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Title: Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death
Author: Myers, Frederick W. H.
Language: English
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                            _Cessas in vota procesque,
    Tros, ait, Aenea, cessas? Neque enim ante dehiscent
    Adtonitœ magna ora domus._--VIRGIL.

    "_Nay!" quoth the Sybil, "Trojan! wilt thou spare
    The impassioned effort and the conquering prayer?
    Nay! not save thus those doors shall open roll,--
    That Power within them burst upon the soul._"




_All rights reserved_

First Edition, December, 1906
Reprinted, March, 1907
October, 1909; April, 1913
August, 1917; April, 1918





EDITOR'S NOTE                              vii

PREFACE                                     ix

GLOSSARY                                  xiii


   I. INTRODUCTION                           1


 III. GENIUS                                55

  IV. SLEEP                                 93

   V. HYPNOTISM                            116

  VI. SENSORY AUTOMATISM                   168

 VII. PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD                212

VIII. MOTOR AUTOMATISM                     254


   X. EPILOGUE                             340

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER II                   356

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER IV                   364

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER V                    378

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VI                   384

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VII                  400

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER VIII                 430

APPENDICES TO CHAPTER IX                   441

INDEX                                      453


Nearly four years have elapsed since the first appearance of my Father's
book "Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death." It cost two
guineas and was published in two volumes, each of which was little under
700 pages in length.

The price and dimensions of such a work made the future issue of a more
popular edition not improbable. Indeed, my Father himself indicated
briefly the lines on which an abridgment could best be made. In
accordance with his indications I have endeavoured to keep as closely as
possible to the original scheme and construction of the book.

The task of abridging, however, must always be an ungrateful one. It is
inevitable that somewhere or other I should disappoint the reader who,
already acquainted with the unabridged edition, finds some admired
passage curtailed in favour of others that are to him of secondary
interest. This I cannot avoid. All I can hope to do is so to reconcile
the principles of _omission_ and _condensation_ as least to do violence
to the style while preserving as far as possible the completeness of the

One half of each volume in the unabridged edition consists of appendices
containing examples of the various kinds of phenomena discussed and
analyzed in the text. It has been possible to reduce considerably the
number of these cases without, I think, detracting much from the value
of the work for the purposes of the ordinary reader. Those cases,
however, which are included in this edition are quoted in full, an
abridged version having very little value.

It must be remembered that the author in his preface insists that "the
book is an exposition rather than a proof," and the remark naturally
applies with even greater force to this abridgment. Here the cases must
be regarded simply as illustrative of the different types of the
evidence upon which _in its entirety_ the argument of the book
ultimately rests.

The reader who may feel disposed to study this evidence will find
numerous references given in the foot-notes. The cases, however, to
which he is thus referred are scattered in many different publications,
some of which will probably be less easy of access than the unabridged
edition. In the many instances, therefore, where a case is quoted in
the latter its place therein is indicated by means of a number or a
number and letter in square brackets, thus [434 A]: these being in
accordance with the plan of arrangement observed in the larger book.

       *       *       *       *       *

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Miss Alice Johnson, who very
kindly read over the whole of the proof of this abridgment. I have
profited largely by her advice as well as from that given me by Miss
Jane Barlow, to whom my thanks are also due.

L. H. M.


     [This unfinished preface consists of several passages written at
     different times by the author, who died on January 17th, 1901. In
     1896 he arranged that the completion of his book should be in the
     hands of Dr. Richard Hodgson in case of his death before its
     publication. In the meantime he had entrusted the general
     supervision of the press work and much of the detail in marshalling
     the Appendices to Miss Alice Johnson (now Secretary of the Society
     for Psychical Research), who was therefore associated with Dr.
     Hodgson also in the editorial work needed for the completion of the
     book, and much the greater part of the labour involved fell to her

The book which is now at last given to the world is but a partial
presentation of an ever-growing subject which I have long hoped to
become able to treat in more adequate fashion. But as knowledge
increases life rolls by, and I have thought it well to bring out while I
can even this most imperfect text-book to a branch of research whose
novelty and strangeness call urgently for some provisional
systematisation, which, by suggesting fresh inquiries and producing
further accumulation of evidence, may tend as speedily as possible to
its own supersession. Few critics of this book can, I think, be more
fully conscious than its author of its defects and its lacunæ; but also
few critics, I think, have yet realised the importance of the new facts
which in some fashion the book does actually present.

Many of these facts have already appeared in _Phantasms of the Living_;
many more in the _Proceedings_ of the Society for Psychical Research;
but they are far indeed from having yet entered into the scientific
consciousness of the age. In future years the wonder, I think, will be
that their announcement was so largely left to a writer with leisure so
scanty, and with scientific equipment so incomplete.

Whatever value this book may possess is in great measure due to other
minds than its actual author's. Its very existence, in the first place,
probably depends upon the existence of the two beloved friends and
invaluable coadjutors to whose memory I dedicate it now.

The help derived from these departed colleagues, Henry Sidgwick and
Edmund Gurney, although of a kind and quantity absolutely essential to
the existence of this work, is not easy to define in all its fulness
under the changed circumstances of to-day. There was indeed much which
is measurable;--much of revision of previous work of my own, of
collaborative experiments, of original thought and discovery. Large
quotations purposely introduced from Edmund Gurney indicate, although
imperfectly, how closely interwoven our work on all these subjects
continued to be until his death. But the benefit which I drew from the
association went deeper still. The conditions under which this inquiry
was undertaken were such as to emphasise the need of some intimate moral
support. A recluse, perhaps, or an eccentric,--or a man living mainly
with his intellectual inferiors, may find it easy to work steadily and
confidently at a task which he knows that the bulk of educated men will
ignore or despise. But this is more difficult for a man who feels
manifold links with his kind, a man whose desire it is to live among
minds equal or superior to his own. It is hard, I say, for such a man to
disregard altogether the expressed or implied disapproval of those
groups of weighty personages to whom in other matters he is accustomed
to look up.

I need not say that the attitude of the scientific world--of all the
intellectual world--then was very much more marked than now. Even now I
write in full consciousness of the low value commonly attached to
inquiries of the kind which I pursue. Even now a book on such a subject
must still expect to evoke, not only legitimate criticism of many kinds,
but also much of that disgust and resentment which novelty and
heterodoxy naturally excite. But I have no wish to exalt into a deed of
daring an enterprise which to the next generation must seem the most
obvious thing in the world. _Nihil ausi nisi vana contemnere_ will
certainly be the highest compliment which what seemed to us our bold
independence of men will receive. Yet gratitude bids me to say that
however I might in the privacy of my own bosom have 'dared to contemn
things contemptible,' I should never have ventured my amateurish
acquirements on a publication of this scale were it not for that slow
growth of confidence which my respect for the judgment of these two
friends inspired. Their countenance and fellowship, which at once
transformed my own share in the work into a delight, has made its
presentation to the world appear as a duty.

My thanks are due also to another colleague who has passed away, my
brother, Dr. A. T. Myers, F.R.C.P., who helped me for many years in all
medical points arising in the work.

To the original furnishers of the evidence my obligations are great and
manifest, and to the Council of the S.P.R. I also owe thanks for
permission to use that evidence freely. But I must leave it to the book
itself to indicate in fuller detail how much is owing to how many men
and women:--how widely diffused are the work and the interest which have
found in this book their temporary outcome and exposition.

The book, indeed, is an exposition rather than a proof. I cannot
summarise within my modest limits the mass of evidence already gathered
together in the sixteen volumes of _Proceedings_ and the nine volumes of
the _Journal_ of the S.P.R., in _Phantasms of the Living_ and other
books hereafter referred to, and in MS. collections. The attempt indeed
would be quite out of place. This branch of knowledge, like others, must
be studied carefully and in detail by those who care to understand or to
advance it.

What I have tried to do here is to render that knowledge more
assimilable by co-ordinating it in a form as clear and intelligible as
my own limited skill and the nature of the facts themselves have
permitted. I have tried to give, in text and in Appendices, enough of
actual evidence to illustrate each step in my argument:--and I have
constantly referred the reader to places where further evidence will be

In minor matters I have aimed above all things at clearness and
readiness in reference. The division of the book into sections, with
Appendices bearing the same numbers, will, it is hoped, facilitate the
use both of syllabus and of references in general. I have even risked
the appearance of pedantry in adding a glossary. Where many unfamiliar
facts and ideas have to be dealt with, time is saved in the end if the
writer explains precisely what his terms mean.

       *       *       *       *       *



     NOTE.--The words and phrases here included fall under three main

     (1) Words common only in philosophical or medical use.

     (2) Words or phrases used in psychical research with some special

     (3) A few words, distinguished by an asterisk, for which the author
     is himself responsible.

_Aboulia._--Loss of power of willing.

_After-image._--A retinal picture of an object seen after removing the
gaze from the object.

_Agent._--The person who seems to initiate a telepathic transmission.

_Agraphia._--Lack of power to write words.

_Alexia_ or _Word-blindness_.--Lack of power to understand words

_Anæsthesia_, or the loss of sensation generally, must be distinguished
from _analgesia_, or the loss of the sense of pain alone.

_Analgesia._--Insensibility to pain.

_Aphasia._--Incapacity of coherent utterance, not caused by structural
impairment of the vocal organs, but by lesion of the cerebral centres
for speech.

_Aphonia._--Incapacity of uttering sounds.

_Automatic._--Used of mental images arising and movements made without
the initiation, and generally without the concurrence, of conscious
thought and will. _Sensory automatism_ will thus include visual and
auditory hallucinations. _Motor automatism_ will include messages
written and words uttered without intention (automatic script,
trance-utterance, etc.).

_Automnesia._--Spontaneous revival of memories of an earlier condition
of life.

_Autoscope._--Any instrument which reveals a subliminal motor impulse or
sensory impression, _e.g._, a divining rod, a tilting table, or a

_Bilocation._--The sensation of being in two different places at once,
namely where one's organism is, and in a place distant from it.

_Catalepsy._--"An intermittent neurosis producing inability to change
the position of a limb, while another person can place the muscles in a
state of flexion or contraction as he will." (Tuke's _Dictionary of
Psychological Medicine_.)

_Centre of Consciousness._--The place where a percipient imagines
himself to be. The point of view from which he seems to himself to be
surveying some phantasmal scene.

_Chromatism._--See _Secondary Sensations_.

_Clair-audience._--The sensation of hearing an internal (but in some way
veridical) voice.

_Clairvoyance_ (_Lucidité_).--The faculty or act of perceiving, as
though visually, with some coincidental truth, some distant scene.

_Cænesthesia._--That consensus or agreement of many organic sensations
which is a fundamental element in our conception of personal identity.

_Control._--This word is used of the intelligence which purports to
communicate messages which are written or uttered by the _automatist_,
_sensitive_ or _medium_.

_*Cosmopathic._--Open to the access of supernormal knowledge or emotion.

_Cryptomnesia._--Submerged or subliminal memory of events forgotten by
the supraliminal self.

_*Dextro-cerebral_ (opposed to _*Sinistro-cerebral_) of left-handed
persons as employing preferentially the _right_ hemisphere of the brain.

_Diathesis._--Habit, capacity, constitutional disposition or tendency.

_Dimorphism._--In crystals the property of assuming two incompatible
forms: in plants and animals, difference of form between members of the
same species. Used of a condition of alternating personalities, in which
memory, character, etc., present themselves at different times in
different forms in the same person.

_Discarnate._--Disembodied, opposed to _incarnate_.

_Disintegration of Personality._--Used of any condition where the sense
of personality is not unitary and continuous: especially when secondary
and transitory personalities intervene.

_Dynamogeny._--The increase of nervous energy by appropriate stimuli,
often opposed to _inhibition_.

_Ecmnesia._--Loss of memory of a period of time.

_*Entencephalic._--On the analogy of _entoptic_: of sensations, etc.,
which have their origin within the brain, not in the external world.

_Eugenics._--The science of improving the race.

_Falsidical._--Of hallucinations _delusive_, _i.e._, when there is
nothing objective to which they correspond. The correlative term to

_Glossolaly._--"Speaking with tongues," _i.e._, automatic utterance of
words not belonging to any real language.

_Hallucination._--Any sensory perception which has no objective
counterpart within the field of vision, hearing, etc., is termed a

_Heteræsthesia._--A form of sensibility decidedly different from any of
those which can be referred to the action of the known senses.

_Hyperboulia._--Increased power over the organism,--resembling the power
which we call _will_ when it is exercised over the voluntary
muscles,--which is seen in the bodily changes effected by

_Hyperæsthesia._--Unusual acuteness of the senses.

_Hypermnesia._--"Over-activity of the memory; a condition in which past
acts, feelings, or ideas are brought vividly to the mind, which, in its
normal condition, has wholly lost the remembrance of them." (Tuke's

_*Hyperpromethia._--Supernormal power of foresight.

_Hypnagogic._--_Illusions hypnagogiques_ (Maury) are the vivid illusions
of sight or sound--"faces in the dark," etc.--which sometimes accompany
the oncoming of sleep. To similar illusions accompanying the _departure_
of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments into waking
life, I have given the name _*hypnopompic_.

_Hypnogenous zones._--Regions by pressure on which hypnosis is induced
in some hysterical persons.

_*Hypnopompic._--See _Hypnagogic_.

_Hysteria._--"A disordered condition of the nervous system, the
anatomical seat and nature of which are unknown to medical science, but
of which the symptoms consist in well-marked and very varied
disturbances of nerve-function" (_Ency. Brit._). Hysterical affections
are not dependent on any discoverable lesion.

_Hysterogenous zones._--Points or tracts on the skin of a hysterical
person, pressure on which will induce a hysterical attack.

_Ideational._--Used of impressions which display some distinct notion,
but not of sensory nature.

_Induced._--Of hallucinations, etc., intentionally produced.

_Levitation._--A raising of objects from the ground by supposed
supernormal means; especially of living persons.

_Medium._--A person through whom communication is deemed to be carried
on between living men and spirits of the departed. It is often better
replaced by _automatist_ or _sensitive_.

_Message._--Used for any communication, not necessarily verbal, from one
to another stratum of the automatist's personality, or from an external
intelligence to the automatist's mind.

_Metallæsthesia._--A form of sensibility alleged to exist which enables
some hypnotised or hysterical subjects to discriminate between the
contacts of various metals by sensations not derived from their ordinary
properties of weight, etc.

_Metastasis._--Change of the seat of a bodily function from one place
(_e.g._, brain-centre) to another.

_*Metetherial._--That which appears to lie after or beyond the ether:
the metetherial environment denotes the spiritual or transcendental
world in which the soul may be supposed to exist.

_*Methectic._--Of communications between one stratum of a man's
intelligence and another.

_Mirror-writing_ (_écriture renversée, Spiegel-schrift_).--Writing so
inverted, or, more exactly, _perverted_, as to resemble writing
reflected in a mirror.

_Mnemonic chain._--A continuous series of memories, especially when the
continuity persists after an interruption.

_Motor._--Used of an impulse to action not carrying with it any definite
idea or sensory impression.

_Negative hallucination_ or _systematised anæthesia_.--Signifies the
condition of an entranced subject who, as the result of a suggestion, is
unable to perceive some object or to hear some sound, etc.

_Number forms._--See _Secondary sensations_.

_Objectify._--To externalize a phantom as if it were a material object;
to see it as a part of the waking world.

_*Panmnesia._--A potential recollection of all impressions.

_Paræsthesia._--Erroneous or morbid sensation.

_Paramnesia._--All forms of erroneous memory.

_Paraphasia._--The erroneous and involuntary use of one word for

_Percipient._--The correlative term to Agent; the person on whose mind
the telepathic impact falls; or, more generally, the person who
perceives any motor or sensory impression.

_Phantasm and Phantom._--Phantasm and phantom are, of course, mere
variants of the same word; but since phantom has become generally
restricted to _visual_ hallucinations, it is convenient to take phantasm
to cover a wider range, and to signify any hallucinatory sensory
impression, whatever sense--whether sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste,
or diffused sensibility--may happen to be affected.

_Phantasmogenetic centre._--A point in space apparently modified by a
spirit in such a way that persons present near it perceive a phantasm.

_Phobies._--Irrational restricting or disabling preoccupations or fears;
_e.g._, _agoraphobia_, fear of open spaces.

_Photism._--See _Secondary sensations_.

_Point de repère._--Guiding mark. Used of some (generally inconspicuous)
real object which a hallucinated subject sometimes sees as the nucleus
of his hallucination, and the movements of which suggest corresponding
movements of the hallucinatory object.

_Polyzoism._--The property, in a complex organism, of being composed of
minor and quasi-independent organisms. This is sometimes called
"colonial constitution," from animal _colonies_.

_Possession._--A developed form of motor automatism, in which the
automatist's own personality disappears for a time, while there appears
to be a more or less complete substitution of personality, writing or
speech being given by another spirit through the entranced organism.

_Post-hypnotic._--Used of a suggestion given during the hypnotic trance,
but intended to operate after that trance has ceased.

_Precognition._--Knowledge of impending events supernormally acquired.

_Premonition._--A supernormal indication of any kind of event still in
the future.

_*Preversion._--A tendency to characteristics assumed to lie at a
further point of the evolutionary progress of a species than has yet
been reached; opposed to reversion.

_*Promnesia._--The paradoxical sensation of recollecting a scene which
is only now occurring for the first time; the sense of the _déjà vu_.

_*Psychorrhagy._--A special idiosyncrasy which tends to make the
phantasm of a person easily perceptible; the breaking loose of a
psychical element, definable mainly by its power of producing a
phantasm, perceptible by one or more persons, in some portion of space.

_*Psychorrhagic diathesis._--A habit or capacity of detaching some
psychical element, involuntarily and without purpose, in such a manner
as to produce a phantasm.

_Psycho-therapeutics._--"Treatment of disease by the influence of the
mind on the body." (Tuke's _Dict._)

_Reciprocal._--Used of cases where there is both agency and percipience
at each end of the telepathic chain, so that A perceives P, and P
perceives A also.

_*Retrocognition._--Knowledge of the past, supernormally acquired.

_Secondary personality._--It sometimes happens, as the result of shock,
disease, or unknown causes, that an individual experiences an alteration
of memory and character, amounting to a change of personality, which
generally seems to have come on during sleep. The new personality is in
that case termed _secondary_, in distinction to the original, or
_primary_, personality.

_Secondary sensations_ (_Secunddrempfindungen_, _audition colorée_,
_sound-seeing_, _synæsthesia_, _etc._).--With some persons every
sensation of one type is accompanied by a sensation of another type; as
for instance, a special sound may be accompanied by a special sensation
of colour or light (_chromatisms_ or _photisms_). This phenomenon is
analogous to that of _number-forms_,--a kind of diagrammatic mental
picture which accompanies the conception of a progression of numbers.
See Galton's _Inquiries into Human Faculty_.

_Shell-hearing._--The induction of hallucinatory voices, etc., by
listening to a shell. Analogous to crystal-gazing.

_Stigmatisation._--The production of blisters or other cutaneous changes
on the hands, feet, or elsewhere, by suggestion or self-suggestion.

_Subliminal._--Of thoughts, feelings, etc., lying beneath the ordinary
_threshold_ (_limen_) of consciousness, as opposed to _supraliminal_,
lying _above_ the threshold.

_Suggestion._--The process of effectively impressing upon the subliminal
intelligence the wishes of some other person. _Self-suggestion_ means a
suggestion conveyed by the subject himself from one stratum of his
personality to another, without external intervention.

_*Supernormal._--Of a faculty or phenomenon which transcends ordinary
experience. Used in preference to the word _supernatural_, as not
assuming that there is anything outside nature or any arbitrary
interference with natural law.

_Supraliminal._--See _Subliminal_.

_Synæsthesia._--See _Secondary Sensations_.

_Synergy._--A number of actions correlated together, or combined into a

_Telekinesis._--Used of alleged supernormal movements of objects, not
due to any known force.

_*Telepathy._--The communication of impressions of any kind from one
mind to another, independently of the recognised channels of sense.

_*Telæsthesia._--Any direct sensation or perception of objects or
conditions independently of the recognised channels of sense, and also
under such circumstances that no known mind external to the percipient's
can be suggested as the source of the knowledge thus gained.

_*Telergy._--The force exercised by the mind of an agent in impressing a
percipient,--involving a direct influence of the extraneous spirit on
the brain or organism of the percipient.

_Veridical._--Of hallucinations, when they correspond to real events
happening elsewhere and unknown to the percipient.



    Maior agit deus, atque opera la maiora remittit.


In the long story of man's endeavours to understand his own environment
and to govern his own fates, there is one gap or omission so singular
that, however we may afterwards contrive to explain the fact, its simple
statement has the air of a paradox. Yet it is strictly true to say that
man has never yet applied to the problems which most profoundly concern
him those methods of inquiry which in attacking all other problems he
has found the most efficacious.

The question for man most momentous of all is whether or no he has an
immortal soul; or--to avoid the word _immortal_, which belongs to the
realm of infinities--whether or no his personality involves any element
which can survive bodily death. In this direction have always lain the
gravest fears, the farthest-reaching hopes, which could either oppress
or stimulate mortal minds.

On the other hand, the method which our race has found most effective in
acquiring knowledge is by this time familiar to all men. It is the
method of modern Science--that process which consists in an
interrogation of Nature entirely dispassionate, patient, systematic;
such careful experiment and cumulative record as can often elicit from
her slightest indications her deepest truths. That method is now
dominant throughout the civilised world; and although in many directions
experiments may be difficult and dubious, facts rare and elusive,
Science works slowly on and bides her time,--refusing to fall back upon
tradition or to launch into speculation, merely because strait is the
gate which leads to valid discovery, indisputable truth.

I say, then, that this method has never yet been applied to the
all-important problem of the existence, the powers, the destiny of the
human soul.

Nor is this strange omission due to any general belief that the problem
is in its nature incapable of solution by any observation whatever which
mankind could make. That resolutely agnostic view--I may almost say that
scientific superstition--"_ignoramus et ignorabimus_"--is no doubt held
at the present date by many learned minds. But it has never been the
creed, nor is it now the creed, of the human race generally. In most
civilised countries there has been for nearly two thousand years a
distinct belief that survival has actually been proved by certain
phenomena observed at a given date in Palestine. And beyond the
Christian pale--whether through reason, instinct, or superstition--it
has ever been commonly held that ghostly phenomena of one kind or
another exist to testify to a life beyond the life we know.

But, nevertheless, neither those who believe on vague grounds nor those
who believe on definite grounds that the question might possibly be
solved, or has actually been solved, by human observation of objective
facts, have hitherto made any serious attempt to connect and correlate
that belief with the general scheme of belief for which Science already
vouches. They have not sought for fresh corroborative instances, for
analogies, for explanations; rather they have kept their convictions on
these fundamental matters in a separate and sealed compartment of their
minds, a compartment consecrated to religion or to superstition, but not
to observation or to experiment.

It is my object in the present work--as it has from the first been the
object of the Society for Psychical Research, on whose behalf most of
the evidence here set forth has been collected,--to do what can be done
to break down that artificial wall of demarcation which has thus far
excluded from scientific treatment precisely the problems which stand in
most need of all the aids to discovery which such treatment can afford.

Yet let me first explain that by the word "scientific" I signify an
authority to which I submit myself--not a standard which I claim to
attain. Any science of which I can here speak as possible must be a
_nascent_ science--not such as one of those vast systems of connected
knowledge which thousands of experts now steadily push forward in
laboratories in every land--but such as each one of those great sciences
was in its dim and poor beginning, when a few monks groped among the
properties of "the noble metals," or a few Chaldean shepherds outwatched
the setting stars.

What I am able to insist upon is the mere Socratic rudiment of these
organisms of exact thought--the first axiomatic prerequisite of any
valid progress. My one contention is that in the discussion of the
deeper problems of man's nature and destiny there ought to be exactly
the same openness of mind, exactly the same diligence in the search for
objective evidence of any kind, exactly the same critical analysis of
results, as is habitually shown, for instance, in the discussion of the
nature and destiny of the planet upon which man now moves.

Obvious truism although this statement may at first seem, it will
presently be found, I think, that those who subscribe to it are in fact
committing themselves to inquiries of a wider and stranger type than any
to which they are accustomed;--are stepping outside certain narrow
limits within which, by ancient convention, disputants on either side of
these questions are commonly confined.

A brief recall to memory of certain familiar historical facts will serve
to make my meaning clearer. Let us consider how it has come about that,
whereas the problem of man's survival of death is by most persons
regarded as a problem in its nature soluble by sufficient evidence, and
whereas to many persons the traditional evidence commonly adduced
appears insufficient,--nevertheless no serious effort has been made on
either side to discover whether other and more recent evidence can or
cannot be brought forward.

A certain broad answer to this inquiry, although it cannot be said to be
at all points familiar, is not in reality far to seek. It is an answer
which would seem strange indeed to some visitant from a planet peopled
wholly by scientific minds. Yet among a race like our own, concerned
first and primarily to live and work with thoughts undistracted from
immediate needs, the answer is natural enough. For the fact simply is
that the intimate importance of this central problem has barred the way
to its methodical, its scientific solution.

There are some beliefs for which mankind cannot afford to wait. "What
must I do to be saved?" is a question quite otherwise urgent than the
cause of the tides or the meaning of the marks on the moon. Men must
settle roughly somehow what it is that from the Unseen World they have
reason to fear or to hope. Beliefs grow up in direct response to this
need of belief; in order to support themselves they claim unique
sanction; and thus along with these specific beliefs grows also the
general habit of regarding matters that concern that Unseen World as
somehow tabooed or segregated from ordinary observation or inquiry.

Let us pass from generalities to the actual history of Western
civilisation. In an age when scattered ritual, local faiths--tribal
solutions of cosmic problems--were destroying each other by mere contact
and fusion, an event occurred which in the brief record of man's still
incipient civilisation may be regarded as unique. A life was lived in
which the loftiest response which man's need of moral guidance had ever
received was corroborated by phenomena which have been widely regarded
as convincingly miraculous, and which are said to have culminated in a
Resurrection from the dead. To those phenomena or to that Resurrection
it would at this point be illegitimate for me to refer in defence of my
argument. I have appealed to Science, and to Science I must go;--in the
sense that it would be unfair for me to claim support from that which
Science in her strictness can set aside as the tradition of a
pre-scientific age. Yet this one great tradition, as we know, has, as a
fact, won the adhesion and reverence of the great majority of European
minds. The complex results which followed from this triumph of
Christianity have been discussed by many historians. But one result
which here appears to us in a new light was this--that the Christian
religion, the Christian Church, became for Europe the accredited
representative and guardian of all phenomena bearing upon the World
Unseen. So long as Christianity stood dominant, all phenomena which
seemed to transcend experience were absorbed in her realm--were
accounted as minor indications of the activity of her angels or of her
fiends. And when Christianity was seriously attacked, these minor
manifestations passed unconsidered. The priests thought it safest to
defend their own traditions, their own intuitions, without going afield
in search of independent evidence of a spiritual world. Their assailants
kept their powder and shot for the orthodox ramparts, ignoring any
isolated strongholds which formed no part of the main line of defence.

Meantime, indeed, the laws of Nature held their wonted way. As ever,
that which the years had once brought they brought again; and every here
and there some marvel, liker to the old stories than any one cared to
assert, cropped up between superstition on the one hand and contemptuous
indifference on the other. Witchcraft, Swedenborgianism, Mesmerism,
Spiritism--these especially, amid many minor phenomena, stood out in
turn as precursory of the inevitable wider inquiry. A very few words on
each of these four movements may suffice here to show their connection
with my present theme.

_Witchcraft._--The lesson which witchcraft teaches with regard to the
validity of human testimony is the more remarkable because it was so
long and so completely misunderstood. The belief in witches long
passed--as well it might--as the culminant example of human ignorance
and folly; and in so comparatively recent a book as Mr. Lecky's "History
of Rationalism," the sudden decline of this popular conviction, without
argument or disapproval, is used to illustrate the irresistible melting
away of error and falsity in the "intellectual climate" of a wiser age.
Since about 1880, however, when French experiments especially had
afforded conspicuous examples of what a hysterical woman could come to
believe under suggestion from others or from herself, it has begun to be
felt that the phenomena of witchcraft were very much what the phenomena
of the Salpêtrière would seem to be to the patients themselves, if left
alone in the hospital without a medical staff. And in _Phantasms of the
Living_, Edmund Gurney, after subjecting the literature of witchcraft to
a more careful analysis than any one till then had thought it worth
while to apply, was able to show that practically all recorded
first-hand depositions (made apart from torture) in the long story of
witchcraft may quite possibly have been _true_, to the best belief of
the deponents; true, that is to say, as representing the conviction of
sane (though often hysterical) persons, who merely made the almost
inevitable mistake of confusing self-suggested hallucinations with
waking fact. Nay, even the insensible spots on the witches were no doubt
really anæsthetic--involved a first discovery of a now familiar clinical
symptom--the _zones analgésiques_ of the patients of Pitres or Charcot.
Witchcraft, in fact, was a gigantic, a cruel psychological and
pathological experiment conducted by inquisitors upon hysteria; but it
was conducted in the dark, and when the barbarous explanation dropped
out of credence much of possible discovery was submerged as well.

_Mesmer._--Again, the latent possibilities of "suggestion,"--though not
yet under that name, and mingled with who knows what else?--broke forth
into a blaze in the movement headed by Mesmer;--at once discoverer and
charlatan. Again the age was unripe, and scientific opposition, although
not so formidable as the religious opposition which had sent witches to
the stake, was yet strong enough to check for the second time the
struggling science. Hardly till our own generation--hardly even now--has
a third effort found better acceptance, and hypnotism and
psycho-therapeutics, in which every well-attested fact of witchcraft or
of mesmerism finds, if not its explanation, at least its parallel, are
establishing themselves as a recognised and advancing method of
relieving human ills.

This brief sketch of the development as it were by successive impulses,
under strong disbelief and discouragement, of a group of mental
tendencies, faculties, or sensibilities now recognised as truly existing
and as often salutary, is closely paralleled by the development, under
similar difficulties, of another group of faculties or sensibilities,
whose existence is still disputed, but which if firmly established may
prove to be of even greater moment for mankind.

At no time known to us, whether before or since the Christian era, has
the series of _trance-manifestations_,--of supposed communications with
a supernal world,--entirely ceased. Sometimes, as in the days of St.
Theresa, such trance or ecstasy has been, one may say, the central or
culminant fact in the Christian world. Of these experiences I must not
here treat. The evidence for them is largely of a subjective type, and
they may belong more fitly to some future discussion as to the amount of
confidence due to the interpretation given by entranced persons to their
own phenomena.

But in the midst of this long series, and in full analogy to many minor
cases, occurs the exceptional trance-history of Emmanuel Swedenborg. In
this case, as is well known, there appears to have been excellent
objective evidence both of clairvoyance or telæsthesia[1] and of
communication with departed persons;--and we can only regret that the
philosopher Kant, who satisfied himself of some part of Swedenborg's
supernormal[2] gift, did not press further an inquiry surpassed in
importance by none of those upon which his master-mind was engaged.
Apart, however, from these objective evidences, the mere subject-matter
of Swedenborg's trance-revelations was enough to claim respectful
attention. I cannot here discuss the strange mixture which they present
of slavish literalism with exalted speculation, of pedantic orthodoxy
with physical and moral insight far beyond the level of that age. It is
enough to say here that even as Socrates called down philosophy from
heaven to earth, so in a somewhat different sense it was Swedenborg who
called up philosophy again from earth to heaven;--who originated the
notion of science in the spiritual world, as earnestly, though not so
persuasively, as Socrates originated the idea of science in this world
which we seem to know. It was to Swedenborg first that that unseen world
appeared before all things as a realm of law; a region not of mere
emotional vagueness or stagnancy of adoration, but of definite progress
according to definite relations of cause and effect, resulting from
structural laws of spiritual existence and intercourse which we may in
time learn partially to apprehend. For my own part I regard
Swedenborg,--not, assuredly, as an inspired teacher, nor even as a
trustworthy interpreter of his own experiences,--but yet as a true and
early precursor of that great inquiry which it is our present object to

The next pioneer--fortunately still amongst us--whom I must mention even
in this summary notice, is the celebrated physicist and chemist, Sir W.
Crookes. Just as Swedenborg was the first leading man of science who
distinctly conceived of the spiritual world as a world of law, so was
Sir W. Crookes the first leading man of science who seriously
endeavoured to test the alleged mutual influence and interpenetration of
the spiritual world and our own by experiments of scientific
precision.[3] Beyond the establishment of certain supernormal facts
Crookes declined to go. But a large group of persons have founded upon
these and similar facts a scheme of belief known as Modern Spiritualism,
or Spiritism. Later chapters in this book will show how much I owe to
certain observations made by members of this group--how often my own
conclusions concur with conclusions at which they have previously
arrived. And yet this work of mine is in large measure a critical attack
upon the main Spiritist position, as held, say, by Mr. A. R. Wallace,
its most eminent living supporter,--the belief, namely, that all or
almost all supernormal phenomena are due to the action of spirits of the
dead. By far the larger proportion, as I hold, are due to the action of
the still embodied spirit of the agent or percipient himself. Apart from
speculative differences, moreover, I altogether dissent from the
conversion into a sectarian creed of what I hold should be a branch of
scientific inquiry, growing naturally out of our existing knowledge. It
is, I believe, largely to this temper of uncritical acceptance,
degenerating often into blind credulity, that we must refer the lack of
progress in Spiritualistic literature, and the encouragement which has
often been bestowed upon manifest fraud,--so often, indeed, as to create
among scientific men a strong indisposition to the study of phenomena
recorded or advocated in a tone so alien from Science.

I know not how much of originality or importance may be attributed by
subsequent students of the subject to the step next in order in this
series of approximations. To those immediately concerned, the feeling of
a new departure was inevitably given by the very smallness of the
support which they for a long time received, and by the difficulty
which they found in making their point of view intelligible to the
scientific, to the religious, or even to the spiritualistic world. In
about 1873--at the crest, as one may say, of perhaps the highest wave of
materialism which has ever swept over these shores--it became the
conviction of a small group of Cambridge friends that the deep questions
thus at issue must be fought out in a way more thorough than the
champions either of religion or of materialism had yet suggested. Our
attitudes of mind were in some ways different; but to myself, at least,
it seemed that no adequate attempt had yet been made even to determine
whether anything could be learnt as to an unseen world or no; for that
if anything were knowable about such a world in such fashion that
Science could adopt and maintain that knowledge, it must be discovered
by no analysis of tradition, and by no manipulation of metaphysics, but
simply by experiment and observation;--simply by the application to
phenomena within us and around us of precisely the same methods of
deliberate, dispassionate, exact inquiry which have built up our actual
knowledge of the world which we can touch and see. I can hardly even now
guess to how many of my readers this will seem a truism, and to how many
a paradox. Truism or paradox, such a thought suggested a kind of effort,
which, so far as we could discover, had never yet been made. For what
seemed needful was an inquiry of quite other scope than the mere
analysis of historical documents, or of the _origines_ of any alleged
revelation in the past. It must be an inquiry resting primarily, as all
scientific inquiries in the stricter sense now must rest, upon objective
facts actually observable, upon experiments which we can repeat to-day,
and which we may hope to carry further to-morrow. It must be an inquiry
based, to use an old term, on the uniformitarian hypothesis; on the
presumption, that is to say, that _if a spiritual world exists, and if
that world has at any epoch been manifest or even discoverable, then it
ought to be manifest or discoverable now_.

It was from this side, and from these general considerations, that the
group with which I have worked approached the subject. Our methods, our
canons, were all to make. In those early days we were more devoid of
precedents, of guidance, even of criticism that went beyond mere
expressions of contempt, than is now readily conceived. Seeking evidence
as best we could--collecting round us a small group of persons willing
to help in that quest for residual phenomena in the nature and
experience of man--we were at last fortunate enough to discover a
convergence of experimental and of spontaneous evidence upon one
definite and important point. We were led to believe that there was
truth in a thesis which at least since Swedenborg and the early
mesmerists had been repeatedly, but cursorily and ineffectually,
presented to mankind--the thesis that a communication can take place
from mind to mind without the agency of the recognised organs of sense.
We found that this agency, discernible even on trivial occasions by
suitable experiment, seemed to connect itself with an agency more
intense, or at any rate more recognisable, which operated at moments of
crisis or at the hour of death. Edmund Gurney--the invaluable
collaborator and friend whose loss in 1888 was our heaviest
discouragement--set forth this evidence in a large work, _Phantasms of
the Living_, in whose preparation Mr. Podmore and I took a minor part.
The fifteen years which have elapsed since the publication of this book
in 1886 have added to the evidence on which Gurney relied, and have
shown (I venture to say) the general soundness of the canons of evidence
and the lines of argument which it was his task to shape and to

Of fundamental importance, indeed, is this doctrine of telepathy--the
first law, may one not say?--laid open to man's discovery, which, in my
view at least, while operating in the material, is itself a law of the
spiritual or _metetherial_ world. In the course of this work it will be
my task to show in many connections how far-reaching are the
implications of this direct and supersensory communion of mind with
mind. Among those implications none can be more momentous than the light
thrown by this discovery upon man's intimate nature and possible
survival of death.

We gradually discovered that the accounts of apparitions at the moment
of death--testifying to a supersensory communication between the dying
man and the friend who sees him--led on without perceptible break to
apparitions occurring after the death of the person seen, but while that
death was yet unknown to the percipient, and thus apparently due, not to
mere brooding memory, but to a continued action of that departed spirit.
The task next incumbent on us therefore seemed plainly to be the
collection and analysis of evidence of this and other types, pointing
directly to the survival of man's spirit. But after pursuing this task
for some years I felt that in reality the step from the action of
embodied to the action of disembodied spirits would still seem too
sudden if taken in this direct way. So far, indeed, as the evidence from
apparitions went, the series seemed continuous from phantasms of the
living to phantasms of the dead. But the whole mass of evidence _primâ
facie_ pointing to man's survival was of a much more complex kind. It
consisted largely, for example, in written or spoken utterances, coming
through the hand or voice of living men, but claiming to proceed from a
disembodied source. To these utterances, as a whole, no satisfactory
criterion had ever been applied.

In considering cases of this kind, then, it became gradually plain to me
that before we could safely mark off any group of manifestations as
definitely implying an influence from beyond the grave, there was need
of a more searching review of the capacities of man's incarnate
personality than psychologists unfamiliar with this new evidence had
thought it worth their while to undertake.

It was only slowly, and as it were of necessity, that I embarked on a
task which needed for its proper accomplishment a knowledge and training
far beyond what I could claim. The very inadequate sketch which has
resulted from my efforts is even in its author's view no more than
preparatory and precursive to the fuller and sounder treatment of the
same subject which I doubt not that the new century will receive from
more competent hands. The truest success of this book will lie in its
rapid supersession by a better. For this will show that at least I have
not erred in supposing that a serious treatise on these topics is
nothing else than the inevitable complement and conclusion of the slow
process by which man has brought under the domain of science every group
of attainable phenomena in turn--every group save this.

Let me then without further preamble embark upon that somewhat detailed
survey of human faculty, as manifested during various phases of human
personality, which is needful in order to throw fresh light on these
unfamiliar themes. My discussion, I may say at once, will avoid
metaphysics as carefully as it will avoid theology. I avoid theology, as
already explained, because I consider that in arguments founded upon
experiment and observation I have no right to appeal for support to
traditional or subjective considerations, however important. For
somewhat similar reasons I do not desire to introduce the idea of
personality with any historical _résumé_ of the philosophical opinions
which have been held by various thinkers in the past, nor myself to
speculate on matters lying beyond the possible field of objective proof.
I shall merely for the sake of clearness begin by the briefest possible
statement of two views of human personality which cannot be ignored,
namely, the old-fashioned or common-sense view thereof, which is still
held by the mass of mankind, and the newer view of experimental
psychology, bringing out that composite or "colonial" character which on
a close examination every personality of men or animals is seen to

The following passage, taken from a work once of much note, Reid's
"Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man," expresses the simple _primâ
facie_ view with care and precision, yet with no marked impress of any
one philosophical school:

     The conviction which every man has of his identity, as far back as
     his memory reaches, needs no aid of philosophy to strengthen it;
     and no philosophy can weaken it without first producing some degree
     of insanity.... My personal identity, therefore, implies the
     continued existence of that indivisible thing which I call myself.
     Whatever this self may be, it is something which thinks, and
     deliberates, and resolves, and acts, and suffers. I am not thought,
     I am not action, I am not feeling; I am something that thinks, and
     acts, and suffers. My thoughts and actions and feelings change
     every moment; they have no continued, but a successive existence;
     but that _self_ or _I_, to which they belong, is permanent, and has
     the same relation to all succeeding thoughts, actions, and feelings
     which I call mine.... The identity of a person is a perfect
     identity; wherever it is real it admits of no degrees; and it is
     impossible that a person should be in part the same and in part
     different, because a person is a _monad_, and is not divisible into
     parts. Identity, when applied to persons, has no ambiguity, and
     admits not of degrees, or of more and less. It is the foundation of
     all rights and obligations, and of all accountableness; and the
     notion of it is fixed and precise.

