Telepathy and Clairvoyance.--Peculiar Power in Hypnotic State.--Experiments.--"Phantasms of the Living" Explained by Telepathy
It has already been noticed that persons in the hypnotic state seem to have certain of their senses greatly heightened in power. They can remember, see and hear things that ordinary persons would be entirely ignorant of. There is abundant evidence that a supersensory perception is also developed, entirely beyond the most highly developed condition of the ordinary senses, such as being able to tell clearly what some other person is doing at a great distance. In view of the discovery of the X or Roentgen ray, the ability to see through a stone wall does not seem so strange as it did before that discovery.
It is on power of supersensory, or extra-sensory perception that what is known as telepathy and clairvoyance are based. That such things really exist, and are not wholly a matter of superstition has been thoroughly demonstrated in a scientific way by the British Society for Psychical Research, and kindred societies in various parts of the world. Strictly speaking, such phenomena as these are not a part of hypnotism, but our study of hypnotism will enable us to understand them to some extent, and the investigation of them is a natural corollary to the study of hypnotism, for the reason that it has been found that these extraordinary powers are often possessed by persons under hypnotic influence. Until the discovery of hypnotism there was little to go on in conducting a scientific investigation, because clairvoyance could not be produced by any artificial means, and so could not be studied under proper restrictive conditions.
We will first quote two experiments performed by Dr. Cocke which the writer heard him describe with his own lips.
The first case was that of a girl suffering from hysterical tremor. The doctor had hypnotized her for the cure of it, and accidentally stumbled on an example of thought transference. She complained on one occasion of a taste of spice in her mouth. As the doctor had been chewing some spice, he at once guessed that this might be telepathy. Nothing was said at the time, but the next time the girl was hypnotized, the doctor put a quinine tablet in his mouth. The girl at once asked for water, and said she had a very bitter taste in her mouth. The water was given her, and the doctor went behind a screen, where he put cayenne pepper in his mouth, severely burning himself. No one but the doctor knew of the experiment at the time. The girl immediately cried and became so hysterical that she had to be awakened. The burning in her mouth disappeared as soon as she came out of the hypnotic state, but the doctor continued to suffer. Nearly three hundred similar experiments with thirty-six different subjects were tried by Dr. Cocke, and of these sixty-nine were entirely successful. The others were doubtful or complete failures.
The most remarkable of the experiments may be given in the doctor's own words: "I told the subject to remain perfectly still for five minutes and to relate to me at the end of this time any sensation he might experience. I passed into another room and closed the door and locked it; went into a closet in the room and closed the door after me; took down from the shelf, first a linen sheet, then a pasteboard box, then a toy engine, owned by a child in the house. I went back to my subject and asked him what experience he had had.
"He said I seemed to go into another room, and from thence into a dark closet. I wanted something off the shelf, but did not know what. I took down from the shelf a piece of smooth cloth, a long, square pasteboard box and a tin engine. These were all the sensations he had experienced. I asked him if he saw the articles with his eyes which I had removed from the shelf. He answered that the closet was dark and that he only felt them with his hands. I asked him how he knew that the engine was tin. He said: 'By the sound of it.' As my hands touched it I heard the wheels rattle. Now the only sound made by me while in the closet was simply the rattling of the wheels of the toy as I took it off the shelf. This could not possibly have been heard, as the subject was distant from me two large rooms, and there were two closed doors between us, and the noise was very slight. Neither could the subject have judged where I went, as I had on light slippers which made no noise. The subject had never visited the house before, and naturally did not know the contents of the closet as he was carefully observed from the moment he entered the house."
Many similar experiments are on record. Persons in the hypnotic condition have been able to tell what other persons were doing in distant parts of a city; could tell the pages of the books they might be reading and the numbers of all sorts of articles. While in London the writer had an opportunity of witnessing a performance of this kind. There was a young boy who seemed to have this peculiar power. A queer old desk had come into the house from Italy, and as it was a valuable piece of furniture, the owner was anxious to learn its pedigree. Without having examined the desk beforehand in any way the boy, during one of his trances, said that in a certain place a secret spring would be found which would open an unknown drawer, and behind that drawer would be found the name of the maker of the desk and the date 1639. The desk was at once examined, and the name and date found exactly as described. It is clear in this case that this information could not have been in the mind of any one, unless it were some person in Italy, whence the desk had come. It is more likely that the remarkable supersensory power given enabled reading through the wood.
