Apport Studies Performed by Elemér Chengery Pap in Budapest

Michael Nahm is biologist and parapsychologist. His research interests include 1) the history of parapsychology, 2) physical mediumship, hauntings and poltergeists, 3) unusual phenomena near death and 4) the links between parapsychology and unsolved riddles of biology. He has published four books and numerous articles on these matters.


Physical mediumship is characterized by the occurrence of phenomena that seem to defy currently prevailing standard theories of physics, such as inexplicable movements of objects (macro-psychokinesis) and the seemingly unexplained materialization of objects, sometimes in closed spaces (apports). Nevertheless, systematic investigations into apport phenomena have barely been performed. One of the few exceptions is represented by Elemér Chengery Pap’s studies that were conducted from 1928 to 1938 in a “Metapsychical Laboratory” in Budapest that was specifically created to study physical mediums – especially apport medium Lajos Pap (unrelated to Chengery Pap). Chengery Pap summarized his research in a voluminous, but little-known, Hungarian treatise that ranks among the largest monographs of experimental parapsychology written by a single investigator.

In this presentation, I first provide an overview on Chengery Pap’s research and laboratory, as well as on the most remarkable phenomena reported from Lajos Pap that he produced under apparently strict control conditions. They range from apports of various solid objects, liquids, snow, plants, ensembles of living insects, and crawfish, to living vertebrates up to the size of a sparrow hawk. Chengery Pap collected these apports and exhibited them in show cases in an “apport museum” that belonged to his laboratory. Not surprisingly, these occurrences attracted the interest of numerous parapsychologists. Consequently, Chengery Pap and his medium were invited to hold a series of ten experimental sittings in Nandor Fodor’s International Institute for Psychical Research in London in 1935. The proceedings and outcomes of these test sittings, however, revealed remarkable loopholes in Chengery Pap’s experimental approach and threw a rather critical light on Lajos Pap’s judgment. In addition to this, I focus other unfavorable aspects of Chengery Pap’s monograph such as the seemingly purposeful omission of important information about problematical aspects of Lajos Pap’s mediumship. Finally, I describe experiences and results from my own studies of alleged contemporary physical mediums with a specialty on producing apports, such as Kai Mügge.

In the light of all these findings, Chengery Pap’s research approach and manner of presenting it cannot be regarded conclusive, and the authenticity of Lajos Pap’s phenomena remains questionable. Nevertheless, Chengery Pap’s extensive treatise remains of historical significance in parapsychology and provides an instructive example highlighting some of the difficulties in studying physical mediums.

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Published on April 17, 2022