Contrast with this the passage with which M. Ribot concludes his essay
on "Les Maladies de la Personnalité."

     It is the organism, with the brain, its supreme representative,
     which constitutes the real personality; comprising in itself the
     remains of all that we have been and the possibilities of all that
     we shall be. The whole individual character is there inscribed,
     with its active and passive aptitudes, its sympathies and
     antipathies, its genius, its talent or its stupidity, its virtues
     and its vices, its torpor or its activity. The part thereof which
     emerges into consciousness is little compared with what remains
     buried, but operative nevertheless. The conscious personality is
     never more than a small fraction of the psychical personality. The
     unity of the Ego is not therefore the unity of a single entity
     diffusing itself among multiple phenomena; it is the co-ordination
     of a certain number of states perpetually renascent, and having for
     their sole common basis the vague feeling of our body. This unity
     does not diffuse itself downwards, but is aggregated by ascent from
     below; it is not an initial but a terminal point.

     Does then this perfect unity really exist? In the rigorous, the
     mathematical sense, assuredly it does _not_. In a relative sense it
     is met with,--rarely and for a moment. When a good marksman takes
     aim, or a skilful surgeon operates, his whole body and mind
     converge towards a single act. But note the result; under those
     conditions the sentiment of real personality disappears, for the
     conscious individual is simplified into a single idea, and the
     personal sentiment is excluded by the complete unification of
     consciousness. We thus return by another route to the same
     conclusion; _the Self is a co-ordination_. It oscillates between
     two extremes at each of which it ceases to exist;--absolute unity
     and absolute incoherence.

     The last word of all this is that since the consensus of
     consciousness is subordinated to the consensus of the organism, the
     problem of the unity of the Ego is in its ultimate form a problem
     of Biology. Let Biology explain, if it can, the genesis of
     organisms and the solidarity of their constituent parts. The
     psychological explanation must needs follow on the same track.

Here, then, we have two clear and definite views,--supported, the one by
our inmost consciousness, the other by unanswerable observation and
inference,--yet apparently incompatible the one with the other. And in
fact by most writers they have been felt and acknowledged to be even
hopelessly incompatible. The supporters of the view that "The Self is a
co-ordination,"--and this, I need hardly say, is now the view prevalent
among experimental psychologists,--have frankly given up any notion of
an underlying unity,--of a life independent of the organism,--in a word,
of a human soul. The supporters of the unity of the Ego, on the other
hand, if they have not been able to be equally explicit in _denying_ the
opposite view, have made up for this by the thorough-going way in which
they have _ignored_ it. I know of no source from which valid help has
been offered towards the reconcilement of the two opposing systems in a
profounder synthesis. If I believe--as I do believe--that in the present
work some help in this direction is actually given, this certainly does
not mean that I suppose myself capable of stitching the threadbare
metaphysical arguments into a more stable fabric. It simply means that
certain fresh evidence can now be adduced, which has the effect of
showing the case on each side in a novel light;--nay, even of closing
the immediate controversy by a judgment more decisively in favour of
_both_ parties than either could have expected. On the one side, and in
favour of the co-ordinators,--all their analysis of the Self into its
constituent elements, all that they urge of positive observation, of
objective experiment, must--as I shall maintain on the strength of the
new facts which I shall adduce--be unreservedly conceded. Let them push
their analysis as far as they like,--let them get down, if they can, to
those ultimate infinitesimal psychical elements from which is upbuilt
the complex, the composite, the "colonial" structure and constitution of
man. All this may well be valid and important work. It is only on their
_negative_ side that the conclusions of this school need a complete
overhauling. Deeper, bolder inquiry along their own line shows that
they have erred when they asserted that analysis showed no trace of
faculty beyond such as the life of earth--as they conceive it--could
foster, or the environment of earth employ. For in reality analysis
shows traces of faculty which this material or planetary life could not
have called into being, and whose exercise even here and now involves
and necessitates the existence of a spiritual world.

On the other side, and in favour of the partisans of the unity of the
Ego, the effect of the new evidence is to raise their claim to a far
higher ground, and to substantiate it for the first time with the
strongest presumptive proof which can be imagined for it;--a proof,
namely, that the Ego can and does survive--not only the minor
disintegrations which affect it during earth-life--but the crowning
disintegration of bodily death. In view of this unhoped-for ratification
of their highest dream, they may be more than content to surrender as
untenable the far narrower conception of the unitary Self which was all
that "common-sense philosophies" had ventured to claim. The "conscious
Self" of each of us, as we call it,--the empirical, the supraliminal
Self, as I should prefer to say,--does not comprise the whole of the
consciousness or of the faculty within us. There exists a more
comprehensive consciousness, a profounder faculty, which for the most
part remains potential only so far as regards the life of earth, but
from which the consciousness and the faculty of earth-life are mere
selections, and which reasserts itself in its plenitude after the
liberating change of death.

Towards this conclusion, which assumed for me something like its present
shape some fourteen years since,[5] a long series of tentative
speculations, based on gradually accruing evidence, has slowly conducted
me. The conception is one which has hitherto been regarded as purely
mystical; and if I endeavour to plant it upon a scientific basis I
certainly shall not succeed in stating it in its final terms or in
supporting it with the best arguments which longer experience will
suggest. Its validity, indeed, will be impressed--if at all--upon the
reader only by the successive study of the various kinds of evidence to
which this book will refer him.

Yet so far as the initial possibility or plausibility of such a widened
conception of human consciousness is concerned;--and this is all which
can be dealt with at this moment of its first introduction;--I have not
seen in such criticism as has hitherto been bestowed upon my theory any
very weighty demurrer.[6]

"Normally at least," says one critic, summarising in a few words the
ordinary view, "all the consciousness we have at any moment corresponds
to all the activity which is going on at that moment in the brain. There
is one unitary conscious state accompanying all the simultaneous brain
excitations together, and each single part of the brain-process
contributes something to its nature. None of the brain-processes split
themselves off from the rest and have a separate consciousness of their
own." This is, no doubt, the apparent dictum of consciousness, but it is
nothing more. And the dicta of consciousness have already been shown to
need correction in so many ways which the ordinary observer could never
have anticipated that we have surely no right to trust consciousness, so
to say, a step further than we can feel it,--to hold that anything
whatever--even a separate consciousness in our own organisms--can be
proved _not_ to exist by the mere fact that we--as we know
ourselves--are not aware of it.

But indeed this claim to a unitary consciousness tends to become less
forcible as it is more scientifically expressed. It rests on the plain
man's conviction that there is only one of him; and this conviction the
experimental psychologist is always tending to weaken or narrow by the
admission of coexistent localised degrees of consciousness in the brain,
which are at any rate not obviously reducible to a single state. Even
those who would stop far short of my own position find it needful to
resort to metaphors of their own to express the different streams of
"awareness" which we all feel to be habitually coexistent within us.
They speak of "fringes" of ordinary consciousness; of "marginal"
associations; of the occasional perception of "currents of low
intensity." These metaphors may all of them be of use, in a region where
metaphor is our only mode of expression; but none of them covers all the
facts now collected. And on the other side, I need not say, are plenty
of phrases which beg the question of soul and body, or of the man's own
spirit and external spirits, in no scientific fashion. There seems to be
need of a term of wider application, which shall make as few assumptions
as possible. Nor is such a term difficult to find.

The idea of a _threshold (limen, Schwelle)_, of consciousness;--of a
level above which sensation or thought must rise before it can enter
into our conscious life;--is a simple and familiar one. The word
_subliminal_,--meaning "beneath that threshold,"--has already been used
to define those sensations which are too feeble to be individually
recognised. I propose to extend the meaning of the term, so as to make
it cover _all_ that takes place beneath the ordinary threshold, or say,
if preferred, outside the ordinary margin of consciousness;--not only
those faint stimulations whose very faintness keeps them submerged, but
much else which psychology as yet scarcely recognises; sensations,
thoughts, emotions, which may be strong, definite, and independent, but
which, by the original constitution of our being, seldom emerge into
that _supraliminal_ current of consciousness which we habitually
identify with _ourselves_. Perceiving (as this book will try to show)
that these submerged thoughts and emotions possess the characteristics
which we associate with conscious life, I feel bound to speak of a
_subliminal_ or _ultra-marginal consciousness_,--a consciousness which
we shall see, for instance, uttering or writing sentences quite as
complex and coherent as the supraliminal consciousness could make them.
Perceiving further that this conscious life beneath the threshhold or
beyond the margin seems to be no discontinuous or intermittent thing;
that not only are these isolated subliminal processes comparable with
isolated supraliminal processes (as when a problem is solved by some
unknown procedure in a dream), but that there also is a continuous
subliminal chain of memory (or more chains than one) involving just that
kind of individual and persistent revival of old impressions, and
response to new ones, which we commonly call a Self,--I find it
permissible and convenient to speak of subliminal Selves, or more
briefly of a subliminal Self. I do not indeed by using this term assume
that there are two correlative and parallel selves existing always
within each of us. Rather I mean by the subliminal Self that part of the
Self which is commonly subliminal; and I conceive that there may
be,--not only _co-operations_ between these quasi-independent trains of
thought,--but also upheavals and alternations of personality of many
kinds, so that what was once below the surface may for a time, or
permanently, rise above it. And I conceive also that no Self of which we
can here have cognisance is in reality more than a fragment of a larger
Self,--revealed in a fashion at once shifting and limited through an
organism not so framed as to afford it full manifestation.

Now this hypothesis is exposed manifestly to two main forms of attack,
which to a certain extent neutralise each other. On the one hand it has
been attacked, as has already been indicated, as being too elaborate for
the facts,--as endowing transitory moments of subconscious intelligence
with more continuity and independence than they really possess. These
ripples over the threshold, it may be said, can be explained by the wind
of circumstance, without assuming springs or currents in the personality
deep below.

But soon we shall come upon a group of phenomena which this view will
by no means meet. For we shall find that the subliminal uprushes,--the
impulses or communications which reach our emergent from our submerged
selves,--are (in spite of their miscellaneousness) often
characteristically different in quality from any element known to our
ordinary supraliminal life. They are different in a way which implies
faculty of which we have had no previous knowledge, operating in an
environment of which hitherto we have been wholly unaware. This broad
statement it is of course the purpose of my whole work to justify.
Assuming its truth here for argument's sake, we see at once that the
problem of the hidden self entirely changes its aspect. Telepathy and
telæsthesia--the perception of distant thoughts and of distant scenes
without the agency of the recognised organs of sense;--those faculties
suggest either incalculable extension of our own mental powers, or else
the influence upon us of minds freer and less trammelled than our own.
And this second hypothesis,--which would explain by the agency of
discarnate minds, or spirits, all these supernormal phenomena,--does at
first sight simplify the problem, and has by Mr. A. R. Wallace and
others been pushed so far as to remove all need of what he deems the
gratuitous and cumbrous hypothesis of a subliminal self.

I believe, indeed, that it will become plain as we proceed that some
such hypothesis as this,--of almost continuous spirit-intervention and
spirit-guidance,--is at once rendered necessary if the subliminal
faculties for which I argue are denied to man. And my conception of a
subliminal self will thus appear, not as an extravagant and needless,
but as a limiting and rationalising hypothesis, when it is applied to
phenomena which at first sight suggest Mr. Wallace's extremer view, but
which I explain by the action of man's own spirit, without invoking
spirits external to himself. I do not indeed say that the explanation
here suggested is applicable in all cases, or to the complete exclusion
of the spirit-hypothesis. On the contrary, the one view gives support to
the other. For these faculties of distant communication exist none the
less, even though we should refer them to our own subliminal selves. We
can, in that case, affect each other at a distance, telepathically;--and
if our incarnate spirits can act thus in at least apparent independence
of the fleshly body, the presumption is strong that other spirits may
exist independently of the body, and may affect us in similar manner.

The much-debated hypothesis of spirit-intervention, in short, still
looms behind the hypothesis of the subliminal Self; but that
intermediate hypothesis should, I think, in this early stage of what
must be a long inquiry, prove useful to the partisans of either side.
For those who are altogether unwilling to admit the action of agencies
other than the spirits of living men, it will be needful to form as
high an estimate as possible of the faculties held in reserve by these
spirits while still in the flesh. For those, on the other hand, who
believe in the influence of discarnate spirits, this scheme affords a
path of transition, and as it were a provisional intelligibility.

These far-reaching speculations make the element of keenest interest in
the inquiry which follows. But even apart from its possible bearing on a
future life, the further study of our submerged mentation,--of the
processes within us of which we catch only indirect, and as it were,
refracted glimpses,--seems at this time especially called for by the
trend of modern research. For of late years we have realised more and
more fully upon how shifting and complex a foundation of ancestral
experience each individual life is based. In recapitulation, in summary,
in symbol, we retraverse, from the embryo to the corpse, the history of
life on earth for millions of years. During our self-adaptation to
continually wider environments, there may probably have been a continual
displacement of the threshold of consciousness;--involving the lapse and
submergence of much that once floated in the main stream of our being.
Our consciousness at any given stage of our evolution is but the
phosphorescent ripple on an unsounded sea. And, like the ripple, it is
not only superficial but manifold. Our psychical unity is federative and
unstable; it has arisen from irregular accretions in the remote past; it
consists even now only in the limited collaboration of multiple groups.
These discontinuities and incoherences in the Ego the elder
psychologists managed to ignore. Yet infancy, idiocy, sleep, insanity,
decay;--these breaks and stagnancies in the conscious stream were always
present to show us, even more forcibly than more delicate analyses show
us now, that the first obvious conception of man's continuous and
unitary personality was wholly insecure; and that if indeed a soul
inspired the body, that soul must be sought for far beneath these bodily
conditions by which its self-manifestation was clouded and obscured.

The difference between older and newer conceptions of the unifying
principle or soul (if soul there be) in man, considered as manifesting
through corporeal limitations, will thus resemble the difference between
the older and newer conceptions of the way in which the sun reveals
himself to our senses. Night and storm-cloud and eclipse men have known
from the earliest ages; but now they know that even at noonday the
sunbeam which reaches them, when fanned out into a spectrum, is barred
with belts and lines of varying darkness;--while they have learnt also
that where at either end the spectrum fades out into what for us is
blackness, there stretches onwards in reality an undiscovered
illimitable ray.

It will be convenient for future reference if I draw out this parallel
somewhat more fully. I compare, then, man's gradual progress in
self-knowledge to his gradual decipherment of the nature and meaning of
the sunshine which reaches him as light and heat indiscernibly
intermingled. So also Life and Consciousness--the sense of a world
within him and a world without--come to the child indiscernibly
intermingled in a pervading glow. Optical analysis splits up the white
ray into the various coloured rays which compose it. Philosophical
analysis in like manner splits up the vague consciousness of the child
into many faculties;--into the various external senses, the various
modes of thought within. This has been the task of descriptive and
introspective psychology. Experimental psychology is adding a further
refinement. In the sun's spectrum, and in stellar spectra, are many dark
lines or bands, due to the absorption of certain rays by certain vapours
in the atmosphere of sun or stars or earth. And similarly in the range
of spectrum of our own sensation and faculty there are many
inequalities--permanent and temporary--of brightness and definition. Our
mental atmosphere is clouded by vapours and illumined by fires, and is
clouded and illumined differently at different times. The psychologist
who observes, say, how his reaction-times are modified by alcohol is
like the physicist who observes what lines are darkened by the
interposition of a special gas. Our knowledge of our conscious spectrum
is thus becoming continually more accurate and detailed.

But turning back once more to the physical side of our simile, we
observe that our knowledge of the visible solar spectrum, however
minute, is but an introduction to the knowledge which we hope ultimately
to attain of the sun's rays. The limits of our spectrum do not inhere in
the sun that shines, but in the eye that marks his shining. Beyond each
end of that prismatic ribbon are ether-waves of which our retina takes
no cognisance. Beyond the red end come waves whose potency we still
recognise, but as heat and not as light. Beyond the violet end are waves
still more mysterious; whose very existence man for ages never
suspected, and whose ultimate potencies are still but obscurely known.
Even thus, I venture to affirm, beyond each end of our conscious
spectrum extends a range of faculty and perception, exceeding the known
range, but as yet indistinctly guessed. The artifices of the modern
physicist have extended far in each direction the visible spectrum known
to Newton. It is for the modern psychologist to discover artifices which
may extend in each direction the conscious spectrum as known to Plato or
to Kant. The phenomena cited in this work carry us, one may say, as far
onwards as fluorescence carries us beyond the violet end. The "X rays"
of the psychical spectrum remain for a later age to discover.

Our simile, indeed--be it once for all noted--is a most imperfect one.
The range of human faculty cannot be truly expressed in any linear form.
Even a three-dimensional scheme,--a radiation of faculties from a centre
of life,--would ill render its complexity. Yet something of clearness
will be gained by even this rudimentary mental picture;--representing
conscious human faculty as a linear spectrum whose red rays begin where
voluntary muscular control and organic sensation begin, and whose violet
rays fade away at the point at which man's highest strain of thought or
imagination merges into reverie or ecstasy.

At both ends of this spectrum I believe that our evidence indicates a
momentous prolongation. Beyond the _red_ end, of course, we already know
that vital faculty of some kind must needs extend. We know that organic
processes are constantly taking place within us which are not subject to
our control, but which make the very foundation of our physical being.
We know that the habitual limits of our voluntary action can be far
extended under the influence of strong excitement. It need not surprise
us to find that appropriate artifices--hypnotism or self-suggestion--can
carry the power of our will over our organism to a yet further point.

The faculties that lie beyond the _violet_ end of our psychological
spectrum will need more delicate exhibition and will command a less
ready belief. The actinic energy which lies beyond the violet end of the
solar spectrum is less obviously influential in our material world than
is the dark heat which lies beyond the red end. Even so, one may say,
the influence of the ultra-intellectual or supernormal faculties upon
our welfare as terrene organisms is less marked in common life than the
influence of the organic or subnormal faculties. Yet it is _that_
prolongation of our spectrum upon which our gaze will need to be most
strenuously fixed. It is _there_ that we shall find our inquiry opening
upon a cosmic prospect, and inciting us upon an endless way.

Even the first stages of this progress are long and labyrinthine; and it
may be useful to conclude this introductory chapter by a brief summary
of the main tracts across which our winding road must lie. It will be my
object to lead by transitions as varied and as gradual as possible from
phenomena held as normal to phenomena held as supernormal, but which
like the rest are simply and solely the inevitable results and
manifestations of universal Law.

Following then on this first or introductory chapter is one containing
a discussion of the ways in which human personality disintegrates and
decays. _Alternations of personality_ and hysterical phenomena generally
are in this connection the most instructive to us.

In the third chapter we utilize the insight thus gained and discuss the
line of evolution which enables man to maintain and intensify his true
normality. What type of man is he to whom the epithet of _normal_,--an
epithet often obscure and misleading,--may be most fitly applied? I
claim that that man shall be regarded as normal who has the fullest
grasp of faculties which inhere in the whole race. Among these faculties
I count subliminal as well as supraliminal powers;--the mental processes
which take place below the conscious threshold as well as those which
take place above it; and I attempt to show that those who reap most
advantage from this submerged mentation are men of _genius_.

The fourth chapter deals with the alternating phase through which man's
personality is constructed habitually to pass. I speak of _sleep_; which
I regard as a phase of personality, adapted to maintain our existence in
the spiritual environment, and to draw from thence the vitality of our
physical organisms. In this chapter I also discuss certain supernormal
phenomena which sometimes occur in the state of sleep.

The fifth chapter treats of _hypnotism_, considered as an _empirical
development of sleep_. It will be seen that hypnotic suggestion
intensifies the physical recuperation of sleep, and aids the emergence
of those supernormal phenomena which ordinary sleep and spontaneous
somnambulism sometimes exhibit.

From hypnotism we pass on in the sixth chapter to experiments, less
familiar to the public than those classed as hypnotic, but which give a
still further insight into our subliminal faculty. With these
experiments are intermingled many spontaneous phenomena; and the chapter
will take up and continue the spontaneous phenomena of Chapters III. and
IV. as well as the experiments of Chapter V. Its theme will be the
messages which the subliminal self sends up to the supraliminal in the
form of sensory hallucinations:--the visions fashioned internally, but
manifested not to the inward eye alone; the voices which repeat as
though in audible tones the utterance of the self within.

These _sensory automatisms_, as I have termed them, are very often
_telepathic_--involve, that is to say, the transmission of ideas and
sensations from one mind to another without the agency of the recognised
organs of sense. Nor would it seem that such transmission need
necessarily cease with the bodily death of the transmitting agent. In
the seventh chapter evidence is brought forward to show that those who
communicated with us telepathically in this world may communicate with
us telepathically from the other. Thus _phantasms of the dead_ receive a
new meaning from observations of the phenomena occurring between living

But besides the hallucinatory hearing or picture-seeing which we have
classed as sensory automatisms, there is another method by which the
subliminal may communicate with the supraliminal self.

In Chapter VIII., we consider in what ways _motor automatism_--the
unwilled activity of hand or voice--may be used as a means of such
communication. Unwilled writings and utterances furnish the opportunity
for experiment more prolonged and continuous than the phantasms or
pictures of sensory automatism can often give, and, like them, may
sometimes originate in telepathic impressions received by the subliminal
self from another mind. These motor automatisms, moreover, as the ninth
chapter shows, are apt to become more complete, more controlling, than
sensory automatisms. They may lead on, in some cases, to the apparent
_possession_ of the sensitive by some extraneous spirit, who seems to
write and talk through the sensitive's organism, giving evidence of his
own surviving identity.

The reader who may feel disposed to give his adhesion to this
culminating group of the long series of evidences which have pointed
with more and more clearness to the survival of human personality, and
to the possibility for men on earth of actual commerce with a world
beyond, may feel perhaps that the _desiderium orbis catholici_, the
intimate and universal hope of every generation of men, has never till
this day approached so near to fulfilment. There has never been so fair
a prospect for Life and Love. But the goal to which we tend is not an
ideal of personal happiness alone. The anticipation of our own future is
but one element in the prospect which opens to us now. Our inquiry has
broadened into a wider scope. The point from which we started was an
analysis of the latent faculties of man. The point towards which our
argument has carried us is the existence of a spiritual environment in
which those faculties operate, and of unseen neighbours who speak to us
thence with slowly gathering power. Deep in this spiritual environment
the cosmic secret lies. It is our business to collect the smallest
indications; to carry out from this treasury of Rhampsinitus so much as
our bare hands can steal away. We have won our scraps of spiritual
experience, our messages from behind the veil; we can try them in their
connection with certain enigmas which philosophy hardly hoped to be able
to put to proof. Can we, for instance, learn anything,--to begin with
fundamental problems,--of the relation of spiritual phenomena to Space,
to Time, to the material world?

As to the idea of Space, the evidence which will have been presented
will enable us to speak with perhaps more clearness than could have been
hoped for in such a matter. Spiritual life, we infer, is not bound and
confined by space-considerations in the same way as the life of earth.
But in what way is that greater freedom attained? It appears to be
attained by the mere extension of certain licenses (so to call them)
permitted to ourselves. We on earth submit to two familiar laws of the
ordinary material universe. A body can only act where it is. Only one
body can occupy the same part of space at the same moment. Applied to
common affairs these rules are of plain construction. But once get
beyond ponderable matter,--once bring life and ether into play, and
definitions become difficult indeed. The orator, the poet, we say, can
only act where he is;--but where is he? He has transformed the sheet of
paper into a spiritual agency;--nay, the mere memory of him persists as
a source of energy in other minds. Again, we may say that no other body
can be in the same place as this writing-table; but what of the ether?
What we have thus far learnt of spiritual operation seems merely to
extend these two possibilities. Telepathy indefinitely extends the range
of an unembodied spirit's potential presence. The interpenetration of
the spiritual with the material environment leaves this ponderable
planet unable to check or to hamper spiritual presence or operation.
Strange and new though our evidence may be, it needs at present in its
relation to space nothing more than an immense extension of conceptions
which the disappearance of earthly limitations was certain immensely to

How, then, does the matter stand with regard to our relation to Time? Do
we find that our new phenomena point to any mode of understanding or of
transcending Time fundamentally different from those modes which we have
at our command?

In dealing with Time Past we have memory and written record; in dealing
with Time Future we have forethought, drawing inferences from the past.

Can, then, the spiritual knowledge of Past and Future which our evidence
shows be explained by assuming that these existing means of knowledge
are raised to a higher power? Or are we driven to postulate something in
the nature of Time which is to us inconceivable;--some co-existence of
Past and Future in an eternal Now? It is plainly with Time Past that we
must begin the inquiry.

The knowledge of the past which automatic communications manifest is in
most cases apparently referable to the actual memory of persons still
existing beyond the tomb. It reaches us telepathically, as from a mind
in which remote scenes are still imprinted. But there are certain scenes
which are not easily assigned to the individual memory of any given
spirit. And if it be possible for us to learn of present facts by
telæsthesia as well as by telepathy;--by some direct supernormal
percipience without the intervention of any other mind to which the
facts are already known,--may there not be also a retrocognitive
telæsthesia by which we may attain a direct knowledge of facts in the

Some conception of this kind may possibly come nearest to the truth. It
may even be that some World-Soul is perennially conscious of all its
past; and that individual souls, as they enter into deeper
consciousness, enter into something which is at once reminiscence and
actuality. But nevertheless a narrower hypothesis will cover the actual
cases with which we have to deal. Past facts are known to men on earth
not from memory only, but by written record; and there may be records,
of what kind we know not, which persist in the spiritual world. Our
retrocognitions seem often a recovery of isolated fragments of thought
and feeling, pebbles still hard and rounded amid the indecipherable
sands over which the mighty waters are "rolling evermore."

When we look from Time Past to Time Future we are confronted with
essentially the same problems, though in a still more perplexing form,
and with the world-old mystery of Free Will _versus_ Necessity looming
in the background. Again we find that, just as individual memory would
serve to explain a large proportion of Retrocognition, so individual
forethought--a subliminal forethought, based often on profound organic
facts not normally known to us--will explain a large proportion of
Precognition. But here again we find also precognitions which transcend
what seems explicable by the foresight of any mind such as we know; and
we are tempted to dream of a World-Soul whose Future is as present to it
as its Past. But in this speculation also, so vast and vague an
explanation seems for the present beyond our needs; and it is safer--if
aught be safe in this region which only actual evidence could have
emboldened us to approach--to take refuge in the conception of
intelligences not infinite, yet gifted with a foresight which strangely
transcends our own.

Closely allied to speculations such as these is another speculation,
more capable of subjection to experimental test, yet which remains still
inconclusively tested, and which has become for many reasons a
stumbling-block rather than a corroboration in the spiritual inquiry. I
refer to the question whether any influence is exercised by spirits upon
the gross material world otherwise than through ordinary organic
structures. We know that the spirit of a living man controls his own
organism, and we shall see reason to conclude that discarnate spirits
may also control, by some form of "possession," the organisms of living
persons,--may affect directly, that is to say, some portions of matter
which we call living, namely, the brain of the entranced sensitive.
There seems to me, then, no paradox in the supposition that some effect
should be produced by spiritual agency--possibly through the mediation
of some kind of energy derived from living human beings--upon inanimate
matter as well. And I believe that as a fact such effects have been
observed and recorded in a trustworthy manner by Sir W. Crookes, the
late Dr. Speer, and others, in the cases especially of D. D. Home and of
W. Stainton Moses. If, indeed, I call these and certain other records
still inconclusive, it is mainly on account of the mass of worthless
narratives with which they have been in some sense smothered; the long
history of so-called investigations which have consisted merely in an
interchange of credulity and fraud. For the present the evidence of this
kind which has real value is better presented, I think, in separate
records than collected or discussed in any generalised form. All that I
purpose in this work, therefore, is briefly to indicate the relation
which these "physical phenomena" hold to the psychical phenomena with
which my book is concerned. Alongside of the faculty or achievement of
man's ordinary or supraliminal self I shall demarcate the faculty or
achievement which I ascribe to his subliminal self; and alongside of
this again I shall arrange such few well-attested phenomena as seem
_primâ facie_ to demand the physical intervention of discarnate

I have traced the utmost limits to which any claim to a scientific basis
for these inquiries can at present be pushed. Yet the subject-matter has
not yet been exhausted of half its significance. The conclusions to
which our evidence points are not such as can be discussed or dismissed
as a mere matter of speculative curiosity. They affect every belief,
every faculty, every hope and aim of man; and they affect him the more
intimately as his interests grow more profound. Whatever meaning be
applied to ethics, to philosophy, to religion, the concern of all these
is here.

It would have been inconsistent with my main purpose had I interpolated
considerations of this kind into the body of this work. For that purpose
was above all to show that realms left thus far to philosophy or to
religion,--too often to mere superstition and idle dream,--might in the
end be brought under steady scientific rule. I contend that Religion and
Science are no separable or independent provinces of thought or action;
but rather that each name implies a different aspect of the same
ideal;--that ideal being the completely normal reaction of the
individual spirit to the whole of cosmic law.

Assuredly this deepening response of man's spirit to the Cosmos
deepening round him must be affected by all the signals which now are
glimmering out of night to tell him of his inmost nature and his endless
fate. Who can think that either Science or Revelation has spoken as yet
more than a first half-comprehended word? But if in truth souls departed
call to us, it is to them that we shall listen most of all. We shall
weigh their undesigned concordances, we shall analyse the congruity of
their message with the facts which such a message should explain. To
some thoughts which may thus be generated I shall try to give expression
in an Epilogue to the present work.



  θἁντὁς ἑστιν ὁκὁσα ἑγερθἑντες ὁρἑομεν, ὁκὁσα δε εὑδοντες, ὑπνος.


Of the race of man we know for certain that it has been evolved through
many ages and through countless forms of change. We know for certain
that its changes continue still; nay, that more causes of change act
upon us in "fifty years of Europe" than in "a cycle of Cathay." We may
reasonably conjecture that the race will continue to change with
increasing rapidity, and through a period in comparison with which our
range of recorded history shrinks into a moment.

The actual nature of these coming changes, indeed, lies beyond our
imagination. Many of them are probably as inconceivable to us now as
eyesight would have been to our eyeless ancestors. All that we can do is
to note so far as possible the structural laws of our personality as
deduced from its changes thus far; inferring that for some time to come,
at any rate, its further changes will proceed upon similar lines.

I have already (Chapter I) indicated the general view as to the nature
of human personality which is maintained in this work. I regard each man
as at once profoundly unitary and almost infinitely composite, as
inheriting from earthly ancestors a multiplex and "colonial"
organism--polyzoic and perhaps polypsychic in an extreme degree; but
also as ruling and unifying that organism by a soul or spirit absolutely
beyond our present analysis--a soul which has originated in a spiritual
or metetherial environment; which even while embodied subsists in that
environment; and which will still subsist therein after the body's

It is, of course, impossible for us to picture to ourselves the way in
which the individual life of each cell of the body is reconciled with
the unity of the central life which controls the body as a whole. But
this difficulty is not created or intensified by the hypothesis of a
separate and persistent soul. On no hypothesis can we really understand
the collaboration and subordination of the cell-lives of any
multicellular animal. It is as mysterious in the starfish as it is in
Plato; and the "eight brains of Aurelia," with their individual and
their common life, are as inconceivable as the life of the phagocytes in
the philosopher's veins, in their relation to his central thought.[7]

I claim, in fact, that the ancient hypothesis of an indwelling soul,
possessing and using the body as a whole, yet bearing a real, though
obscure relation to the various more or less apparently disparate
conscious groupings manifested in connection with the organism and in
connection with more or less localised groups of nerve-matter, is a
hypothesis not more perplexing, not more cumbrous, than any other
hypothesis yet suggested. I claim also that it is conceivably
provable,--I myself hold it as actually proved,--by direct observation.
I hold that certain manifestations of central individualities,
associated now or formerly with certain definite organisms, have been
observed in operation apart from those organisms, both while the
organisms were still living, and after they had decayed. Whether or no
this thesis be as yet sufficiently proved, it is at least at variance
with no scientific principle nor established fact whatever; and it is of
a nature which continued observation may conceivably establish to the
satisfaction of all. The negative thesis, on the other hand, is a thesis
in unstable equilibrium. It cannot be absolutely proved by any number of
negative instances; and it may be absolutely disproved by a single
positive instance. It may have at present a greater scientific
_currency_, but it can have no real scientific authority as against the
view defended in these pages.

Leaving these questions, however, aside for the present, we may agree
that in the organism as we can observe it in common life we have no
complete or unchanging unity, but rather a complex hierarchy of groups
of cells exercising vaguely limited functions, and working together with
rough precision, tolerable harmony, fair success. That these powers ever
work _perfectly_ together we have no evidence. Our feeling of health is
but a rough haphazard register of what is passing within us. Nor would
it ever be possible to define a permanently ideal status in an organism
in moving equilibrium,--an organism which lives by exploding unstable
compounds, and which is constantly aiming at new ends at the expense of
the old.

Many disturbances and disintegrations of the personality must presently
fall to be discussed. But the reader who may follow me must remember the
point of view from which I am writing. The aim of my analysis is not to
destroy but to fulfil;--or say, rather, my hope is that observation of
the ways in which the personality tends to disintegrate may suggest
methods which may tend on the other hand to its more complete

Such improvements upon the natural conditions of the organism are not
unknown. Just as the study of hysteria deals mainly with instabilities
in the threshold of consciousness, so does the study of zymotic disease
deal mainly with instabilities in the constitution of the blood. The
ordinary object of the physician is to check these instabilities when
they occur; to restore healthy blood in the place of vitiated. The
experimental biologist has a further aim. He wishes to provide men with
_better_ blood than nature has bestowed; to elicit from virus and decay
some element whose infusion into the veins may give immunity against
microbic invasion. As the adult is safer against such attacks than the
child by dint of his more advanced development, so is the immunised
adult safer than the common man. The change of his blood which healthy
maturity has induced has made him safe against whooping-cough. The
change in his blood which we effect by injecting antitoxin makes him
temporarily safe against diphtheria. We have improved upon nature;--and
our artifice has been _prophylactic_ by virtue of being in a certain
sense _developmental_.

Even such, I trust, may be the achievement of experimental psychology in
a later day. I shall be well content if in this chapter I can give hints
for some future colligation of such evolutive phenomena as may lurk amid
a mass of phenomena mainly dissolutive--phenomena whose records are
scattered and imperfect, and have as yet only in some few directions,
and by quite recent writers, been collated or systematised on any
definite plan.

The discussion of these disintegrations of personality needs, I think,
some little clearing of the ground beforehand, if it is to avoid
confusion. It will be needful to speak of concurrent and alternating
streams of consciousness,--of subliminal and supraliminal strata of
personality and the like;--phrases which save much trouble when used
with care, but which need some words of preliminary explanation. It is
not easy to realise that anything which deserves the name of
consciousness can be going on within us, apart from that central stream
of thought and feeling with which we identify ourselves in common life.
Something of definition is needed;--not indeed of any formal or dogmatic
kind;--but enough to make clear the sense given to such words as
consciousness, memory, personality, in the ensuing pages.

I begin, then, with the obvious remark that when we conceive any act
other than our own as a conscious act, we do so either because we
regard it as _complex_, and therefore _purposive_, or because we
perceive that it has been _remembered_. Thus we call the fencer or the
chess-player fully conscious; or, again, we say, "The man who seemed
stunned after that blow on the head must really have been conscious all
the time; for he afterwards recalled every incident." The _memorability_
of an act is, in fact, a better proof of consciousness than its
complexity. Thus consciousness has been denied both to hypnotised
subjects and to dogs; but it is easier to prove that the hypnotised
subject is conscious than that the dog is conscious. For the hypnotised
subject, though he may forget the incidents of the trance when he
awakes, will remember them in the next trance; or he may be trained to
remember them in the waking state also; while with regard to the dog we
cannot decide from the mere complexity of his actions how far he is
conscious of their performance. With him, too, the best line of proof
lies in his obvious memory of past acts. And yet, although all agree
that our own memory, broadly speaking, proves our past consciousness,
some persons would not admit that a dog's memory does so too. The dog's
organism, they would say, responds, no doubt, in a new manner to a
second repetition of a previous stimulus; but this is more or less true
of all living organisms, or parts of organisms, even far below what we
generally regard as a conscious level.

Reflections of this kind naturally lead to a wider conception of
consciousness. It is gradually seen that the earlier inquiries which men
have made about consciousness have been of a merely ethical or legal
character;--have simply aimed at deciding whether at a given moment a
man was _responsible_ for his acts, either to a human or to a divine
tribunal. Commonsense has seemed to encourage this method of definite
demarcation; we judge practically either that a man is conscious or that
he is not; in the experience of life intermediate states are of little

As soon, however, as the problem is regarded as a psychological one, to
be decided by observation and experiment, these hard and fast lines grow
fainter and fainter. We come to regard consciousness as an attribute
which may possibly be present in all kinds of varying degrees in
connection with the animal and vegetable worlds; as the psychical
counterpart of life; as conceivably the psychical counterpart of all
phenomenal existence. Or, rather, we may say this of _mind_, to which,
in its more elementary forms, consciousness bears somewhat the same
relation as self-consciousness bears to consciousness, or some higher
evolution may bear to self-consciousness.

This being so, I cannot see how we can phrase our definition more simply
than by saying that any act or condition must be regarded as conscious
if it is _potentially memorable_;--if it can be recollected, under any
circumstances, by the subject concerned. It does not seem needful that
the circumstances under which such recollection may occur should arise
while the subject is still incarnated on this planet. We shall never on
this planet remember the great majority of our dreams; but those dreams
were presumably no less conscious than the dreams which a sudden
awakening allowed us to keep in memory. Certain hypnotic subjects,
indeed, who can be made to remember their dreams by suggestion,
apparently remember dreams previously latent just as easily as dreams
previously remembered. And we shall have various other examples of the
unexpected recollection of experiences supposed to have been entirely
devoid of consciousness.

We are bound, I think, to draw at least this negative conclusion: that
we must not take for granted that our apparently central consciousness
is something wholly different in kind from the minor consciousnesses out
of which it is in some sense elaborated. I do indeed believe it to be in
an important sense different; but this difference must not be assumed on
the basis of our subjective sensations alone. We must approach the whole
subject of split or duplicated personalities with no prepossession
against the possibility of any given arrangement or division of the
total mass of consciousness which exists within us.

Before we can picture to ourselves how that mass of consciousness may
_disintegrate_, we ought, were it possible, to picture to ourselves how
it is in the first instance _integrated_. That, however, is a difficulty
which does not begin with the constitution of man. It begins when
unicellular develop into multicellular organisms. It is, of course, a
mystery how a single cell can hold together, and what kind of unity it
can possess. But it is a fresh mystery when several cells cohere in a
conjoint and independent life. In the collective unity of certain
"colonial animals" we have a kind of sketch or parody of our own complex
being. Higher intelligences may possibly see us as we see the
hydrozoon--a creature split up into different "persons," a "hydriform
person" who feeds, a "medusiform person" who propagates, and so
on--elements of the animal differentiated for different
ends--interconnected from one point of view as closely as our stomach
and brain, yet from another point of view separable existences, capable
of detachment and of independent regeneration in all kinds of different
ways. Still more composite, though less conspicuously composite, is
every animal that we meet as we rise through the scale; and in man we
reach the summit both of colonial complexity and of centralised control.