We may now turn our attention to another class of phenomena of great interest, and that is the visions persons in the ordinary state have of friends who are on the point of death. It would seem that by an extraordinary effort the mind of a person in the waking state might be impressed through a great distance. At the moment of death an almost superhuman mental effort is more likely and possible than at any other time, and it is peculiar that these visions or phantasms are largely confined to that moment. The natural explanation that rises to the ordinary mind is, of course, "Spirits." This supposition is strengthened by the fact that the visions sometimes appear immediately after death, as well as at the time and just before. This may be explained, however, on the theory that the ordinary mind is not easily impressed, and when unconsciously impressed some time may elapse before the impression becomes perceptible to the conscious mind, just as in passing by on a swift train, we may see something, but not realize that we have seen it till some time afterward, when we remember what we have unconsciously observed.
The British Society for Psychical Research has compiled two large volumes of carefully authenticated cases, which are published under the title, "Phantasms of the Living." We quote one or two interesting cases.
A Miss L. sends the following report:
January 4, 1886.
"On one of the last days of July, about the year 1860, at 3 o'clock p.m., I was sitting in the drawing room at the Rectory, reading, and my thoughts entirely occupied. I suddenly looked up and saw most distinctly a tall, thin old gentleman enter the room and walk to the table. He wore a peculiar, old-fashioned cloak which I recognized as belonging to my great-uncle. I then looked at him closely and remembered his features and appearance perfectly, although I had not seen him since I was quite a child. In his hand was a roll of paper, and he appeared to be very agitated. I was not in the least alarmed, as I firmly believed he was my uncle, not knowing then of his illness. I asked him if he wanted my father, who, as I said, was not at home. He then appeared still more agitated and distressed, but made no remark. He then left the room, passing through the open door. I noticed that, although it was a very wet day, there was no appearance of his having walked either in mud or rain. He had no umbrella, but a thick walking stick, which I recognized at once when my father brought it home after the funeral. On questioning the servants, they declared that no one had rung the bell; neither did they see any one enter. My father had a letter by the next post, asking him to go at once to my uncle, who was very ill in Leicestershire. He started at once, but on his arrival was told that his uncle had died at exactly 3 o'clock that afternoon, and had asked for him by name several times in an anxious and troubled manner, and a roll of paper was found under his pillow.
"I may mention that my father was his only nephew, and, having no son, he always led him to think that he would have a considerable legacy. Such, however, was not the case, and it is supposed that, as they were always good friends, he was influenced in his last illness, and probably, when too late, he wished to alter his will."
In answer to inquiries, Miss L. adds:
"I told my mother and an uncle at once about the strange appearance before the news arrived, and also my father directly he returned, all of whom are now dead. They advised me to dismiss it from my memory, but agreed that it could not be imagination, as I described my uncle so exactly, and they did not consider me to be either of a nervous or superstitious temperament.
"I am quite sure that I have stated the facts truthfully and correctly. The facts are as fresh in my memory as if they happened only yesterday, although so many years have passed away.
"I can assure you that nothing of the sort ever occurred before or since. Neither have I been subject to nervous or imaginative fancies. This strange apparition was in broad daylight, and as I was only reading the 'Illustrated Newspaper,' there was nothing to excite my imagination."
Hundreds of cases of this kind have been reported by persons whose truthfulness cannot be doubted, and every effort has been made to eliminate possibility of hallucination or accidental fancy. That things of this kind do occur may be said to be scientifically proven.
Such facts as these have stimulated experiment in the direction of testing thought transference. These experiments have usually been in the reading of numbers and names, and a certain measure of success has resulted. It may be added, however, that no claimants ever appeared for various banknotes deposited in strong-boxes, to be turned over to any one who would read the numbers. Just why success was never attained under these conditions it would be hard to say. The writer once made a slight observation in this direction. When matching pennies with his brother he found that if the other looked at the penny he could match it nearly every time. There may have been some unconscious expression of face that gave the clue. Persons in hypnotic trance are expert muscle readers. For instance, let such a person take your hand and then go through the alphabet, naming the letters. If you have any word in your mind, as the muscle reader comes to each letter the muscles will unconsciously contract. By giving attention h the muscles you can make them contract on the wrong letters and entirely mislead such a person.