Stanley Krippner: Amazing Stories That Didn't Make It Into the Story

Categories: Media, Science
J.P. Dobrin
Professor Stanley Krippner is an impossible man to pigeonhole. He's nearly impossible to encapsulate in a single cover story. Well, we did our best. But we've only scratched the surface of his life and work.

On a milder note, we also left out a cartload of mind-blowing anecdotes. Krippner is one of this city's great storytellers, on top of having lived a unique life (to say the least). The following stories just didn't fit the narrative flow of our article -- which could have been overwhelmed by the cavalcade of amazing stories he has to tell, and others have to tell about him.

Here are but a few:

Boston psychiatrist Amaro Laria noticed a trend. On separate voyages to interview healers and holy men, he traveled to a jungle village in Ecuador, a remote rural town in central Java, and off the beaten path in Brazil. In each locale, the shamans he encountered posited the same question: "You're an American? So do you know Stanley Krippner?"


Krippner served as a campus tour guide for Martin Luther King Jr. and Frank Lloyd Wright, and invited parapsychologist J.B. Rhine to speak at the University of Wisconsin in 1953. Krippner's devotion to psychological orthodoxy was shaken when, as a freshman in around 1950, a professor insisted that only schizophrenics dream in color.


Krippner was introduced to the intertribal medicine man Rolling Thunder through Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart -- whom he met at a party for tabla virtuoso Alla Rakha. When pressed to come up with an anecdote about Krippner, Rolling Thunder's grandson, Sidian M.S. Jones, came up blank. Then he recalled the following:

There was the time he and Stanley partied together at the Playboy Mansion at marijuana legalization event (Tommy Chong was there). And the time they took ayahuasca together in Brazil during a ceremony with the Santo Daime religion. Jones envisioned faces emerging from all the chairs before stumbling outside to retch, but Krippner sat still (he always sees visions of snakes when he takes ayahuasca). Later, Krippner and Jones traveled to Yelm, Wash., to watch a woman purportedly channel the 1,000-year-old Chinese warrior Ramtha. And they bumped into Salma Hayak there, and everyone had a nice lunch. 


Krippner wall Dobrin.jpg
J.P. Dobrin
Ephemera from a long career adorns Krippner's office wall

Professor Donadrian Rice, whom Krippner took to a showing of Fantasia while tripping on mescalin, recalled another adventure. In 1970, Krippner received a call from the actress Corinne Calvet, whose son was having a very bad trip. Krippner rushed to the actress' Manhattan apartment with Rice and another student. "She was looking very 'Hollywoodish,'" recalls Rice. "She had a long, flowing robe. And there was a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling, upside down, and decorated."

While Krippner went into the next room to make an attempt to hypnotize Calvet's son (he refused, Krippner notes), Rice says Calvet offered her guests high-grade marijuana she apparently obtained from a Mexican governor while shooting a movie there.


While visiting Rice in Atlanta, Krippner bought a coonskin cap in the cold weather. While dressed in this outfit, he ran into former segregationist Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox.


Krippner's former assistant Kirk Schneider, now a respected psychologist himself, recalls that a man one day brought a "psychic apparatus" to Krippner's office. It resembled a "multi-tendriled vacuum." Schneider remembers Krippner dealing with the inventor "magnanimously."


"So, we're in Tashkent," begins Jim Hickman's Krippner story. The two were in the Soviet Union on a conference in the early '70s, and they witnesses a man who claimed to be able to control his ability to bleed through "psychic self-regulation." The man plunged a knitting needle into his arm "without apparent pain and no bleeding." Hickman later noticed the man's arm was withered and damaged from having given this demonstration so many times. And both noticed the cow pasture outside the research facility was a vast field of marijuana plants populated by stoned bovines. When they noted this to one of their hosts they were told, "Oh no, we don't have marijuana in the Soviet Union."


Hickman's film of Kirilian photography images set to "Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead and other popular songs of the day was screened to a roomful of Soviet scientists. One described the experience to Krippner as "The best combination of art, science, music, and politics I have ever seen on film."


SKw John Beloff, and the Amazing Randi.JPG
Krippner (far left) and parapsychologist John Beloff hatch a plan with James "The Amazing" Randi (right) to catch a phony psychic

At the April meeting of the monthly "dream group" Krippner leads, one of the participants, a teacher, recalled a dream in which she heard a voice, possibly hers, repeating "Ishtar, Ishtar," while she tumbled down a chute. One of her students had recently written a paper about the goddess Ishtar.

Other participants in the group thought there must be a psychic connection between teacher and student, and saw portents in the invocation of a god's name. Krippner did not.

"On the one hand, I know Ishtar is a Middle Eastern ancient goddess associated with the morning star. But, if this were my dream, that's not my personal interpretation. When I hear 'Ishtar,' I think of the movie with Dustin Hoffman and [Warren Beatty] -- one of the biggest bombs of all-time!" Heads nodded around the room. "It was an absolutely dreadful movie -- with big-name stars! For me, the dream is a warning.... The dream is saying be very careful, you don't want this relationship to go down the chute.... Just let it be, or you will be an Ishtar that is a burned-out star!"

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John Powell
John Powell

It was good o see Stanley last month at the TASC conference in Tucson.

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