I need hardly say that as regards the inner nature of this close
co-ordination, this central government, science can at present tell us
little or nothing. The growth of the nervous mechanism may be to some
extent deciphered; but how this mechanism is centrally governed; what is
the tendency which makes for unity; where precisely this unity resides,
and what is its exact relation to the various parts of the multicellular
organism--all these are problems in the nature of _life_, to which as
yet no solution is known.

The needed clue, as I believe, can be afforded only by the discovery of
laws affecting primarily that unseen or spiritual plane of being where I
imagine the origin of life to lie. If we can suppose telepathy to be a
first indication of a law of this type, and to occupy in the spiritual
world some such place as gravitation occupies in the material world, we
might imagine something analogous to the force of cohesion as operating
in the psychical contexture of a human personality. Such a personality,
at any rate, as the development of higher from lower organisms shows,
involves the aggregation of countless minor psychical entities, whose
characteristics still persist, although in a manner consistent with the
possibility that one larger psychical entity, whether pre-existent or
otherwise, is the unifying continuum of which those smaller entities are
fragments, and exercises over them a pervading, though an incomplete,

It is plainly impossible to say beforehand what will be the relation to
the ordinary stream of consciousness of a personality thus composed. We
have no right to assume that all our psychical operations will fall at
the same time, or at any time, into the same central current of
perception, or rise above what we have called the ordinary conscious
threshold. We can be sure, in fact, that there will be much which will
not so rise; can we predict what _will_ rise?

We can only reply that the perception of stimuli by the supraliminal
consciousness is a kind of exercise of function; and that here, as in
other cases where a function is exercised, part of its range will
consist of such operation as the primary structure of the organism
obliges it to perform, and part will consist of such operation as
natural selection (after the structure has come into being) has trained
it to perform. There will be something which is structurally inevitable,
and something which was not structurally inevitable, but which has
proved itself practically advantageous.

Thus it may be inevitable--a necessary result of nervous structure--that
consciousness should accompany unfamiliar cerebral combinations;--that
the "fraying of fresh channels" should carry with it a perceptible
tingle of novelty. Or it is possible, again, that this vivid
consciousness of new cerebral combinations may be a later acquisition,
and merely due to the obvious advantage of preventing new achievements
from stereotyping themselves before they have been thoroughly
practised;--as a musician will keep his attention fixed on a difficult
novelty, lest his execution should become automatic before he has learnt
to render the piece as he desires. It seems likely, at any rate, that
the greater part of the contents of our supraliminal consciousness may
be determined in some such fashion as this, by natural selection so
operating as to keep ready to hand those perceptions which are most
needed for the conduct of life.

The notion of the upbuilding of the personality here briefly given is of
use, I think, in suggesting its practical tendencies to dissolution.
Subjected continually to both internal and external stress and strain,
its ways of yielding indicate the grain of its texture.

It is possible that if we could discern the minute psychology of this
long series of changes, ranging from modifications too minute to be
noted as abnormal to absolute revolutions of the whole character and
intelligence, we might find no definite break in all the series; but
rather a slow, continuous detachment of one psychical unit or element of
consciousness after another from the primary synthesis. It is possible,
on the other hand, that there may be a real break at a point where there
appears to our external observation to be a break, namely, where the
personality passes into its new phase through an interval of sleep or
trance. And I believe that there is another break, at a point much
further advanced, and not to be reached in this chapter, where some
external intelligence begins in some way to possess the organism and to
replace for a time the ordinary intellectual activity by an activity of
its own. Setting, however, this last possibility for the present aside,
we must adopt some arrangement on which to hang our cases. For this
purpose the appearance of sleep or trance will make a useful, although
not a definite, line of demarcation.

We may begin with localised psychical hypertrophies and
isolations,--terms which I shall explain as we proceed; and then pass on
through hysterical instabilities (where intermediate periods of trance
may or may not be present) to those more advanced sleep-wakings and
dimorphisms which a barrier of trance seems always to separate from the
primary stream of conscious life. All such changes, of course, are
generally noxious to the psychical organism; and it will be simpler to
begin by dwelling on their noxious aspect, and regarding them as steps
on the road--on one of the many roads--to mental overthrow.

The process begins, then, with something which is to the psychical
organism no more than a boil or a corn is to the physical. In
consequence of some suggestion from without, or of some inherited
tendency, a small group of psychical units set up a process of
exaggerated growth which shuts them off from free and healthy
interchange with the rest of the personality.

The first symptom of disaggregation is thus the _idée fixe_, that is to
say, the persistence of an uncontrolled and unmodifiable group of
thoughts or emotions, which from their brooding isolation,--from the
very fact of deficient interchange with the general current of
thought,--become alien and intrusive, so that some special idea or image
presses into consciousness with undue and painful frequency.

The fixed idea, thus originating, may develop in different ways. It may
become a centre of explosion, or a nucleus of separation, or a beginning
of death. It may induce an access of hysterical convulsions, thus acting
like a material foreign body which presses on a sensitive part of the
organism. Or it may draw to its new parasitic centre so many psychical
elements that it forms a kind of secondary personality, co-existing
secretly with the primary one, or even able at times (as in some
well-known cases) to carry the whole organism by a _coup-de-main_. (Such
changes, it may be noted in passing, are not always for the _worse_.)
Or, again, the new quasi-independent centres may be merely _anarchical_;
the revolt may spread to every cell; and the forces of the environment,
ever making war upon the organism, may thus effect its total decay.

Let us dwell for a few moments on the nature of these fixed or insistent
ideas. They are not generally or at the first outset extravagant
fancies,--as that one is made of glass or the like. Rather will "fixed
ideas" come to seem a mere expression for something in a minor degree
common to most of us. Hardly any mind, I suppose, is wholly free from
tendencies to certain types of thought or emotion for which we cannot
summon any adequate check--useless recurrent broodings over the past or
anxieties for the future, perhaps traces of old childish experience
which have become too firmly fixed wholly to disappear. Nay, it may well
be that we must look even further back than our own childhood for the
origin of many haunting troubles. Inherited tendencies to terror,
especially, seem to reach far back into a prehistoric past. In a recent
"Study of Fears," which Professor Stanley Hall has based on a wide
statistical collection,[8] it would seem that the fears of childhood
often correspond to no existing cause for uneasiness, but rather to the
vanished perils of primitive man. The fear of darkness, for instance,
the fear of solitude, the fear of thunder-storms, the fear of the loss
of orientation, speak of primitive helplessness, just as the fear of
animals, the fear of strangers, suggest the fierce and hazardous life of
early man. To all such instinctive feelings as these a morbid
development is easily given.

Of what nature must we suppose this morbid development to be? Does it
fall properly within our present discussion? or is it not simply a
beginning of brain-disease, which concerns the physician rather than the
psychologist? The psychologist's best answer to this question will be to
show cases of fixed ideas _cured_ by psychological means.[9] And indeed
there are few cases to show which have been cured by any methods
_except_ the psychological; if hypnotic suggestion does not succeed with
an _idée fixe_, it is seldom that any other treatment will cure it. We
may, of course, say that the brain troubles thus cured were functional,
and that those which went on inevitably into insanity were organic,
although the distinction between functional and organic is not easily
demonstrable in this ultra-microscopic realm.

At any rate, we have actually on record,--and that is what our argument
needs,--a great series of _idées fixes_, of various degrees of
intensity, cured by suggestion;--cured, that is to say, by a subliminal
setting in action of minute nervous movements which our supraliminal
consciousness cannot in even the blindest manner manage to set to work.
Some such difference as exists on a gross scale between striped and
unstriped muscle seems to exist on a minute scale among these smallest
involved cells and fibres, or whatever they be. Some of them obey our
conscious will, but most of them are capable of being governed only by
subliminal strata of the self.

If, however, it be the subliminal self which can reduce these elements
to order, it is often probably the subliminal self to which their
disorder is originally due. If a fixed idea, say agoraphobia, grows up
in me, this may probably be because the proper controlling
co-ordinations of thought, which I ought to be able to summon up at
will, have sunk below the level at which will can reach them. I am no
longer able, that is to say, to convince myself by reasoning that there
is no danger in crossing the open square. And this may be the fault of
my subliminal self, whose business it is to keep the ideas which I need
for common life easily within my reach, and which has failed to do this,
owing to some enfeeblement of its grasp of my organism.

If we imagine these obscure operations under some such form as this, we
get the advantage of being able to connect these insistent ideas in a
coherent sequence with the more advanced phenomena of hysteria. We have
seen that the presence of insistent ideas implies an instability of the
conscious threshold; and this, in its turn, indicates a disorderly or
diseased condition of the hypnotic stratum,--of that region of the
personality which, as we shall see, is best known to us through the fact
that it is reached by hypnotic suggestion.

Now we shall find, I think, that all the phenomena of hysteria are
reducible to the same general conception. To understand their many
puzzles we have to keep our eyes fixed upon just these psychological
notions--upon a threshold of ordinary consciousness above which certain
perceptions and faculties ought to be, but are not always, maintained,
and upon a "hypnotic stratum" or region of the personality to which
hypnotic suggestion appeals; and which includes faculty and perception
which surpass the supraliminal, but whose operation is capricious and
dreamlike, inasmuch as they lie, so to say, in a debateable region
between two rules--the known rule of the supraliminal self, adapted to
this life's experience and uses, and the conjectured rule of a fuller
and profounder self, rarely reached by any artifice which our present
skill suggests. Some of these conscious groupings have got separated
from the ordinary stream of consciousness. These may still be unified in
the subliminal, but they need to be unified in the supraliminal also.
The normal relation between the supraliminal and the subliminal may be
disturbed by the action of _either_.

Let us now see how far this view, which I suggested in the S.P.R.
_Proceedings_ as far back as 1892,[10] fits in with those modern
observations of hysteria, in Paris and Vienna especially, which are
transforming all that group of troubles from the mere opprobrium of
medicine into one of the most fertile sources of new knowledge of body
and mind.

First, then, let us briefly consider what is the general type of
hysterical troubles. Speaking broadly, we may say that the symptoms of
hysteria form, in the first place, a series of phantom copies of real
maladies of the nervous system; and, in the second place, a series of
fantasies played upon that system--of unreal, dreamlike ailments, often
such as no physiological mechanism can be shown to have determined.
These latter cases are often due, as we shall see, not to purely
physiological, but rather to intellectual causes; they represent, not a
particular pattern in which the nervous system tends of itself to
disintegrate, but a particular pattern which has been imposed upon it by
some intellectual process;--in short, by some form of self-suggestion.

Let us briefly review some common types of hysterical
disability,--taking as our first guide Dr. Pierre Janet's admirable
work, _L'Etat Mental des Hystériques_ (Paris, 1893).

What, then, to begin with, is Dr. Janet's general conception of the
psychological states of the advanced hysteric? "In the expression _I
feel_," he says (_L'Etat Mental_, p. 39), "we have two elements: a small
new psychological fact, 'feel,' and an enormous mass of thoughts already
formed into a system 'I.' These two things mix and combine, and to say
_I feel_ is to say that the personality, already enormous, has seized
and absorbed this small new sensation; ... as though the _I_ were an
amœba which sent out a prolongation to suck in this little sensation
which has come into existence beside it." Now it is in the assimilation
of these elementary sensations or affective states with the _perception
personnelle_, as Janet terms it, that the advanced hysteric fails. His
field of consciousness is so far narrowed that it can only take in the
minimum of sensations necessary for the support of life. "One must needs
have consciousness of what one sees and hears, and so the patient
neglects to perceive the tactile and muscular sensations with which he
thinks that he can manage to dispense. At first he could perhaps turn
his attention to them, and recover them at least momentarily within the
field of personal perception. But the occasion does not present itself,
and the _psychological bad habit_ is formed.... One day the patient--for
he is now veritably a patient--is examined by the doctor. His left arm
is pinched, and he is asked whether he feels the pinch. To his surprise
the patient realises that he can no longer feel consciously, can no
longer bring back into his personal perception sensations which he has
neglected too long--he has become anæsthetic.... Hysterical anæsthesia
is thus a fixed and perpetual distraction, which renders its subjects
incapable of attaching certain sensations to their personality; it is a
restriction of the conscious field."

The proof of these assertions depends on a number of observations, all
of which point in the same direction, and show that hysterical
anæsthesia does not descend so deep into the personality, so to say, as
true anæsthesia caused by nervous decay, or by the section of a nerve.

Thus the hysteric is often _unconscious_ of the anæsthesia, which is
only discovered by the physician. There is none of the distress caused
by true anæsthesia, as, for instance, by the "tabetic mask," or
insensibility of part of the face, which sometimes occurs in _tabes

An incident reported by Dr. Jules Janet illustrates this peculiarity. A
young woman cut her right hand severely with broken glass, and
complained of insensibility in the palm. The physician who examined her
found that the sensibility of the right palm was, in fact, diminished
by the section of certain nerves. But he discovered at the same time
that the girl was hysterically anæsthetic over the whole left side of
her body. She had never even found out this disability, and the doctor
twitted her with complaining of the small patch of anæsthesia, while she
said nothing of that which covered half her body. But, as Dr. Pierre
Janet remarks, she might well have retorted that these were the facts,
and that it was for the man of science to say why the small patch
annoyed her while the large one gave her no trouble at all.

Of similar import is the ingenious observation that hysterical
anæsthesia rarely leads to any accident to the limb;--differing in this
respect, for instance, from the true and profound anæsthesia of
syringomyelitis, in which burns and bruises frequently result from the
patient's forgetfulness of the part affected. There is usually, in fact,
a supervision--a _subliminal_ supervision--exercised over the hysteric's
limbs. Part of her personality is still alive to the danger, and
modifies her movements, unknown to her supraliminal self.

This curious point, I may remark in passing, well illustrates the kind
of action which I attribute to the subliminal self in many phases of
life. Thus it is that the hypnotised subject is prevented (as I hold)
from committing a real as opposed to a fictitious crime; thus it is that
fresh ideas are suggested to the man of genius; thus it is--I will even
say--that in some cases monitory hallucinations are generated, which
save the supraliminal self from some sudden danger.

I pass on to another peculiarity of hysterical anæsthesiæ;--also in my
eyes of deep significance. The anæsthetic belts or patches do not
always, or even generally, correspond with true anatomical areas, such
as would be affected by the actual lesion of any given nerve. They
follow arbitrary arrangements;--sometimes corresponding to rough popular
notions of divisions of the body,--sometimes seeming to reflect a merely
childish caprice.

In these cases what is only a silly fancy seems to produce an effect
which is not merely fanciful;--which is objective, measurable, and
capable of causing long and serious disablement. This result, however,
is quite accordant with my view of what I have termed the _hypnotic
stratum_ of the personality. I hold, as our coming discussion of
hypnotism will more fully explain, that the region into which the
hypnotic suggestion gives us access is one of strangely mingled strength
and weakness;--of a faculty at once more potent and less coherent than
that of waking hours. I think that in these cases we get at the
subliminal self only somewhat in the same sense as we get at the
supraliminal self when the "highest-level centres" are for the time
inoperative (as in a dream) and only "middle-level centres" are left to
follow their own devices without inhibition or co-ordination. I hold
that this is the explanation of the strange contrasts which hypnosis
makes familiar to us--the combination of profound power over the
organism with childish readiness to obey the merest whims of the
hypnotiser. The intelligence which thus responds is in my view only a
fragmentary intelligence; it is a dreamlike scrap of the subliminal
self, functioning apart from that self's central and profounder control.

What happens in hypnotism in obedience to the hypnotiser's caprice
happens in hysteria in obedience to the caprice of the hypnotic stratum
itself. Some middle-level centre of the subliminal self (to express a
difficult idea by the nearest phrase I can find) gets the notion that
there is an "anæsthetic bracelet," say, round the left wrist;--and lo,
this straight-way is so; and the hysteric loses supraliminal sensation
in this fantastic belt. That the notion does not originate in the
hysteric's supraliminal self is proved by the fact that the patient is
generally unaware of the existence of the bracelet until the physician
discovers it. Nor is it a chance combination;--even were there such a
thing as chance. It is a dream of the hypnotic stratum;--an incoherent
self-suggestion starting from and affecting a region below the reach of
conscious will. Such cases are most instructive; for they begin to show
us divisions of the human body based not upon local innervation but upon
ideation (however incoherent);--upon intellectual conceptions like "a
bracelet," "a cross,"--applied though these conceptions may be with
dreamlike futility.

In this view, then, we regard the fragments of perceptive power over
which the hysteric has lost control as being by no means really
extinguished, but rather as existing immediately beneath the threshold,
in the custody, so to say, of a dreamlike or hypnotic stratum of the
subliminal self, which has selected them for reasons sometimes
explicable as the result of past suggestions, sometimes to us
inexplicable. If this be so, we may expect that the same kind of
suggestions which originally cut off these perceptions from the main
body of perception may stimulate them again to action either below or
above the conscious threshold.

We have already, indeed, seen reason to suppose that the submerged
perceptions are still at work, when Dr. Janet pointed out how rare a
thing it was that any accident or injury followed upon hysterical loss
of feeling in the limbs. A still more curious illustration is afforded
by the condition of the field of vision in a hysteric. It often happens
that the field of vision is much reduced, so that the hysteric, when
tested with the perimeter, can discern only objects almost directly in
front of the eye. But if an object which happens to be particularly
exciting to the hypnotic stratum--for instance the hypnotiser's finger,
used often as a signal for trance--is advanced into that part of the
hysteric's normal visual field of which she has apparently lost all
consciousness, there will often be an instant subliminal
perception,--shown by the fact that the subject promptly falls into

In such cases the action of the submerged perceptions, while provoked by
very shallow artifices, continues definitely _subliminal_. The patient
_herself_, as we say, does not know why she does not burn her anæsthetic
limbs, or why she suddenly falls into a trance while being subjected to
optical tests.

But it is equally easy to devise experiments which shall call these
submerged sensations up again into supraliminal consciousness. A
hysteric has lost sensation in one arm: Dr. Janet tells her that there
is a caterpillar on that arm, and the reinforcement of attention thus
generated brings back the sensibility.

These hysterical anæsthesiæ, it may be added here, may be not only very
definite but very profound. Just as the reality,--though also the
impermanence,--of the hysterical retrenchment of field of vision of
which I have been speaking can be shown by optical experiments beyond
the patient's comprehension, so the reality of some profound organic
hysterical insensibilities is sometimes shown by the progress of
independent disease. A certain patient feels no hunger or thirst: this
indifference might be simulated for a time, but her ignorance of severe
inflammation of the bladder is easily recognisable as real. Throw her
into hypnosis and her sensibilities return. The disease is for the first
time felt, and the patient screams with pain. This result well
illustrates one main effect of hypnosis, viz., to bring the organism
into a more normal state. The deep organic anæsthesia of this patient
was dangerously abnormal; the missing sensibility had first to be
restored, although it might be desirable afterwards to remove the
painful elements in that sensibility again, under, so to say, a wiser
and deeper control.

What has been said of hysterical defects of sensation might be repeated
for motor defects. There, too, the powers of which the supraliminal self
has lost control continue to act in obedience to subliminal promptings.
The hysteric who squeezes the dynamometer like a weak child can exert
great muscular force under the influence of emotion.

Very numerous are the cases which might be cited to give a notion of
dissolutive hysterical processes, as now observed with closer insight
than formerly, in certain great hospitals. But, nevertheless, these
hospital observations do not exhaust what has recently been learnt of
hysteria. Dealing almost exclusively with a certain class of patients,
they leave almost untouched another group, smaller, indeed, but equally
instructive for our study.

Hysteria is no doubt a disease, but it is by no means on that account an
indication of initial weakness of mind, any more than an Arctic
explorer's frost-bite is an indication of bad circulation. Disease is a
function of two variables: power of resistance and strength of injurious
stimulus. In the case of hysteria, as in the case of frost-bite, the
inborn power of resistance may be unusually great, and yet the stimulus
may be so excessive that that power may be overcome. Arctic explorers
have generally, of course, been among the most robust of men. And with
some hysterics there is an even closer connection between initial
strength and destructive malady. For it has often happened that the very
feelings which we regard as characteristically civilised,
characteristically honourable, have reached a pitch of vividness and
delicacy which exposes their owners to shocks such as the selfish clown
can never know. It would be a great mistake to suppose that all
psychical upsets are due to vanity, to anger, to terror, to sexual
passion. The instincts of personal cleanliness and of feminine modesty
are responsible for many a breakdown of a sensitive, but not a
relatively _feeble_ organisation. The love of one's fellow-creatures and
the love of God are responsible for many more. And why should it not be
so? There exist for many men and women stimuli far stronger than
self-esteem or bodily desires. Human life rests more and more upon ideas
and emotions whose relation to the conservation of the race or of the
individual is indirect and obscure. Feelings which may once have been
utilitarian have developed wholly out of proportion to any advantage
which they can gain for their possessor in the struggle for life. The
dangers which are now most shudderingly felt are often no real risks to
life or fortune. The aims most ardently pursued are often worse than
useless for man regarded as a mere over-runner of the earth.

There is thus real psychological danger in fixing our conception of
human character too low. Some essential lessons of a complex
perturbation of personality are apt to be missed if we begin with the
conviction that there is nothing before us but a study of decay. As I
have more than once found need to maintain, it is his steady advance,
and not his occasional regression, which makes the chief concern of man.

To this side of the study of hysteria Drs. Breuer and Freud have made
valuable contribution. Drawing their patients not from hospital wards,
but from private practice, they have had the good fortune to encounter,
and the penetration to understand, some remarkable cases where unselfish
but powerful passions have proved too much for the equilibrium of minds
previously well-fortified both by principle and by education.[11]

"Wax to receive and marble to retain"; such, as we all have felt, is the
human mind in moments of excitement which transcend its resistant
powers. This may be for good or for evil, may tend to that radical
change in ethical standpoint which is called _conversion_, or to the
mere setting-up of some hysterical disability. Who shall say how far we
desire to be susceptible to stimulus? Most rash would it be to assign
any fixed limit, or to class as inferior those whose main difference
from ourselves may be that they feel sincerely and passionately what we
feel torpidly, or perhaps only affect to feel. "The term degenerate,"
says Dr. Milne Bramwell, "is applied so freely and widely by some modern
authors that one cannot help concluding that they rank as such all who
do not conform to some primitive, savage type, possessing an imperfectly
developed nervous system." Our "degenerates" may sometimes be in truth
_progenerate_; and their perturbation may mask an evolution which we or
our children needs must traverse when they have shown the way.

Let us pause for a moment and consider what is here implied. We are
getting here among the _hystériques qui mènent le monde_. We have
advanced, that is to say, from the region of _idées fixes_ of a paltry
or morbid type to the region of _idées fixes_ which in themselves are
reasonable and honourable, and which become morbid only on account of
their relative intensity. Here is the debateable ground between hysteria
and genius. The kind of genius which we approach here is not, indeed,
the purely intellectual form. Rather it is the "moral genius," the
"genius of sanctity," or that "possession" by some altruistic idea which
lies at the root of so many heroic lives.

The hagiology of all religions offers endless examples of this type.
That man would hardly be regarded as a great saint whose conduct seemed
completely reasonable to the mass of mankind. The saint in consequence
is apt to be set unduly apart, whether for veneration or for ridicule.
He is regarded either as inspired or as morbid; when in reality all that
his mode of life shows is that certain _idées fixes_, in themselves of
no unworthy kind, have obtained such dominance that their impulsive
action may take and retake, as accident wills, the step between the
sublime and the ridiculous.

Martyrs, missionaries, crusaders, nihilists,--enthusiasts of any kind
who are swayed by impulses largely below the threshold of ordinary
consciousness,--these men bring to bear on human affairs a force more
concentrated and at higher tension than deliberate reason can generate.
They are virtually carrying out self-suggestions which have acquired the
permanence of _idées fixes_. Their fixed ideas, however, are not so
isolated, so encysted as those of true hysterics. Although more deeply
and immutably rooted than their ideas on other matters, these subliminal
convictions are worked in with the products of supraliminal reason, and
of course can only thus be made effective over other minds. A deep
subliminal horror, generated, say, by the sight of some loathsome
cruelty, must not only prompt hallucinations,--as it might do in the
hysteric and has often done in the reformer as well,--it must also, if
it is to work out its mission of reform, be held clearly before the
supraliminal reason, and must learn to express itself in writing or
speech adapted to influence ordinary minds.

       *       *       *       *       *

We may now pass from the first to the second of the categories of
disintegration of personality suggested at the beginning of this
chapter. The cases which I have thus far discussed have been mainly
cases of _isolation_ of elements of personality. We have not dealt as
yet with _secondary personalities_ as such. There is, however, a close
connection between these two classes. There are cases, for example,
where a kind of secondary state at times intervenes--a sort of
bewilderment arising from confluent _idées fixes_ and overrunning the
whole personality. This new state is often preceded or accompanied by
something of somnambulic change. It is this new feature of which we have
here a first hint which seems to me of sufficient importance for the
diagnosis of my second class of psychical disintegrations. This second
class starts from sleep-wakings of all kinds, and includes all stages of
alternation of personality, from brief somnambulisms up to those
permanent and thorough changes which deserve the name of dimorphisms.

We are making here a transition somewhat resembling the transition from
isolated bodily injuries to those subtler changes of diathesis which
change of climate or of nutrition may induce. Something has happened
which makes the organism react to all stimuli in a new way. Our best
starting-point for the study of these secondary states lies among the
phenomena of _dream_.

We shall in a later chapter discuss certain rare characteristics of
dreams; occasional manifestations in sleep of waking faculty heightened,
or of faculty altogether new. We have now to consider ordinary dreams
in their aspect as indications of the structure of our personality, and
as agencies which tend to its modification.

In the first place, it should be borne in mind that the dreaming state,
though I will not call it the normal form of mentation, is nevertheless
the form which our mentation most readily and habitually assumes. Dreams
of a kind are probably going on within us both by night and by day,
unchecked by any degree of tension of waking thought. This
view--theoretically probable--seems to me to be supported by one's own
actual experience in momentary dozes or even momentary lapses of
attention. The condition of which one then becomes conscious is that of
swarming fragments of thought or imagery, which have apparently been
going on continuously, though one may become aware of them and then
unaware at momentary intervals;--while one tries, for instance, to
listen to a speech or to read a book aloud between sleep and waking.

This, then, is the kind of mentation from which our clearer and more
coherent states may be supposed to develop. Waking life implies a
fixation of attention on one thread of thought running through a tangled
skein. In hysterical patients we see some cases where no such fixation
is possible, and other cases where the fixation is involuntary, or
follows a thread which it is not desirable to pursue.

There is, moreover, another peculiarity of dreams which has hardly
attracted sufficient notice from psychologists, but which it is
essential to review when we are dealing with fractionations of
personality.[12] I allude to their _dramatic_ character. In dream, to
begin with, we have an environment, a surrounding scene which we have
not wittingly invented, but which we find, as it were, awaiting our
entry. And in many cases our dream contains a _conversation_ in which we
await with eagerness and hear with surprise the remarks of our
interlocutor, who must, of course, all the time represent only another
segment or stratum of ourselves. This duplication may become either
painful or pleasant. A feverish dream may simulate the confusions of
insanity--cases where the patient believes himself to be two persons at
once, and the like. [See R. L. Stevenson's dream, given in Appendix II.
A] These complications rarely cause the dreamer any surprise. One may
even say that with the first touch of sleep the superficial unity of
consciousness disappears, and that the dream world gives a truer
representation than the waking world of the real fractionation or
multiplicity existing beneath that delusive simplicity which the glare
of waking consciousness imposes upon the mental field of view.

Bearing these analogies in mind, we shall see that the development of
somnambulism out of ordinary dream is no isolated oddity. It is parallel
to the development of a secondary state from _idées fixes_ when these
have passed a certain pitch of intensity. The sleep-waking states which
develop from sleep have the characteristics which we should expect from
their largely subliminal origin. They are less coherent than waking
secondary personalities, but richer in supernormal faculty. It is in
connection with displays of such faculty--hyperæsthesia or
telæsthesia--that they have been mainly observed, and that I shall, in a
future chapter, have most need to deal with them. But there is also
great interest simply in observing what fraction of the sleep-waker's
personality is able to hold intercourse with other minds. A trivial
instance of such intercourse reduced to its lowest point has often
recurred to me. When I was a boy another boy sleeping in the same room
began to talk in his sleep. To some slight extent he could answer me;
and the names and other words uttered--_Harry, the boat_, etc.--were
appropriate to the day's incidents, and would have been enough to prove
to me, had I not otherwise known, who the boy was. But his few coherent
remarks represented not facts but dreaming fancies--_the boat is
waiting_, and so forth. This trivial jumble, I say, has since recurred
to me as precisely parallel to many communications professing to come
from disembodied spirits. There are other explanations, no doubt, but
one explanation of such incoherent utterances would be that the spirit
was speaking under conditions resembling those in which this sleeping
boy spoke.

There are, of course, many stages above this. Spontaneous somnambulistic
states become longer in duration, more coherent in content, and may
gradually merge, as in the well-known case of Félida X. (see Appendix
II. C) into a continuous or dimorphic new personality.

The transition which has now to be made is a very decided one. We have
been dealing with a class of secondary personalities consisting of
elements _emotionally selected_ from the total or primary personality.
We have seen some special group of feelings grow to morbid intensity,
until at last it dominates the sufferer's mental being, either fitfully
or continuously, but to such an extent that he is "a changed person,"
not precisely insane, but quite other than he was when in normal mental
health. In such cases the new personality is of course dyed in the
morbid emotion. It is a kind of dramatic impersonation, say, of
jealousy, or of fear, like the case of "demoniacal possession," quoted
from Dr. Janet in Appendix II. B. In other respects the severance
between the new and the old self is not very profound. Dissociations of
memory, for instance, are seldom beyond the reach of hypnotic
suggestion. The cleavage has not gone down to the depths of the
psychical being.

We must now go on to cases where the origin of the cleavage seems to us
quite arbitrary, but where the cleavage itself seems even for that very
reason to be more profound. It is no longer a question of some one
morbidly exaggerated emotion, but rather of a scrap of the personality
taken at random and developing apart from the rest.

The commonest mode of origin for such secondary personalities is from
some access of sleep-waking, which, instead of merging into sleep again,
repeats and consolidates itself, until it acquires a chain of memories
of its own, alternating with the primary chain.[13]

And now, as an illustration of a secondary condition purely
degenerative, I may first mention _post-epileptic_ states, although they
belong too definitely to pathology for full discussion here.
Post-epileptic conditions may run parallel to almost all the secondary
phases which we have described. They may to all outward semblance
closely resemble normality,--differing mainly by a lack of rational
_purpose_, and perhaps by a recurrence to the habits and ideas of some
earlier moment in the patient's history. Such a condition resembles some
hypnotic trances, and some factitious personalities as developed by
automatic writing. Or, again, the post-epileptic state may resemble a
suddenly developed _idée fixe_ triumphing over all restraint, and may
prompt to serious crime, abhorrent to the normal, but premeditated in
the morbid state. There could not, in fact, be a better example of the
unchecked rule of middle-level centres;--no longer secretly controlled,
as in hypnotic trance, by the higher-level centres,--which centres in
the epileptic are in a state not merely of psychological abeyance, but
of physiological exhaustion.[14]

The case of Ansel Bourne is interesting in this connection.[15] Subject
from childhood to fits of deep depression, and presenting in later life
symptoms suggestive of epilepsy, Ansel Bourne was struck down in his
thirty-first year by what was supposed to be a severe sunstroke.
Connected with this event were circumstances which led to a profound
religious conversion. At sixty-one years of age, being at that time an
itinerant preacher, and living in the small town of Greene, in the State
of Rhode Island, Ansel Bourne disappeared one morning, whilst apparently
in his usual state of health, and remained undiscovered for a period of
two months. At the end of this time he turned up at Norristown,
Pennsylvania, where for the previous six weeks he had been keeping a
small variety store under the name of A. J. Brown, appearing to his
neighbours and customers as an ordinary normal person, but being, as it
would seem, in a somnambulistic condition all the while. When he
regained his ordinary waking consciousness, Ansel Bourne lost all memory
of his actions while in his secondary state. In the year 1890, however,
having been hypnotised by Professor James, he was able while in the
trance state to give an account of his doings during the eight weeks
that the Brown personality lasted.

In this case it is perhaps safest to regard the change of personality as
_post-epileptic_, although I know of no recorded parallel to the length
of time during which the influence of the attack must have continued.
The effect on mind and character would suit well enough with this
hypothesis. The "Brown" personality showed the narrowness of interests
and the uninquiring indifference which is common in such states. But on
this theory the case shows one striking novelty, namely, the recall by
the aid of hypnotism of the memory of the post-epileptic state. It is
doubtful, I think, whether any definite post-epileptic memory had ever
previously been recovered. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether
serious recourse had ever been had at such times to hypnotic methods,
whose increasing employment certainly differentiates the latter from the
earlier cases of split personality in a very favourable way. And this
application of hypnotism to post-epileptic states affords us possibly
our best chance--I do not say of directly checking epilepsy, but of
getting down to the obscure conditions which predispose to each attack.

Next we may mention two cases reported by Dr. Proust and M. Boeteau. Dr.
Proust's patient,[16] Emile X., aged thirty-three, was a barrister in
Paris. Although of good ability and education in classical studies, both
as a boy and at the university he was always nervous and over sensitive,
showing signs, in fact, of _la grande hystérie_. During his attacks he
apparently underwent no loss of consciousness, but would lose the
memory of all his past life during a few minutes or a few days, and in
this condition of secondary consciousness would lead an active and
apparently normal life. From such a state he woke suddenly, and was
entirely without memory of what had happened to him in this secondary
state. This memory was, however, restored by hypnotism.

M. Boeteau's patient, Marie M.,[17] had been subject to hysterical
attacks since she was twelve years old. She became an out-patient at the
Hôpital Andral for these attacks: and on April 24, 1891, being then
twenty-two years old, the house physician there advised her to enter the
surgical ward at the Hôtel-Dieu, as she would probably need an operation
for an internal trouble. Greatly shocked by this news, she left the
hospital at ten A.M., and lost consciousness. When she recovered
consciousness she found herself in quite another hospital--that of Ste.
Anne--at six A.M. on April 27. She had been found wandering in the
streets of Paris, in the evening of the day on which she left the
Hôpital Andral. On returning to herself, she could recollect absolutely
nothing of what had passed in the interval. While she was thus perplexed
at her unexplained fatigue and footsoreness, and at the gap in her
memory, M. Boeteau hypnotised her. She passed with ease into the
hypnotic state, and at once remembered the events which filled at least
the earlier part of the gap in her primary consciousness.

These two cases belong to the same general type as Ansel Bourne's. There
does not seem, however, to be any definite evidence that the secondary
state was connected with epileptic attacks. It was referred rather by
the physicians who witnessed it to a functional derangement analogous to
hysteria, though it must be remembered that there are various forms of
epilepsy which are not completely understood, and some of which may be
overlooked by persons who are not familiar with the symptoms.

Another remarkable case is that of the Rev. Thomas C. Hanna,[18] in whom
complete amnesia followed an accident. By means of a method which Dr.
Sidis (who studied the case) calls "hypnoidisation," he was able to
prove that the patient had all his lost memories stored in his
subliminal consciousness, and could temporarily recall them to the
supraliminal. By degrees the two personalities which had developed
since the accident were thus fused into one and the patient was
completely cured.

For another case of the ambulatory type, like Ansel Bourne's, but
remarkable in that it was associated with a definite physical lesion--an
abscess in the ear--the cure of which was followed by the rapid return
of the patient to his normal condition, see Dr. Drewry's article in the
_Medico-Legal Journal_ for June 1896 [228 A].

Again, in a case reported by Dr. David Skae,[19] the secondary state
seems to owe its origin to a kind of tidal exhaustion of vitality, as
though the repose of sleep were not enough to sustain the weakened
personality, which lapsed on alternate days into exhaustion and

The secondary personalities thus far dealt with have been the
spontaneous results of some form of _misère psychologique_, of defective
integration of the psychical being. But there are also cases where, the
cohesion being thus released, a slight touch from without can effect
dissociations which, however shallow and almost playful in their first
inception, may stiffen by repetition into phases as marked and definite
as those secondary states which spring up of themselves, that is to say,
from self-suggestions which we cannot trace. In Professor Janet's
_L'Automatisme Psychologique_ the reader will find some instructive
examples of these fictitious secondary personalities [230 A and B].

Up to this point the secondary states which we have considered; however
startling to old-fashioned ideas of personality, may, at any rate, be
regarded as forms of mental derangement or decay--varieties on a theme
already known. Now, however, we approach a group of cases to which it is
difficult to make any such definition apply. They are cases where the
secondary state is _not_ obviously a degeneration;--where it may even
appear to be in some ways an _improvement_ on the primary; so that one
is left wondering how it came about that the man either originally was
what he was, or--being what he was--suddenly became something so very
different. There has been a shake given to the kaleidoscope, and no one
can say why either arrangement of the component pieces should have had
the priority.

In the classical case of Félida X. the second state is, as regards
health and happiness, markedly superior to the first. (See Appendix II.

The old case of Mary Reynolds[20] is again remarkable in respect of the
change of character involved. The deliverance from gloomy
preoccupations--the childish insouciance of the secondary state--again
illustrates the difference between these _allotropic_ changes or
reconstructions of personality and that mere predominance of a morbid
factor which marked the cases of _idée fixe_ and hysteria. Observe,
also, in Mary Reynolds's case the tendency of the two states gradually
to _coalesce_ apparently in a third phase likely to be preferable to
either of the two already known.

We now come to spontaneous cases of multiple personality, of which Louis
Vivé's is one of the best known. Louis Vivé exhibited an extraordinary
number and variety of phases of personality, affording an extreme
example of dissociations dependent on _time-relations_, on the special
epoch of life in which the subject was ordered to find himself.[21]
Among various conditions of his organism--all but one of them implying,
or at least simulating, some grave central lesion--any given condition
could be revived in a moment, and the whole gamut of changes rung on his
nervous system as easily as if one were setting back or forward a
continuous cinematograph. It is hard to frame a theory of memory which
shall admit of these sudden reversions,--of playing fast and loose in
this manner with the accumulated impressions of years.

Yet if Louis Vivé's case thus strangely intensifies the already puzzling
notion of _ecmnesia_--as though the whole organism could be tricked into
forgetting the events which had most deeply stamped it--what are we to
say to Dr. Morton Prince's case of "Sally Beauchamp,"[22] with its
grotesque exaggeration of a subliminal self--a kind of hostile bedfellow
which knows everything and remembers everything--which mocks the
emotions and thwarts the projects of the ordinary reasonable self which
can be seen and known? The case must be studied in full as it stands;
its later developments may help to unravel the mysteries which its
earlier stages have already woven.[23]

I quote in full in the text the next case, reported by Dr. R. Osgood
Mason (in a paper entitled "Duplex Personality: its Relation to
Hypnotism and to Lucidity," in the _Journal of the American Medical
Association_, November 30th, 1895). Dr. Mason writes:--

     Alma Z. was an unusually healthy and intellectual girl, a strong
     and attractive character, a leading spirit in whatever she
     undertook, whether in study, sport, or society. From overwork in
     school, and overtaxed strength in a case of sickness at home, her
     health was completely broken down, and after two years of great
     suffering suddenly a second personality appeared. In a peculiar
     child-like and Indian-like dialect she announced herself as
     "Twoey," and that she had come to help "Number One" in her
     suffering. The condition of "Number One" was at this time most
     deplorable; there was great pain, extreme debility, frequent
     attacks of syncope, insomnia, and a mercurial stomatitis which had
     been kept up for months by way of medical treatment and which
     rendered it nearly impossible to take nourishment in any form.
     "Twoey" was vivacious and cheerful, full of quaint and witty talk,
     never lost consciousness, and could take abundant nourishment,
     which she declared she _must_ do for the sake of "Number One." Her
     talk was most quaint and fascinating, but without a trace of the
     acquired knowledge of the primary personality. She gave frequent
     evidence of supranormal intelligence regarding events transpiring
     in the neighbourhood. It was at this time that the case came under
     my observation, and has remained so for the past ten years. Four
     years later, under depressing circumstances, a third personality
     made its appearance and announced itself as "The Boy." This
     personality was entirely distinct and different from either of the
     others. It remained the chief alternating personality for four
     years, when "Twoey" again returned.

