The physician, sexologist and psychical researcher Albert von Schrenck-Notzing (1862-1929) was without a doubt one of the most unusual and controversial figures in the history of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century German medicine and science. As a young student, he sought – together with his one-time mentor Carl du Prel, the philosopher-psychologist Max Dessoir and others – to expand the methodological and epistemological scope of fledgling German professionalized psychology by serving as an important conduit for strands of psychological experimentation from France and England as alternatives to the physiologically grounded experimental psychology of Wilhelm Wundt and its offshoots (Kurzweg, 1976; Sommer, 2013). An early leading proponent of sexology and medical hypnotism, his work was well received in- and outside Germany by authors such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Albert Moll, Sigmund Freud (with whom he had studied hypnotism under Bernheim in the 1880s), Auguste Forel, Morton Prince and Havelock Ellis (see, e.g., Gauld, 1992; Sommer, 2012a; Sulloway, 1992). After obtaining economic independence by marrying into one of the richest families in Germany, he abandoned his promising medical career and began to focus his energies on the study of probably the most controversial and disputed area of psychical research, i.e. physical mediumship. Thanks to his immense wealth and former academic credentials, shortly after World War 1 Schrenck-Notzing began to dominate German psychical research and became its doyen and sponsor.
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