We use cookies
This website uses cookies in order to improve your browsing experience. Read more on our cookie policies.
Gerard Croiset & the adventure of the psychic detective
Nienke Groskamp
19 December 2022
published in Issue Two

The Dutch clairvoyant Gerard Croiset (1909-1980) aided international police in some of their most famous and difficult cases. The 1964 edition of Croiset’s pulpy biography, written by the American journalist Jack Harrison Pollack, cries out on its cover, « Unbelievable but true! The amazing story of the strange Dutchman who has solved some of the century’s most spectacular crimes — by seeing the past, present and future. »

But before all of that, Croiset and his « gifts » became the primary object of study for professor Wilhelm Tenhaeff at the parapsychology department at Utrecht University. Parapsychology, an oft-forgotten branch of psychology that was in vogue from early in the century to the 1980s or so, attempted in all seriousness to record paranormal experiences and account for them scientifically. Although it is now usually brushed off as pseudoscience, an independent archive of parapsychology in Odijk (near Utrecht), Het Johan Borgman Fonds, testifies to the scientific rigor with which people once studied the newest frontier of the human mind.

Like a Holmes and Watson of their time, Croiset and Tenhaeff would work together for decades — in an academic setting and in a forensic one. First, Croiset aided Dutch police in solving crimes and disappearances, later the FBI. But it was a strange time for a simple Dutch psychic to enter American history.

Subscribe to the European Review of Books, from €4.16 per month.
A digital subscription gives you access to our complete Library. A print+digital subscription brings you a print magazine designed like no other.