     All these personalities, though absolutely different and
     characteristic, were delightful each in its own way, and "Twoey"
     especially was, and still is, the delight of the friends who are
     permitted to know her, whenever she makes her appearance; and this
     is always at times of unusual fatigue, mental excitement, or
     prostration; then she comes and remains days at a time. The
     original self retains her superiority when she is present, and the
     others are always perfectly devoted to her interest and comfort.
     "Number One" has no personal knowledge of either of the other
     personalities, but she knows them well, and especially "Twoey,"
     from the report of others and from characteristic letters which are
     often received from her; and "Number One" greatly enjoys the spicy,
     witty, and often useful messages which come to her through these
     letters and the report of friends.

Dr. Mason goes on to say:--

     Here are three cases [the one just given, that of another patient
     of his own, and that of Félida X.] in which a second
     personality--perfectly sane, thoroughly practical, and perfectly in
     touch and harmony with its surroundings--came to the surface, so to
     speak, and assumed absolute control of the physical organisation
     for long periods of time together. During the stay of the second
     personality the primary or original self was entirely blotted out,
     and the time so occupied was a blank. In neither of the cases
     described had the primary self any knowledge of the second
     personality, except from the report of others or letters from the
     second self, left where they could be found on the return of the
     primary self to consciousness. The second personality, on the other
     hand, in each case, knew of the primary self, but only as another
     person--never as forming a part of, or in any way belonging to
     their own personalities. In the case of both Félida X. and Alma Z.,
     there was always immediate and marked improvement in the physical
     condition when the second personality made its appearance.

The case of Mollie Fancher,[24] which, had it been observed and recorded
with scientific accuracy, might have been one of the most instructive of
all, seems to stand midway between the transformations of Louis
Vivé--each of them frankly himself at a different epoch of life--and the
"pseudo-possessions" of imaginary spirits with which we shall in a later
chapter have to deal.

The case of Anna Winsor[25] goes so far further in its suggestion of
interference from without that it presents to us, at any rate, a
contrast and even conflict between positive insanity on the part of the
organism generally with wise and watchful sanity on the part of a single
limb, with which that organism professes to have no longer any concern.

The last case[26] that I shall mention is that of Miss Mary Lurancy
Vennum, the "Watseka Wonder."

The case briefly is one of alleged "possession," or "spirit-control."
The subject of the account, a girl nearly fourteen years old, living at
Watseka, Illinois, became apparently controlled by the spirit of Mary
Roff, a neighbour's daughter, who had died at the age of eighteen years
and nine months, when Lurancy Vennum was a child of about fifteen months
old. The most extraordinary feature in the case was that the control by
Mary Roff lasted almost continuously for a period of four months.

For the present we must consider this case as a duplication of
personality--a pseudo-possession, if you will--determined in a
hysterical child by the suggestion of friends, but at a later stage, and
when some other wonders have become more familiar than now, we may find
that this singular narrative has further lessons to teach us.

We have now briefly surveyed a series of disintegrations of personality
ranging from the most trifling _idée fixe_ to actual alternations or
permanent changes of the whole type of character. All these form a kind
of continuous series, and illustrate the structure of the personality in
concordant ways. There do exist, it must be added, other forms of
modified personality with which I shall not at present deal. Those are
cases where some telepathic influence from outside has been at work, so
that there is not merely dissociation of existing elements, but apparent
introduction of a novel element. Such cases also pass through a long
series, from small phenomena of motor automatism up to trance and
so-called possession. But all this group I mention here merely in order
to defer their discussion to later chapters.

The brief review already made will suffice to indicate the complex and
separable nature of the elements of human personality. Of course a far
fuller list might have been given; many phenomena of actual insanity
would need to be cited in any complete conspectus. But hysteria is in
some ways a better dissecting agent than any other where delicate
psychical dissociations are concerned. Just as the microscopist stains a
particular tissue for observation, so does hysteria stain with
definiteness, as it were, particular synergies--definite complexes of
thought and action--more manifestly than any grosser lesion, any more
profound or persistent injury could do. Hysterical mutism, for instance
(the observation is Charcot's[27]), supplies almost the only cases where
the faculty of vocal utterance is attacked in a quite isolated way. In
aphasia dependent upon organic injury we generally find other
word-memories attacked also,--elements of agraphy, of word-blindness, of
word-deafness appear. In the hysteric the incapacity to speak may be the
single symptom. So with anæsthesiæ; we find in hysteria a separation of
sensibility to heat and to pain, possibly even a separate subsistence of
electrical sensibility. It is worth remarking here that it was during
the hypnotic trance, which in delicacy of discriminating power resembles
hysteria, that (so far as I can make out) the distinctness of the
temperature-sense from the pain-sense was first observed. Esdaile, when
removing tumours under mesmerism in Calcutta, noticed that patients, who
were actually undergoing capital operations without a murmur, complained
if a draught blew in upon them from an open window.

Nor is it only as a dissecting agent that hysteria can aid our research.
There are in hysteria frequent _acquisitions_ as well as _losses_ of
faculty. It is not unusual to find great hyperæsthesia in certain
special directions--of touch, hearing, perception of light,
etc.--combined with hysterical loss of sensation of other kinds. This
subject will be more conveniently treated along with the hyperæsthesia
of the hypnotic trance. But I may note here that just such occasional
quickenings of faculty were, in my view, almost certain to accompany
that instability of psychical threshold which is the distinguishing
characteristic of hysteria, since I hold that subliminal faculty
habitually overpasses supraliminal. These also are a kind of capricious
_idées fixes_; only the caprice in such cases raises what was previously
submerged instead of exaggerating what was previously emergent.

And from this point it is that our inquiries must now take their fresh
departure. We in this work are concerned with changes which are the
_converse_ of hysterical changes. We are looking for integrations in
lieu of disintegrations; for intensifications of control, widenings of
faculty, instead of relaxation, scattering, or decay.

Suppose, then, that in a case of instability of the psychical
threshold,--ready _permeability_, if you will, of the psychical
diaphragm separating the supraliminal from the subliminal self,--the
elements of emergence tend to increase and the elements of submergence
to diminish. Suppose that the permeability depends upon the force of the
uprushes from below the diaphragm rather than on the tendency to sink
downwards from above it. We shall then reach the point where the vague
name of _hysteria_ must give place to the vague name of _genius_. The
uprushes from the subliminal self will now be the important feature; the
down-draught from the supraliminal, if it still exists, will be trivial
in comparison. The content of the uprush will be congruous with the
train of voluntary thought; and the man of genius will be a man more
capable than others of utilising for his waking purposes the subliminal
region of his being.

Next in order to the uprushes of genius will come the uprushes of dream.
All men pass normally and healthily into a second phase of personality,
alternating with the first. That is _sleep_, and sleep is characterised
by those incoherent forms of subliminal uprush which we know as dreams.
It is here that our evidence for telepathy and telæsthesia will first
present itself for discussion. Sleep will indicate the existence of
submerged faculty of a rarer type than even that to which genius has
already testified.

There are, moreover, other states, both spontaneous and induced,
analogous to sleep, and these will form the subject of the fifth
chapter, that on Hypnotism. Hypnotism, however, does not mean trance or
somnambulism only. It is a name, if not for the whole _ensemble_, yet
for a large group of those artifices which we have as yet discovered for
the purpose of eliciting and utilising subliminal faculty. The results
of hypnotic suggestion will be found to imitate sometimes the subliminal
uprushes of genius, and sometimes the visions of spontaneous
somnambulism; while they also open to us fresh and characteristic
accesses into subliminal knowledge and power.

Further than this point our immediate forecast need not go. But when we
have completed the survey here indicated, we shall see, I think, how
significant are the phenomena of hysteria in any psychological scheme
which aims at including the hidden powers of man. For much as the
hysteric stands in comparison to us ordinary men, so perhaps do we
ordinary men stand in comparison with a not impossible ideal of faculty
and of self-control.

But apart from these broader speculations, it has become evident that
disturbances of personality are not mere empty marvels, but
psycho-pathological problems of the utmost interest:--no one of them
exactly like another, and no one of them without some possible _aperçu_
into the intimate structure of man.

The purpose of this book, of course, is not primarily practical. It aims
rather at the satisfaction of scientific curiosity as to man's psychical
structure; esteeming _that_ as a form of experimental research which the
more urgent needs of therapeutics have kept in the background too long.
Yet it may not have been amiss to realise thus, on the threshold of our
discussion, that already even the most delicate speculations in this
line have found their justification in helpful act; that strange
bewilderments, paralysing perturbations, which no treatment could
alleviate, no drug control, have been soothed and stablished into sanity
by some appropriate and sagacious mode of appeal to a _natura
medicatrix_ deep-hidden in the labouring breast.



    Igneus est ollis vigor et cœlestis origo
    Seminibus, quantum non noxia corpora tardant
    Terrenique hebetant artus moribundaque membra.


In my second chapter I made no formal attempt to define that human
personality which is to form the main subject of this book. I was
content to take the conception roughly for granted, and to enter at once
on the study of the lapses of personality into abnormal
conditions,--short of the lowest depths of idiocy or madness. From that
survey it appeared that these degenerations could be traced to some
defect in that central control which ought to clasp and integrate into
steady manhood the hierarchies of living cells which compose the human
organism. This insight into the Self's decay was the needed prerequisite
to our present task--that of apprehending its true normality, and
thereafter of analysing certain obscurer faculties which indicate the
line of its evolution during and after the life of earth.

Strength and concentration of the inward unifying control--_that_ must
be the true normality which we seek; and in seeking it we must remember
how much of psychical operation goes on below the conscious threshold,
imperfectly obedient to any supraliminal appeal. What advance can we
make in inward mastery? how far extend our grasp over the whole range of
faculty with which we are obscurely endowed?

"Human perfectibility" has been the theme of many enthusiasts; and many
utopian schemes of society have been and still are suggested, which
postulate in the men and women of the future an increase in moral and
physical health and vigour. And it is plain that in a broad and general
way natural selection, sexual selection, and the advance of science are
working together towards improvements of these kinds. But it is plain
also that these onward tendencies, at least in comparison with our
desires and ideals, are slow and uncertain; and it is possible to argue
that the apparent advance in our race is due merely to the improvement
which science has affected in its material environment, and not to any
real development, during the historical period, in the character or
faculties of man himself. Nay, since we have no means of knowing to what
extent any genus has an inward potentiality of improvement, it is
possible for the pessimist to argue that the _genus homo_ has reached
its fore-ordained evolutionary limit; so that it cannot be pushed
further in any direction without risk of nervous instability, sterility,
and ultimate extinction. Some dim apprehension of this kind lends
plausibility to many popular diatribes. Dr. Max Nordau's works afford a
well-known example of this line of protest against the present age as an
age of overwork and of nervous exhaustion. And narrowing the vague
discussion to a somewhat more definite test, Professor Lombroso and
other anthropologists have discussed the characteristics of the "man of
genius"; with the result of showing (as they believe) that this
apparently highest product of the race is in reality not a culminant but
an aberrant manifestation; and that men of genius must be classed with
criminals and lunatics, as persons in whom a want of balance or
completeness of organisation has led on to an over-development of one
side of the nature;--helpful or injurious to other men as accident may

On this point I shall join issue; and I shall suggest, on the other
hand, that Genius--if that vaguely used word is to receive anything like
a psychological definition--should rather be regarded as a power of
utilising a wider range than other men can utilise of faculties in some
degree innate in all;--a power of appropriating the results of
subliminal mentation to subserve the supraliminal stream of thought;--so
that an "inspiration of Genius" will be in truth a _subliminal uprush_,
an emergence into the current of ideas which the man is consciously
manipulating of other ideas which he has not consciously originated, but
which have shaped themselves beyond his will, in profounder regions of
his being. I shall urge that there is here no real departure from
normality; no abnormality, at least in the sense of degeneration; but
rather a fulfilment of the true norm of man, with suggestions, it may
be, of something _supernormal_;--of something which transcends existing
normality as an advanced stage of evolutionary progress transcends an
earlier stage.

But before proceeding further I wish to guard against a possible
misapprehension. I shall be obliged in this chapter to dwell on valuable
aid rendered by subliminal mentation; but I do not mean to imply that
such mentation is _ipso facto superior_ to supraliminal, or even that it
covers a large proportion of practically useful human achievement. When
I say "The differentia of genius lies in an increased control over
subliminal mentation," I express, I think, a well-evidenced thesis, and
I suggest an important inference,--namely, that the man of genius is for
us the best type of the normal man, in so far as he effects a successful
co-operation of an unusually large number of elements of his
personality--reaching a stage of integration slightly in advance of our
own. Thus much I wish to say: but my thesis is not to be pushed
further:--as though I claimed that all our best thought was subliminal,
or that all that was subliminal was potentially "inspiration."

It is true, however, that the range of our subliminal mentation is more
extended than the range of our supraliminal. At one end of the scale we
find _dreams_,--a normal subliminal product, but of less practical value
than any form of sane supraliminal thought. At the other end of the
scale we find that the rarest, most precious knowledge comes to us from
outside the ordinary field,--through the eminently subliminal processes
of telepathy, telæsthesia, ecstasy. And between these two extremes lie
many subliminal products, varying in value according to the dignity and
trustworthiness of the subliminal mentation concerned.

This last phrase--inevitably obscure--may be illustrated by reference to
that hierarchical arrangement of _supraliminal_ action and perception
which Dr. Hughlings Jackson has so used as to clear up much previous
confusion of thought. Following him, we now speak of highest-level
nerve-centres, governing our highest, most complex thought and will; of
middle-level centres, governing movements of voluntary muscles, and the
like; and of lowest-level centres (which from my point of view are
purely subliminal), governing those automatic processes, as respiration
and circulation, which are independent of conscious rule, but necessary
to the maintenance of life. We can roughly judge from the nature of any
observed action whether the highest-level centres are directing it, or
whether they are for the time inhibited, so that middle-level centres
operate uncontrolled.

Thus ordinary speech and writing are ruled by highest-level centres. But
when an epileptic discharge of nervous energy has exhausted the
highest-level centres, we see the middle-level centres operating
unchecked, and producing the convulsive movements of arms and legs in
the "fit." As these centres in their turn become exhausted, the patient
is left to the guidance of lowest-level centres alone;--that is to say,
he becomes comatose, though he continues to breathe as regularly as

Now this series of phenomena,--_descending_ in coherence and
coordination from an active consensus of the whole organism to a mere
automatic maintenance of its most stably organised processes,--may be
pretty closely paralleled by the series of subliminal phenomena also.

Sometimes we seem to see our subliminal perceptions and faculties acting
truly in unity, truly as a Self;--co-ordinated into some harmonious
"inspiration of genius," or some profound and reasonable hypnotic
self-reformation, or some far-reaching supernormal achievement of
clairvoyant vision or of self-projection into a spiritual world.
Whatever of subliminal personality is thus acting corresponds with the
highest-level centres of supraliminal life. At such moments the
_subliminal_ represents (as I believe) most nearly what will become the
_surviving_ Self.

But it seems that this degree of clarity, of integration, cannot be long
preserved. Much oftener we find the subliminal perceptions and faculties
acting in less co-ordinated, less coherent ways. We have products which,
while containing traces of some faculty beyond our common scope,
involve, nevertheless, something as random and meaningless as the
discharge of the uncontrolled middle-level centres of arms and legs in
the epileptic fit. We get, in short, a series of phenomena which the
term _dream-like_ seems best to describe.

In the realm of genius,--of uprushes of thought and feeling fused
beneath the conscious threshold into artistic shape,--we get no longer
masterpieces but half-insanities,--not the Sistine Madonna, but Wiertz's
Vision of the Guillotined Head; not _Kubla Khan_, but the disordered
opium dream. Throughout all the work of William Blake (I should say) we
see the subliminal self flashing for moments into unity, then
smouldering again in a lurid and scattered glow.

In the realm of hypnotism, again, we sink from the reasonable
self-suggestion to the "platform experiments,"--the smelling of ammonia,
the eating of tallow candles;--all the tricks which show a _profound_
control, but not a _wise_ control, over the arcana of organic life. I
speak, of course, of the subject's _own_ control over his organism; for
in the last resort it is _he_ and not his hypnotiser who really
exercises that directive power. And I compare these tricks of
middle-level subliminal centres to the powerful yet irrational control
which the middle-level centres ruling the epileptic's arms and legs
exercise over his muscles in the violence of the epileptic attack.

And so again with the _automatisms_ which are, one may say, the
subliminal self's peculiar province. Automatic script, for instance, may
represent highest-level subliminal centres, even when no extraneous
spirit, but the automatist's own mind alone, is concerned. It will then
give us true telepathic messages, or perhaps messages of high moral
import, surpassing the automatist's conscious powers. But much oftener
the automatic script is regulated by what I have called middle-level
subliminal centres only;--and then, though we may have scraps of
supernormal intelligence, we have confusion and incoherence as well. We
have the falsity which the disgusted automatist is sometimes fain to
ascribe to a devil; though it is in reality not a devil, but a dream.

And hence again, just as the epileptic sinks lower and lower in the
fit,--from the incoordinated movements of the limbs down to the mere
stertorous breathing of coma,--so do these incoherent automatisms sink
down at last, through the utterances and drawings of the degenerate and
the paranoiac,--through mere fragmentary dreams, or vague impersonal
bewilderment,--into the minimum psychical concomitant, whatever that be,
which must coexist with brain-circulation.

Such is the apparent parallelism; but of course no knowledge of a
hierarchy of the familiar forms of nervous action can really explain to
us the mysterious fluctuations of subliminal power.

When we speak of the highest-level and other centres which govern our
supraliminal being, and which are fitted to direct this planetary life
in a material world, we can to some extent point out actual
brain-centres whose action enables us to meet those needs. What are the
needs of our cosmic life we do not know; nor can we indicate any point
in our organism (as in the "solar plexus," or the like), which is
adapted to meet them. We cannot even either affirm or deny that such
spiritual life as we maintain while incarnated in this material envelope
involves any physical concomitants at all.

For my part, I feel forced to fall back upon the old-world conception of
a _soul_ which exercises an imperfect and fluctuating control over the
organism; and exercises that control, I would add, along two main
channels, only partly coincident--that of ordinary consciousness,
adapted to the maintenance and guidance of earth-life; and that of
subliminal consciousness, adapted to the maintenance of our larger
spiritual life during our confinement in the flesh.

We men, therefore, _clausi tenebris et carcere cæco_, can sometimes
widen, as we must sometimes narrow, our outlook on the reality of
things. In mania or epilepsy we lose control even of those highest-level
supraliminal centres on which our rational earth-life depends. But
through automatism and in trance and allied states we draw into
supraliminal life some rivulet from the undercurrent stream. If the
subliminal centres which we thus impress into our waking service
correspond to the _middle-level_ only, they may bring to us merely error
and confusion; if they correspond to the highest-level, they may
introduce us to previously unimagined truth.

It is to work done by the aid of some such subliminal uprush, I say once
more, that the word "genius" may be most fitly applied. "A work of
genius," indeed, in common parlance, means a work which satisfies two
quite distinct requirements. It must involve something original,
spontaneous, unteachable, unexpected; and it must also in some way win
for itself the admiration of mankind. Now, psychologically speaking, the
first of these requirements corresponds to a real class, the second to a
purely accidental one. What the poet feels while he writes his poem is
the psychological fact in _his_ history; what his friends feel while
they read it may be a psychological fact in _their_ history, but does
not alter the poet's creative effort, which was what it was, whether any
one but himself ever reads his poem or no.

And popular phraseology justifies our insistence upon this subjective
side of genius. Thus it is common to say that "Hartley Coleridge" (for
example) "was a genius, although he never produced anything worth
speaking of." Men recognise, that is to say, from descriptions of
Hartley Coleridge, and from the fragments which he has left, that ideas
came to him with what I have termed a sense of subliminal uprush,--with
an authentic, although not to us an instructive, inspiration.

As psychologists, I maintain, we are bound to base our definition of
genius upon some criterion of this strictly psychological kind, rather
than on the external tests which as artists or men of letters we should
employ;--and which consider mainly the degree of delight which any given
achievement can bestow upon other men. The artist will speak of the
pictorial genius of Raphael, but not of Haydon; of the dramatic genius
of Corneille, but not of Voltaire. Yet Haydon's Autobiography--a record
of tragic intensity, and closing in suicide--shows that the tame yet
contorted figures of his "Raising of Lazarus" flashed upon him with an
overmastering sense of direct inspiration. Voltaire, again, writes to
the president Hénault of his unreadable tragedy _Catilina_: "Five acts
in a week! I know that this sounds ridiculous; but if men could guess
what enthusiasm can do,--how a poet in spite of himself, idolising his
subject, devoured by his genius, can accomplish in a few days a task for
which without that genius a year would not suffice;--in a word, _si
scirent donum Dei_,--_if they knew the gift of God_,--their astonishment
might be less than it must be now." I do not shrink from these extreme
instances. It would be absurd, of course, to place Haydon's "Raising of
Lazarus" in the same _artistic_ class as Raphael's "Madonna di San
Sisto." But in the same _psychological_ class I maintain that both
works must be placed. For each painter, after his several kind, there
was the same inward process,--the same sense of subliminal uprush;--that
extension, in other words, of mental concentration which draws into
immediate cognisance some workings or elements of the hidden self.

Let me illustrate this conception by a return to the metaphor of the
"conscious spectrum" to which I introduced my reader in the first
chapter. I there described our conscious spectrum as representing but a
small fraction of the _aurai simplicis ignis_, or individual psychical
ray;--just as our visible solar spectrum represents but a small fraction
of the solar ray. And even as many waves of ether lie beyond the red
end, and many beyond the violet end, of that visible spectrum, so have I
urged that much of unrecognised or subliminal faculty lies beyond the
red (or organic) end, and much beyond the violet (or intellectual) end
of my imaginary spectrum. My main task in this book will be to prolong
the psychical spectrum beyond either limit, by collecting traces of
latent faculties, organic or transcendental:--just as by the bolometer,
by fluorescence, by other artifices, physicists have prolonged the solar
spectrum far beyond either limit of ordinary visibility.

But at present, and before entering on that task of rendering manifest
supernormal faculty, I am considering what we ought to regard as the
normal range of faculty from which we start;--what, in relation to man,
the words _norm_ and _normal_ should most reasonably mean.

The word _normal_ in common speech is used almost indifferently to imply
either of two things, which may be very different from each
other--conformity to a standard and position as an average between
extremes. Often indeed the average constitutes the standard--as when a
gas is of normal density; or is practically equivalent to the
standard--as when a sovereign is of normal weight. But when we come to
living organisms a new factor is introduced. Life is change; each living
organism changes; each generation differs from its predecessor. To
assign a fixed norm to a changing species is to shoot point-blank at a
flying bird. The actual average at any given moment is no ideal
standard; rather, the furthest evolutionary stage now reached is
tending, given stability in the environment, to become the average of
the future. Human evolution is not so simple or so conspicuous a thing
as the evolution of the pouter pigeon. But it would be rash to affirm
that it is not even swifter than any variation among domesticated
animals. Not a hundred generations separate us from the dawn of
history;--about as many generations as some microbes can traverse in a
month;--about as many as separate the modern Derby-winner from the
war-horse of Gustavus Adolphus. Man's change has been less than the
horse's change in physical contour,--probably only because man has not
been specially bred with that view;--but taking as a test the power of
self-adaptation to environment, man has traversed in these thirty
centuries a wider arc of evolution than separates the racehorse from the
eohippus. Or if we go back further, and to the primal germ, we see that
man's ancestors must have varied faster than any animal's, since they
have travelled farthest in the same time. They have varied also in the
greatest number of directions; they have evoked in greatest multiplicity
the unnumbered faculties latent in the irritability of a speck of slime.
Of all creatures man has gone furthest both in differentiation and in
integration; he has called into activity the greatest number of those
faculties which lay potential in the primal germ,--and he has
established over those faculties the strongest central control. The
process still continues. Civilisation adds to the complexity of his
faculties; education helps him to their concentration. It is in the
direction of a still wider range, a still firmer hold, that his
evolution now must lie. I shall maintain that this ideal is best
attained by the man of genius.

Let us consider the way in which the maximum of faculty is habitually
manifested; the circumstances in which a man does what he has never
supposed himself able to do before. We may take an instance where the
faculty drawn upon lies only a little way beneath the surface. A man, we
say, outdoes himself in a great emergency. If his house is on fire, let
us suppose, he carries his children out over the roof with a strength
and agility which seem beyond his own. That effective impulse seems more
akin to instinct than to calculation. We hardly know whether to call the
act reflex or voluntary. It is performed with almost no conscious
intervention of thought or judgment, but it involves a new and complex
adaptation of voluntary muscles such as would need habitually the man's
most careful thought to plan and execute. From the point of view here
taken the action will appear to have been neither reflex nor voluntary
in the ordinary sense, but _subliminal_;--a subliminal uprush, an
emergence of hidden faculty,--of nerve co-ordinations potential in his
organism but till now unused,--which takes command of the man and guides
his action at the moment when his being is deeply stirred.

This stock instance of a man's possible behaviour in moments of great
physical risk does but illustrate in a gross and obvious manner, and in
the motor region, a phenomenon which, as I hold, is constantly occurring
on a smaller scale in the inner life of most of us. We identify
ourselves for the most part with a stream of voluntary, fully conscious
ideas,--cerebral movements connected and purposive as the movement of
the hand which records them. Meantime we are aware also of a substratum
of fragmentary automatic, _liminal_ ideas, of which we take small
account. These are bubbles that break on the surface; but every now and
then there is a stir among them. There is a rush upwards as of a
subaqueous spring; an inspiration flashes into the mind for which our
conscious effort has not prepared us. This so-called inspiration may in
itself be trivial or worthless; but it is the initial stage of a
phenomenon to which, when certain rare attributes are also present, the
name of genius will be naturally given.

I am urging, then, that where life is concerned, and where, therefore,
change is normality, we ought to place our norm somewhat ahead of the
average man, though on the evolutionary track which our race is
pursuing. I have suggested that that evolutionary track is at present
leading him in the direction of greater complexity in the perceptions
which he forms of things without, and of greater concentration in his
own will and thought,--in that response to perceptions which he makes
from within. Lastly I have argued that men of genius, whose perceptions
are presumably more vivid and complex than those of average men, are
also the men who carry the power of concentration furthest;--reaching
downwards, by some self-suggestion which they no more than we can
explain, to treasures of latent faculty in the hidden Self.

I am not indeed here assuming that the faculty which is at the service
of the man of genius is of a kind different from that of common men, in
such a sense that it would need to be represented by a prolongation of
either end of the conscious spectrum. Rather it will be represented by
such a brightening of the familiar spectrum as may follow upon an
intensification of the central light. For the spectrum of man's
conscious faculty, like the solar spectrum, is not continuous but
banded. There are groups of the dark lines of obstruction and
incapacity, and even in the best of us a dim unequal glow.

It will, then, be the special characteristic of genius that its uprushes
of subliminal faculty will make the bright parts of the habitual
spectrum more brilliant, will kindle the dim absorption-bands to fuller
brightness, and will even raise quite dark lines into an occasional

But, if, as I believe, we can best give to the idea of genius some
useful distinctness by regarding it in some such way as this, we shall
find also that genius will fall into line with many other sensory and
motor automatisms to which the word could not naturally be applied.
Genius represents a narrow selection among a great many cognate
phenomena;--among a great many uprushes or emergences of subliminal
faculty both within and beyond the limits of the ordinary conscious

It will be more convenient to study all these together, under the
heading of sensory or of motor automatism. It will then be seen that
there is no kind of perception which may not emerge from beneath the
threshold in an indefinitely heightened form, with just that convincing
suddenness of impression which is described by men of genius as
characteristic of their highest flights. Even with so simple a range of
sensation as that which records the lapse of time there are subliminal
uprushes of this type, and we shall see that a man may have a sudden and
accurate inspiration of what o'clock it is, in just the same way as
Virgil might have an inspiration of the second half of a difficult

For the purpose of present illustration of the workings of genius it
seems well to choose a kind of ability which is quite indisputable, and
which also admits of some degree of quantitative measurement. I would
choose the higher mathematical processes, were data available; and I may
say in passing how grateful I should be to receive from mathematicians
any account of the mental processes of which they are conscious during
the attainment of their highest results. Meantime there is a lower class
of mathematical gift which by its very specialisation and isolation
seems likely to throw light on our present inquiry.

During the course of the present century,--and alas! the scientific
observation of unusual specimens of humanity hardly runs back further,
or so far,--the public of great cities has been from time to time
surprised and diverted by some so-called "calculating boy," or
"arithmetical prodigy," generally of tender years, and capable of
performing "in his head," and almost instantaneously, problems for which
ordinary workers would require pencil and paper and a much longer time.
In some few cases, indeed, the ordinary student would have no means
whatever of solving the problem which the calculating boy unriddled with
ease and exactness.

The especial advantage of the study of arithmetical prodigies is that in
their case the subjective impression coincides closely with the
objective result. The subliminal computator feels that the sum is right,
and it _is_ right. Forms of real or supposed genius which are more
interesting are apt to be less undeniable.

An American and a French psychologist[28] have collected such hints and
explanations as these prodigies have given of their methods of working;
methods which one might naturally hope to find useful in ordinary
education. The result, however, has been very meagre, and the records
left to us, imperfect as they are, are enough to show that the main and
primary achievement has in fact been subliminal, while conscious or
supraliminal effort has sometimes been wholly absent, sometimes has
supervened only after the gift has been so long exercised that the
accesses between different strata have become easy by frequent
traversing. The prodigy grown to manhood, who now recognises the
arithmetical artifices which he used unconsciously as a boy, resembles
the hypnotic subject trained by suggestion to remember in waking hours
the events of the trance.

In almost every point, indeed, where comparison is possible, we shall
find this computative gift resembling other manifestations of subliminal
faculty,--such as the power of seeing hallucinatory figures,--rather
than the results of steady supraliminal effort, such as the power of
logical analysis. In the first place, this faculty, in spite of its
obvious connection with general mathematical grasp and insight, is found
almost at random,--among non-mathematical and even quite stupid persons,
as well as among mathematicians of mark. In the second place, it shows
itself mostly in early childhood, and tends to disappear in later
life;--in this resembling visualising power in general, and the power of
seeing hallucinatory figures in particular; which powers, as both Mr.
Galton's inquiries and our own tend to show, are habitually stronger in
childhood and youth than in later years. Again, it is noticeable that
when the power disappears early in life it is apt to leave behind it no
memory whatever of the processes involved. And even when, by long
persistence in a reflective mind, the power has become, so to say,
adopted into the supraliminal consciousness, there nevertheless may
still be flashes of pure "inspiration," when the answer "comes into the
mind" with absolutely no perception of intermediate steps.

I subjoin a table, compiled by the help of Dr. Scripture's collection,
which will broadly illustrate the main points above mentioned. Some more
detailed remarks may then follow.


  |        Name           | Age when gift |  Duration of  |               |
  |  (alphabetically).    | was observed. |     gift.     | Intelligence. |
  |Ampère                 |      4        |       ?       |    eminent    |
  |Bidder                 |     10        |  through life |      good     |
  |Buxton                 |      ?        |       ?       |      low      |
  |Colburn                |      6        |   few years   |    average    |
  |Dase [or Dahse]        |   boyhood     |  through life |    very low   |
  |Fuller                 |   boyhood     |       ?       |      low      |
  |Gauss                  |      3        |       ?       |    eminent    |
  |Mangiamele             |     10        |   few years   |    average?   |
  |Mondeux                |     10        |   few years   |      low      |
  |Prolongeau             |      6        |   few years   |      low      |
  |Safford                |      6        |   few years   |      good     |
  |"Mr. Van R., of Utica" |      6        |   few years   |    average?   |
  |Whately                |      3        |   few years   |      good     |

Now among these thirteen names we have two men of transcendent, and
three of high ability. What accounts have they given us of their

Of the gift of Gauss and Ampère we know nothing except a few striking
anecdotes. After manifesting itself at an age when there is usually no
continuous supraliminal mental effort worth speaking of, it appears to
have been soon merged in the general blaze of their genius. With Bidder
the gift persisted through life, but grew weaker as he grew older. His
paper in Vol. XV. of the _Proceedings of the Institute of Civil
Engineers_, while furnishing a number of practical hints to the
calculator, indicates also a singular readiness of communication between
different mental strata. "Whenever," he says (p. 255) "I feel called
upon to make use of the stores of my mind, they seem to rise with the
rapidity of lightning." And in Vol. CIII. of the same _Proceedings_, Mr.
W. Pole, F.R.S., in describing how Mr. Bidder could determine mentally
the logarithm of any number to 7 or 8 places, says (p. 252): "He had an
almost miraculous power of seeing, as it were, intuitively what factors
would divide any large number, not a prime. Thus, if he were given the
number 17,861, he would instantly remark it was 337×53.... He could not,
he said, explain how he did this; it seemed a natural instinct to him."

Passing on to the two other men of high ability known to have possessed
this gift, Professor Safford and Archbishop Whately, we are struck with
the evanescence of the power after early youth,--or even before the end
of childhood. I quote from Dr. Scripture Archbishop Whately's account of
his powers.

     There was certainly something peculiar in my calculating faculty.
     It began to show itself at between five and six, and lasted about
     three years.... I soon got to do the most difficult sums, always in
     my head, for I knew nothing of figures beyond numeration. I did
     these sums much quicker than any one could upon paper, and I never
     remember committing the smallest error. _When I went to school, at
     which time the passion wore off, I was a perfect dunce at
     ciphering, and have continued so ever since._

Still more remarkable, perhaps, was Professor Safford's loss of power.
Professor Safford's whole bent was mathematical; his boyish gift of
calculation raised him into notice; and he is now a Professor of
Astronomy. He had therefore every motive and every opportunity to retain
the gift, if thought and practice could have retained it. But whereas at
ten years old he worked correctly in his head, in one minute, a
multiplication sum whose answer consisted of 36 figures, he is now, I
believe, neither more nor less capable of such calculation than his

Similar was the fate of a personage who never rises above initials, and
of whose general capacity we know nothing.

"Mr. Van R., of Utica," says Dr. Scripture on the authority of Gall, "at
the age of six years distinguished himself by a singular faculty for
calculating in his head. At eight he entirely lost this faculty, and
after that time he could calculate neither better nor faster than any
other person. _He did not retain the slightest idea of the manner in
which he performed his calculations in childhood._"

Turning now to the stupid or uneducated prodigies, Dase alone seems to
have retained his power through life. Colburn and Mondeux, and
apparently Prolongeau and Mangiamele, lost their gift after childhood.

On the whole the ignorant prodigies seldom appear to have been conscious
of any continuous logical process, while in some cases the separation of
the supraliminal and subliminal trains of thought must have been very
complete. "Buxton would talk freely whilst doing his questions, that
being no molestation or hindrance to him."[29] Fixity and clearness of
inward visualisation seems to have been the leading necessity in all
these achievements; and it apparently mattered little whether the mental
blackboard (so to say) on which the steps of the calculation were
recorded were or were not visible to the mind's eye of the supraliminal

I have been speaking only of visualisation; but it would be interesting
if we could discover how much actual mathematical insight or
inventiveness can be subliminally exercised. Here, however, our
materials are very imperfect. From Gauss and Ampère we have, so far as I
know, no record. At the other end of the scale, we know that Dase
(perhaps the most successful of all these prodigies) was singularly
devoid of mathematical grasp. "On one occasion Petersen tried in vain
for six weeks to get the first elements of mathematics into his head."
"He could not be made to have the least idea of a proposition in Euclid.
Of any language but his own he could never master a word." Yet Dase
received a grant from the Academy of Sciences at Hamburg, on the
recommendation of Gauss, for mathematical work; and actually in twelve
years made tables of factors and prime numbers for the seventh and
nearly the whole of the eighth million,--a task which probably few men
could have accomplished, without mechanical aid, in an ordinary
lifetime. He may thus be ranked as the only man who has ever done
valuable service to Mathematics without being able to cross the Ass's

No support is given by what we know of this group to the theory which
regards subliminal mentation as necessarily a sign of some morbid
dissociation of physical elements. Is there, on the other hand, anything
to confirm a suggestion which will occur in some similar cases, namely,
that,--inasmuch as the addition of subliminal to supraliminal mentation
may often be a completion and integration rather than a fractionation or
disintegration of the total individuality,--we are likely sometimes to
find traces of a more than common activity of the _right_ or less used
cerebral hemisphere? Finding no mention of ambidexterity in the meagre
notices which have come down to us of the greater "prodigies," I begged
the late Mr. Bidder, Q.C., and Mr. Blyth, of Edinburgh (the well-known
civil engineer and perhaps the best living English representative of
what we may call the calculating diathesis), to tell me whether their
left hands possessed more than usual power. And I find that in
these--the only two cases in which I have been able to make
inquiry--there is somewhat more of dextro-cerebral capacity than in the
mass of mankind.

We may now pass on to review some further instances of subliminal
co-operation with conscious thought;--first looking about us for any
cases comparable in _definiteness_ with the preceding; and then
extending our view over the wider and vaguer realm of creative and
artistic work.

But before we proceed to the highly-specialised senses of hearing and
sight, we must note the fact that there are cases of subliminal
intensification of those perceptions of a less specialised kind which
underlie our more elaborate modes of cognising the world around us. The
sense of the _efflux of time_, and the sense of _weight_, or of
muscular resistance, are amongst the profoundest elements in our organic
being. And the sense of time is indicated in several ways as a largely
subliminal faculty. There is much evidence to show that it is often more
exact in men sleeping than in men awake, and in men hypnotised than in
men sleeping. The records of spontaneous somnambulism are full of
predictions made by the subject as to his own case, and accomplished,
presumably by self-suggestion, but without help from clocks, at the
precise minute foretold. Or this hidden knowledge may take shape in the
imagery of dream, as in a case published by Professor Royce, of
Harvard,[30] where his correspondent describes "a dream in which I saw
an enormous flaming clock-dial with the hands standing at 2.20. Awaking
immediately, I struck a match, and upon looking at my watch found it was
a few seconds past 2.20."

Similarly we find cases where the uprush of subliminal faculty is
concerned with the deep organic sensation of muscular resistance. We
need not postulate any direct or supernormal knowledge,--but merely a
subliminal calculation, such as we see in the case of "arithmetical
prodigies," expressing itself supraliminally, sometimes in a phantasmal
picture, sometimes as a mere "conviction," without sensory clothing.[31]

Passing on here to subliminal products of _visual_ type, I am glad to be
able to quote the following passage which seems to me to give in germ
the very theory for which I am now contending on the authority of one of
the most lucid thinkers of the last generation.

The passage occurs in an article by Sir John Herschel on "Sensorial
Vision," in his _Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects_, 1816. Sir
John describes some experiences of his own, "which consist in the
involuntary production of visual impressions, into which geometrical
regularity of form enters as the leading character, and that, under
circumstances which altogether preclude any explanation drawn from a
possible regularity of structure in the retina or the optic nerve."[32]
Twice these patterns appeared in waking daylight hours,--with no illness
or discomfort at the time or afterwards. More frequently they appeared
in darkness; but still while Sir John was fully awake. They appeared
also twice when he was placed under chloroform; "and I should observe
that I never lost my consciousness of being awake and in full
possession of my mind, though quite insensible to what was going on....
Now the question at once presents itself--What _are_ these Geometrical
Spectres? and how, and in what department of the bodily or mental
economy do they originate? They are evidently not dreams. The mind is
not dormant, but active and conscious of the direction of its thoughts;
while these things obtrude themselves on notice, and by calling
attention to them, _direct_ the train of thought into a channel it would
not have taken of itself.... If it be true that the conception of a
regular geometrical pattern implies the exercise of thought and
intelligence, it would almost seem that in such cases as those above
adduced we have evidence of a _thought_, an intelligence, working within
our own organisation distinct from that of our own personality." And Sir
John further suggests that these complex figures, entering the mind in
this apparently arbitrary fashion, throw light upon "the suggestive
principle" to which "we must look for much that is determinant and
decisive of our volition when carried into action." "It strikes me as
not by any means devoid of interest to contemplate cases where, in a
matter so entirely abstract, so completely devoid of any moral or
emotional bearing, as the production of a geometrical figure, we, as it
were, seize upon that principle in the very act, and in the performance
of its office."

