Pelmanism (system)

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Pelmanism was a system of training the mind which was popular in the United Kingdom during the first half of the twentieth century.


Originally devised as a memory system in the 1890s by William Joseph Ennever, the system was taught via correspondence from the Pelman Institute in London (named after Christopher Louis Pelman). It was advertised as a system of scientific mental training which strengthened and developed one's mind just as physical training strengthened your body. It was developed to expand "Mental Powers in every direction" and "remove those tendencies to indolence and inefficiency".

The system promised to cure a range of problems such as "grasshopper mind," forgetfulness, depression, phobia, procrastination, and "Lack of System".[1] One of the techniques taught as late as the 1950s in Britain was the Method of loci, recorded since ancient Roman rhetoric, to remember 20 or 100 items in order, keyed to a particular house or geographic route familiar to the student.

Pelmanism was practised and promoted by former British prime minister H.H. Asquith, Sir Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scout movement), novelist Sir Rider Haggard, playwright Jerome K. Jerome, and composer Dame Ethel Smyth as well as thousands of less famous Britons.[2][3]

In the context of modern psychology, Pelmanism may have only limited academic interest today.[clarification needed] It remains of interest as a self-help tool, but is seen by some as quirky and eccentric.[4]

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  1. ^ "The Pelman School of Memory, The Pelman Institute and Pelmanism". Ennever / Enever family history & ancestry ( Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  2. ^ Nicolson, Juliet (2010). The Great Silence. Grove Press. p. 304. ISBN 978-0802119445.
  3. ^ Silvester, Christopher (20 November 2009). "The Great Silence: 1918–20, Living in the Shadow of the Great War: Juliet Nicolson". Daily Express. Retrieved 2014-04-22. Review of Nicolson (2010).
  4. ^ "Pelmanism". Senate House Library. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-22. Notice concerning a recent donation to the Psychology Collection.[dead link]

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