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Niide's Hypothesis is a conjecture stated by Kyojio Niide about the consequences of telepathy. It is commonly expressed by the phrase "Telepathy equals neuropathology," and while an adequate summary, does not capture Niide's distinctive analysis of telepathy and therefore lacks the full consequences he adduces from it.
While it is a medical conjecture, Niide's Hypothesis originated in its author's first field of study, philosophy, specifically the phenomenology of consciousness as investigated by Edmund Husserl and some of his followers.
Kyojio Niide has stated this conjecture in two contexts: first in philosophy, and then in neurology.
The first statement was made in a paper entitled “The Possibility of Telepathetic Experience: A Phenomenological Survey and Critique,” written while Niide was still a undergraduate student. In line with the notion of the phenomenological epoche, Niide did not express an opinion as to the reality or even probability of telepathy at the outset of the essay. Instead, he used the introspective methods of phenomenology to examine what telepathic experiences might be like if they existed.
The essay begins by arguing that the intentionality of consciousness, i.e., that consciousness always is consciousness of an object whose structure cannot be given prior to conscious awareness, entails that any consciousness of an aspect of a phenomenal object must follow an awareness of the totality of the phenomenal object as such. For example:
If I witness an explosion, my consciousness does not synthesize the brilliant light of the explosion with its loud report and perhaps a shock wave or blast of heat. I experience the explosion first as an explosion as such and only with the greatest effort can I decompose it into the distinct sense data—if I can at all. In retrospect, I can perform that decomposition, but that is not noteworthy here. What must be noted is that the explosion is an indivisible phenomenon that interrupts and displaces whatever my previous object of consciousness.
The example of the explosion is crucial for Niide, since he goes on to argue that interruptions are an essential feature of the structure of consciousness. “An interruption is the initial demarcation of an event to my consciousness,” the moment one phenomenal object as a whole displaces another. Therefore, any instance of telepathy would be initiated by an interruption of some sort. Niide claims that the special nature of consciousness entails that for any awareness of another's consciousness to be possible, the whole of the phenomenal object perceived by the telepathic sender will have to displace the content of the telepathic receiver's consciousness:
The wholeness of the phenomenonal object precludes the possibility that I can experience selected aspects of a person's consciousness, and certainly not their thoughts as a stream of language such as James Joyce portrayed in Ulysses. This does not mean my ego would be totally displaced, however. It is possible that I may only experience someone else's subjectivity as a hallucination or delusion; that is, my perception of the actual object of my vision may be occluded by the actual object of some other person's object of vision, or it may be interrupted by that object, or I may be possessed by the belief that I am in the physical location occupied by the other person. But just as I only experience aspects of the object of my own consciousness indirectly, so the aspects of the other person's object of consciousness will come to me indirectly—but this only after first apprehending their consciousness as an interruption or intrusion upon my consciousness, and this is the essential, distinct feature of a telepathic event. Note also that hallucinations or delusions are themselves phenomenal entireties, so my awareness of the distinct aspects of the hallucination or delusion—if I am fortunate to only experience telepathy as such!—must follow my apprehending an instance of telepathy as a hallucination or delusion as such. More likely and more catastrophic is that my ego as a whole is suspended and the totality of my sense impressions and unreflected consciousness is replaced by that of the telepathic sender.
Niide goes on to say that the potential hazards of telepathy do not rule out its possibility, but rather that psychic research that examines subjects who purport to be telepathic receivers and do not evince signs of disorder or disorientation while receiving is likely misguided; if telepathy exists, accident victims and mental patients are more likely to have experienced telepathic reception.
Niide concludes by reiterating the essential disruptiveness and undesirability of the experience of telepathic reception:
The question of the possibility of telepathy aside, there can be no question that if people did have such experiences, they would certainly be undesirable and perhaps even unendurable. The most favorable possibilities for telepathic events are already extremely disquieting ones, and we have no warrant to believe that they would be restricted to their most “benign” form. The disruption of the receiver's consciousness could potentially be traumatic, as if the ego were scalded by experiences not its own.
The paper, which first appeared in the New Phenomenological Research, Vol. ?, No. ?, Fall 19??, attracted little attention at the time outside of other researchers in phenomenology. What commentary it attracted was largely critical: Niide's claim that the onset of an event was always an interruption was considered a particularly weak point in his analysis.
A revised version of this paper that addresses these shortcomings, A Phenomenological Analysis of Possible Telepathic Reception, was accepted as his thesis for graduation from Crestmore University in 19??. It is unpublished.
Niide restated the hypothesis in neurological terms in his paper of 20??, "An Epileptic Syndrome Distinguished by Refractory Tonic-Clonic Seizure Activity Without Loss of Consciousness," published in Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders, Vol. ?, No. ?.
Criticisms by Psi Researchers
Criticisms by Neurologists
Neurologists who dismiss the diagnosis of Psycheidetic Epilepsy generally do not examine Niide's hypothesis for flaws. A pervasive misconception is that his original work is a “proof” of the reality of telepathy, and that his subsequent neurological restatement was a discovery of the undesirability of such experiences. This misconception has been propagated by at least one textbook.