From my point of view, of course, I can but admire the acumen which
enabled this great thinker to pierce to the root of the matter by the
aid of so few observations. He does not seem to have perceived the
connection between these "schematic phantasms," to borrow a phrase from
Professor Ladd,[33] and the hallucinatory figures of men or animals seen
in health or in disease. But even from his scanty data his inference
seems to me irresistible;--"we have evidence of a _thought_, an
intelligence, working within our own organisation, distinct from that of
our own personality." I shall venture to claim him as the first
originator of the theory to which the far fuller evidence now accessible
had independently led myself.

Cases observed as definitely as those just quoted are few in number; and
I must pass on into a much trodden--even a confusedly
trampled--field;--the records, namely, left by eminent men as to the
element of subconscious mentation, which was involved in their best
work. Most of these stories have been again and again repeated;--and
they have been collected on a large scale in a celebrated work,--to me
especially distasteful, as containing what seems to me the loose and
extravagant parody of important truth. It is not my business here to
criticise Dr. Von Hartmann's _Philosophy of the Unconscious_ in detail;
but I prefer to direct my readers' attention to a much more modest
volume, in which a young physician has put together the results of a
direct inquiry addressed to some Frenchmen of distinction as to their
methods especially of imaginative work.[34] I quote a few of the replies
addressed to him, beginning with some words from M. Sully Prudhomme,--at
once psychologist and poet,--who is here speaking of the subconscious
clarification of a chain of abstract reasoning. "I have sometimes
suddenly understood a geometrical demonstration made to me a year
previously without having in any way directed thereto my attention or
will. It seemed that the mere spontaneous ripening of the conceptions
which the lectures had implanted in my brain had brought about within me
this novel grasp of the proof."

With this we may compare a statement of Arago's--"Instead of obstinately
endeavouring to understand a proposition at once, I would admit its
truth provisionally;--and next day I would be astonished at
understanding thoroughly that which seemed all dark before."

Condillac similarly speaks of finding an incomplete piece of work
finished next day in his head.

Somewhat similarly, though in another field, M. Retté, a poet, tells Dr.
Chabaneix that he falls asleep in the middle of an unfinished stanza,
and when thinking of it again in the morning finds it completed. And M.
Vincent d'Indy, a musical composer, says that he often has on waking a
fugitive glimpse of a musical effect which (like the memory of a dream)
needs a strong immediate concentration of mind to keep it from

De Musset writes, "On ne travaille pas, on écoute, c'est comme un
inconnu qui vous parle à l'oreille."

Lamartine says, "Ce n'est pas moi qui pense; ce sont mes idées qui
pensent pour moi."

Rémy de Gourmont: "My conceptions rise into the field of consciousness
like a flash of lightning or like the flight of a bird."

M. S. writes: "In writing these dramas I seemed to be a spectator at the
play; I gazed at what was passing on the scene in an eager, wondering
expectation of what was to follow. And yet I felt that all this came
from the depth of my own being."

Saint-Saens had only to listen, as Socrates to his Dæmon; and M. Ribot,
summing up a number of similar cases, says: "It is the unconscious which
produces what is vulgarly called inspiration. This condition is a
positive fact, accompanied with physical and psychical characteristics
peculiar to itself. Above all, it is impersonal and involuntary, it acts
like an instinct, when and how it chooses; it may be wooed, but cannot
be compelled. Neither reflection nor will can supply its place in
original creation.... The bizarre habits of artists when composing tend
to create a special physiological condition,--to augment the cerebral
circulation in order to provoke or to maintain the unconscious

In what precise way the cerebral circulation is altered we can hardly at
present hope to know. Meantime a few psychological remarks fall more
easily within our reach.

In the first place, we note that a very brief and shallow submergence
beneath the conscious level is enough to infuse fresh vigour into
supraliminal trains of thought. Ideas left to mature unnoticed for a few
days, or for a single night, seem to pass but a very little way beneath
the threshold. They represent, one may say, the first stage of a process
which, although often inconspicuous, is not likely to be
discontinuous,--the sustenance, namely, of the supraliminal life by
impulse or guidance from below.

In the second place, we see in some of these cases of deep and fruitful
_abstraction_ a slight approach to duplication of personality. John
Stuart Mill, intent on his _Principles of Logic_, as he threaded the
crowds of Leadenhall Street, recalls certain morbid cases of hysterical
_distraction_;--only that with Mill the process was an integrative one
and not a dissolutive one--a gain and not a loss of power over the

And thirdly, in some of these instances we see the man of genius
achieving spontaneously, and unawares, much the same result as that
which is achieved for the hypnotic subject by deliberate artifice. For
he is in fact co-ordinating the waking and the sleeping phases of his
existence. He is carrying into sleep the knowledge and the purpose of
waking hours;--and he is carrying back into waking hours again the
benefit of those profound assimilations which are the privilege of
sleep. Hypnotic suggestion aims at co-operations of just this kind
between the waking state in which the suggestion, say, of some
functional change, is planned and the sleeping state in which that
change is carried out,--with benefit persisting anew into waking life.
The hypnotic trance, which is a _developed_ sleep, thus accomplishes for
the ordinary man what ordinary sleep accomplishes for the man of genius.

The coming chapters on Sleep and Hypnotism will illustrate this point
more fully. But I may here anticipate my discussion of _dreams_ by
quoting one instance where dreams, self-suggested by waking will,
formed, as one may say, an integral element in distinguished genius.

The late Robert Louis Stevenson, being in many ways a typical man of
genius, was in no way more markedly gifted with that integrating
faculty--that increased power over all strata of the personality--which
I have ascribed to genius, than in his relation to his dreams (see "A
Chapter on Dreams" in his volume _Across the Plains_). Seldom has the
essential analogy between dreams and inspiration been exhibited in such
a striking way. His dreams had always (he tells us) been of great
vividness, and often of markedly _recurrent_ type. But the point of
interest is that, when he began to write stories for publication, the
"little people who managed man's internal theatre" understood the change
as well as he.

     When he lay down to prepare himself for sleep, he no longer sought
     amusement, but printable and profitable tales; and after he had
     dozed off in his box-seat, his little people continued their
     evolutions with the same mercantile designs.... For the most part,
     whether awake or asleep, he is simply occupied--he or his little
     people--in consciously making stories for the market....

     The more I think of it, the more I am moved to press upon the world
     my question: "Who are the Little People?" They are near connections
     of the dreamer's, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries
     and have an eye to the bank book; they share plainly in his
     training; ... they have plainly learned like him to build the
     scheme of a considerate story and to arrange emotion in progressive
     order; only I think they have more talent; and one thing is beyond
     doubt,--they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial,
     and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim....

     That part [of my work] which is done while I am sleeping is the
     Brownies' part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am
     up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to
     show the Brownies have a hand in it even then.

Slight and imperfect as the above statistics and observations admittedly
are, they seem to me to point in a more useful direction than do some of
the facts collected by that modern group of anthropologists who hold
that genius is in itself a kind of nervous malady, a disturbance of
mental balance, akin to criminality or even to madness.

It is certainly not true, as I hold, either that the human race in
general is nervously degenerating, or that nervous degeneration tends to
a maximum in its most eminent members. But it can be plausibly
maintained that the proportion of nervous to other disorders tends to
increase. And it is certain that not nervous degeneration but nervous
change or development is now proceeding among civilised peoples more
rapidly than ever before, and that this self-adaptation to wider
environments must inevitably be accompanied in the more marked cases by
something of nervous instability. And it is true also that from one
point of view these changes might form matter for regret; and that in
order to discern what I take to be their true meaning we have to regard
the problem of human evolution from a somewhat unfamiliar standpoint.

The nervous system is probably tending in each generation to become more
complex and more delicately ramified. As is usual when any part of an
organism is undergoing rapid evolutive changes, this nervous progress is
accompanied with some instability. Those individuals in whom the
hereditary or the acquired change is the most rapid are likely also to
suffer most from a _perturbation which masks evolution_--an occasional
appearance of what may be termed "nervous sports" of a useless or even
injurious type. Such are the fancies and fanaticisms, the bizarre likes
and dislikes, the excessive or aberrant sensibilities, which have been
observed in some of the eminent men whom Lombroso discusses in his book
on the Man of Genius. Their truest analogue, as we shall presently see
more fully, lies in the oddities or morbidities of sentiment or
sensation which so often accompany the development of the human organism
into its full potencies, or precede the crowning effort by which a fresh
organism is introduced into the world.

Such at least is my view; but the full acceptance of this view must
depend upon some very remote and very speculative considerations bearing
upon the nature and purport of the whole existence and evolution of man.
Yet however remote and speculative the thesis which I defend may be, it
is not one whit remoter or more speculative than the view which, _faute
de mieux_, is often tacitly assumed by scientific writers.

In our absolute ignorance of the source from whence life came, we have
no ground for assuming that it was a purely planetary product, or that
its unknown potentialities are concerned with purely planetary ends. It
would be as rash for the biologist to assume that life on earth can only
point to generations of further life on earth as it would have been for
some cosmic geologist to assume--before the appearance of life on
earth--that geological forces must needs constitute all the activity
which could take place on this planet.

Since the germ of life appeared on earth, its history has been a history
not only of gradual _self-adaptation_ to a known environment, but of
gradual _discovery_ of an environment, always there, but unknown. What
we call its primitive simple irritability was in fact a dim panæsthesia;
a potential faculty, as yet unconscious of all the stimuli to which it
had not yet learnt to respond. As these powers of sensation and of
response have developed, they have gradually revealed to the living germ
environments of which at first it could have no conception.

It is probable, to begin with, that the only environment which the vast
majority of our ancestors knew was simply hot water. For the greater
part of the time during which life has existed on earth it would have
been thought chimerical to suggest that we could live in anything else.
It was a great day for us when an ancestor crawled up out of the
slowly-cooling sea;--or say rather when a previously unsuspected
capacity for directly breathing air gradually revealed the fact that we
had for long been breathing air in the water;--and that we were living
in the midst of a vastly extended environment,--the atmosphere of the
earth. It was a great day again when another ancestor felt on his
pigment-spot the solar ray;--or say rather when a previously unsuspected
capacity for perceiving light revealed the fact that we had for long
been acted upon by light as well as by heat; and that we were living in
the midst of a vastly extended environment,--namely, the illumined
Universe that stretches to the Milky Way. It was a great day when the
first skate (if skate he were) felt an unknown virtue go out from him
towards some worm or mudfish;--or say rather when a previously
unsuspected capacity for electrical excitation demonstrated the fact
that we had long been acted upon by electricity as well as by heat and
by light; and that we were living in an inconceivable and limitless
environment,--namely, an ether charged with infinite energy, overpassing
and interpenetrating alike the last gulf of darkness and the extremest
star. All this,--phrased perhaps in some other fashion,--all men admit
as true. May we not then suppose that there are yet other environments,
other interpretations, which a further awakening of faculty still
subliminal is yet fated by its own nascent response to discover? Will it
be alien to the past history of evolution if I add: It was a great day
when the first thought or feeling flashed into some mind of beast or man
from a mind distant from his own?--when a previously unsuspected
capacity of telepathic percipience revealed the fact that we had long
been acted upon by telepathic as well as by sensory stimuli; and that we
were living in an inconceivable and limitless environment,--a
thought-world or spiritual universe charged with infinite life, and
interpenetrating and overpassing all human spirits,--up to what some
have called World-Soul, and some God?

And now it will be easily understood that one of the corollaries from
the conception of a constantly widening and deepening perception of an
environment infinite in infinite ways, will be that the faculties which
befit the material environment have absolutely no primacy, unless it be
of the merely chronological kind, over those faculties which science has
often called _by-products_, because they have no manifest tendency to
aid their possessor in the struggle for existence in a material world.
The higher gifts of genius--poetry, the plastic arts, music, philosophy,
pure mathematics--all of these are precisely as much in the central
stream of evolution--are perceptions of new truth and powers of new
action just as decisively predestined for the race of man--as the
aboriginal Australian's faculty for throwing a boomerang or for swarming
up a tree for grubs. There is, then, about those loftier interests
nothing exotic, nothing accidental; they are an intrinsic part of that
ever-evolving response to our surroundings which forms not only the
planetary but the cosmic history of all our race.

What inconsistencies, what absurdities, underlie that assumption that
evolution means nothing more than the survival of animals fittest to
conquer enemies and to overrun the earth. On that bare hypothesis the
genus _homo_ is impossible to explain. No one really attempts to explain
him except on the tacit supposition that Nature somehow tended to evolve
intelligence--somehow needed to evolve joy; was not satisfied with such
an earth-over-runner as the rabbit, or such an invincible conqueror as
the influenza microbe. But _how much_ intelligence, _what_ kind of joy
Nature aimed at--is this to be left to be settled by the instinct of
_l'homme sensuel moyen?_ or ought we not rather to ask of the best
specimens of our race what it is that they live for?--whether they
labour for the meat that perisheth, or for Love and Wisdom? To more and
more among mankind the need of food is supplied with as little conscious
effort as the need of air; yet these are often the very men through whom
evolution is going on most unmistakably--who are becoming the typical
figures of the swiftly-changing race.

Once more. If this point of view be steadily maintained, we shall gain
further light on some of those strangenesses and irregularities of
genius which have led to its paradoxical juxtaposition with insanity as
a divergence from the accepted human type. The distinctive
characteristic of genius is the large infusion of the subliminal in its
mental output; and one characteristic of the subliminal in my view is
that it is in closer relation than the supraliminal to the spiritual
world, and is thus nearer to the primitive source and extra-terrene
initiation of life. And earthly Life itself--embodied as it is in
psycho-physically individualised forms--is, on the theory advanced in
these pages, a product or characteristic of the etherial or metetherial
and not of the gross material world. Thence in some unknown fashion it
came; there in some unknown fashion it subsists even throughout its
earthly manifestation; thither in some unknown fashion it must after
earthly death return. If indeed the inspirations of genius spring from
a source one step nearer to primitive reality than is that specialised
consensus of faculties which natural selection has lifted above the
threshold for the purposes of working-day existence, then surely we need
not wonder if the mind and frame of man should not always suffice for
smooth and complete amalgamation; if some prefiguration of faculties
adapted to a later stage of being should mar the symmetry of the life of

And thus there may really be something at times _incommensurable_
between the inspirations of genius and the results of conscious logical
thought. Just as the calculating boy solves his problems by methods
which differ from the methods of the trained mathematician, so in
artistic matters also that "something of strangeness" which is in "all
excellent beauty," may be the expression of a real difference between
subliminal and supraliminal modes of perception. I cannot help thinking
that such a difference is perceptible in subliminal relations to speech;
that the subliminal self will sometimes surpass conscious effort, if it
is treating speech as a branch of Art, in Poetry;--or else in some sense
will fall short of conscious effort, when it is merely using words as an
unavoidable medium to express ideas which common speech was hardly
designed to convey.

Thus, on the one hand, when in presence of one of the great verbal
achievements of the race--say the _Agamemnon_ of Æschylus--it is hard to
resist the obscure impression that some form of intelligence other than
supraliminal reason or conscious selection has been at work. The result
less resembles the perfection of rational choice among known data than
the imperfect presentation of some scheme based on perceptions which we
cannot entirely follow.

But, on the other hand, even though words may thus be used by genius
with something of the mysterious remoteness of music itself, it seems to
me that our subliminal mentation is less closely bound to the faculty of
speech than is our supraliminal. There is a phrase in common use which
involves perhaps more of psychological significance than has yet been
brought out. Of all which we can call genius, or which we can ally with
genius--of art, of love, of religious emotion--it is common to hear men
say that they _transcend the scope of speech_. Nor have we any reason
for regarding this as a mere vague sentimental expression.

There is no _a priori_ ground for supposing that language will have the
power to express all the thoughts and emotions of man. It may indeed be
maintained that the inevitable course of its development tends to
exhibit more and more clearly its inherent limitations. "Every
language," it has been said, "begins as poetry and ends as algebra." To
use the terms employed in this work, every language begins as a
subliminal uprush and ends as a supraliminal artifice. Organic instincts
impel to primitive ejaculation; unconscious laws of mind shape early
grammar. But even in our own day--and we are still in the earth's
infancy--this naïveté of language is fast disappearing. The needs of
science and of commerce have become dominant, and although our
vocabulary, based as it is on concrete objects and direct sensations, is
refined for the expression of philosophic thought, still we cannot
wonder if our supraliminal manipulation leaves us with an instrument
less and less capable of expressing the growing complexity of our whole
psychical being.

What then, we may ask, is the attitude and habit of the subliminal self
likely to be with regard to language? Is it not probable that other
forms of symbolism may retain a greater proportional importance among
those submerged mental operations which have not been systematised for
the convenience of communication with other men?

I think that an intelligent study of visual and motor automatism will
afford us sufficient proof that symbolism, at any rate pictorial
symbolism, becomes increasingly important as we get at the contents of
those hidden strata. Telepathic messages, especially, which form, as we
shall see, the special prerogative or characteristic of subliminal
communication, seem to be conveyed by vague impression or by inward or
externalised picture oftener than by articulate speech. And I may so far
anticipate later discussion of _automatic writings_ (whether
self-inspired or telepathic) as to point out a curious linguistic
quality which almost all such writings share. The "messages" of a number
of automatists, taken at random, will be sure to resemble each other
much more closely than do the supraliminal writings of the same persons.
Quite apart from their general correspondence in _ideas_--which belongs
to another branch of our subject--there is among the automatic writings
of quite independent automatists a remarkable correspondence of literary
style. There is a certain quality which reminds one of a _translation_,
or of the compositions of a person writing in a language which he is not
accustomed to talk. These characteristics appear at once in automatic
script, even of the incoherent kind; they persist when there is no
longer any dream-like incoherence; they are equally marked, even when,
as often happens, the automatic script surpasses in intelligence, and
even in its own kind of eloquence, the products of the waking or
supraliminal mind.

And side by side and intercurrent with these written messages come those
strange meaningless arabesques which have been baptized as
"spirit-drawings"--though they rarely show any clear trace of the
operation of an external intelligence.[35] These complex and fanciful
compositions--often absolutely automatic--appear to me like a stammering
or rudimentary symbolism; as though the subliminal intelligence were
striving to express itself through a vehicle perhaps more congenial to
its habits than articulate language.

Returning, then, from these illustrations drawn from actual _automatism_
to our proper subject of _genius_,--that happy mixture of subliminal
with supraliminal faculty,--we may ask ourselves in what kind of
subliminal uprush this hidden habit of wider symbolism, of
self-communion beyond the limits of speech, will be likely to manifest
itself above the conscious threshold.

The obvious answer to this question lies in the one word Art. The
inspiration of Art of all kinds consists in the invention of precisely
such a wider symbolism as has been above adumbrated. I am not speaking,
of course, of symbolism of a forced and mechanical kind--symbolism
designed and elaborated as such--but rather of that pre-existent but
hidden concordance between visible and invisible things, between matter
and thought, between thought and emotion, which the plastic arts, and
music, and poetry, do each in their own special field discover and
manifest for human wisdom and joy.

In using these words, I must repeat, I am far from adopting the formulæ
of any special school. The symbolism of which I speak implies nothing of
mysticism. Nor indeed, in my view, can there be any real gulf or deep
division between so-called realistic and idealistic schools. All that
exists is continuous; nor can Art symbolise any one aspect of the
universe without also implicitly symbolising aspects which lie beyond.

And thus in the Arts we have symbolism at every stage of transparency
and obscurity; from symbolisms which merely summarise speech to
symbolisms which transcend it. Sometimes, as with Music, it is worse
than useless to press for too close an interpretation. Music marches,
and will march for ever, through an ideal and unimaginable world. Her
melody may be a mighty symbolism, but it is a symbolism to which man has
lost the key. Poetry's material, on the other hand, is the very language
which she would fain transcend. But her utterance must be subliminal and
symbolic, if it is to be poetry indeed; it must rise (as has been
already hinted) from a realm profounder than deliberate speech; it must
come charged, as Tennyson has it, with that "charm in words, a charm no
words can give."

Here, too, we must dwell for a moment upon another and higher kind of
internal visualisation. I have spoken of the arithmetical prodigy as
possessing a kind of internal blackboard, on which he inscribes with
ease and permanence his imaginary memoranda. But blackboards are not the
only surfaces on which inscriptions can be made. There are other
men--prodigies of a different order--whose internal _tabula_ is not of
blackened wood, but of canvas or of marble; whose inscriptions are not
rows of Arabic numerals but living lines of colour, or curves of
breathing stone. Even the most realistic art is something more than
transcript and calculation; and for art's higher imaginative
achievements there must needs be moments of inward idealisation when
visible beauty seems but the token and symbol of beauty unrevealed; when
Praxiteles must "draw from his own heart the archetype of the Eros that
he made;" when Tintoret must feel with Heraclitus that "whatsoever we
see waking is but deadness, and whatsoever sleeping, is but dream."

But when we reach this point we have begun (as I say) to transcend the
special province to which, in Chapter I, I assigned the title of
_genius_. I there pointed out that the influence of the subliminal on
the supraliminal might conveniently be divided under three main heads.
When the subliminal mentation co-operates with and supplements the
supraliminal, without changing the apparent phase of personality, we
have _genius_. When subliminal operations change the apparent phase of
personality from the state of waking in the direction of trance, we have
_hypnotism_. When the subliminal mentation forces itself up through the
supraliminal, without amalgamation, as in crystal-vision, automatic
writing, etc., we have _sensory or motor automatism_. In accordance with
this definition, the _content_ of the inspirations of genius is supposed
to be of the same general type as the content of ordinary thought. We
have regarded genius as crystallising fluid ideas; or, if you will, as
concentrating and throwing upwards in its clear fountain a maze of
subterranean streams. But we have not regarded it as modifying, in such
operation, the ordinary alert wakefulness of the thinker, nor as
providing bun with any fresh knowledge, obtainable by supernormal
methods alone.

It is plain, however, that such distinctions as those which I have drawn
between genius, trance, automatism, cannot possibly be rigid or
absolute. They are distinctions made for convenience between different
phases of what must really be a continuous process--namely, the
influence of the Self below the threshold upon the Self above it.
Between each of these definite phases all kinds of connections and
intermediate stages must surely exist.

Connections between _trance_ and _automatism_, indeed, are obvious
enough. The difficulty has rather lain in their clear separation.
Trance, when habitual, is pretty sure to lead to automatic speech or
writing. Automatism, when prolonged, is similarly apt to induce a state
of trance.

The links between _Genius_ and these cognate states are of a less
conspicuous kind. They do, however, exist in such variety as to confirm
in marked fashion the analogies suggested above.

And first, as to the connection between genius and automatism, one may
say that just as anger is a brief madness, so the flash of Genius is
essentially a brief automatism.

Wordsworth's moments of inspiration, when, as he says,

    "Some lovely image in the song rose up
     Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea,"

were in effect moments of automatic utterance; albeit of utterance held
fast in immediate co-operation with the simultaneous workings of the
supraliminal self. Such a sudden poetic creation, like the calculating
boy's announcement of the product of two numbers, resembles the sudden
rush of planchette or pencil, in haste to scrawl some long-wished-for

Now extend this momentary automatism a little further. We come then to
what is called the faculty of improvisation. How much is meant by this
term? Is the extempore oration, "the unpremeditated lay," in truth a
subliminal product? or have we to do merely with the rapid exercise of
ordinary powers?

In the first place, it is clear that much of what is called
improvisation is a matter of memory. The so-called secondary automatism
which enables the pianist to play a known piece without conscious
attention passes easily into improvisations which the player himself may
genuinely accept as original; but which really consist of remembered
fragments united by conventional links of connection. Thus also the
orator, "thinking on his legs," trusts himself at first to the automatic
repetition of a few stock phrases, but gradually finds that long periods
flow unforeseen and unremembered from his tongue.

We thus get beyond the range of stereotyped synergies, of habituations
of particular groups of nerve-centres to common action. There is some
adaptability and invention; some new paths are traversed; adjustments
are made for which no mere recurrence to old precedents will suffice.

The problem here resembles that well-known difficulty of explaining what
goes on during the restoration or "substitution" of function after an
injury to the brain. In that case, the brain-elements which remain
uninjured slowly assume functions which they apparently never exercised
before,--rearranging paths of cerebral communication in order to get the
old efficiency out of the damaged and diminished brain-material. This
recovery is not rapid like an extemporisation, but gradual, like a
healing or re-growth, and it therefore does not suggest an intelligent
control so much as a physiological process, like the re-budding on a
certain pre-ordained pattern of the severed claw of a crab. Of course
this restoration of brain-functions is inexplicable, as all growth is at
present inexplicable. We may call it indeed with some reason the highest
process of human growth. So viewed, it forms a kind of middle term
between ordinary growth of bone or muscle, always on a predetermined
plan, and that sudden creation of new cerebral connections or pathways
which is implied in an inspiration of genius. Such a juxtaposition need
not weaken my claim that the inspirations of genius represent a
co-operant stream of submerged mentation, fully as developed in its own
way as the mentation of which we are conscious above the threshold. The
nature and degree of subliminal faculty must of course be judged by its
highest manifestations. And this analogy between the hidden operations
of _genius_ and of _growth_ would rather support me in regarding organic
growth also as controlled by something of intelligence or memory, which
under fitting conditions--as in the hypnotic trance--may be induced to
co-operate with the waking will.

Moreover, the talent of improvisation, which suggested these analogies,
will sometimes act much more persistently than in the case of the orator
or the musician. There is reason to believe (both from internal style
and from actual statements) that it plays a large part in imaginative
literature. Various passages from George Sand's life-history,
corroborated by the statements of other persons familiar with her
methods of working, reveal in her an unusual vigour and fertility of
literary outflow going on in an almost dream-like condition; a condition
midway between the actual inventive dreams of R. L. Stevenson and the
conscious labour of an ordinary man's composition.

What George Sand felt in the act of writing was a continuous and
effortless flow of ideas, sometimes with and sometimes without an
apparent _externalisation_ of the characters who spoke in her romances.
And turning to another author, as sane and almost as potent as George
Sand herself, we find a phenomenon which would have suggested to us
actual insanity if observed in a mind less robust and efficient. If the
allusions to the apparent independence of Dickens's characters which are
scattered through his letters be read with our related facts in view, it
will no longer be thought that they are intended as a mystification.
Mrs. Gamp, his greatest creation, spoke to him, he tells us (generally
in church) as with an inward monitory voice.

And note further that as scientific introspection develops we are likely
to receive fuller accounts of these concurrent mental processes, these
partial externalisations of the creatures of the romancer's brain. One
such account, both definite and elaborate, has been published by M.
Binet in _L'Année Psychologique_ for 1894.[36]

This account,--contributed as serious evidence, as M. Binet's long
article shows,--is thoroughly concordant with several other cases
already known to us. It comes midway between Stevenson's dreams and the
hysteric's _idées fixes_.

I have thus far endeavoured to show that Genius represents not only the
crystallisation of ideas already existing in floating form in the
supraliminal intelligence, but also an independent, although concurrent,
stream of mentation, spreading often to wider range, although still
concerned with matters in themselves cognisable by the normal

Let us proceed to push the inquiry a step further. It has been claimed
in this work for subliminal uprushes generally that they often contain
knowledge which no ordinary method of research could acquire. Is this
supernormal knowledge--we ought now to ask--ever represented in the
uprushes to which we give the name of Genius?

What is the relation, in short, of the man of Genius to the sensitive?

If the man of Genius be, as I have urged, on the whole the completest
type of humanity, and if the sensitive's special gift be in itself one
of the most advanced forms of human faculty, ought not the inspirations
of genius to bring with them flashes of supernormal knowledge as
intimate as those which the sensitive--perhaps in other respects a
commonplace person--from time to time is privileged to receive?

Some remarkable instances of this kind undoubtedly do exist. The most
conspicuous and most important of all cannot, from motives of reverence,
be here discussed. Nor will I dwell upon other founders of religions, or
on certain traditional saints or sages. But among historical characters
of the first mark the names of Socrates and of Joan of Arc are enough to
cite. I believe that the monitions of the Dæmon of Socrates--the
subliminal self of a man of transcendent genius--have in all probability
been described to us with literal truth: and did in fact convey to that
great philosopher precisely the kind of telæsthetic or precognitive
information which forms the sensitive's privilege to-day. We have thus
in Socrates the ideal unification of human powers.

It must, however, be admitted that such complete unification is not the
general rule for men of genius; that their inspirations generally stop
short of telepathy or of telæsthesia. I think we may explain this
limitation somewhat as follows. The man of genius is what he is by
virtue of possessing a readier communication than most men possess
between his supraliminal and his subliminal self. From his subliminal
self, he can only draw what it already possesses; and we must not assume
as a matter of course that the subliminal region of any one of us
possesses that particular sensitivity--that specific transparency--which
can receive and register _definite facts_ from the unseen. _That_ may be
a gift which stands as much alone--in independence of other gifts or
faculties--in the subliminal region as, say, a perfect musical ear in
the supraliminal. The man of genius may draw much from those hidden
wells of being without seeing reflected therein any actual physical
scene in the universe beyond his ordinary ken.

And yet neither must we hastily assume that because the man of genius
gets no _definite_ impression of a world beyond our senses he does not
therefore get any _true_ impression, which is all his own.

I believe, on the contrary, that true, though vague, impressions of a
world beyond the range of sense are actually received--I do not say by
all men of genius, but by men of genius of certain types.[37]

A dim but genuine consciousness of the spiritual environment; that (it
seems) is the degree of revelation which artistic or philosophic genius
is capable of conferring. Subliminal uprushes, in other words, so far as
they are intellectual, tend to become _telæsthetic_. They bring with
them indefinite intimations of what I hold to be the great truth that
the human spirit is essentially capable of a deeper than sensorial
perception, of a direct knowledge of facts of the universe outside the
range of any specialised organ or of any planetary view.

But this conclusion points the way to a speculation more important
still. Telæsthesia is not the only spiritual law, nor are subliminal
uprushes affairs of the intellect alone. Beyond and above man's innate
power of world-wide perception, there exists also that universal link of
spirit with spirit which in its minor earthly manifestations we call
telepathy. Our submerged faculty--the subliminal uprushes of genius--can
expand in that direction as well as in the direction of telæsthesia.
The emotional content, indeed, of those uprushes is even profounder and
more important than the intellectual;--in proportion as Love and
Religion are profounder and more important than Science or Art.

That primary passion, I repeat, which binds life to life, which links us
both to life near and visible and to life imagined but unseen;--_that_
is no mere organic, no mere planetary impulse, but the inward aspect of
the telepathic law. Love and religion are thus _continuous_; they
represent different phases of one all-pervading mutual gravitation of
souls. The flesh does not conjoin, but dissever; although through its
very severance it suggests a shadow of the union which it cannot bestow.
We have to do here neither with a corporeal nor with a purely human
emotion. Love is the energy of integration which makes a Cosmos of the
Sum of Things.

But here there is something of controversy to traverse before a revived
Platonic conception of love can hope to be treated by the physiologist
as more than a pedantic jest. And naturally so; since there is no
emotion subliminal over so wide a range of origin,--fed so obscurely by
"all thoughts, all passions, all delights,"--and consequently so
mysterious even to the percipient himself. At one end of its scale love
is based upon an instinct as primitive as the need of nutrition; even if
at the other end it becomes, as Plato has it, the ἑρμεὑον καἱ
διαπορθμεὑον "the Interpreter and Mediator between God and Man." The
controversy as to the planetary or cosmical scope of the passion of Love
is in fact central to our whole subject.

It will give clearness to the question in dispute if I quote here a
strong expression of each view in turn. For the physiological or
materialist conception of the passion of love,--where love's subliminal
element is held to be of the organic type,--set forth in no light or
cynical spirit, but with the moral earnestness of a modern Lucretius, I
can turn to no better authority than Professor Pierre Janet. The passage
which follows is no mere _boutade_ or paradox; it is a kind of
culminating expression of the theory which regards the supraliminal man
as the normal man, and distrusts all deep disturbance of his accustomed
psychical routine.

     It is commonly said that love is a passion to which man is always
     liable, and which may surprise him at any moment of his life from
     15 to 75. This does not seem to me accurate; and a man is not
     throughout all his life and at every moment susceptible of falling
     in love (_de devenir amoureux_). When a man is in good physical and
     moral health, when he has easy and complete command of all his
     ideas, he may expose himself to circumstances the most capable of
     giving rise to a passion, but he will not feel it. His desires will
     be reasonable and obedient to his will, leading the man only so far
     as he wishes to go, and disappearing when he wishes to be rid of
     them. On the other hand, if a man is morally below the mark
     (_malade au moral_),--if in consequence of physical fatigue or
     excessive intellectual work, or of violent shocks and prolonged
     sorrow, he is exhausted, melancholy, distracted, timid, incapable
     of controlling his ideas,--in a word, _depressed_,--then he will
     fall in love, or receive the germ of some kind of passion, on the
     first and most trivial occasion.... The least thing is then enough;
     the sight of some face, a gesture, a word, which previously would
     have left us altogether indifferent, strikes us, and becomes the
     starting point of a long amorous malady. Or more than this, an
     object which had made no impression on us, at a moment when our
     mind was healthier and not capable of inoculation, may have left in
     us some insignificant memory which reappears in a moment of morbid
     receptivity. That is enough; the germ is sown in a favourable soil;
     it will develop itself and grow.

     There is at first, as in every virulent malady, a period of
     incubation; the new idea passes and repasses in the vague reveries
     of the enfeebled consciousness; then seems for a few days to have
     disappeared and to leave the mind to recover from its passing
     trouble. But the idea has done its work below the surface; it has
     become strong enough to shake the body; and to provoke movements
     whose origin lies outside the primary consciousness. What is the
     surprise of a sensible man when he finds himself piteously
     returning beneath the windows of his charmer, whither his wandering
     feet have taken him without his knowledge;--or when in the midst of
     his daily work he hears his lips murmuring perpetually the
     well-known name!... Such is passion in its reality; not as
     idealised by fantastic description, but reduced to its essential
     psychological characteristics. (_L'Automatisme Psychologique_, p.

On the other side I will appeal to Plato himself, giving a brief sketch
merely of one of the leading passages (_Symposium_, 192-212) where the
Platonic conception of love is set forth.[38]

Plato begins by recognising, as fully as pessimist or cynic could do,
the absolute inadequacy of what is called on earth the satisfaction of
this profound desire. Lovers who love aright will feel that no physical
nearness can content them, but what _will_ content them they cannot say.
"Their soul," says Plato, "is manifestly desiring something else; and
what it is she cannot tell, only she darkly prophesies thereof and
guesses it from afar. But if Hephæstus with his forging fire were to
stand beside that pair and say: 'Is this what ye desire--to be wholly
one? to be together by night and day?--for I am ready to melt you
together and to make you grow in one, so that from two ye shall become
one only, and in this life shall be undivided, and dying shall die
together, and in the underworld shall be a single soul';--there is no
lover who would not eagerly accept the offer, and acknowledge it as the
expression of the unknown yearning and the fulfilment of the ancient
need." And through the mouth of Diotima, Plato insists that it is an
unfailing sign of true love that its desires are _for ever_; nay, that
love may be even defined as the desire of the _everlasting_ possession
of the good. And in all love's acts he finds the impress of man's
craving for immortality,--for immortality whose only visible image for
us on earth is the birth of children to us as we ourselves decay,--so
that when the slow self-renewal of our own everchanging bodies has worn
out and ceased, we may be renewed in brighter, younger bodies which we
desire to be born to us from whomsoever we find most fair. "And then,"
says Plato, rising, as ever, from visible to invisible things, "if
active _bodies_ have so strong a yearning that an endless series of
lovely images of themselves may constitute, as it were, an earthly
immortality for them when they have worn away, how greatly must creative
_souls_ desire that partnership and close communion with other souls as
fair as they may bring to birth a brood of lofty thoughts, poems,
statues, institutions, laws,--the fitting progeny of the soul?

"And he who in his youth hath the need of these things in him, and grows
to be a godlike man, wanders about in search of a noble and
well-nurtured soul; and finding it, and in presence of that beauty which
he forgets not night or day, brings forth the beautiful which he
conceived long ago; and the twain together tend that which he hath
brought forth, and are bound by a far closer bond than that of earthly
children, since the children which are born to them are fairer and more
immortal far. Who would not choose to have Homer's offspring rather than
any sons or daughters of men? Who would not choose the offspring which
Lycurgus left behind him, to be the very salvation of Lacedæmon and of
Greece? or the children of Solon, whom we call Father of our Laws? or of
other men like these, whether Greeks or barbarians, who by great deeds
that they have done have become the begetters of every kind of
virtue?--ay, and to these men's children have temples been set up, and
never to any other progeny of man...."

"He, then, who to this end would strive aright, must begin in youth to
seek fair forms, and should learn first to love one fair form only, and
therein to engender noble thoughts. And then he will perceive that the
beauty of one fair form is to the beauty of another near akin; and that
if it be Beauty's self he seek, it were madness not to account the
beauty of all forms as one same thing; and considering this, he will be
the lover of all lovely shapes, and will abate his passion for one shape
alone, despising and deeming it but a little thing. And this will lead
him on to see that the beauty of the soul is far more precious than any
beauty of outward form, so that if he find a fair soul, though it be in
a body which hath but little charm, he will be constant thereunto, and
bring to birth such thoughts as teach and strengthen, till he lead that
soul on to see the beauty of actions and of laws, and how all beauty is
in truth akin, and the body's beauty is but a little matter; and from
actions he will lead him on to sciences, that he may see how sciences
are fair; and looking on the abundance of beauty may no longer be as the
slave or bondman of one beauty or of one law; but setting sail into the
ocean of beauty, and creating and beholding many fair and glorious
thoughts and images in a philosophy without stint or stay, he may thus
at last wax strong and grow, and may perceive that there is one science
only, the science of infinite beauty.

"For he who hath thus far had intelligence of love, and hath beheld all
fair things in order and aright,--he drawing near to the end of things
lovable shall behold a BEING marvellously fair; for whose sake in truth
it is that all the previous labours have been undergone: One who is from
everlasting, and neither is born nor perisheth, nor can wax nor wane,
nor hath change or turning or alteration of foul and fair; nor can that
beauty be imagined after the fashion of face or hands or bodily parts
and members, nor in any form of speech or knowledge, nor as dwelling in
aught but in itself; neither in beast nor man nor earth nor heaven nor
any other creature; but Beauty only and alone and separate and eternal,
which, albeit all other fair things partake thereof and grow and perish,
itself without change or increase or diminution endures for everlasting.
And whoso being led on and upward by human loves begins to see that
Beauty, he is not far, I say, from reaching the end of all. And surely
then, O Socrates (said that guest from Mantinea), man's life is worth
the living, when he beholds that Primal Fair; which when thou seest it
shall not seem to thee to be made after the fashion of gold or raiment
or those forms of earth,--whom now beholding thou art stricken dumb, and
fain, if it were possible, without thought of meat or drink, wouldst
look and love for ever. What would it be, then, were it granted to any
man to see Very Beauty clear;--incorruptible and undefiled, not mingled
with colour or flesh of man, or with aught that can consume away, but
single and divine? Could man's life, in that vision and beatitude, be
poor or low? or deemest thou not (said she), that then alone it will be
possible for this man, discerning spiritual beauty with those eyes by
which it is spiritually discerned, to beget no shadows of virtue, since
that is no shadow to which he clings, but virtue in very truth, since he
hath the very Truth in his embrace? and begetting and rearing Virtue as
his child, he must needs become the friend of God; and if there be any
man who is immortal, that man is he."

