Tribute to Guy Lyon Playfair (1935–2018)

How to Cite

Murdie, A. (2018). Tribute to Guy Lyon Playfair (1935–2018). Journal of Scientific Exploration, 32(3). Retrieved from


Guy Lyon Playfair who has died at age 83, was an independent scholar active in international paranormal research for more than five decades, specializing particularly in physical phenomena and telepathy in twins. In his career he turned up some remarkable evidence for paranormal events, most notably during the famed Enfield Poltergeist outbreak 1977–1979 in North London, which he investigated together with Maurice Grosse on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research. The author of 17 books translated into a dozen languages and numerous papers and articles, he was still active in research up to March 2018 when he was hospitalized with what proved to be a terminal illness. At his funeral held in London on May 4, 2018, tributes acknowledged that his range and depth of knowledge on psi topics was formidable; it is hard to identify an issue on which he could not lecture professionally or did not have something interesting or original to say.

Born in Quetta, India, the son of British Army Major General Ian Playfair and novelist Jocelyn Playfair, he was educated in Gloucestershire in England and studied modern languages at Cambridge University. After compulsory conscripted service in the Royal Airforce, working as a Russian translator in Iraq in 1956–1957, he pursued a career in journalism, which included from 1961 on working in Brazil for Life magazine and a string of other international newspapers. It was in Brazil that his serious interest in the paranormal begun after successful treatment by a psychic healer.

His work in paranormal investigation commenced from this incident and can be divided into three overlapping phases. Between 1972 and 1976 while resident in Brazil, he actively researched paranormal phenomena across the country which (save for a few open-minded anthropologists) along with much of Latin America, was very much largely terra incognita for Western parapsychologists. Beginning very much as a skeptic, he observed instances of psychic surgery performed without anaesthetics and followed up claims of spirit possession and influence, working closely with the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP) established by a civil engineer Herman Guimaraes Andrade (1913–2003) in 1961.


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