Dr Madeleine Castro, Senior Lecturer

Dr Madeleine Castro

Senior Lecturer

Madeleine's background is in both Sociology and Psychology. Broadly speaking, she is interested in exceptional human experiences (EHEs), what they tell us about who we are and how we can research these experiences ethically and non-judgementally.

Madeleine completed an MA in Social Research at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2004. Her Masters dissertation considered qualitative accounts of women's reported EHEs. Securing scholarship funding for a PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of York, she continued this line of research, completing her PhD in 2009, exploring how people talked about and made sense of their transcendent EHEs.

After a postdoctoral project at the University of York surveying the British population about their reported spontaneous paranormal experiences, she started teaching at Leeds Beckett in 2010.

Since 2007, she has co-directed a interdisciplinary and international network for academics, researchers and postgraduates interested in subjects often labelled 'paranormal' (often found on the periphery of social science) called Exploring the Extraordinary (EtE). The network represents a supportive forum and an eclectic set of perspectives and disciplines.

Between 2015 and 2018 she was the Honorary Treasurer for the Transpersonal Section of the British Psychological Society. She is currently an active member of the Transpersonal Section committee and helps organise annual conferences.

Current Teaching

Madeleine has taught on various modules for the BA (Hons) Social Psychology, including Interdisciplinary Psychology, Critical Social Psychology, Psychosocial Development and Doing Psychology. She currently teaches at the undergraduate level on Framing Madness, Parapsychology, and Researching Psychology. She also supervises level 6 dissertations.

At postgraduate level she is teaching on several modules for the MA in Interdisciplinary Psychology, including Central Problems, Foundations of Psychoanalysis, Transpersonal Psychology and Critical Methodologies. She also supervises MA Independent Projects.

Research Interests

Madeleine's research has centred upon meaning and sense-making in reported EHEs. She also has an interest in methodology for the social sciences, which is particularly influenced by Critical Social Psychology, Feminism and Transpersonal Psychology.

Some of her research has focused on exploring forms of contemporary spirituality (particularly that which is often viewed as 'alternative'). This included the extent to which there might be relationships between reported EHEs and spirituality, the relationship between EHEs, the paranormal and popular culture, and the potentially positive effects precipitated by some of these experiences.

Madeleine's most recent work has been exploring women's circles, particularly the Red Tent Movement. She has been analysing how the movement is imagined and presented online as the first phase of a larger project about The Red Tent in contemporary UK society.

Dr Madeleine Castro, Senior Lecturer

Selected Publications

  • Castro MA (2019) What Can the Paranormal in Popular Culture Tell Us About Our Relationship with the Sacred in Contemporary Society?. In: Caterine D; Morehead JW ed. The Paranormal and Popular Culture A Postmodern Religious Landscape. US: Routledge,

  • Castro MA (2015) Spontaneous Transcendent and Transformative Experiences in Everyday Life. In: Bacon H; Dosset W; Knowles S ed. Alternative Salvations: Engaging the Sacred and the Secular. London: Bloomsbury,

  • Castro MA (2018) The Red Tent online. In: Exploring the Extraordinary Study Day, 9 March 2018 - 10 March 2018, Derby, UK.

  • Castro MA (2018) New Forms of sisterhood? The 'Red Tent' Phenomenon. In: Leeds Beckett Gender Research Conference 2018, 6 March 2018, Cloth Hall Court, Leeds Beckett.

  • Castro MA (2018) The Red Tent online: Tracing the shape of an ‘emergent women’s tradition’?. In: Leeds Beckett Media Research Festival (LEBEME), 19 January 2018, Leeds Beckett University City Campus.

  • Castro MA (2017) Red Tents as a context for Transformation?. In: BPS Transpersonal Psychology Section Annual Conference, 22 September 2017 - 24 September 2017, Cober Hill, Scarborough, UK.

  • Castro MA (2017) Reflections on a Red Tent. In: Spirituality and Wellbeing 2017, 25 February 2017 - 26 February 2017, York.

  • Castro MA (2015) Spontaneous extraordinary experiences and wellbeing: An exploration. In: Spirituality and Wellbeing, 14 November 2015 - 15 November 2015, Derby.

  • Castro MA (2012) Forms of Salvation: Spontaneous Transcendent and Transformative Experiences in Everyday Life. In: Alternative Salvations, University of Chester.

  • Castro MA (2012) Emotion, extraordinary experience and ethics. In: Exploring the Extraordinary 4th Conference, 21 September 2012 - 23 September 2012, York.

  • Castro MA (2010) Emotionality and the underbelly of qualitative research. In: 3rd ENQUIRE Postgraduate Conference, 20 July 2010 - 21 July 2010, University of Nottingham.

  • Castro MA (2005) Some Observations on the Significance of Language in Researching Spontaneous Anomalous Phenomena. In: The 29th International Conference of the Society for Psychical Research, 2 September 2005 - 4 September 2005, University of Bath UK.


  • Castro MA (2017) Reflecting on the Occult: Nurturing " Critical Being " through Exposure to Marginal or Controversial Ideas.

  • Castro MA (2010) Talking of transcendence: A discursive exploration into how people make sense of their extraordinary experiences. [PhD Thesis]. University of York.

  • Castro MA (2005) "Oooh...that’s a bit weird": Attempting to rationalise the irrational and explain the unexplainable.