Between the aspects of love here expressed in extreme terms,--the
planetary aspect, if I may so term it, and the cosmical,--the choice is
momentous. I do not indeed say that in our estimate of love is involved
our estimate of Religion; for Religion should mean the sane response of
the spirit to all that is known of Cosmic Law. But Religion in the sense
in which it is often used,--our emotional and ethical attitude towards
Life Unseen;--this is in reality too closely parallel to Platonic Love
to allow the psychologist who denies reality in the one to assume
reality in the other. For the Platonic lover the image of the Beloved
one--no longer a matter of conscious summons and imagination--has become
the indwelling and instinctive impulse to noble thought and deed. Even
such to a Francis or to a Theresa is the image of the Divinity whom they
adore; and if they claim that sometimes in moments of crisis they feel a
sway, a guidance, a _communicatio idiomatum_ with the Divine, we may
point in reply to the humbler, but more tangible, evidence which assures
us that even between souls still inhabiting and souls who have quitted
the flesh there may exist a telepathic intercommunication and an
impalpable confluence from afar.

Brief as this survey has been, it has served to indicate that the
psychical type to which we have applied the name of genius may be
recognized in every region of thought and emotion, as in each direction
a man's every-day self may be more or less permeable to subliminal
impulses. Coming, then, to the question, "What is the origin of genius?"
I cannot accept the ordinary explanation that it is a mere "sport" or
mental by-product, occurring as physical "sports" do in the course of
evolution. The view which I hold,--the view which I am here suggesting,
is in some sort a renewal of the old Platonic "reminiscence," in the
light of that fuller knowledge which is common property to-day. I hold
that in the protoplasm or primary basis of all organic life there must
have been an inherent adaptability to the manifestation of all faculties
which organic life has in fact manifested. I hold, of course, that
"sports" or variations occur, which are at present unpredictable, and
which reveal in occasional offspring faculties which their parents
showed no signs of possessing. But I differ from those who hold that the
faculty itself thus manifested is now for the first time initiated in
that stock by some chance combination of hereditary elements. I hold
that it is not initiated, but only revealed; that the "sport" has not
called a new faculty into being, but has merely raised an existing
faculty above the threshold of supraliminal consciousness.

This view, if pushed back far enough, is no doubt inconsistent with the
way in which evolution is generally conceived. For it denies that all
human faculties must have been evoked by terrene experience. It assumes
a subliminal self, with unknown faculties, originated in some unknown
way, and not merely by contact with the needs which the terrene organism
has had to meet. It thus seems at first sight to be introducing a new
mystery, and to be introducing it in a gratuitous way.

To this I reply in the first place that so far as the origin of man's
known powers is concerned, no fresh mystery is in fact introduced. All
human powers, to put the thing broadly, have somehow or other to be got
into protoplasm and then got out again. You have to explain first how
they became implicit in the earliest and lowest living thing, and then
how they have become thus far explicit in the latest and highest. All
the faculties of that highest being, I repeat, existed _virtually_ in
the lowest, and in so far as the admitted faculties are concerned, the
difference between my view and the ordinary view may be said to be
little more than a difference as to the sense which that word
_virtually_ is here to assume.

The real difference between the two views appears when the faculties
which I have called unknown come to be considered. If they are held to
be real, my view is certainly the better able to embrace them. I hold
that telepathy and telæsthesia do in fact exist--telepathy, a
communication between incarnate mind and incarnate mind, and perhaps
between incarnate minds and minds unembodied; telæsthesia, a knowledge
of things terrene which overpasses the limits of ordinary perception,
and which perhaps also achieves an insight into some other than terrene
world. And these faculties, I say, cannot have been acquired by natural
selection, for the preservation of the race, during the process of
terrene evolution; they were (as we may phrase it) the products of
extra-terrene evolution. And if they were so, man's other powers may
well have been so also. The specialised forms of terrene perception were
not real novelties in the universe, but imperfect adaptations of
protoplasm to the manifestation of the indwelling general perceptive
power. The mathematical faculty, for instance (we may, perhaps, say
with Plato), pre-existed. When Dase solved all those sums in his head,
his power of solving them was not a fresh development in his ancestral
stock, but depended on the accidental adaptation of his organism to the
manifestation of the indwelling computative power. I do not indeed
venture to follow Plato in his ontogenetic argument--his claim that the
individual computator has had already an individual training in
computation. I do not say that Dase himself learnt or divined the
multiplication-table in some ideal world. I only say that Dase and all
the rest of us are the spawn or output of some unseen world in which the
multiplication-table is, so to speak, in the air. Dase trailed it after
him, as the poet says of the clouds of glory, when he "descended into
generation" in a humble position at Hamburg.

In him and in his ancestors were many faculties which were called out by
the struggle for existence, and became supraliminal. But there were many
faculties also which were not thus called out, and which consequently
remained subliminal. To these faculties, as a rule, his supraliminal
self could get no access. But by some chance of evolution--some sport--a
vent-hole was opened at this one point between the different strata of
his being, and a subliminal uprush carried his computative faculty into
the open day.

Two things, of course, are assumed in this argument for which Science
offers no guarantee. I assume in the man a soul which can draw strength
and grace from a spiritual Universe, and conversely I assume in the
Universe a Spirit accessible and responsive to the soul of man. These
are familiar postulates. Every religion has claimed them in turn;
although every religion in turn has so narrowed their application as
grievously to narrow the evidence available for their support. But that
which religions have claimed for their Founders or for their Saints--and
what is sanctity but the genius of the ethical realm?--Psychology must
claim for every form of spiritual indrawing, every form of spiritual
response; for sleeping vision, for hypnotic rejuvenation, for sensory
and motor automatisms, for trance, for ecstasy. The philosopher who has
cried with Marcus Aurelius "Either Providence or atoms!"--who has
declared that without this basis in the Unseen, "the moral Cosmos would
be reduced to a Chaos";--should he not welcome even the humblest line of
research which fain would gather from every unsolved problem some hint
as to the spiritual law unknown which in time may give the solution of

We know not in what directions--directions how definitely
predetermined--even physical organisms can vary from the common type. We
know not what amount of energy any given plant or animal can absorb and
incorporate from earth and air and sun. Still less can we predict or
limit the possible variations of the soul, the fulness which it may
receive from the World-Soul, its possible heritage of grace and truth.
But in genius we can watch at each stage the processes of this celestial
nurture. We can imagine the outlook of joyous trustfulness; we can
almost seem, with Wordsworth, to remember the child's soul entering into
the Kingdom of Heaven. Childhood is genius without capacity; it makes
for most of us our best memory of inspiration, and our truest outlook
upon the real, which is the ideal, world.

From a greater distance we can watch the inward stir of mighty thought,
the same for Æschylus, for Newton, for Virgil;--a stir independent of
worldly agitation; like the swing and libration of the tide-wave across
the ocean, which takes no note of billow or of storm.

Nay, we can see against the sun "the eagle soaring above the tomb of
Plato," and in Paul, as in Plotinus, we can catch that sense of
self-fulfilment in self-absorption, of rapture, of deliverance, which
the highest minds have bequeathed to us as the heritage of their highest

These our spiritual ancestors are no eccentrics nor degenerates; they
have made for us the sanest and most fruitful experiment yet made by
man; they have endeavoured to exalt the human race in a way in which it
can in truth be exalted; they have drawn on forces which exist, and on a
Soul which answers; they have dwelt on those things "by dwelling on
which it is," as Plato has it, "that even God is divine."



  δλβἱα δ' ἑπαντες αἱσα λυσἱπονον μετανἱσσονται τελευτἁν.
  καἱ σὡμα μἑν πἁντων ἑπεται θανἁτὡ περισθενεἱ,
  ξὡὁν δ' ἑτι λεἱπεται αἱὡνος εἱδωλον' τὁ γἁρ ἑστι μὁνον
  ἑκ θεὡν' εὑδει δἑ πρασσὁντων μελἑων, ἁτἁρ εὑδὁντεσσιν ἑν πολλοἱς ὁνεἱροις
  δεἱκνυσι τερπνὡν ἑφἑρποισαν χαλεπὡν τε κρἱσιν.


The preceding chapters have carried us two steps upon our way. In
Chapter II. we gained some insight into the structure of human
personality by analysing some of the accidents to which it is subject;
in the third chapter we viewed this personality in its normal waking
state, and considered how that norm should be defined, and in what
manner certain fortunate persons had integrated the personality still
further by utilising uprushes of subliminal faculty to supplement or to
crystallise the products of supraliminal thought.

The review of these two chapters indicates clearly enough what my next
step must be. It is obvious that in my review of phases or alternations
of personality I have left out of sight the most constant, the most
important alternation of all. I have thus far said nothing of _sleep_.
Yet _that_ change of personality, at least, has been borne in on every
one's notice;--not, certainly, as a morbid curiosity, but as an
essential part of life.

Let us then consider the specific characteristics of sleep. The
definition of sleep is an acknowledged _crux_ in physiology. And I would
point out that the increased experience of hypnotic sleep which recent
years have afforded has made this difficulty even more striking than
before. A physiological explanation must needs assume that some special
bodily condition,--such, for instance, as the clogging of the brain by
waste-products,--is at least the usual antecedent of sound sleep. But it
is certain, on the other hand, that with a large percentage of persons
profound and prolonged sleep can be induced, in _any_ bodily condition,
by simple suggestion. Hypnosis, indeed (as Wetterstrand and others have
shown) may be prolonged, with actual benefit to the sleeper, far beyond
the point which the spontaneous sleep of a healthy subject ever reaches.
A good subject can be awakened and thrown into hypnosis again almost at
pleasure, and independently of any state either of nutrition or of
fatigue. Such sleep belongs to those phenomena which we may call nervous
if we will, but which we can observe or influence from the psychological
side alone.

We can hardly hope, from the ordinary data, to arrive at a definition of
sleep more satisfactory than others have reached. We must defer that
attempt until we have collected something more than the ordinary
evidence as to what occurs or does not occur during the abeyance of
waking life. One point, however, is plain at once. We cannot treat
sleep,--as it has generally been treated,--in its purely _negative_
aspect. We cannot be content merely to dwell, with the common
text-books, on the mere _absence_ of waking faculties;--on the
diminution of external perception, the absence of controlling
intelligence. We must treat sleep _positively_, so far as we can, as a
definite phase of our personality, co-ordinate with the waking phase.
Each phase, as I believe, has been differentiated alike from a primitive
indifference;--from a condition of lowly organisms which merited the
name neither of sleep nor of waking. Nay, if there were to be a contest
as to which state should be deemed primary and which secondary, sleep
might put forward its claim to be regarded as the more primitive phase.
It is sleep rather than vigilance which prenatal and infantile life
suggest; and even for us adults, however much we may associate ourselves
in thought with the waking state alone, that state has at least thus
much of secondary and adventitious that it is maintained for short
periods only, which we cannot artificially lengthen, being plainly
unable to sustain itself without frequent recourse to that fuller influx
of vitality which slumber brings.

Out of slumber proceeds each fresh arousal and initiation of waking
activities. What other activities may in slumber be aroused and
initiated the evidence to be set forth in this chapter should help us to
say. To some extent at least the abeyance of the supraliminal life must
be the liberation of the subliminal. To some extent the obscuration of
the noonday glare of man's waking consciousness must reveal the
far-reaching faint corona of his unsuspected and impalpable powers.

Entering, then, upon a review of sleeping faculty, thus inevitably
imperfect, we may best begin from the red end of our spectrum of
consciousness;--the red end which represents the deepest power which
waking effort can exert upon our physical organism.

Our survey of the efficacy of sleep, indeed, must make its beginning
_beyond_ that limit. For assuredly in sleep some agency is at work which
far surpasses waking efficacy in this respect. It is a fully admitted,
although an absolutely unexplained fact, that the regenerative quality
of healthy sleep is something _sui generis_, which no completeness of
waking quiescence can rival or approach. A few moments of sleep--a mere
blur across the field of consciousness--will sometimes bring a
renovation which hours of lying down in darkness and silence would not
yield. A mere bowing of the head on the breast, if consciousness ceases
for a second or two, may change a man's outlook on the world. At such
moments,--and many persons, like myself, can fully vouch for their
reality,--one feels that what has occurred in one's
organism,--alteration of blood-pressure, or whatever it be,--has been in
some sense discontinuous; that there has been a break in the inward
_régime_, amounting to much more than a mere brief ignoring of stimuli
from without. The break of consciousness is associated in some way with
a potent physiological change. That is to say, even in the case of a
moment of ordinary sleep we already note the appearance of that special
recuperative energy which is familiar in longer periods of sleep, and
which, as we shall presently see, reaches a still higher level in
hypnotic trance.

This recuperative power, then, lies just beyond the red end of our
spectrum of waking faculty. In that obscure region we note only added
power; an increased control over organic functions at the foundation of
bodily life. But when we pass on within the limits of our spectrum of
waking consciousness;--when we come to control over voluntary muscles,
or to sensory capacity, we find that our comparison between sleeping and
waking faculty is no longer a simple one. On the one hand, there is of
course a general blank and abeyance of control over the realm of waking
energies;--or in partial sleep a mere fantastic parody of those energies
in incoherent dream. On the other hand, we find that sleep is capable of
strange developments,--and that night can sometimes suddenly outdo the
most complex achievements of day.

Take first the degree of control over the voluntary muscles. In ordinary
sleep this is neither possessed nor desired; in nightmare its loss is
exaggerated, in quasi-hysterical fashion, into an appalling fear; while
in somnambulism,--a kind of new personality developed _ad hoc_,--the
sleeper (as we shall see later on) walks on perilous ridges with steady
feet. I have already said that morbid somnambulism bears to sound sleep
a relation something like that which hysteria bears to normal life. But
between the healthy somnambulist and the subject of nightmare we find
from another point of view a contrast resembling that between the man
of genius and the hysteric. The somnambulist, like the man of genius,
brings into play resources which are beyond ordinary reach. On the other
hand, just as in many hysterics certain ordinary powers of movement have
lapsed below voluntary control, so also the dreamer who dimly wishes to
move a constrained limb is often unable to send thither a sufficient
current of motor energy to effect the desired change of position. That
nightmare inability to move, which we thus feel in dream,--"when neither
he that fleeth can flee, nor he that pursueth pursue,"--that sensation
which both Homer and Virgil have selected as the type of paralysing
bewilderment,[39]--this is just the _aboulia_ of the hysteric;--the
condition when it takes a man half an hour to put on his hat, or when a
woman sits all the morning looking at her knitting, but unable to add a

"Somnambulism," however, is too vague and undefined a term for our
present discussion. It will only be by a comparison with hypnotism, in
the next chapter, that we can hope to get some clearer notion of
"sleep-waking" states.

Let us pass on to consider _entencephalic sensory faculty_,--"mind's
eye" faculty,--as shown in sleep or dream. Here too we shall find the
same rule to prevail as with motor faculty. That is to say, on the whole
the sensory faculty is of course dimmed and inhibited by sleep; but
there are nevertheless indications of a power subsisting as vividly as
ever, or with even added acuteness.

Baillarger in France and Griesinger in Germany (both about 1845) were
among the first to call attention to the vivid images which rise before
the internal vision of many persons, between sleep and waking. M. Alfred
Maury, the well-known Greek scholar and antiquary, gave to these images
a few years later the title of _illusions hypnagogiques_, and published
a remarkable series of observations upon himself. Mr. Galton has further
treated of them in his _Inquiry into Human Faculty_; and cases will be
found in _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i, pp. 390, 473, etc.

These visions may be _hypnopompic_ as well as _hypnagogic_;--may appear,
that is to say, at the moment when slumber is departing as well as at
the moment when it is coming on;--and in either case they are closely
related to dreams; the "hypnagogic illusions" or pictures being
sometimes repeated in dream (as with Maury), and the hypnopompic
pictures consisting generally in the persistence of some dream-image
into the first moments of waking. In either case they testify to an
intensified power of inward visualisation at a very significant
moment;--a moment which is actually or virtually one of sleep, but which
yet admits of definite comparison with adjacent moments of waking. We
may call the condition one of cerebral or "mind's eye"
hyperæsthesia,--an exalted sensibility of special brain-centres in
response to those unknown internal stimuli which are always giving rise
to similar but fainter inward visions even in broadly waking hours.

For those who are already good visualisers such phenomena as these,
though striking enough, present no quite unique experience. For bad
visualisers, on the other hand, the vividness of these hypnagogic
pictures may be absolutely a revelation.

The degree of acuteness, not of the visualising faculty alone, but of
all the senses in dream, is a subject for direct observation, and
even--for persons who can at all control their dreams--for direct
experiment. Some correspondents report a considerable apparent accession
of sensory power in dream. Others again speak of the increased vividness
of dramatic conception, or of what has been called in a hypnotic subject
"objectivation of types." "In each of these dreams," writes one lady, "I
was a man;--in one of them a low brute, in the other a dipsomaniac. I
never had the slightest conception of how such persons felt or thought
until these experiences." Another correspondent speaks of dreaming two
disconnected dreams,--one emotional and one
geometrical,--simultaneously, and of consequent sense of confusion and

The "Chapter on Dreams," in R. L. Stevenson's volume, _Across the
Plains_ (already referred to in the last chapter), contains a
description of the most successful dream-experiments thus far recorded.
By self-suggestion before sleep Stevenson could secure a visual and
dramatic intensity of dream-representation which furnished him with the
motives for some of his most striking romances. His account, written
with admirable psychological insight, is indispensable to students of
this subject. I am mentioning these well-known phenomena, as the reader
will understand, with a somewhat novel purpose--to show, namely, that
the internal sensory perceptions or imaginative faculty of sleep may
exceed that of vigilance in something the same way as the recuperative
agency of sleep surpasses the _vis medicatrix_ of waking hours.

I pass on to a less frequent phenomenon, which shows us at once intense
imagination during sleep, and a lasting imprint left by these
imaginations upon the waking organism;--an unintended self-suggestion
which we may compare with Stevenson's voluntary self-suggestion
mentioned just above.

The permanent result of a dream, I say, is sometimes such as to show
that the dream has not been a mere superficial confusion of past waking
experiences, but has had an unexplained potency of its own,--drawn, like
the potency of hypnotic suggestion, from some depth in our being which
the waking self cannot reach. Two main classes of this kind are
conspicuous enough to be easily recognised--those, namely, where the
dream has led to a "conversion" or marked religious change, and those
where it has been the starting-point of an "insistent idea" or of a fit
of actual insanity.[40] The dreams which convert, reform, change
character and creed, have of course a _primâ facie_ claim to be
considered as something other than ordinary dreams; and their discussion
may be deferred till a later stage of our inquiry. Those, on the other
hand, which suddenly generate an insistent idea of an irrational type
are closely and obviously analogous to post-hypnotic self-suggestions,
which the self that inspired them cannot be induced to countermand. Such
is the dream related by M. Taine,[41] where a gendarme, impressed by an
execution at which he has assisted, dreams that he himself is to be
guillotined, and is afterwards so influenced by the dream that he
attempts suicide. Several cases of this kind have been collected by Dr.
Faure;[42] and Dr. Tissié, in his interesting little work, _Les Rêves_,
has added some curious instances from his own observation.

A striking illustration may be drawn from the following incident in the
story of Krafft-Ebing's patient,[43] Ilma S., the genuineness of whose
stigmata seems proved by that physician's care in observation, and by
the painfulness of certain experiments performed upon her by students as
practical jokes and against her will:--

     _May 6th, 1888._--The patient is disturbed to-day. She complains to
     the sister of severe pain under the left breast, thinks that the
     professor has burnt her in the night, and begs the sister to obtain
     a retreat for her in a convent, where she will be secure against
     such attacks. The sister's refusal causes a hystero-epileptic
     attack. [At length, in the hypnotic trance] the patient gives the
     following explanation of the origin of the pain: "Last night an old
     man came to me; he looked like a priest and came in company with a
     Sister of Charity, on whose collet there was a large golden B. I
     was afraid of her. The old man was amiable and friendly. He dipped
     a pen in the sister's pocket, and with it wrote a W and B on my
     skin under the left breast. Once he dipped his pen badly and made a
     blot in the middle of the figure. This spot and the B pain me
     severely, but the W does not. The man explained the W as meaning
     that I should go to the M church and confess at the W

     After this account the patient cried out and said, "There stands
     the man again. Now he has chains on his hands."

     When the patient woke into ordinary life she was suffering pain in
     the place indicated, where there were "superficial losses of
     substance, penetrating to the corium, which have a resemblance to a
     reversed W and B," with "a hyperæmic raised spot between the two."
     Nowhere in this peculiar neurotrophic alteration of the skin, which
     is identical with those previously produced experimentally, are
     there traces of inflammation. The pain and the memory of the dream
     were removed by the doctor's suggestion; but the dream
     self-suggestion to confess at the M church persisted; and the
     patient, without knowing why, did actually go and confess to the
     priest of her vision.

In this last case we have a dream playing the part of a powerful
post-hypnotic suggestion. The meaning of this vague term "suggestion" we
shall have to discuss in a later chapter. It is enough to notice here
the great power of a subliminal suggestion which can make an impression
so much stronger not only than the usual evanescent touch of dream, but
than the actual experiences of waking day.

But this case may also serve to lead us on to further reflections as to
the connection between dream-memory and hypnotic memory, a connection
which points, as we shall presently see, towards the existence of some
subliminal continuity of memory, lying deeper down than the evocable
memory of common life--the stock of conscious reminiscences on which we
can draw at will.

With regard to memory, as with regard to sensation, we seem in waking
life to be dealing with a selection made for purposes of earthly use.
From the pre-conscious unselective memory which depends on the mere
organisation of living matter, it is the task of consciousness, as it
dawns in each higher organism, to make its own appropriate selection and
to develop into distinctness certain helpful lines of reminiscence. The
question of self-preservation--What must I needs be aware of in order to
escape my foes?--involves the question, What must I needs remember in
order to act upon the facts of which I am aware? The selected currents
of memory follow the selected avenues of sensation; what by disuse I
lose the power of noticing at the time, I also lose the power of
recalling afterwards.

For simpler organisms this rule may perhaps suffice. Man needs a more
complex formula. For it may happen, as we have already seen, that two or
more phases of personality in one man may each select from the mass of
potential reminiscences a special group of memories of its own. These
special groups, moreover, may bear to one another all kinds of
relations; one may include another, or they may alternate and may be
apparently co-exclusive.

From these dissociations and alternations of memory there will be many
lessons to learn. The lesson which here presents itself is not the least
important. What is the relation of the sleeping state to these
dissociated, these parallel or concentric memories? Is it the case that
when one memory includes another it is the waking memory--as one might
expect from that state's apparently superior vividness--which shows
itself the deeper, the more comprehensive record?

The answer of actual experience to these questions is unexpectedly
direct and clear. In every recorded instance--so far at least as my
memory serves me, where there has been any _unification_ between
alternating states, so as to make comparison possible--it is the memory
furthest from waking life whose span is the widest, whose grasp of the
organism's upstored impressions is the most profound. Inexplicable as
this phenomenon has been to observers who have encountered it without
the needed key, the independent observations of hundreds of physicians
and hypnotists have united in affirming its reality. The commonest
instance, of course, is furnished by the ordinary hypnotic trance. The
degree of intelligence, indeed, which finds its way to expression in
that trance or slumber varies greatly in different subjects and at
different times. But whensoever there is enough of alertness to admit of
our forming a judgment, we find that in the hypnotic state there is a
considerable memory--though not necessarily a complete or a reasoned
memory--of the waking state; whereas with most subjects in the waking
state--unless some special command be imposed upon the hypnotic
self--there is no memory whatever of the hypnotic state. In many
hysterical conditions also the same general rule subsists; namely, that
the further we get from the surface the wider is the expanse of memory
which we encounter.

If all this be true, there are several points on which we may form
expectations definite enough to suggest inquiry. Ordinary sleep is
roughly intermediate between waking life and deep hypnotic trance; and
it seems _a priori_ probable that its memory will have links of almost
equal strength with the memory which belongs to waking life and the
memory which belongs to the hypnotic trance. And this is in fact the
case; the fragments of dream-memory are interlinked with both these
other chains. Thus, for example, without any suggestion to that effect,
acts accomplished in the hypnotic trance may be remembered in dream; and
remembered under the illusion which was thrown round them by the
hypnotiser. Thus Dr. Auguste Voisin suggested to a hypnotised subject
to stab a patient--really a stuffed figure--in the neighbouring bed.[44]
The subject did so; and of course knew nothing of it on waking. But
three days afterwards he returned to the hospital complaining that his
dreams were haunted by the figure of a woman, who accused him of having
stabbed and killed her. Appropriate suggestion laid this ghost of a

Conversely, dreams forgotten in waking life may be remembered in the
hypnotic trance. Thus Dr. Tissié's patient, Albert, dreamt that he was
about to set out on one of his somnambulic "fugues," or aimless
journeys, and when hypnotised mentioned to the physician this dream,
which in his waking state he had forgotten.[45] The probable truth of
this statement was shown by the fact that he did actually set out on the
journey thus dreamt of, and that his journeys were usually preceded and
incited by remembered dreams.

I need not dwell on the existence, but at the same time the
incompleteness, of our dream-memory of waking life; nor on the
occasional formation of a separate chain of memory, constructed from
successive and cohering dreams. It should be added that we do not really
know how far our memory in dream of waking life may have extended; since
we can only _infer_ this from our notoriously imperfect waking memory of
past dreams.

A cognate anticipation to which our theory will point will be that
dream-memory will occasionally be found to fill up gaps in waking
memory, other than those due to hypnotic trance; such so-called
"ecmnesic" periods, for instance, as sometimes succeed a violent shock
to the system, and may even embrace some space of time _anterior_ to the
shock. These periods themselves resemble prolonged and unremembered
dreams. Such accidents, however, are so rare, and such dream-memory so
hard to detect, that I mention the point mainly for the sake of
theoretical completeness; and must think myself fortunate in being able
to refer the reader to a recent case of M. Charcot's which affords an
interesting confirmation of the suggested view.[46]

I pass on to the still more novel and curious questions involved in the
apparent existence of a dream-memory which, while accompanying the
memory of ordinary life, seems also to have a wider purview, and to
indicate that the record of external events which is kept within us is
far fuller than we know.

Let us consider what stages such a memory may show.

I. It may include events once known to the waking self, but now
definitely forgotten.

II. It may include facts which have fallen within the sensory field, but
which have never been supraliminally "apperceived" or cognised in any
way. And thus also it may indicate that from this wider range of
remembered facts dream-_inferences_ have been drawn;--which inferences
may be _retrospective_, _prospective_, or,--if I may use a word of
Pope's with a new meaning, _circumspective_,--that is to say, relating
not to the past or to the future, but to the present condition of
matters beyond the range of ordinary perception. It is plain that
inferences of this kind (if they exist) will be liable to be mistaken
for direct retrocognition, direct premonition, direct clairvoyance;
while yet they need not actually prove anything more than a perception
on the part of the subliminal self more far-reaching,--a memory more
stable,--than is the perception or the memory of the supraliminal self
which we know.

These hypermnesic dreams, then, may afford a means of drawing our lines
of evidence more exactly; of relegating some marvellous narratives to a
realm of lesser marvel, and at the same time of realising more clearly
what it is in the most advanced cases which ordinary theories are really
powerless to explain.

As to the _first_ of the above-mentioned categories no one will raise
any doubt. It is a familiar fact--or a fact only sufficiently unfamiliar
to be noted with slight surprise--that we occasionally recover in sleep
a memory which has wholly dropped out of waking consciousness.

In such cases the original piece of knowledge has at the time made a
definite impress on the mind,--has come well within the span of
apprehension of the supraliminal consciousness. Its reappearance after
however long an interval is a fact to which there are already plenty of
parallels. But the conclusion to which some cases seem to me to point is
one of a much stranger character. I think that there is evidence to show
that many facts or pictures which have never even for a moment come
within the apprehension of the supraliminal consciousness are
nevertheless retained by the subliminal memory, and are occasionally
presented in dreams with what seems a definite purpose. I quote an
interesting case in Appendix IV. A.[47]

The same point, as we shall hereafter see, is illustrated by the
phenomena of crystal-vision. Miss Goodrich-Freer,[48] for example, saw
in the crystal the announcement of the death of a friend;--a piece of
news which certainly had never been apprehended by her ordinary
conscious self. On referring to the _Times_, it was found that an
announcement of the death of some one of the same unusual name was
contained in a sheet with which she had screened her face from the
fire;--so that the words may have fallen within her range of vision,
although they had not reached what we broadly call her waking mind.

This instance was of value from the strong probability that the news
could never have been supraliminally known at all;--since it was too
important to have been merely glanced at and forgotten.

In these cases the dream-self has presented a significant scene,--has
chosen, so to say, from its gallery of photographs the special picture
which the waking mind desired,--but has not needed to draw any more
complex inference from the facts presumably at its disposal. I have now
to deal with a small group of dreams which reason as well as
remember;--if indeed in some of them there be not something more than
mere reasoning on facts already in some way acquired,--something which
overpasses the scheme prescribed for the present chapter.

In the first place we cannot doubt that definite data already known may
sometimes be treated in somnambulism or ordinary dream with more than
waking intelligence. Such are the cases of mathematical problems solved
in somnambulism, or of the skeletal arrangement discovered by Agassiz in
common sleep for scattered bones which had baffled his waking skill. I
give in Appendix IV. B. the striking case of Professor Hilprecht where
dream-intelligence is carried to its highest point. Professor Romaine
Newbold (who records the case) is well versed in the analysis of
evidence making for supernormal powers, and his explanation of the
vision as the result of "processes of associative reasoning analogous to
those of the upper consciousness" must, I think, be taken as correct.
But had the incident occurred in a less critical age of the world,--in
any generation, one may say, but _this_,--how majestic a proof would the
phantasmal Babylonian's message be held to have afforded of his
veritable co-operation with the modern _savant_ in the reconstruction of
his remote past!

I repeat that with this case of Professor Hilprecht's we seem to have
reached the utmost intensity of sleep faculty within the limits of our
ordinary spectrum. In almost every region of that spectrum we have
found that the sleeper's faculty, under its narrow conditions, shows
scattered signs of at least a potential equality with the faculty of
waking hours.

We have already seen this as regards muscular movements, as regards
inward vision and audition, and as regards memory; and these last
records complete the series by showing us the achievement in sleep of
intellectual work of the severest order. Coleridge's _Kubla Khan_ had
long ago shown the world that a great poet might owe his masterpiece to
the obscuration of waking sense.[49] And the very imperfection of _Kubla
Khan_--the memory truncated by an interruption--may again remind us how
partial must ever be our waking knowledge of the achievements of sleep.

May I not, then, claim a real analogy between certain of the
achievements of _sleep_ and the achievements of _genius_? In both there
is the same triumphant spontaneity, the same sense of drawing no longer
upon the narrow and brief endurance of nerves and brain, but upon some
unknown source exempt from those limitations.

Thus far, indeed, the sleep-faculties which we have been considering,
however strangely intensified, have belonged to the same class as the
normal faculties of waking life. We have now to consider whether we can
detect in sleep any manifestation of _supernormal_ faculty--any
experience which seems to suggest that man is a cosmical spirit as well
as a terrestrial organism, and is in some way in relation with a
spiritual as well as with a material world. It will seem, in this view,
to be natural that this commerce with a spiritual environment should be
more perceptible in sleep than in waking. The dogma which my point of
view thus renders probable is perhaps, as a mere matter of history, the
dogma of all dogmas which has been most universally believed by mankind.

"_Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus_"--for how many narrow
theological propositions have we not heard this proud claim--that they
have been believed everywhere, and by everybody, and in every age? Yet
what can approach the antiquity, the ubiquity, the unanimity of man's
belief in the wanderings of the spirit in dream? In the Stone Age, the
sceptic would have been rash indeed who ventured to contradict it. And
though I grant that this "palæolithic psychology" has gone out of
fashion for the last few centuries, I do not think that (in view of the
telæsthetic evidence now collected) we can any longer dismiss as a mere
_bizarrerie_ of dream-imagery the constant recurrence of the idea of
visiting in sleep some distant scene,--with the acquisition thereby of
new facts not otherwise accessible.

Starting, then, not from savage authority, but from the evidential
scrutiny of modern facts, we shall find, I think, that there are
coincidences of dream with truth which neither pure chance nor any
subconscious mentation of an ordinary kind will adequately explain. We
shall find that there is a perception of concealed material objects or
of distant scenes and also a perception of a communion with the thoughts
and emotions of other minds. Both these phenomena have been noted
sporadically in many ages and countries, and were observed with serious
attention especially by the early French mesmerists. The first group of
phenomena was called _clairvoyance_ or _lucidité_, and the second
_communication de pensées_, or in English, _thought-transference_. These
terms are scarcely comprehensive enough to satisfy a more systematic
study. The distant perception is not _optical_, nor is it confined even
to the apparent sense of sight alone. It extends to all the senses, and
includes also impressions hardly referable to any special sense.
Similarly the communication between distant persons is not a
transference of thought alone, but of emotion, of motor impulses, and of
many impressions not easy to define. I ventured in 1882 to suggest the
wider terms _telæsthesia_, sensation at a distance, and _telepathy_,
fellow-feeling at a distance, and shall use these words in the present
work. But I am far from assuming that these terms correspond with
definite and dearly separated groups of phenomena, or comprise the whole
field of supernormal faculty. On the contrary, I think it probable that
the facts of the metetherial world are far more complex than the facts
of the material world; and the ways in which spirits perceive and
communicate, apart from fleshly organisms, are subtler and more varied
than any perception or communication which we know.

I have halted above at another line of demarcation which the dreamer's
own sensations suggest,--the distinction between active psychical
excursion or invasion and the passive reception of psychical invasion
from without. But even here, as was also hinted, a clear line of
division is hard to draw. For whether we are dealing with
dream-perceptions of distant material scenes, or of distant living
persons, or of discarnate spirits, it is often impossible for the
dreamer himself to say either from what point he is himself observing,
or where the scene of the vision is laid.

For the present I must confine myself to a brief sketch of some of the
main types of supernormal dreams, arranged in a kind of ascending order.
I shall begin with such dreams as primarily suggest a kind of
heightening or extension of the dreamer's own innate perceptive powers,
as exercised on the world around him. And I shall end with dreams which
suggest his entrance into a spiritual world, where commerce with
incarnate or discarnate spirits is subject no longer to the conditions
of earthly thought.

I begin, then, with some dreams which seem to carry perceptive faculty
beyond the point at which some unusual form of common vision can be
plausibly suggested in explanation. Mr. Lewis's dream of the
landing-order (Appendix IV. A) may be taken as an instance of such a

I will next refer to certain cases where the sleeper by clairvoyant
vision discerns a scene of direct interest to a mind other than his
own;--as the danger or death of some near friend. Sometimes there is a
flash of vision, which seems to represent correctly the critical scene.
Sometimes there is what seems like a longer gaze, accompanied, perhaps
by some sense of _communion_ with the invaded person. And in some few
cases--the most interesting of all--the circumstances of a death seem to
be symbolically _shown_ to a dreamer, as though by the deceased person,
or by some intelligence connected with him. (See Mrs. Storie's narrative
p. 109.)

One of the best instances of the flash of vision is Canon Warburton's,
which I quote from _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 338--a case
whose remoteness is rendered less of a drawback than usual by the
character of the narrator and the simplicity and definiteness of the
fact attested.

The following is his account:--

THE CLOSE, WINCHESTER, _July 16th, 1883_.

     Somewhere about the year 1848 I went up from Oxford to stay a day
     or two with my brother, Acton Warburton, then a barrister, living
     at 10 Fish Street, Lincoln's Inn. When I got to his chambers I
     found a note on the table apologising for his absence, and saying
     that he had gone to a dance somewhere in the West End, and intended
     to be home soon after one o'clock. Instead of going to bed, I dozed
     in an arm-chair, but started up wide awake exactly at one,
     ejaculating "By Jove! he's down!" and seeing him coming out of a
     drawing-room into a brightly illuminated landing, catching his foot
     in the edge of the top stair, and falling headlong, just saving
     himself by his elbows and hands. (The house was one which I had
     never seen, nor did I know where it was.) Thinking very little of
     the matter, I fell a-doze again for half an hour, and was awakened
     by my brother suddenly coming in and saying, "Oh, there you are! I
     have just had as narrow an escape of breaking my neck as I ever had
     in my life. Coming out of the ballroom, I caught my foot, and
     tumbled full length down the stairs."

     That is all. It may have been "only a dream," but I always thought
     it must have been something more.


In a second letter Canon Warburton adds:--

  _July 20th, 1883._

     My brother was hurrying home from his dance, with some little
     self-reproach in his mind for not having been at his chambers to
     receive his guest, so the chances are that he was thinking of me.
     The whole scene was vividly present to me at the moment, but I did
     not note particulars any more than one would in real life. The
     general impression was of a narrow landing brilliantly illuminated,
     and I remember verifying the correctness of this by questions at
     the time.

     This is my sole experience of the kind.

     [The last words are in answer to the question whether he had had
     similar vivid visions which had _not_ corresponded with any real

The impression here produced is as though a jerk were given to some
delicate link connecting the two brothers. The brother suffering the
crisis thinks vividly of the other; and one can of course explain the
incident, as we did on its first publication, as the endangered man's
projection of the scene upon his brother's mind. The passive dozing
brother, on the other hand, feels as though he were suddenly _present_
in the scene,--say in response to some sudden call from the brother in
danger,--and I am here bringing into relief _that_ aspect of the
incident, on account of its analogy with cases soon to be quoted. But
the main lesson no doubt may be that no hard and fast line can be drawn
between the two explanations.[51]

And here I feel bound to introduce a sample of a certain class of
dreams,--more interesting, perhaps, and certainly more perplexing than
any;--but belonging to a category of phenomena which at present I can
make no attempt to explain. I mean precognitive dreams;--pictures or
visions in which future events are foretold or depicted, generally with
more or less of symbolism,--and generally also in a mode so remote from
the previsions of our earthly sagacity that we shall find ourselves
driven, in a later discussion, to speak in vague terms of glimpses into
a cosmic picture-gallery;--or of scenic representations composed and
offered to us by intelligences higher and more distant than any spirit
whom we have known. I give in Appendix IV. C, a thoroughly
characteristic example;--characteristic alike in its definiteness, its
purposelessness, its isolated unintelligibility.

Dr. Bruce's narrative, which I next give in Appendix IV. D, written by
an intelligent man, while the facts were yet fresh, seems to me of high
importance. If we accept the rest of his story, we must, I think,
suppose that the sense of spiritual presence with which the incident
began was more than a mere subjective fancy. Shall we refer it to the
murdered man's wife;--with whom the dreamer seemed afterwards to be in
telepathic relation? Or shall we interpret it as a kind of summons from
the dying man, drawing on, as it were, his friend's spirit to witness
the actual murder and the subsequent scene? The fact that another
friend, in another locality apparently, had a vision of similar nature,
tells somewhat in favour of the supposition that the decedent's spirit
was operative in both cases; since we very seldom--if ever--find an
agent producing an impression in two separate places at once--or nearly
so--except at or just after the moment of death.

In this view, the incident resembles a scene passing in a spiritual
world. The dying man summons his brother-in-law; the brother-in-law
visits the scene of murder, and there spiritually communicates with his
sister, the widow, who is corporeally in that scene, and then sees
further details of the scene after death, which he does not understand,
and which are not explained to him.

Fantastic though this explanation seems, it is not easy to hit on a
simpler one which will cover the facts as stated. Could we accept it, we
should have a kind of transition between two groups of cases, which
although apparently so different may form parts of a continuous series.
I mean the cases where the dreamer visits a distant scene, and the cases
where another spirit visits the dreamer.

Taking, then, Dr. Bruce's case to bridge the interval between these two
groups, I go on to a case which properly belongs to the _second_, though
it still has much in common with the _first_. I shall quote Mrs.
Storie's narrative at full length in the text; because the case is, in
my judgment, both evidentially very strong, and also, in the naiveté of
its confusion, extremely suggestive of the way in which these psychical
communications are made. Mrs. Storie, who is now dead, was, by the
testimony of Edmund Gurney, Professor Sidgwick, and others, a witness
eminently deserving of trust; and, besides a corroboration from her
husband of the manifestation of a troubled dream, before the event was
known, we have the actual notes written down by her, as she informed us,
the day, or the day after, the news of the fatal accident arrived,
solely for her own use, and unmistakably reflecting the incoherent
impressiveness of the broken vision. These notes form the narrative
given in _Phantasms of the Living_ (vol. i. p. 370) which I reproduce
here. The fact that the deceased brother was a _twin_ of Mrs. Storie's
adds interest to the case, since one clue (a vague one as yet) to the
causes directing and determining telepathic communications lies in what
seems their exceptional frequency between _twins_;--the closest of all

HOBART TOWN, _July 1874_.

