spiritualists -- A Little About Miss Mollie Fancher and a Great Deal About Dr. Buchanan., December 29, 1878, p. 12. Retrieved February 13, 2010
  2. ^ Spence, Lewis Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Part 2, Kessinger Publishing, LLC (February 1, 2003), p. 754. ISBN 0-7661-2817-2
  3. ^ Buchanan, Joseph Rodes, Manual of Psychometry : the Dawn of a New Civilization Boston, Frank H. Hodges (4th edition), 1893, pp. 3–4
  4. ^ Buchanan, 1893, pp. 4–5
  5. ^ A discourse on Seven Sciences.; Cerebral Physiology, Cerebral Psychology, Sarcognomy, Psychometry, Pneumatology, Pathology, and Cerebral Pathology. The New York Times, March 17, 1878
  6. ^ Jastrow, Joseph. (1935). Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief. D. Appleton-Century Company. pp. 314-322. (Published in 1962 by Dover Books as Error and Eccentricity in Human Belief).

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