Nandor Fodor

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Nandor Fodor
Born (1895-05-13)13 May 1895
Beregszász, Hungary
Died 17 May 1964(1964-05-17) (aged 69)
New York
Occupation Parapsychologist
Organization National Laboratory of Psychical Research
Society for Psychical Research
The Ghost Club

Nandor Fodor (May 13, 1895 in Beregszász, Hungary – May 17, 1964 in New York City, New York) was a British and American parapsychologist, psychoanalyst, author and journalist of Hungarian origin.[1]


Fodor was born in Beregszász, Hungary. He received a doctorate in law from the Royal Hungarian University of Science in Budapest. He moved to New York to work as a journalist and to Britain in 1929 where he worked for a newspaper company.[2]

Fodor was one of the leading authorities on poltergeists, haunting and paranormal phenomena usually associated with mediumship. Fodor, who was at one time Sigmund Freud's associate, wrote on subjects like prenatal development and dream interpretation, but is credited mostly for his magnum opus, Encyclopedia of Psychic Science, first published in 1934.[2] Fodor was the London correspondent for the American Society for Psychical Research (1935-1939).[2] He worked as an editor for the Psychoanalytic Review and was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.[2]

Fodor in the 1930s embraced paranormal phenomena but by the 1940s took a break from his previous work and advocated a psychoanalytic approach to psychic phenomena.[3][4] He published skeptical newspaper articles on mediumship, which caused an opposition from spiritualists.[5]

Among the subjects he closely studied was the case of Gef the talking mongoose.


Fodor pioneered the theory that poltergeists are external manifestations of conflicts within the subconscious mind rather than autonomous entities with minds of their own. He proposed that poltergeist disturbances are caused by human agents suffering from some form of emotional stress or tension and compared reports of poltergeist activity to hysterical conversion symptoms resulting from emotional tension of the subject.[4]

In 1938, Fodor investigated the Thornton Heath poltergeist case that involved Mrs. Forbes. According to Rosemary Guiley "Fodor asserted that the psychosis was an episodic mental disturbance of schizophrenic character, and that Mrs. Forbes' unconscious mind was responsible for the activities finally determined to be fraudulent. Fodor eventually identified the cause as sexual trauma that had occurred in Mrs. Forbes's childhood, and had been repressed."[6] Because he was skeptical of the case, Fodor was heavily criticized by spiritualists and was dismissed from his post at the International Institute for Psychical Research. The spiritualist Arthur Findlay, the founder of institute did not approve of his research and resigned. Fodor was attacked in the Spiritualist newspaper, Psychic News which he sued for libel.[6]

Fodor published two scientific papers on poltergeist phenomena, The Psychoanalytic Approach to the Problems of Occultism (1945) and The Poltergeist, Psychoanalyzed (1948). "The poltergeist is not a ghost. It is a bundle of projected repressions," he stated.[7][8] With the psychical researcher Hereward Carrington Fodor co-authored Haunted People: Story of the Poltergeist down the Centuries (1951), the book which received positive reviews.[9][10]

The psychologist Robert Baker and the skeptical investigator Joe Nickell wrote in most cases Fodor discovered that ghosts are "pure inventions of the hauntee's subconscious" and praised Fodor's book The Haunted Mind as vastly entertaining.[11]

Prenatal psychology[edit]

Fodor's work The Search for the Beloved (1949) has been described as an influential text in the field of prenatal psychology.[12]

Fodor believed that a pregnant mother could communicate telepathically with the mind and body of her unborn child. He held that the mother could cause physical and psychological events on her unborn child depending on her state of mind.[13] Science writer Martin Gardner noted that although Fodor had contributed to respectable psychoanalytical journals his views on telepathy were pseudoscience.[14]



  • Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1934.
  • These Mysterious People. London: Rider, 1936.
  • The Search for the Beloved: A Clinical Investigation of the Trauma of Birth and Pre-Natal Conditioning. New York: Hermitage Press, 1949.
  • Haunted People: The Story of the Poltergeist Down the Centuries. [with Hereward Carrington]. New York: Dutton, 1951.
  • New Approaches to Dream Interpretation. New York, 1951. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1951.
  • On the Trail of the Poltergeist. New York: Citadel Press, 1958.
  • The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: Garrett Publications, 1959.
  • Mind Over Space. New York: Citadel, 1962.
  • Freud: Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Fawcett Premier, 1963.
  • Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1964.
  • The Unaccountable. New York: Award Books, 1968.
  • Freud, Jung, and Occultism. University Books, 1971.


  • Fodor, N. (1936) The Lajos Pap Experiments. International Institute for Psychical Research. Bulletin II.
  • Fodor, N. (1937) I Investigate Another Case of Haunting. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research: 29.
  • Fodor, N. (1937) Mysterious Knockings. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research: 189–90.
  • Fodor, N. (1939) The Ghost in Chelsea. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research: 55.
  • Fodor, N. (1945) A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Problems of Occultism. Journal of Clinical Psychopathology and Psychotherapy, July: 69.
  • Fodor, N. (1945) The Lure of the Supernatural. Psychiatric Quarterly 20: 258.
  • Fodor, N. (1947) Telepathy in Analysis. Psychiatric Quarterly 21: 171–89.
  • Fodor, N. (1948) The Poltergeist Psychoanalyzed. Psychiatric Quarterly 22: 195-203.
  • Fodor, N. (1949) I Psychoanalyze Ghosts. Mechanix Illustrated, September: 150.
  • Fodor, N. (1956) Was Harry Price a Fraud?. Tomorrow 4(2): 2.


  1. ^ Drury, Nevill. (2002). The Dictionary of the Esoteric: Over 3000 Entries on the Mystical and Occult Traditions. Watkins Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-1842930410
  2. ^ a b c d Buckland, Raymond. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1578592135
  3. ^ Hazelgrove, Jenny. (2000). Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars. Manchester University Press. pp. 174-175. ISBN 978-0719055591
  4. ^ a b Timms, Joanna. (2012). Phantasm of Freud: Nandor Fodor and the Psychoanalytic Approach to the Supernatural in Interwar Britain. Psychoanalysis & History. Volume 14: 5-27.
  5. ^ "Nandor Fodor (1895-1964)". Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. 2001. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Guiley, Rosemary. (1994). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 125. p. 334. ISBN 978-0851127484
  7. ^ Fodor, Nandor (1948). The Poltergeist Psychoanalyzed. Psychiatric Quarterly 22: 195-203.
  8. ^ Fodor, Nandor. (1945). A psychoanalytic approach to the problems of occultism. Journal of Clinical Psychopathology and Psychotherapy, July: 69.
  9. ^ Derleth, August. (1952). Haunted People: Story of the Poltergeist Down the Centuries. Western Folklore. Volume. 11, No. 4. pp. 296-297.
  10. ^ Berg, Irwin. (1953). Haunted People by Hereward Carrington, Nandor Fodor. The Journal of American Folklore. Volume 66, No. 259. pp. 91-92.
  11. ^ Baker Robert; Nickell, Joe. (1992). Missing Pieces: How To Investigate Ghosts, UFOs, Psychics, & Other Mysteries. Prometheus Books. p. 134. ISBN 978-0879757298
  12. ^ Maret, Stephen. (2009). Introduction to Prenatal Psychology. Church Gate Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0578089980
  13. ^ Mercer, Jean. (2014). Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 64. ISBN 978-1442234918
  14. ^ Gardner, Martin. (1957). Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Dover Publications. p. 309. ISBN 0-486-20394-8

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