     On the evening of the 18th July, I felt unusually nervous. This
     seemed to begin [with the occurrence of a small domestic annoyance]
     about half past eight o'clock. When I went to my room I even felt
     as if some one was there. I fancied, as I stepped into bed, that
     some one _in thought_ tried to stop me. At 2 o'clock I woke from
     the following dream. It seemed like in dissolving views. In a
     twinkle of light I saw a railway, and the puff of the engine. I
     thought, "What's going on up there? Travelling? I wonder if any of
     us are travelling and I dreaming of it." _Some one_ unseen by me
     answered, "No; something quite different--something wrong." "I
     don't like to look at these things," I said. Then I saw behind and
     above my head William's upper half reclining, eyes and mouth half
     shut; his chest moved forward convulsively, and he raised his right
     arm. Then he bent forward, saying, "I suppose I should move out of
     this." Then I saw him lying, eyes shut, on the ground, flat. The
     chimney of an engine at his head. I called in excitement, "That
     will strike him!" The _some one_ answered "Yes--well, here's what
     it was"; and immediately I saw William sitting in the open
     air--faint moonlight--on a raised place sideways. He raised his
     right arm, shuddered, and said, "I can't go on, or back, _No_."
     Then he seemed lying flat. I cried out, "Oh! Oh!" and others seemed
     to echo, "Oh! Oh!" He seemed then upon his elbow, saying, "Now it
     comes." Then as if struggling to rise, turned twice round quickly,
     saying, "Is it the train? _the train, the train_," his right
     shoulder reverberating as if struck from behind. He fell back like
     fainting; his eyes rolled. A large dark object came between us like
     panelling of wood, and rather in the dark something rolled over,
     and like an arm was thrown up, and the whole thing went away with a
     _swish_. Close beside me on the ground there seemed a long dark
     object. I called out, "They've left something behind; it's like a
     man." It then raised its shoulders and head, and fell down again.
     The same _some one_ answered, "_Yes, sadly_." [? "_Yes_," sadly.]
     After a moment I seemed called on to look up, and said, "Is that
     _thing_ not away yet?" Answered, "_No_." And in front, in light,
     there was a railway compartment in which sat Rev. Mr. Johnstone, of
     Echuca. I said, "What's he doing there?" Answered, "He's there." A
     railway porter went up to the window asking, "Have you seen any
     of----." I caught no more, but I _thought_ he referred to the
     _thing_ left behind. Mr. Johnstone seemed to answer "_No_"; and the
     man went quickly away--I thought to look for it. After all this the
     _some one_ said close to me, "Now I'm going." I started, and at
     once saw
     {a tall dark figure at my head}
     {William's back at my side. } He put his right hand (in grief) over
     his face, and the other almost touching my shoulder, he crossed in front,
     looking stern and solemn. There was a flash from the eyes, and I
     caught a glimpse of a fine pale face like ushering him along, and
     indistinctly another. I felt frightened, and called out, "Is he angry?"
     "Oh, no." "Is he going away?" Answered, "_Yes_," by the same _some one_,
     and I woke with a loud sigh, which woke my husband, who said, "What is
     it?" I told him I had been dreaming "something unpleasant"--named a
     "railway," and dismissed it all from my mind as a dream. As I fell
     asleep again I fancied the _some one_ said, "It's all gone," and another
     answered, "I'll come and remind her."

     The news reached me one week afterwards. The accident had happened
     to my brother on the same night about half past 9 o'clock. Rev. Mr.
     Johnstone and his wife were actually in the train which struck him.
     He was walking along the line which is raised two feet on a level
     country. He seemed to have gone 16 miles--must have been tired and
     sat down to take off his boot, which was beside him, dozed off and
     was very likely roused by the sound of the train; 76 sheep-trucks
     had passed without touching him, but some wooden projection, likely
     the step, had touched the _right_ side of his head, bruised his
     right shoulder, and killed him instantaneously. The night was very
     dark. I believe now that the _some one_ was (from something in the
     _way_ he spoke) William _himself_. The face with him was white as
     alabaster and something like this [a small sketch pasted on] in
     profile. There were many other thoughts or words seemed to pass,
     but they are too many to write down here.

     The voice of the _some one_ unseen seemed _always above_ the figure
     of William which I saw. And when I was shown the compartment of the
     carriage with Mr. Johnstone, the _some one_ seemed on a line
     between me and it--_above_ me.

     [In an account-book of Mrs. Storie's, on a page, headed July 1874,
     we find the 18th day marked, and the words, "Dear Willie died," and
     "Dreamed, dreamed of it all," appended.

     The first letter, from the Rev. J. C. Johnstone to the Rev. John
     Storie, announcing the news of the accident, is lost. The following
     are extracts from his second and third letters on the subject:--]

ECHUCA, _10th August 1874_.

     The place where Hunter was killed is on an open plain, and there
     was consequently plenty of room for him to escape the train had he
     been conscious; but I think Meldrum's theory is the correct one,
     that he had sat down to adjust some bandages on his leg and had
     thoughtlessly gone off to sleep. There is only one line of rails,
     and the ground is raised about 2 feet--the ground on which the
     rails rest. He had probably sat down on the edge, and lain down
     backwards so as to be within reach of some part of the train. It
     was not known at the time that an accident had occurred. Mrs.
     Johnstone and myself were in the train. Meldrum says he was not
     very much crushed. The top of the skull was struck off, and some
     ribs were broken under the armpit on one side. His body was found
     on the Sunday morning by a herd-boy from the adjoining station.

_August 29th, 1874._

     The exact time at which the train struck poor Hunter must have been
     about 9.55 P.M., and his death must have been instantaneous.

     [The above corresponds with the account of the inquest in the
     _Riverine Herald_ for July 22nd. The _Melbourne Argus_ also
     describes the accident as having taken place on the night of
     Saturday, the 18th.

     The following remarks are taken from notes made by Professor
     Sidgwick, during an interview with Mrs. Storie, in April 1884, and
     by Mrs. Sidgwick after another interview in September 1885:--]

     Mrs. Storie cannot regard the experience exactly as a dream, though
     she woke up from it. She is sure that it did not grow more definite
     in recollection afterwards. She never had a series of scenes in a
     dream at any other time; and she has never had anything like a
     hallucination. They were introduced by a voice in a whisper, not
     recognised as her brother's. He had sat on the bank as he appeared
     in the dream. The engine she saw behind him had a chimney of
     peculiar shape, such as she had not at that time seen; and she
     remembers that Mr. Storie thought her foolish about insisting on
     the chimney--unlike (he said) any which existed; but he informed
     her when he came back from Victoria, where her brother was, that
     engines of this kind had just been introduced there. She had no
     reason to think that any conversation between the porter and the
     clergyman actually occurred. The persons who seemed to lead her
     brother away were not recognised by her, and she only saw the face
     of one of them.

     Mr. Storie confirms his wife having said to him at the time of the
     dream, "What is that light?" Before writing the account first
     quoted, she had just mentioned the dream to her husband, but had
     not described it. She desired not to think of it, and also was
     unwilling to worry him about it because of his Sunday's work. This
     last point, it will be observed, is a confirmation of the fact that
     the dream took place on the Saturday night; and "it came out
     clearly" (Mrs. Sidgwick says) "that her recollection about the
     Saturday night was an independent recollection, and not read back
     after the accident was known." The strongly nervous state that
     preceded the dream was quite unique in Mrs. S.'s experience. But as
     it appeared that, according to her recollection, it commenced at
     least an hour before the accident took place, it must be regarded
     as of no importance evidentially. The feeling of a presence in the
     room was also quite unique.

"Here," says Gurney, "the difficulty of referring the true elements of
the dream to the agent's mind [is very great]. For Mr. Hunter was
asleep; and even if we can conceive that the image of the advancing
engine may have had some place in his mind, the presence of Mr.
Johnstone could not have been perceived by him. But it is possible, of
course, to regard this last item of correspondence as accidental, even
though the dream was telepathic. It will be observed that the dream
followed the accident by about four hours; such _deferment_ is, I
think, a strong point in favour of telepathic, as opposed to
independent, clairvoyance."

I propose as an alternative explanation,--for reasons which I endeavour
to justify in later chapters,--that the deceased brother, aided by some
other dimly discerned spirit, was endeavouring to present to Mrs. Storie
a series of pictures representing his death--as realised _after_ his
death. I add this last clause, because one of the marked points in the
dream was the presence in the train of Mr. Johnstone of Echuca--a fact
which (as Gurney remarks) the dying man could not possibly know.

I have dwelt on these two cases of Dr. Bruce and Mrs. Storie, because
the reader will, I think, come to feel, as our evidence unrolls itself,
that he has here complex experiences which are confirmed at various
points by simpler experiences, in such a way as to make these stories
seem a confused but an intimate transcript of what other narratives show
in hints and glimpses alone.

In Mrs. Storie's case the whole experience, as we have seen, presented
itself as a _dream_; yet as a dream of quite unusual type, like a series
of pictures presented to the sleeper who was still conscious that she
was lying in bed. In other cases the "psychical invasion" of the spirit
either of a living or of a deceased person seems to set up a variety of
sleep-waking states--both in agent and percipient. In one bizarre
narrative a man dreaming that he has returned home is _heard_ in his
home calling for hot water--and has himself a singular sense of
"bilocation" between the railway carriage and his bedroom.[52] In
another curious case is recorded a kind of _encounter_ in dreamland,
apparently more or less remembered by both persons.[53]

An invasion of this type coming upon a sleeping person is apt to induce
some change in the sleeper's state, which, even if he regards it as a
complete awakening, is generally shown not to be so in fact by the
dreamlike character of his own recorded feelings and utterances. Gurney
called these "Borderland Cases," and the whole collection in _Phantasms
of the Living_ will repay perusal. I introduce one such case in Appendix
IV. E, as being at once very perplexing and, I think, very strongly
attested. I knew Mr. and Mrs. T., who certainly were seriously anxious
for complete accuracy, and who had (as the narrative shows) made a
brief memorandum and consulted various persons on the incident at the

These cases of invasion by the spirits of living persons pass on into
cases of invasion by the dying, the impression being generally that of
the presence of the visitant in the percipient's surroundings.[54]
Sometimes the phantasm is seen as nearly as can be ascertained at the
time of death. But there is no perceptible break in the series at this
point. Some appear shortly after death, but before the death is known to
the percipient. [See Appendix IV. F]. Finally, there are cases when the
appearance takes place some time after death, but presents features
unknown to the percipient.[55]

We have now briefly reviewed certain phenomena of sleep from a
standpoint somewhat differing from that which is commonly taken. We have
not (as is usual) fixed our attention primarily on the _negative_
characteristics of sleep, or the extent to which it lacks the capacities
of waking hours. On the contrary, we have regarded sleep as an
independent phase of personality, existing with as good a right as the
waking phase, and dowered with imperfectly expressed faculties of its
own. In investigating those faculties we have been in no wise deterred
by the fact of the apparent uselessness of some of them for our waking
ends. _Useless_ is a pre-scientific, even an anti-scientific term, which
has perhaps proved a greater stumbling-block to research in psychology
than in any other science. In science the _use_ of phenomena is to prove
laws, and the more bizarre and trivial the phenomena, the greater the
chance of their directing us to some law which has been overlooked till
now. In reviewing the phenomena of sleep, then, we found in the first
place that it possesses a specific recuperative energy which the
commonly accepted data of physiology and psychology cannot explain. We
saw that in sleep there may be an increased co-ordination or
centralisation of muscular control, and also an increased vividness of
entencephalic perception, indicating a more intimate appreciation of
intra-peripheral changes than is manifest in waking life. In accordance
with this view, we found that the dreaming self may undergo sensory and
emotional experiences apparently more intense than those of vigilance,
and may produce thereby lasting effects upon the waking body and mind.
Similarly again, we saw that that specific impress on body and mind
which we term memory may in sleeping or hypnotic states be both wider in
range and fuller in content than the evocable memory of the waking day.
Nay, not memory only, but power of inference, of argument, may be thus
intensified, as is shown by the solution in sleep of problems which have
baffled waking effort.

All these are fragmentary indications,--useless for practical purposes
if you will,--of sleeping faculty exercised on the same order of things
as waking faculty, and with comparable or even superior power. But we
were bound to push our inquiry further still--we were bound to ask
whether the self of sleep showed any faculty of a quite different order
from that by which waking consciousness maintains the activity of man.
We found that this was so indeed; that there was evidence that the
sleeping spirit was susceptible of relations unfettered by spatial
bonds; of telæsthetic perception of distant scenes; of telepathic
communication with distant persons, or even with spirits of whom we can
predicate neither distance nor nearness, since they are released from
the prison of the flesh.

The inference which all this evidence suggests is entirely in accordance
with the hypothesis on which my whole work is based.

I have assumed that man is an organism informed or possessed by a soul.
This view obviously involves the hypothesis that we are living a life in
two worlds at once; a planetary life in this material world, to which
the organism is intended to react; and also a cosmic life in that
spiritual or metetherial world, which is the native environment of the
soul. From that unseen world the energy of the organism needs to be
perpetually replenished. That replenishment we cannot understand: we may
figure it to ourselves as a protoplasmic process;--as some relation
between protoplasm, ether, and whatever is beyond ether, on which it is
at present useless to speculate.

Admitting, for the sake of argument, these vast assumptions, it will be
easy to draw the further inference that it may be needful that the
soul's attention should be frequently withdrawn from the business of
earthly life, so as to pursue with greater intensity what we may call
its protoplasmic task,--the maintenance of the fundamental, pervading
connection between the organism and the spiritual world. Nay, this
profounder condition, as responding to more primitive, more fundamental
needs, will itself be more primitive than the waking state. And this is
so: sleep is the infant's dominant phase: the pre-natal state resembles
sleep rather than waking; and so does the whole life-condition of our
lowly ancestors. And as the sleeping state is the more _primitive_, so
also is it the more _generalised_, and the more _plastic_. Out of this
dreamy abeyance between two worlds, the needs of the material world are
constantly developing some form of alert activity, some faculty which
was _potential_ only until search for food and the defence against
enemies compelled a closer heed to "the life of relation," lest the
relation should become only that of victim to devourer.

We shall thus have two phases of personality developing into separate
purposes and in separate directions from a parent stem. The waking
personality will develop external sense organs and will fit itself
progressively for the life of relation to the external world. It will
endeavour to attain an ever completer control over the resources of the
personality, and it will culminate in what we term _genius_ when it has
unified the subliminal as far as possible with the supraliminal in its
pursuit of deliberate waking ends.

The sleeping personality will develop in ways less easy to foresee.
What, on any theory, will it aim at, beyond the familiar intensification
of recuperative power? We can only guess, on my theory, that its
development will show some increasing trace of the soul's less exclusive
absorption in the activity of the organism. The soul has withdrawn from
the specialised material surface of things (to use such poor metaphor as
we can) into a realm where the nature of the connection between matter
and spirit--whether through the intermediacy of the ether or
otherwise--is more profoundly discerned. That same withdrawal from the
surface which, while it diminishes power over complex muscular
processes, increases power over profound organic processes, may at the
same time increase the soul's power of operating in that spiritual world
to which sleep has drawn it nearer.

On this view of sleep, be it observed, there will be nothing to surprise
us in the possibility of increasing the proportion of the sleeping to
the waking phase of life by hypnotic suggestion. All we can say is that,
while the soul must insist on at least the minimum quantity of sleep
needful to keep the body alive, we can see no superior limit to the
quantity of sleep which it may choose to take,--the quantity of
attention, that is, which it may choose to give to the special
operations of sleep as compared with those of waking life.

At this point we must for the present pause. The suggested hypothesis
will indeed cover the actual facts as to sleep adduced in this chapter.
But it covers them by virtue of assumptions too vast to be accepted
without further confirmation. It must necessarily be our duty in later
chapters to trace the development of the sleeping personality in both
the directions indicated above;--in the direction of organic
recuperation through the hypnotic trance, and in the direction of the
soul's independent operation through that form of trance which leads to
possession and to ecstasy. We shall begin at once in the next chapter to
trace out that great experimental modification of sleep, from which,
under the names of mesmerism or of hypnotism, results of such
conspicuous practical value have already been won.



εἱλετο ἑ ῥἁβδον, τὑ τ' ἁνδρὡν δμματα θελγει,
ὁν ἑθἑλει, τοὑς δ' αὑτε κἱ ὑπνὡοτας ἑγεἱρι.


In the last chapter we were led on to adopt a conception of sleep which,
whether or not it prove ultimately in any form acceptable by science, is
at any rate in deep congruity with the evidence brought forward in this
work. Our human life, in this view, exists and energises, at the present
moment, both in the material and in the spiritual world. Human
personality, as it has developed from lowly ancestors, has become
differentiated into two phases; one of them mainly adapted to material
or planetary, the other to spiritual or cosmic operation. The subliminal
self, mainly directing the sleeping phase, is able either to rejuvenate
the organism by energy drawn in from the spiritual world;--or, on the
other hand, temporarily and partially to relax its connection with that
organism, in order to expatiate in the exercise of supernormal
powers;--telepathy, telesthæsia, ecstasy.

Such were the suggestions of the evidence as to dream and vision; such,
I may add, will be seen to be the suggestions of _spontaneous
somnambulism_, which has not yet fallen under our discussion. Yet claims
so large as these demand corroboration from observation and experiment
along many different lines of approach. Some such corroboration we have,
in anticipatory fashion, already acquired. Discussing in Chapter II. the
various forms of disintegration of personality, we had frequent glimpses
of beneficent subliminal powers. We saw the deepest stratum of the self
intervening from time to time with a therapeutic object, or we caught it
in the act of exercising, even if aimlessly or sporadically, some
faculty beyond supraliminal reach. And we observed, moreover, that the
agency by which these subliminal powers were invoked was generally the
_hypnotic trance_. Of the nature of that trance I then said nothing; it
was manifest only that here was some kind of induced or artificial
somnambulism, which seemed to systematise that beneficial control of
the organism which spontaneous sleep-waking states had exercised in a
fitful way. It must plainly be our business to understand _ab initio_
these hypnotic phenomena; to push as far as may be what seems like an
experimental evolution of the sleeping phase of personality.

Let us suppose, then, that we are standing at our present point, but
with no more knowledge of hypnotic phenomena than existed in the boyhood
of Mesmer. We shall know well enough what, as experimental
psychologists, we desire to do; but we shall have little notion of how
to set about it. We desire to summon at our will, and to subdue to our
use, these rarely emergent sleep-waking faculties. On their physical
side, we desire to develop their inhibition of pain and their
reinforcement of energy; on their intellectual side, their concentration
of attention; on their emotional side, their sense of freedom,
expansion, joy. Above all, we desire to get hold of those supernormal
faculties--telepathy and telæsthesia--of which we have caught fitful
glimpses in somnambulism and in dream.

Yet to such hopes as these the so-called "experience of ages" (generally
a very short and scrappy induction!) will seem altogether to refuse any
practical outcome. History, indeed,--with the wonted vagueness of
history,--will offer us a long series of stories of the strange sanative
suggestion or influence of man on man;--beginning, say, with David and
Saul, or with David and Abishag, and ending with Valentine
Greatrakes,--or with the Stuarts' last touch for the King's evil. But in
knowledge of how actually to set about it, we should still be just on
the level of the Seven Sages.[56]

And now let the reader note this lesson on the unexhausted possibilities
of human organisms and human life. Let him take his stand at one of the
modern centres of hypnotic practice,--in Professor Bernheim's
hospital-ward, or Dr. van Renterghem's _clinique_; let him see the
hundreds of patients thrown daily into hypnotic trance, in a few
moments, and as a matter of course; and let him then remember that this
process, which now seems as obvious and easy as giving a pill, was
absolutely unknown not only to Galen and to Celsus, but to Hunter and to
Harvey; and when at last discovered was commonly denounced as a
fraudulent fiction, almost up to the present day. Nay, if one chances to
have watched as a boy some cure effected in Dr. Elliotson's Mesmeric
Hospital, before neglect and calumny had closed that too early effort
for human good;--if one has seen popular indifference and professional
prejudice check the new healing art for a generation;--is not one likely
to have imbibed a deep distrust of all _a priori_ negations in the
matter of human faculty;--of all _obiter dicta_ of eminent men on
subjects with which they do not happen to be acquainted? Would not one,
after such an experience, rather choose (with Darwin) "the fool's
experiment" than any immemorial ignorance which has stiffened into an
unreasoning incredulity?

Mesmer's experiment was almost a "fool's experiment," and Mesmer himself
was almost a charlatan. Yet Mesmer and his successors,--working from
many different points of view, and following many divergent
theories,--have opened an ever-widening way, and have brought us now to
a position where we can fairly hope, by experiments made no longer at
random, to reproduce and systematise most of those phenomena of
spontaneous somnambulism which once seemed to lie so tantalisingly
beyond our grasp.

That promise is great indeed; yet it is well to begin by considering
precisely how far it extends. We must not suppose that we shall at once
be subduing to our experiment a central, integrated, reasonable Self.

We must be content (at first at any rate) if we can affect the
personality in the same limited way as hysteria and somnambulism have
affected it; but yet can act deliberately and usefully where these have
acted hurtfully and at random. It is enough to hope that we may inhibit
pain, as it is inhibited for the hysteric; or concentrate attention, as
it is concentrated for the somnambulist; or change the tastes and
passions, as these are changed in alternating personalities; or (best of
all) recover and fix something of that supernormal faculty of which we
have caught fugitive glimpses in vision and dream. Our proof of the
origination of any phenomenon in the deeper strata of our being must lie
in the intrinsic nature of the faculty exhibited;--not in the wisdom of
its actual direction. _That_ must often depend on the order given from
above the threshold; just as the magic mill of the fable continues
magical, although, for lack of the proper formula to stop it, it be
still grinding out superfluous salt at the bottom of the sea.

This brief introduction will, I hope, show that hypnotism is no
disconnected or extraneous insertion into experimental psychology, but
rather a summary name for a group of necessary, though empirical and
isolated, attempts to bring under control that range of submerged
faculty which has already from time to time risen into our observation.
The inquiry has been mainly the work of a few distinguished men, who
have each of them pushed some useful ideas as far as they could, but
whose work has not been adequately supported by successors.

I should much doubt whether there have been a hundred men in all
countries together, at the ordinary level of professional intelligence,
who during the century since Mesmer have treated hypnotism as the
serious study of their lives. Some few of the men who have so treated it
have been men of great force and strong convictions; and it will be
found that there has consequently been a series of sudden developments
of groups of phenomena, differing much from each other, but
corresponding with the special beliefs and desires of the person who
headed each movement in turn. I will mention some of the chief examples,
so as to show the sporadic nature of the efforts made, and the great
variety of the phenomena elicited.

The first name that must be mentioned is, of course, that of Mesmer
himself. He believed primarily in a sanative effluence, and his method
seems to have been a combination of passes, suggestion, and a supposed
"metallotherapy" or "magneto-therapy"--the celebrated _baquet_--which no
doubt was merely a form of suggestion. His results, though very
imperfectly described, seem to have been peculiar to himself. The
_crise_ which many of his patients underwent sounds like a hysterical
attack; but there can be no doubt that rapid improvement in symptoms
often followed it, or he would not have made so great an impression on
_savants_ as well as on the fashionable world of Paris. To Mesmer, then,
we owe the first conception of the therapeutic power of a sudden and
profound nervous change. To Mesmer, still more markedly, we owe the
doctrine of a nervous influence or effluence passing from man to man,--a
doctrine which, though it must assume a less exclusive importance than
he assigned to it, cannot, in my view, be altogether ignored or denied.

The leading figure among his immediate successors, the Marquis de
Puységur, seems from his writings[57] to have been one of the ablest and
most candid men who have practised mesmerism; and he was one of the very
few who have conducted experiments, other than therapeutic, on a large
scale. The somnambulic state may also be said to have been his
discovery; and he obtained clairvoyance or telæsthesia in so many
instances, and recorded them with so much of detail, that it is hard to
attribute all to mal-observation, or even to telepathy from persons
present. Other observers, as Bertrand, a physician of great promise,
followed in the same track, and this brief period was perhaps the most
fertile in disinterested experiments that our subject has yet known.
Much was then done in Germany also; and there, too, there is scattered
testimony to supernormal powers.[58]

Next came the era of Elliotson in England, and of Esdaile in his
hospital at Calcutta. Their method lay in mesmeric passes, Elliotson's
object being mostly the direct cure of maladies, Esdaile's a deep
anæsthesia, under which he performed hundreds of serious operations. His
success in this direction was absolutely unique;--was certainly (setting
aside supernormal phenomena) the most extraordinary performance in
mesmeric history. Had not his achievements been matters of official
record, the apparent impossibility of repeating them would probably by
this time have been held to have disproved them altogether.

The next great step which hypnotism made was actually regarded by
Elliotson and his group as a hostile demonstration. When Braid
discovered that hypnosis could be induced without passes, the mesmerists
felt that their theory of a sanative effluence was dangerously attacked.
And this was true; for that theory has in fact been thrown into the
shade,--too completely so, in my opinion,--first by the method used in
Braid's earlier work of the production of hypnotic phenomena by means of
the upward and inward squint, and secondly, by the much wider and more
important discovery of the efficacy of mere _suggestion_, set forth in
his later writings. Braid's hypnotic experience differed much from that
of hypnotists before and after him. His early method of the convergent
squint produced results which no one else has been able to produce; and
the state which it induced appeared in his view to arrest and dissipate
even maladies of which neither hypnotist nor patient had thought as
capable of cure. But he afterwards abandoned this method in favour of
simple verbal suggestion, as he found that what was required was merely
to influence the ideas of his patients. He showed further that all
so-called phrenological phenomena and the supposed effects of magnets,
metals, etc., could be produced equally well by suggestion.[59] He also
laid stress on the subject's power both of resisting the commands of the
operator and of inducing hypnotic effects in himself without the aid of
an operator. To my mind the most important novelty brought out by Braid
was the possibility of self-hypnotisation by concentration of will. This
inlet into human faculty, in some ways the most important of all, has
been as yet but slackly followed. But it is along with Braid's group of
ideas that I should place those of an able but much inferior
investigator, Dr. Fahnestock, although it is not clear that the latter
knew of Braid's work. His book, _Statuvolism, or Artificial
Somnambulism_ (Chicago, 1871), has received less attention than it
merits;--partly perhaps from its barbarous title, partly from the
crudities with which it is encumbered, and partly from the fact of its
publication at what was at that date a town on the outskirts of
civilisation. Fahnestock seems to have obtained by self-suggestion with
healthy persons results in some ways surpassing anything since recorded.

There is no reason to doubt these results, except the fact that they
have not yet been repeated with equal success; and my present purpose is
to show how little importance can as yet be attached in the history of
hypnotic experiment to the mere absence thus far of successful

The next great stage was again strikingly different. It was mainly
French; the impulse was given largely by Professor Charles Richet, whose
work has proved singularly free from narrowness or misconception; but
the movement was developed in a special and a very unfortunate direction
by Charcot and his school. It is a remarkable fact that although Charcot
was perhaps the only man of eminence whose professional reputation has
ever been raised by his dealings with hypnotism, most of his work
thereon is now seen to have been mistaken and aberrant,--a mere
following of a blind alley, from which his disciples are now gradually
returning. Charcot's leading phenomena (as with several of his
predecessors above mentioned) were of a type which has seldom since been
obtained. The once celebrated "three stages" of the _grand hypnotisme_
are hardly anywhere now to be seen. But in this case the reason is not
that other hypnotists could not obtain the phenomena if they would; it
is rather (as I have already indicated) that experience has convinced
them that the sequences and symptoms on which Charcot laid stress were
merely very elaborate products of the long-continued, and, so to say,
endemic suggestions of the Salpêtrière.

We come next to the movement which is now on the whole dominant, and to
which the greatest number of cures may at present be credited. The
school of Nancy--which originated with Liébeault, and which is now
gradually merging into a general consensus of hypnotic practice--threw
aside more and more decisively the supposed "somatic signs" of
Charcot,--the phenomena of neuro-muscular irritability and the like,
which he regarded as the requisite proof of hypnosis;--until Bernheim
boldly affirmed that hypnotic trance was no more than sleep, and that
hypnotic suggestion was at once the sole cause of hypnotic
responsiveness and yet was undifferentiated from mere ordinary advisory
speech. This was unfortunately too good to be true. Not one sleep in a
million is really hypnosis; not one suggestion in a million reaches or
influences the subliminal self. If Bernheim's theories, in their extreme
form, were true, there would by this time have been no sufferers left to

What Bernheim has done is to cure a number of people without mesmeric
passes, and without any special predisposing belief on either
side,--beyond a trust in his own power. And this is a most valuable
achievement, especially as showing how much may be _dispensed with_ in
hypnotic practice--to how simple elements it may be reduced.

"Hypnotic trance," says Bernheim, in effect, "is ordinary sleep;
hypnotic suggestion is ordinary command. You tell the patient to go to
sleep, and he goes to sleep; you tell him to get well, and he gets well
immediately." Even thus (one thinks) has one heard the conjuror
explaining "how it's done,"--with little resulting hope of emulating his
brilliant performance. An ordinary command does _not_ enable an ordinary
man to get rid of his rheumatism, or to detest the previously too
acceptable taste of brandy. In suggestion, in short, there must needs be
something more than a name; a profound nervous change must needs be
started by some powerful nervous stimulus from without or from within.
Before contenting ourselves with Bernheim's formula, we must consider
yet again what change we want to effect, and whether hypnotists have
actually used any form of stimulus which was likely to effect it.

According to Bernheim we are all naturally suggestible, and what we want
to effect through suggestion is increased suggestibility. But let us get
rid for the moment of that oracular word. What it seems to mean here is
mainly a readier obedience of the organism to what we wish it to do. The
sleep or trance with which hypnotism is popularly identified is not
essential to our object, for the subliminal modifications are sometimes
attained without any trace of somnolence. Let us consider, then, whether
any known nervous stimuli, either massive or specialised, tend to
induce--not mere sleep or catalepsy--but that kind of ready
modifiability,--of _responsiveness_ both in visible gesture and in
invisible nutritive processes,--for the sake of which hypnosis is in
serious practice induced.

Now of the external stimuli which influence the whole nervous system the
most conspicuous are narcotic drugs. Opium, alcohol, chloroform,
cannabis indica, etc., affect the nerves in so many strange ways that
one might hope that they would be of use as hypnotic agents. And some
observers have found that slight chloroformisation rendered subjects
more suggestible. Janet has cited one case where suggestibility was
developed during recovery from delirium tremens. Other hypnotisers (as
Bramwell) have found chloroform fail to render patients hypnotisable;
and alcohol is generally regarded as a positive hindrance to hypnotic
susceptibility. More experiment with various narcotics is much needed;
but thus far the scantiness of proof that narcotics help towards
hypnosis goes rather against the view that hypnosis is a direct
physiological sequence from any form of external stimulus.

The apparent resemblance, indeed, between narcosis and hypnosis
diminishes on a closer analysis. A stage may occur both in narcotised
and in hypnotised subjects where there is incoherent, dream-like
mentation; but in the narcotised subject this is a step towards
inhibition of the whole nervous energy--the highest centres being
paralysed first; whereas in hypnosis the inhibition of supraliminal
faculty seems often at least to be merely a necessary preliminary to the
liberation of fresh faculty which presently manifests itself from a
profounder region of the self.

Next take another group of massive effects produced on the nervous
system by external stimuli;--those forms, namely, of trance and
cataplexy which are due to sudden shock. With human beings this
phenomenon varies from actual death from failure of heart-action, or
paralysis, or _stupor attonitus_ (a recognised form of insanity), any of
which may result from a mere alarming sight or unwelcome announcement,
down to the cataleptic immobility of a Salpêtrière patient, when she
hears a sudden stroke on the gong.

Similar phenomena in certain animals, as frogs, beetles, etc., are well
known. It is doubtful, however, whether any of these sudden disablements
should be classed as true hypnoses. It has not, I think, been shown that
in any case they have induced any real responsiveness to control, or
power of obeying suggestion; unless it be (as in some Salpêtrière cases)
a form of suggestion so obvious and habitual that the obedience thereto
may be called part of the actual cataplexy itself. Thus the "wax-like
flexibility" of the cataleptic, whose arms remain in the position where
you place them, must not be regarded as a readier obedience to control,
but rather as a state which involves not a more but a less alert and
capable responsiveness of the organism to either external or internal

So with regard to animals--crocodiles, frogs, and the like. I hold
theoretically that animals are probably hypnotisable and suggestible;
and the records of Rarey's horse-taming, etc., seem to point in that
direction.[60] But in the commoner experiments with frogs, where mere
passivity is produced, the resemblance seems to extend only to the
lethargic stage in human beings,[61] and what relation that lethargy
bears to suggestibility is not, I think, really known; although I shall
later on suggest some explanation on psychological grounds.

It seems plain, at any rate, that it must be from stimuli applied to men
and not to animals, and from stimuli of a special and localised rather
than of a massive kind, that we shall have to learn whatever can be
learnt as to the genesis of the true hypnotic control.

Now there exists a way of inducing hypnosis in some hysterical persons
which seems intermediate between massive and localised stimulations. It
is indeed a local stimulation; but there seems no reason beyond some
deep-seated caprice of the organism why the special tract which is thus
sensitive should have become developed in that direction.

I speak of the induction of trance in certain subjects by pressure upon
so-called _hypnogenous zones_. These zones form a curious development of
hysterical _cliniques_. Their starting-point is the well-known
phenomenon of patches of anæsthesia found upon hysterical subjects--the
"witch-marks" of our ancestors.

So far as we at present know, the situation of these "marks" is
altogether capricious. It does not apparently depend, that is to say,
upon any central lesion, in the same way as do the "referred pains,"
familiar in deep-seated organic complaints, which manifest themselves by
superficial patches of tenderness, explicable by the distribution of
nerve-trunks. The anæsthetic patches are an example of what I have
called the irrational self-suggestions of the hypnotic
stratum;--determined by dream-like fancies rather than necessitated by
purely physiological antecedents.

Quite in accordance with this view, we find that under favourable
conditions--especially in a hospital of hysterics--these anomalous
patches or zones develop and specialise themselves in various ways.
Under Dr. Pitres at Bordeaux (for example), we have _zones
hystérogènes_, _zones hypnogènes_, _zones hypnofrénatrices_, etc.; that
is to say, he finds that pressure on certain spots in certain subjects
will bring on or will check hysterical accesses, or accesses of what is
ranked as hypnotic sleep. There is no doubt that this sleep does in
certain subjects follow instantly upon the pressure of certain
spots,--constant for each subject, but different for one subject and for
another;--and this without any conscious co-operation, or even
foreknowledge, on the patient's part. Stated thus nakedly, this seems
the strongest possible instance of the induction of hypnosis by
localised stimulus. The reader, however, will at once understand that in
my view there is here no simple physiological sequence of cause and
effect. I must regard the local pressure as a mere _signal_--an appeal
to the pre-formed capacities of lawlessly acting centres in the hypnotic
stratum. A scrap of the self has decided, in dreamlike fashion, that
pressure on a certain point of the body's surface shall produce
sleep;--just as it has decided that pressure on that same point or on
some other point shall _not_ produce pain. Self-suggestion, and no mere
physiological nexus, is responsible for the sleep or the hysterical
access which follows the touch. The anæsthetic patches are here a
direct, but a capriciously chosen avenue to the subliminal being, and
the same random self-suggestiveness which is responsible for frequent
determinations that hysterical subjects shall _not_ be hypnotised has in
this case decided that they _shall_ be hypnotised, if you go about it in
exactly the right way.

Next in order among forms of localised stimulus used for inducing
hypnosis may be placed _monotonous stimulation_,--to whatever part of
the body it be applied. It was at one time the fashion to attribute
almost all hypnotic phenomena to this cause, and Edmund Gurney and I
endeavoured to point out the exaggeration.[62] Of this presently; but
first let us consider the few cases where the monotonous stimulation has
undoubtedly been of a kind to affect the organism strongly. The late Dr.
Auguste Voisin, of Paris, was perhaps more markedly successful than any
physician in producing hypnosis in extreme cases;--in maniacal persons
especially, whose attention it seemed impossible to fix. He often
accomplished this by holding their eyes open with the blepharostat, and
compelling them to gaze, sometimes for hours together, at a brilliant
electric light. Exhaustion produces tranquillity and an almost comatose
sleep--in which the physician has often managed to give suggestions of
great value. This seems practically the only class of cases where a
directly physiological antecedent for the sleep can be proved; and even
here the provable effect is rather the exhaustion of morbid excitability
than any direct induction of suggestibility. This dazzling process is
generally accompanied with vigorous verbal suggestion; and it is, of
course, quite possible that the patients might have been thrown into
hypnosis by that suggestion alone, had their minds been capable at first
of sufficient attention to receive it.

Braid's upward and inward squint has an effect of the same deadening
kind as the long gazing at a light, and helps in controlling wandering
attention; but Braid himself in later years (as mentioned above)
attributed his hypnotic successes wholly to _suggestion_.

From monotonous excitations which, whatever their part in inducing
hypnosis, are, at any rate, such as can sensibly affect the organism, I
come down to the trivial monotonies of watch-tickings, "passes," etc.,
which are still by a certain school regarded as capable of producing a
profound change in the nervous condition of the person before whose face
the hypnotiser's hands are slowly waved for ten or twenty minutes. I
regard this as a much exaggerated view. The clock's ticking, for
instance, if it is marked at all, is at least as likely to irritate as
to soothe; and the constant experience of life shows that continued
monotonous stimuli, say the throbbing of the screw at sea, soon escape
notice and produce no hypnotic effect at all. It is true, indeed, that
monotonous rocking sends some babies to sleep; but other babies are
merely irritated by the process, and such soporific effect as rocking
may possess is probably an effect on spinal centres or on the
semicircular canals. It depends less on mere monotony than on massive
movement of the whole organism.

I think, then, that there is no real ground for supposing that the
trivial degree of monotonous stimulation produced by passes often
repeated can induce in any ordinary physiological manner that "profound
nervous change" which is recognised as the prerequisite condition of any
hypnotic results. I think that passes are effectual generally as mere
suggestions, and must _primâ facie_ be regarded in that light, as they
are, in fact, regarded by many experienced hypnotisers (as Milne
Bramwell) who have employed them with good effect. Afterwards, when
reason is given for believing in a telepathic influence or impact
occasionally transmitted from the operator to the subject at a distance,
we shall consider whether passes may represent some other form of the
same influence, operating in close physical contiguity.

First, however, let us consider the point which we have now reached. We
have successively dismissed various supposed modes of physiologically
inducing hypnotic trance. We stand at present in the position of the
Nancy school;--we have found nothing but _suggestion_ which really
induces the phenomena.

But on the other hand we cannot possibly regard the word suggestion as
any real answer to the important question _how_ the hypnotic
responsiveness is induced, on _what_ conditions it depends.[63]

It must be remembered that many of the results which follow upon
suggestion are of a type which no amount of willingness to follow the
suggestion could induce, since they lie quite outside the voluntary
realm. However disposed a man may be to believe me, however anxious to
please me, one does not see how that should enable him, for instance, to
govern the morbidly-secreting cells in an eruption of erysipelas. He
already fruitlessly wishes them to stop their inflammation; the mere
fact of my expressing the same wish can hardly alter his cellular

Here, then, we come to an important conclusion which cannot well be
denied, yet is seldom looked fully in the face. Suggestion from without
must for the most part resolve itself into suggestion from within.
Unless there be some telepathic or other supernormal influence at work
between hypnotiser and patient (which I shall presently show ground for
believing to be sometimes, though not often, the case), the hypnotiser
can plainly do nothing by his word of command beyond starting a train of
thought which the patient has in most cases started many times for
himself with no result; the difference being that now at last the
patient starts it again, and it _has_ a result. But _why_ it thus
succeeds on this particular occasion, we simply do not know. We cannot
predict when the result will occur; still less can we bring it about at

Nay, we do not even know whether it might not be possible to dispense
altogether with suggestion from outside in most of the cases now treated
in this way, and merely to teach the patient to make the suggestions for
himself. If there be no "mesmeric effluence" passing from hypnotiser to
patient, the hypnotiser seems little more than a mere _objet de
luxe_;--a personage provided simply to impress the imagination, who must
needs become even absurdly useless so soon as it is understood that he
has no other function or power.

