I am so saddened to convey that Rhea White, founder of the Exceptional Human Experience Network, died this morning, February 24, 2007. I'd like to include, below, a notice that her longtime friend and associate Dr. Charles Tart, sent out today.
Palyne, Webmaster and Friend.
Dr. Charles T. Tart wrote:
Today I was quite saddened to hear that Rhea White, friend and colleague, the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from [ITP] last year, had died this morning.
Here is the text of the announcement about it that ITP put out:
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology Awards Honorary Doctorate to Rhea
Palo Alto, CA: The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) announced today that it has awarded an honorary doctorate to Rhea White. "White has greatly contributed to the fields of transpersonal psychology, parapsychology and related fields," said ITP core faculty member, Charles T. Tart.
In 1952, Rhea White was forcibly "drafted" into transpersonal psychology, even though there was no such field yet. In her junior year of college, she had a near-death experience resulting from an auto crash that completely changed her life. She has devoted her life to trying to understand "where" she was when she found herself seemingly above the earth, bathed in a sense of unity, peace and aliveness while her body lay unconscious on the hood of her car. She thought she had died--and it was wonderful!
Rhea heard a voice tell her that "nothing that ever lived could possibly die." She felt the "everlasting arms" enfold her. Then she awakened on the hood of her car, unable to move, and in great pain.
After recovering from 11 fractures, Rhea began her studies of mysticism, religion, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and literary criticism. She wanted to understand what she had experienced in those few moments and where she could have been and who could have "spoken" to her and why it was so incredibly meaningful.
She began with a scientific approach and studied for four years at Duke University. After Duke, she went to New York as a Research and Editorial Associate at the American Society for Psychical Research, under the direction of one of America's leading psychologists, Gardner Murphy.
Rhea founded the Parapsychology Source of Information center, and began to publish an abstracting and indexing service, Parapsychology Abstracts International. She also became editor of one of the major parapsychology journals, the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, a position she held for many years. In 1984 she was elected as president of the international society of professional parapsychologists, the Parapsychological Association. In 1992 the Parapsychological Association honored Rhea with its Outstanding Lifetime Research Award.
After nearly forty years of study, Rhea realized that if she wanted to understand her near-death experience, science was not going to show her. In 1990 she decided to go back and study the basic data of parapsychology--the actual experiences people report. However, she soon realized that these data could not be viewed properly without considering them along with all the other sorts of nonordinary and anomalous experiences people have. In a vision she saw the need to study all of them as a single class of experience, which she called "Exceptional Human Experiences." She has been pursuing this aim ever since. Several ITP students have drawn heavily on her work here as part of their dissertation research.
We made Rhea very, very happy by recognizing her work with our Honorary Doctorate.
Rhea had been ill with a poorly diagnosed illness for several years now, having more and more difficulty breathing, but working as hard as she could on her EHE projects. She fell recently and broke her hip, but was eventually allowed to come home as her good friends would make sure she got the home care she needed in her recovery. As one of my correspondents put it, "...she was 'Rhea' to the end, doing what she wanted to do, feeling happy ("the best time of her life," as she put it, all those later years when she was exploring consciousness, dreams, EHEs, including the end, and even as in age she grew older, ... her spirit thrived more and more, lighter and lighter)."
If any of you had students who worked with her EHE material you might want to let them know.