Hans Bender bigraphy, stories - Psychologists

Hans Bender : biography

5 February 1907 - 7 May 1991

Hans Bender (5 February 1907 – 7 May 1991) was a German lecturer on the subject of parapsychology, who was also responsible for establishing the parapsychological institute Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene in Freiburg. For many years his pipe smoking, contemplative figure was synonymous with German parapsychology. He was an investigator of 'unusual human experience', e.g. poltergeists and clairvoyants. One of his most famous cases was the Rosenheim Poltergeist.


After his secondary school examination in 1925, he studied law in Lausanne and Paris. In 1927, he started to study psychology, philosophy, and Romance studies in Freiburg, Heidelberg, and Berlin. From 1929 on, he studied in Bonn by Professor Erich Rothacker psychology and by professor Ernst Robert Curtius Romance studies. He took the doctors degree 1933 by Rothacker with the dissertation Psychische Automatismen. At the time he was an assistant at the Psychological Institute of the University of Bonn, he studied medicine in parallel to the controversial psychology to get a better reputation. His claim to have made his a state examination for a PhD in medicine by professor Kurt Beringer on the subject of "Die Arbeitskurve unter Pervitin" remained a claim, as he was not able to present the promotion certificate. To eliminate this problem, he drew up a new medical dissertation at old age.

In 1939, he worked as a volunteer at the Psychiatric and Intern Clinic in Freiburg. As he was unfit for the military service, he could act in place of his drafted professor Rothacker in 1940 in Bonn. From September of this year on, he also worked at the Internal Clinic in Bonn. In June, he married Henriette Wiechert, who was "starring" as the experimental subject with the nicknames "Miss Dora D." or "Miss D." in his dissertation.

In order to have a successful career, Bender had already joined the NSDAP at that time. To be able to call himself an associate professor at the newly founded Reichsuniversität Straßburg, he was habilitated in 1941 with the treatise on the subject "Experimentelle Visionen. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Sinnestäuschung, des Realitätsbewusstseins und der Schichten der Persönlichkeit". With the intervention of the historian Ernst Anrich, he became from the Reichsministerium for Sciences, Education and public instruction the necessary lectureship. From 1942 to 1944, he taught psychology and clinical psychology, also managing the Paracelsus Institute, where Bender originally planned to make research on the subject of astrology. At the request of his patron Friedrich Spieser, he studied the subject of dowsing.

After his detention in a British camp between November 1944 and July 1945, he returned to Freiburg im Breisgau, where he was got a lectureship for psychology. In 1950, he founded the non-university Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health.

From 1946 to 1949, he acted for the Chair for Psychology and Pedagogy and was a Diätendozent afterwards. After he made guest professorships in 1951 and 1954, he was appointed as an extraordinary professor for frontier areas of psychology. In 1967, he became a full professor for psychology and frontier areas of psychology. One quarter of subjects were issues of parapsychology. In 1975, he became professor emeritus.

When journalists of the SPIEGEL magazine found out in 1977 that no copy of his medical dissertation could be found, and that Bender also could not produce a promotion certificate, the district attorney brought a procedure because of assuming a false title. To avoid prosecution, Bender promoted again by Manfred Müller-Küppers, with whom he had co-operated in cases of haunting.

Publications (selection)

  • Zum Problem der außersinnlichen Wahrnehmung. Ein Beitrag zur Untersuchung des Hellsehens mit Laboratoriumsmethoden in the Zeitschrift für Psychologie 135 (1939), pp. 20–130.
  • Psychische Automatismen. Zur Experimentalpsychologie des Unterbewußten und der außersinnlichen Wahrnehmung, Leipzig, 1936.
  • Der Okkultismus als Problem der Psychohygiene in Neue Wissenschaft 1 (1950), H. 3, pp. 34–42.
  • Zur Entwicklung der Parapsychologie von 1930-1950 in Hans Driesch's Parapsychologie. Die Wissenschaft von den "okkulten" Erscheinungen, Zurich, 1952, pp. 135–176.
  • Okkultismus als seelische Gefahr in M. Pfister-Amende (ed.): Geistige Hygiene. Forschung und Gefahr, Basel 1955, pp. 489–499.
  • Praekognition im qualitativen Experiment. Zur Methodik der "Platzexperimente" mit dem Sensitiven Gerard Croiset in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 1 (1957), pp. 5–35.
  • Parapsychische Phänomene als wissenschaftliche Grenzfrage in Freiburger Dies Universitatis 6 (1957/58), pp. 59–84.
  • Mediumistische Psychosen. Ein Beitrag zur Pathologie spiritistischer Praktiken in the Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 2 (1958/1959), pp. 173–200.
  • Zur Frage des telepathischen Traumes in H. Thomae, H. (ed.): Bericht über den 22. Kongreß der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie, Göttingen, 1960, pp. 276–280.
  • (with J. Mischo): "Precognition" in dream series I in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 4 (1960/61), pp. 114–198.
  • (with J. Mischo): "Precognition" in dream series II in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 5 (1961), pp. 10–47.
  • Formen der Einstellung zur Parapsychologie in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 7 (1964), pp. 85–92.
  • Astrologie und Aberglaube in Neue Wissenschaft 12 (1964), H. 1, pp. 1–23.
  • Erich Rothacker 1888-1965 in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 9 (1966), 149f.
  • Neue Entwicklungen in der Spukforschung in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 12 (1966), pp. 1–18.
  • Telepathie und Hellsehen als wissenschaftliche Grenzfragen in Schopenhauer-Jahrbuch auf das Jahr 1967, pp. 36–52.
  • (with J. Mischo): A prosecutor confronted with "weirdness" in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 12 (1970), pp. 255–259.
  • (Ed.): Parapsychologie - Development, Results, and Problems, Darmstadt 1974.
  • Psychohygienische und forensische Aspekte der Parapsychologie in G. Condreau (ed.): Die Psychologie des 20. Jahrhunderts, Bd. 15, Zürich 1979, pp. 651–672.
  • W.H.C. Tenhaeff (1894–1980) in Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie 23 (1981), pp. 231–236.
  • Telepathy, second sight, and psychokinesis, Munich 1983.
  • Dealings with the Occult, Freiburg 1984.
  • A positive critic of superstition in R. Pilkington (ed.): The Men and Women of Parapsychology, Jefferson, N.C. 1987, pp. 114–118.
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