Self-suggestion, whatever this may really mean, is thus in most cases,
whether avowedly or not, at the bottom of the effect produced. It has
already been used most successfully, and it will probably become much
commoner than it now is;--or, I should rather say (since every one no
doubt suggests to himself when he is in pain that he would like the pain
to cease), I anticipate that self-suggestion, by being in some way
better directed, will become more _effective_, and that the average of
voluntary power over the organism will rise to a far higher level than
it at present reaches. I believe that this is taking place even now; and
that certain _schemes of self-suggestion_, so to call them, are coming
into vogue, where patients in large masses are supplied with effective
conceptions, which they thus impress repeatedly upon themselves without
the need of a hypnotiser's attendance on each occasion. The "Miracles
of Lourdes" and the cures effected by "Christian Science" fall, in my
view, under this category. We have here suggestions given to a quantity
of more or less suitable people _en masse_, much as a platform
hypnotiser gives suggestions to a mixed audience, some of whom may then
be affected without individual attention from himself. The suggestion of
the curative power of the Lourdes water, for instance, is thus thrown
out, partly in books, partly by oral addresses; and a certain percentage
of persons succeed in so persuading themselves of that curative efficacy
that when they bathe in the water they are actually cured.

These _schemes of self-suggestion_, as I have termed them, constitute
one of the most interesting parts of my subject, but space forbids that
I should enter into a discussion of them here. It is sufficient to point
out that in order to make self-suggestion operative, no strong belief or
enthusiasm, such as those schemes imply, is really necessary. No
recorded cases of self-suggestion, I think, are more instructive than
those published by Dr. Hugh Wingfield in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v.
p. 279. (The paper was printed anonymously.) Dr. Wingfield was a
Demonstrator in Physiology in the University of Cambridge, and his
subjects were mainly candidates for the Natural Sciences Tripos. In
these cases there was no excitement of any kind, and no previous belief.
The phenomena occurred incidentally during a series of experiments on
other points, and were a surprise to every one concerned. The results
achieved were partly automatic writing and partly phenomena of
neuro-muscular excitability;--stiffening of the arms, and so forth. "It
seems probable," says Dr. Wingfield, "that all phenomena capable of
being produced by the suggestion of the hypnotiser can also be produced
by self-suggestion in a self-suggestive subject."

Experiments like these--confirming with modern care the conclusions
reached by Fahnestock and others at various points in hypnotic
history--seem to me to open a new inlet into human faculty, as
surprising in its way as those first wild experiments of Mesmer himself.
Who would have supposed that a healthy undergraduate could "by an effort
of mind" throw his whole body into a state of cataleptic rigidity, so
that he could rest with his heels on one chair and his head on another?
or that other healthy young men could "close their own eyes so that they
were unable to open them," and the like? The trivial character of these
laboratory experiments makes them physiologically the more remarkable.
There is the very minimum of predisposing conditions, of excited
expectation, or of external motive prompting to extraordinary effort.
And the results are not subjective merely--relief of pain and so
on--but are definite neuro-muscular changes, capable (as in the case of
the head and heels on separate chairs) of unmistakable test.

Yet, important though these and similar experiments in self-suggestion
may be, they do not solve our problem as to the ultimate origin and
distribution of the faculty thus displayed. We know no better with
self-suggestion than with suggestion from outside _why_ it is that one
man succeeds where others fail, or why a man who succeeds once fails in
his next attempt. Within the ordinary range of physiological
explanations nothing (I repeat) has as yet been discovered which can
guide us to the true nature or exciting causes of this characteristic
responsiveness of hypnosis. If we are to find any light, it must be in
some direction which has as yet been little explored.

The hint which I have to offer here involves, I hope, something more
than a mere change of appellation. I define suggestion as "successful
appeal to the subliminal self";--not necessarily to that self in its
most central, most unitary aspect; but to some one at least of those
strata of subliminal faculty which I have in an earlier chapter
described. I do not indeed pretend that my explanation can enable us to
reduce hypnotic success to a certainty. I cannot say why the process
should be so irregular and capricious; but I can show that this puzzle
is part and parcel of a wider mystery;--of the obscure relationships and
interdependencies of the supraliminal and the subliminal self. In split
personalities, in genius, in dreams, in sensory and motor automatisms,
we find the same fitfulness, the same apparent caprice.

Leaving perforce this problem for the present unsolved, let us consider
the various ways in which this conception of subliminal operation may
throw light on the actual phenomena of hypnotism;--phenomena at present
scattered in bewildering confusion.

The word _hypnotism_ itself implies that some kind of _sleep_ or trance
is regarded as its leading characteristic. And although so-called
hypnotic suggestions do often take effect in the waking state,[64] our
usual test of the hypnotiser's success lies in the slumber--light or
deep--into which his subject is thrown. It is, indeed, a slumber which
admits at times of strange wakings and activities; but it is also
manifestly profounder than the sleep which we habitually enjoy.

If sleep, then, be the phase of personality specially consecrated to
subliminal operation, it follows that any successful appeal to the
subliminal self will be likely to induce some form of sleep. And
further, if that form of sleep be in fact not an inevitable result of
physiological needs, but a response to a psychological appeal, it seems
not unlikely that we should be able to communicate with it without
interrupting it;--and should thus be able to guide or supplement
subliminal operations, just as in genius the subliminal self guided or
supplemented supraliminal operations.

Now I hold that in all the varied trances, lethargies, sleep-waking
states, to which hypnotism introduces us, we see the subliminal self
coming to the surface in ways already familiar, and displacing just so
much of the supraliminal as may from time to time be needful for the
performance of its own work. That work, I say, will be of a character
which we know already; the difference is that what we have seen done
spontaneously we now see done in response to our appeal.

Armed with this simplifying conception,--simplifying in spite of its
frank admission of an underlying mystery,--we shall find no added
difficulty in several points which have been the subjects of eager
controversy. The _sequence_ of hypnotic phenomena, the question of the
_stages_ of hypnotism, is one of these. I have already briefly described
how Charcot propounded his three stages--lethargy, catalepsy,
somnambulism--as though they formed the inevitable development of a
physiological law;--and how completely this claim has now had to be
withdrawn. Other schemes have been drawn out, by Liébeault, etc., but
none of them seems to do more than reflect the experience of some one
hypnotist's practice. The simplest arrangement is that of Edmund Gurney,
who spoke only of an "alert stage" and a "deep stage" of hypnosis; and
even here we cannot say that either stage invariably precedes the other.
The alert stage, which often came first with Gurney's subjects, comes
last in Charcot's scheme; and it is hardly safe to say more than that
hypnotism is apt to show a series of changes from sleep-waking to
lethargy and back again, and that the advanced stages show more of
subliminal faculty than the earlier ones. There is much significance in
an experiment of Dr. Jules Janet, who, by continued "passes," carried on
Wittman, Charcot's leading subject, beyond her usual somnambulic state
into a new lethargic state, and out again from thence into a new
sleep-waking state markedly superior to the old.

Gurney held the view that the main distinction of kind between his
"alert" and his "deep" stage of hypnosis was to be found in the domain
of memory, while memory also afforded the means for distinguishing the
hypnotic state as a whole from the normal one. As a general rule (though
with numerous exceptions), the events of ordinary life are remembered
in the trance, while the trance events are forgotten on waking, but tend
to recur to the memory on rehypnotisation. But the most interesting part
of his observations consisted in showing alternations of memory in the
alert and deep stages of the trance itself;--the ideas impressed in the
one sort of state being almost always forgotten in the other, and as
invariably again remembered when the former state recurs. (_Proceedings_
S.P.R. vol. ii., pp. 61 _et seq._ [523 A].) On experimenting further, he
met with a stage in which there was a distinct third train of memory,
independent of the others;--and this, of course, suggests a further
doubt as to there being any fixed number of stages in the trance. The
later experiments of Mrs. Sidgwick [523 B] on the same subject, in which
eight or nine distinct trains of memory were found--each recurring when
the corresponding stage of depth of the trance was reached--seem to show
conclusively that the number, may vary almost indefinitely. We have
already seen that in cases of alternating personalities the number of
personalities similarly varies, and the student who now follows or
repeats Gurney's experiments, with the increased knowledge of split
personalities which recent years have brought, cannot fail to be struck
with the analogies between Gurney's artificial light and deep
states,--with their separate chains of memory,--and those morbid
alternating personalities, with their complex mnemonic cleavages and
lacunæ, with which we dealt in Chapter II. The hypnotic stages are in
fact secondary or alternating personalities of very shallow type, but
for that very reason all the better adapted for teaching us from what
kinds of subliminal disaggregation the more serious splits in
personality take their rise.

And beneath and between these awakenings into limited, partial alertness
lies that profound hypnotic trance which one can best describe as a
scientific or purposive rearrangement of the elements of sleep;--a
rearrangement in which what is helpful is intensified, what is merely
hindering or isolating is removed or reduced. A man's ordinary sleep is
at once unstable and irresponsive. You can wake him with a pin-prick,
but if you talk to him he will not hear or answer you, until you rouse
him with the mere noise. That is sleep as the needs of our timorous
ancestors determined that it should be.

Hypnotic sleep, on the contrary, is at once stable and responsive;
strong in its resistance to such stimuli as it chooses to ignore; ready
in its accessibility to such appeals as it chooses to answer.

Prick or pinch the hypnotised subject, and although some stratum of his
personality may be aware, in some fashion, of your act, the sleep will
generally remain unbroken. But if you speak to him,--or even speak
before him,--then, however profound his apparent lethargy, there is
something in him which will hear.[65]

All this is true even of earlier stages of trance. Deeper still lies the
stage of highest interest;--that sleep-waking in which the subliminal
self is at last set free,--is at last able not only to receive but to
respond: when it begins to tell us the secrets of the sleeping phase of
personality, beginning with directions as to the conduct of the trance
or of the cure, and going on to who knows what insight into who knows
what world afar?

Without, then, entering into more detail as to the varying forms which
hypnosis at different stages may assume, I have here traced its central
characteristic;--the development, namely, of the sleeping phase of
personality in such fashion as to allow of some supraliminal guidance of
the subliminal self.

We have here a definition of much wider purview than any which has been
habitually applied to the process of hypnotisation or to the state of
hypnosis. To test its validity, to explain its scope, we need a survey
of hypnotic results much wider in range than any enumeration of the kind
at present usual in text-books. Regarding hypnotic achievements mainly
in their _mental_ aspects, I must seek for some broad principle of
classification which on the one hand may not be so exclusively moral as
to be physiologically untranslatable,--like the distinction between vice
and virtue;--or on the other hand so exclusively physiological as to be
morally untranslatable,--like the distinction between cerebral anæmia
and hyperæmia.

Perhaps the broadest contrast which is expressible in both moral and
physiological terms is the contrast between check and stimulus,--between
_inhibition_ and _dynamogeny_. Not, indeed, that such terms as _check_
and _stimulus_ can be pressed in detail. The central power,--the ruling
agency within the man which gives the command,--is no doubt the same in
both cases. But the common contrast between negative and positive
exhortations,--"this you shall _not_ do," "this you _shall_ do,"--will
help to give clearness to our review of the influences of hypnotism in
its bearings on intelligence and character,--its psychological efficacy.

The most rudimentary form of restraint or inhibition lies in our effort
to preserve the infant or young child from acquiring what we call "bad
tricks." These morbid affections of motor centres, trifling in their
inception, will sometimes grow until they are incurable by any régime or
medicament;--nay, till an action so insignificant as sucking the thumb
may work the ruin of a life.

In no direction, perhaps, do the results of suggestion appear more
inexplicable than here. Nowhere have we a more conspicuous touching of a
spring;--a more complete achievement, almost in a single moment, of the
deliverance which years of painful effort have failed to effect.[66]

These cases stand midway between ordinary therapeutics and moral
suasion. No one can here doubt the importance of finding the shortest
and swiftest path to cure. Nor is there any reason to think that cures
thus obtained are less complete or permanent than if they had been
achieved by gradual moral effort. These facts should be borne in mind
throughout the whole series of the higher hypnotic effects, and should
serve to dispel any anxiety as to the possible loss of moral training
when cure is thus magically swift. Each of these effects consists, as we
must suppose, in the modification of some group of nervous centres; and,
so far as we can tell, that is just the same result which moral effort
made above the conscious threshold more slowly and painfully attains.
This difference, in fact, is like the difference between results
achieved by diligence and results achieved by genius. Something valuable
in the way of training,--some exercise in patience and resolve,--no
doubt may be missed by the man who is "suggested" into sobriety;--in the
same way as it was missed by the schoolboy Gauss,--writing down the
answers to problems as soon as set, instead of spending on them a
diligent hour. But moral progress is in its essence as limitless as
mathematical; and the man who is thus carried over rudimentary struggles
may still find plenty of moral effort in life to train his character and
tax his resolution.

Among these morbid tricks _kleptomania_ has an interest of its own, on
account of the frequent doubt whether it is not put forward as a mere
excuse for pilfering. It may thus happen that the cure is the best proof
of the existence of the disease; and certain cures indicate that the
impulse has veritably involved a morbid excitability of motor centres,
acted on by special stimuli,--an _idée fixe_ with an immediate outcome
in act.[67]

Many words and acts of _violence_ fall under the same category, in cases
where the impulse to swear or to strike has acquired the unreasoning
automatic promptness of a _tic_, and yet may be at once inhibited by
suggestion. Many undesirable impulses in the realm of _sex_ are also
capable of being thus corrected or removed.

The stimulants and narcotics, to which our review next leads us, form a
standing menace to human virtue. By some strange accident of our
development, the impulse of our organisms towards certain
drugs--alcohol, opium, and the like--is strong enough to overpower, in a
large proportion of mankind, not only the late-acquired altruistic
impulses, but even the primary impulses of self-regard and
self-preservation. We are brought back, one may almost say, to the
"chimiotaxy" of the lowest organisms, which arrange themselves
inevitably in specific relation to oxygen, malic acid, or whatever the
stimulus may be. We thus experience in ourselves a strange conflict
between moral responsibility and molecular affinities;--the central will
overborne by dumb unnumbered elements of our being. With this condition
of things hypnotic suggestion deals often in a curious way. The
suggestion is not generally felt as a strengthening of the central will.
It resembles rather a molecular redisposition; it leaves the patient
indifferent to the stimulus, or even disgusted with it. The man for whom
alcohol has combined the extremes of delight and terror now lives as
though in a world in which alcohol did not exist at all.[68]

Even for the slave of morphia the same sudden freedom is sometimes
achieved. It has been said of victims to morphia-injection that a cure
means death;--so often has suicide followed on the distress caused by
giving up the drug. But in certain cases cured by suggestion it seems
that no craving whatsoever has persisted after the sudden disuse of the
drug. There is something here which is in one sense profounder than
moral reform. There is something which suggests a spirit within us less
injured than we might have feared by the body's degradation. The
morphinomaniac _character_--the lowest type of subjection to a ruling
vice--disappears from the personality in proportion as the drug is
eliminated from the system. The shrinking outcast turns at once into the
respectable man.[69]

But apart from troubles consequent on any intelligible instinct, any
discoverable stimulus of pleasure, there are a multitude of impulses,
fears, imaginations, one or more of which may take possession of persons
not otherwise apparently unhealthy or hysterical, sometimes to an extent
so distressing as to impel to suicide.

Some of these "phobies" have been often described of late years,--as,
for instance, _agoraphobia_, which makes a man dread to cross an open
space; and its converse _claustrophobia_, which makes him shrink from
sitting in a room with closed doors; or the still more distressing
_mysophobia_, which makes him constantly uneasy lest he should have
become dirty or defiled.

All these disorders involve a kind of displacement or cramp of the
attention; and for all of them, one may broadly say, hypnotic suggestion
is the best and often the only cure. Suggestion seems to stimulate
antagonistic centres; to open clogged channels; to produce, in short,
however we imagine the process, a rapid disappearance of the insistent

I have spoken of this effect as though it were mainly to be valued
intellectually, as a readjustment of the dislocated attention. But I
must note also that the moral results may be as important here as in the
cases of inhibition of dipsomania and the like, already mentioned. These
morbid fears which suggestion relieves may be ruinously degrading to a
man's character. The ingredients of antipathy, of jealousy, which they
sometimes contain, may make him dangerous to his fellows as well as
loathsome to himself. One or two cases of the cure of morbid jealousy
are to my mind among the best records which hypnotism has to show.[70]

But this is not all. The treasure of memory is mixed with rubbish; the
caution which experience has taught has often been taught too well;
philosophic calm has often frozen into apathy. Plato would have the old
men in his republic plied well with wine on festal days, that their
tongues might be unloosed to communicate their wisdom without reserve.
"Accumulated experience," it has been said with much truth in more
modern language,[71] "hampers action, disturbs the logical reaction of
the individual to his environment. The want of control which marks the
decadence of mental power is [sometimes] itself undue control, a
preponderance of the secondary over the primary influences."

Now the removal of shyness, or _mauvaise honte_, which hypnotic
suggestion can effect, is in fact a _purgation of memory_,--inhibiting
the recollection of previous failures, and setting free whatever group
of aptitudes is for the moment required. Thus, for the boy called on to
make an oration in a platform exhibition, hypnotisation sets free the
_primary_ instinct of garrulity without the restraining fear of
ridicule. For the musical executant, on the other hand, a similar
suggestion will set free the _secondary_ instinct which the fingers have
acquired, without the interference of the learner's puzzled, hesitating

I may remark here (following Gurney and Bramwell) how misleading a term
is _mono-ideism_ for almost any hypnotic state. There is a _selection_
of ideas to which the hypnotic subject will attend, and there is a
_concentration_ upon the idea thus selected; but those ideas themselves
may be both complex and constantly shifting, and indeed this is just one
of the ways in which the hypnotic trance differs from the
somnambulic--in which it may happen that only a relatively small group
of brain-centres are awake enough to act. The somnambulic servant-girl,
for instance, may persist in laying the tea-table, whatever you say to
her, and this may fairly be called mono-ideism; but the hypnotic subject
(as Bramwell has justly insisted) can be made to obey simultaneously a
greater number of separate commands than he could possibly attend to in
waking life.

From these inhibitions of memory,--of attention as directed to the
experiences of the past,--we pass on to attention as directed to the
experiences of the present. And here we are reaching a central point; we
are affecting the _macula lutea_ (as it has been well called) of the
mental field. Many of the most important of hypnotic results will be
best described as modifications of _attention_.

Any modification of attention is of course likely to be at once a check
and a stimulus;--a check to certain thoughts and emotions, a stimulus to
others. And in many cases it will be the _dynamogenic_ aspect of the
change--the new vigour supplied in needed directions--which will be for
us of greatest interest. Yet from the _inhibitive_ side also we have
already had important achievements to record. All these arrests and
destructions of _idées fixes_, of which so much has been said, were
powerful modifications of attention, although the limited field which
they covered made it simpler to introduce them under a separate heading.

And even now it may not be without surprise that the reader finds
described under the heading of _inhibition of attention_ a phenomenon so
considerable and so apparently independent as _hypnotic suppression of
pain_. This induced _analgesia_ has from the first been one of the main
triumphs of mesmerism or hypnotism. All have heard that mesmerism will
stop headaches;--that you can have a tooth out "under mesmerism" without
feeling it. The rivalry between mesmerism and ether, as anæsthetic
agents in capital operations, was a conspicuous fact in the medical
history of early Victorian times. But the ordinary talk, at any rate of
that day, seemed to assume that if mesmerism produced an effect at all
it was an effect _resembling_ that produced by narcotics--a modification
of the intimate structure of the nerve or of the brain which rendered
them for the time incapable of transmitting or of feeling painful
sensations. The state of a man's nervous system, in fact, when he is
poisoned by chloroform, or stunned by a blow, or almost frozen to death,
or nearly drowned, etc., is such that a great part of it is no longer
fit for its usual work,--is no longer capable of those prolongations of
neurons, or whatever they be, which constitute its specific nervous
activity. We thus get rid of pain by getting rid for the time of a great
deal of other nervous action as well; and we have to take care lest by
pushing the experiment too far we get rid of life into the bargain. But
on the other hand, a man's nervous system, when hypnotic suggestion has
rendered him incapable of pain, is quite as active and vigorous as
ever,--quite as capable of transmitting and feeling pain,--although
capable also of inhibiting it altogether. In a word, the hypnotic
subject is _above_ instead of _below_ pain.

To understand this apparent paradox we must remind ourselves that pain
probably originated as a warning of danger,--a warning which, while
useful to active creatures with miscellaneous risks, has become only a
mixed advantage to beings of more advanced intelligence and
sensitivity. There are many occasions when, knowing it to be useless, we
wish to shut off pain, to rise as definitely _above_ it as our earliest
ancestors were _below_ it, or as the drunken or narcotised man is below
it. This is just what hypnotic suggestion enables us to do.

Hypnotism attacks the real _origo mali_;--not, indeed, the pressure on
the tooth-nerve, which can only be removed by extraction, but the
representative power of the central sensorium which converts that
pressure for us into pain. It _diverts attention_ from the pain, as the
excitement of battle might do; but diverts it without any competing
excitement whatever. To this topic of _influence on attention_ we shall
have to recur again and again. For the present it may suffice if I refer
the reader to a few cases--chosen from among some thousands where
hypnotic practice has removed or obviated the distress or anguish till
now unmistakably associated with various bodily incidents--from the
extraction of a tooth to the great pain and peril of childbirth.[72]

This suppression of pain has naturally been treated from the therapeutic
point of view, as an end in itself; and neither physician nor patient
has been inclined to inquire exactly _what_ has occurred;--what
physiological or psychological condition has underlain this great
subjective relief. Yet in the eye of experimental psychology the matter
is far from a simple one. We are bound to ask _what_ has been altered.
Has there been a total _ablation_, or some mere _translation_ of pain?
What objective change on the bodily side has occurred in nerve or
tissue? and, on the mental side, how far does the change in
consciousness extend? How deep does it go? Does any subliminal knowledge
of the pain persist?

The very imperfect answers which can at present be given to these
questions may, at any rate, suggest directions for further inquiry.

(1) In the first place, it seems clear that when pain is inhibited in
any but the most simple cases, a certain group of changes is produced
whose _nexus_ is psychological rather than physiological. That is to
say, one suggestion seems to relieve at once all the symptoms which form
one idea of pain or distress in the patient's mind; while another
suggestion is often needed to remove some remaining symptom, which the
patient regards as a different trouble altogether. The suggestion thus
differs both from a specific remedy, which might relieve a specific
symptom, and from a general narcotisation, which would relieve all
symptoms equally. In making suggestions, moreover, the hypnotiser finds
that he has to consider and meet the patient's own subjective feelings,
describing the intended relief as the patient wishes it to be described,
and not attempting technical language which the patient could not
follow. In a word, it is plain that in this class, as in other classes
of suggestion, we are addressing ourselves to a _mind_, an
_intelligence_, which can of itself select and combine, and not merely
to a tissue or a gland responsive in a merely automatic way.

(2) It will not then surprise us if,--pain being thus treated as a
psychological entity,--there shall prove to be a certain psychological
complexity in the response to analgesic suggestion.

By this I mean that there are occasional indications that some memory of
the pain, say, of an operation has persisted in some stratum of the
personality;--thus apparently indicating that there was somewhere an
actual consciousness of the pain when the operation was performed.[73]
We find accounts of the revival of pain in dreams after operations
performed under chloroform.[74]

(3) Such experiences, if more frequent, might tempt us to suppose that
the pain is not wholly abrogated, but merely translated to some stratum
of consciousness whose experiences do not enter into our habitual chain
of memories. Yet we possess (strangely enough) what seems direct
evidence that the profoundest organic substratum of our being is by
suggestion wholly freed from pain. It had long been observed that
recoveries from operations performed in hypnotic trance were unusually
benign;--there being less tendency to inflammation than when the patient
had felt the knife. The same observation--perhaps in a less marked
degree--has since been made as to operations under chemical anæsthesia.
The shock to the system, and the irritation to the special parts
affected, are greatly diminished by chloroform. And more recently
Professor Delbœuf, by an experiment of great delicacy on two
symmetrical wounds, of which one was rendered painless by suggestion,
has distinctly demonstrated that pain tends to induce and keep up

Thus it seems that pain is abrogated at once on the highest and on the
lowest level of consciousness; yet possibly in some cases (though not
usually[76]) persists obscurely in some stratum of our personality into
which we gain only occasional and indirect glimpses. And if indeed this
be so, it need in no way surprise us. We need to remember at every point
that we have no reason whatever to suppose that we are cognisant of all
the trains of consciousness, or chains of memory, which are weaving
themselves within us. I shall never attain on earth--perhaps I never
shall in any world attain--to any complete conspectus of the variously
interwoven streams of vitality which are, in fact, obscurely present in
my conception of myself.

It is to hypnotism in the first place that we may look for an increased
power of analysis of these intercurrent streams, these irregularly
super-posed strata of our psychical being. In the meantime, this power
of _inhibiting_ almost any fraction of our habitual consciousness at
pleasure gives for the first time to the ordinary man--if only he be a
suggestible subject--a power of concentration, of _choice_ in the
exercise of faculty, such as up till now only the most powerful
spirits--a Newton or an Archimedes--have been able to exert.

The man who sits down in his study to write or read,--in perfect safety
and intent on his work,--continues nevertheless to be involuntarily and
inevitably armed with all that alertness to external sights and sounds,
and all that sensibility to pain, which protected his lowly ancestors at
different stages of even pre-human development. It is much as though he
were forced to carry about with him all the external defences which his
forefathers have invented for their defence;--to sit at his
writing-table clad in chain-mail and a respirator, and grasping an
umbrella and a boomerang. Let him learn, if he can, inwardly as well as
outwardly, to get rid of all that, to keep at his command only the half
of his faculties which for his purpose is worth more than the whole.
Dissociation and choice;--dissociation between elements which have
always hitherto seemed inextricably knit;--choice between faculties
which till now we have had to use all together or not at all;--such is
the promise, such is the incipient performance of hypnotic plasticity in
its aspect of _inhibitive suggestion_.

I come now to the division of hypnotic achievement with which I next
proposed to deal, namely, the _dynamogenic_ results of hypnotic
suggestion. These I shall arrange in an order resembling that which we
try to follow in education:--proceeding from external senses to internal
sensory and other central operations; and thence again to attention and
will, and so to character which is a kind of resultant of all these.

I will begin, then, with what seems the most external and measurable of
these different influences--the influence, namely, of suggestion upon
man's _perceptive_ faculties;--its power to educate his external organs
of sense.

This wide subject is almost untouched as yet; and there is no direction
in which one could be more confident of interesting results from further

The exposition falls naturally into three parts, as suggestion effects
one or other of the three following objects:

    (1) Restoration of ordinary senses from some deficient condition.
    (2) Verification of ordinary senses;--hyperæsthesiæ.
    (3) Development of new senses;--heteræsthesiæ.

(1) The first of these three headings seems at first sight to belong to
therapeutics rather than to psychology. It is, however, indispensable as
a preliminary to the other two heads; since by learning how and to what
extent suggestion can repair _defective_ senses we have the best chance
of guessing at its _modus operandi_ when it seems to excite the
_healthy_ senses to a point beyond their normal powers.[77]

Two points may be mentioned here. Improvement of _vision_ seems
sometimes to result from relaxation of an involuntary ciliary spasm,
which habitually over-corrects some defect of the lens. This is
interesting, from the analogy thus shown in quite healthy persons to the
fixed ideas, the subliminal errors and fancies characteristics of
hysteria. The stratum of self whose business it is to correct the
mechanical defect of the eye has in these instances done so amiss, and
cannot set itself right. The corrected form of vision is as defective as
the form of vision which it replaced. But if the state of trance be
induced, or if it occur spontaneously, it sometimes happens that the
error is suddenly righted; the patient lays aside spectacles; and since
we must assume that the original defect of mechanism remains, it seems
that that defect is now perfectly instead of imperfectly met. This shows
a subliminal adjusting power operating during trance more intelligently
than the supraliminal intelligence had been able to operate during
waking life.

Another point of interest lies in the effect of increased attention, as
stimulated by suggestion, upon the power of hearing. Dr. Liébeault[78]
records two cases which are among the most significant that I know. If
such susceptibility to self-suggestion could be reached by patients
generally, there might be, with no miracle at all, a removal of perhaps
half the annoyance which deafness inflicts on mankind.

I pass on to cases of the production by suggestion or self-suggestion of
hyperæsthesia,--of a degree of sensory delicacy which overpasses the
ordinary level, and the previous level of the subject himself.

The rudimentary state of our study of hypnotism is somewhat strangely
illustrated by the fact that most of the experiments which show
hyperæsthesia most delicately have been undertaken with a view of
proving something else--namely, mesmeric _rapport_, or the mesmerisation
of objects, or telepathy. In these cases the proof of _rapport_,
telepathy, etc., generally just falls short,--because one cannot say
that the action of the ordinary senses might not have reached the point
necessary for the achievement, though there is often good reason to
believe that the subject was supraliminally ignorant of the way in which
he was, in fact, attaining the knowledge in question.

In these extreme cases, indeed, the explanation by hyperæsthesia is not
always proved. There _may_ have been telepathy, although one has not the
right to assume telepathy, in view of certain slighter, but still
remarkable, hyperæsthetic achievements, which are common subjects of
demonstration. The ready recognition of _points de repère_, on the back
of a card or the like, which are hardly perceptible to ordinary eyes, is
one of the most usual of these performances.

In this connection the question arises as to the existence of
physiological limits to the exercise of the ordinary senses. In the case
of the eye a _minimum visibile_ is generally assumed; and there is
special interest in a case of clairvoyance versus cornea-reading, where,
if the words were read (as appears most probable) from their reflection
upon the cornea of the hypnotiser, the common view as to the _minimum
visibile_ is greatly stretched.[79]

With regard to the other senses, whose mechanism is less capable of
minute dissection, one meets problems of a rather different kind. What
are the definitions of smell and touch? Touch is already split up into
various factors--tactile, algesic, thermal; and thermal touch is itself
a duplicate sense, depending apparently on one set of nerve-terminations
adapted to perceive heat, and another set adapted to perceive cold.
Taste is similarly split up; and we do not call anything taste which is
not definitely referred to the mouth and adjacent regions. Smell is
vaguer; and there are cognate sensations (like that of the presence of a
cat) which are not referred by their subject to the nose. The study of
hyperæsthesia does in this sense prepare the way for what I have termed
heteræsthesia; in that it leaves us more cautious in definition as to
what the senses are, it accustoms us to the notion that people become
aware of things in many ways which they cannot definitely realise.

Let us now consider the evidence for heteræsthesia;--for the existence,
that is to say, under hypnotic suggestion, of any form of sensibility
decidedly different from those with which we are familiar. It would
sound more accurate if one could say "demanding some end-organ different
from those which we know that we possess." But we know too little of the
range of perceptivity of these end-organs in the skin which we are
gradually learning to distinguish--of the heat-feeling spots,
cold-feeling spots, and the like--to be able to say for what purposes a
new organ would be needed. For certain heteræsthetic sensations, indeed,
as the perception of a magnetic field, one can hardly assume that any
end-organ would be necessary. It is better, therefore, to speak only of
modes of sensibility.

Looking at the matter from the evolutionary point of view, the question
among sensations was one of the development of the fittest; that is to
say that, as the organism became more complex and needed sensations more
definite than sufficed for the protozoon, certain sensibilities got
themselves defined and stereotyped upon the organism by the evolution of
end-organs.[80] Others failed to get thus externalised; but may, for
aught we know, persist nevertheless in the central organs;--say, for
instance, in what for man are the optic or olfactory tracts of the
brain. There will then be no apparent reason why these latent powers
should not from time to time receive sufficient stimulus, either from
within or from without, to make them perceptible to the waking
intelligence, or perceptible at least in states (like trance) of narrow

As the result of these considerations, I approach alleged heteræsthesiæ
of various kinds with no presumption whatever against their real
occurrence. Yet on the other hand, my belief in the extent of possible
_hyperæsthesia_ continually suggests to me that the apparently new
perceptions may only consist of a mixture of familiar forms of
perception, pushed to a new extreme, and centrally interpreted with a
new acumen, while there is no doubt that many experiments supposed to
furnish evidence of such new perceptions merely illustrate the effect of
suggestion or self-suggestion.

Without, however, presuming to criticise past evidence wholesale, I yet
hope that the experience now attained may lead to a much greater number
of well-guarded experiments in the near future. In Appendix V.A, I very
briefly present the actual state of this inquiry. In default of any
logical principle, I shall there divide these alleged forms of
sensibility according as they are excited by inorganic objects on the
one hand, or by organisms (dead or living) on the other.

In the meantime I pass on to that group of the dynamogenic effects of
suggestion which affect the more central vital operations--either the
vaso-motor system, or the neuro-muscular system, or the central sensory
tracts. The effects of suggestion on character--induced changes to which
we can hardly guess the nervous concomitant--will remain to be dealt
with later.

First, then, as to the effects of suggestion on the vaso-motor system.
Simple effects of this type form the commonest of "platform
experiments." The mesmerist holds ammonia under his subject's nose, and
tells him it is rose-water. The subject smells it eagerly, and his eyes
do not water. The suggestion, that is to say, that the stinging vapour
is inert has inhibited the vaso-motor reflexes which would ordinarily
follow, and which no ordinary effort of will could restrain. _Vice
versâ_, when the subject smells rose-water, described as ammonia, he
sneezes and his eyes water. These results, which his own will could not
produce, follow on the mesmerist's word. No one who sees these simple
tests applied can doubt the genuineness of the influence at work. We
find then, as might be expected, that action on glands and secretions
constitutes a large element in hypnotic therapeutics. The literature of
suggestion is full of instances where a suppressed secretion has been
restored at a previously arranged moment, almost with "astronomical
punctuality." And yet to what memory is that command retained? by what
signal is it announced? or by what agency obeyed?

In spite of this underlying obscurity, common to every branch of
suggestion, these vaso-motor phenomena are by this time so familiar that
no further description of them is necessary.

This delicate responsiveness of the vaso-motor system has given rise to
some curious spontaneous phenomena, and has suggested some experiments,
which are probably as yet in their infancy. The main point of interest
is that at this point spontaneous self-suggestion, and subsequently
suggestion from without, have made a kind of first attempt at the
modification of the human organism in what may be called fancy
directions,--at the production of a change which has no therapeutic aim,
and so to say, no physiological unity; but which is guided by an
intellectual caprice along lines with which the organism is not
previously familiar. I speak of the phenomenon commonly known as
"stigmatisation," from the fact that its earliest spontaneous
manifestations were suggested by imaginations brooding on the stigmata
of Christ's passion;--the marks of wounds in hands and feet and side.
This phenomenon, which was long treated both by _savants_ and by
devotees as though it must be either fraudulent or miraculous,--_ou
supercherie, ou miracle_,--is now found (like a good many other
phenomena previously deemed subject to that dilemma) to enter readily
within the widening circuit of natural law. Stigmatisation is, in fact,
a form of vesication; and suggested vesication--with the quasi-burns and
real blisters which obediently appear in any place and pattern that is
ordered--is a high development of that same vaso-motor plasticity of
which the ammonia-rose-water experiment was an early example.[81]

The group of suggestive effects which we reach next in order is a wide
and important one. The education of the _central sensory faculties_,--of
our power of inwardly representing to ourselves sights and sounds,
etc.,--is not less important than the education of the external senses.
The powers of construction and combination which our central organs
possess differ more widely in degree in different healthy individuals
than the degrees of external perception itself. And the stimulating
influence of hypnotism on _imagination_ is perhaps the most conspicuous
phenomenon which the whole subject offers; yet it has been little dwelt
upon, save from one quite superficial point of view.

Every one knows that a hypnotised subject is easily hallucinated;--that
if he is told to see a non-existent dog, he sees a dog,--that if he is
told _not_ to see Mr. A., he sees everything in the room, Mr. A.
excepted. Common and conspicuous, I say, as this experiment is, even the
scientific observer has too often dealt with it with the shallowness of
the platform lecturer. The lecturer represents this induced
hallucinability simply as an odd illustration of his own power over the
subject. "I tell him to forget his name, and he forgets his name; I tell
him that he has a baby on his lap, and he sees and feels and dandles
it." At the best, such a hallucination is quoted as an instance of
"mono-ideism." But the real kernel of the phenomenon is not the
inhibition but the dynamogeny;--not the abstraction of attention or
imagination from other topics, but the increased power which imagination
gains under suggestion;--the development of faculty, useless, if you
will, in that special form of imagining the baby, but faculty mentally
of a high order--faculty in one shape or another essential to the
production of almost all the most admired forms of human achievement.

On this theme I shall have much to say; yet here again it will be
convenient to defer fuller discussion until I review what I have termed
"sensory automatism" in a more general way. We shall then see that this
quickened imaginative faculty is not educed by hypnosis alone; that it
is a part of the equipment of the subliminal self, and will be better
treated at length in connection with other spontaneous manifestations.
Enough here to have pointed out the main fact; for when pointed out it
can hardly be disputed, although its significance for the true
comprehension of hypnotic phenomena has been too often overlooked.

Yet here, and in direct connection with hypnotism, certain special
features of hallucinations need to be insisted upon, both as partly
explaining certain more advanced hypnotic phenomena, and also as
suggesting lines of important experiment. The first point is this.

Post-hypnotic hallucinations can be _postponed_ at will. That is to say,
a constant watchfulness is exercised by the subject, so that if, for
example, the hypnotiser tells him that he will (when awakened) poke the
fire when the hypnotiser has coughed three times, the awakened subject,
although knowing nothing of the order in his waking state, will be on
the look-out for the coughs, amid all other disturbances, and will poke
the fire at the fore-ordained signal.[82] Moreover, when the
post-hypnotic suggestion is executed there will often be a slight
momentary relapse into the hypnotic state, and the subject will not
afterwards be aware that he _has_ (for instance) poked the fire at all.
This means that the suggested act belongs properly to the hypnotic, not
to the normal chain of memory; so that its performance involves a brief
reappearance of the subliminal self which received the order.

Another characteristic of these suggested hallucinations tells in
exactly the same direction. It is possible to suggest no mere isolated
picture,--a black cat on the table, or the like,--but a whole complex
series of responses to circumstances not at the time predictable. This
point is well illustrated by what are called "negative hallucinations"
or "systematised anæsthesiæ." Suppose, for instance, that I tell a
hypnotised subject that when he awakes there will be no one in the room
with him but myself. He awakes and remembers nothing of this order, but
sees me alone in the room. Other persons present endeavour to attract
his attention in various ways. Sometimes he will be quite unconscious of
their noises and movements; sometimes he will perceive them, but will
explain them away, as due to other causes, in the same irrational manner
as one might do in a dream. Or he may perceive them, be unable to
explain them, and feel considerable terror until the "negative
hallucination" is dissolved by a fresh word of command. It is plain, in
fact, throughout, that some element in him is at work all the time in
obedience to the suggestion given,--is keeping him by ever fresh
modifications of his illusion from discovering its unreality. Nothing
could be more characteristic of what I have called a "middle-level
centre" of the subliminal self--of some element in his nature which is
potent and persistent without being completely intelligent;--a kind of
dream-producer, ready at any moment to vary and defend the dream.

Another indication of the subliminal power at work to produce these
hallucinations is their remarkable _range_--a range as wide, perhaps, as
that over which therapeutic effects are obtainable by suggestion. The
post-hypnotic hallucination may affect not sight and hearing alone (to
which spontaneous hallucinations are in most cases confined), but all
kinds of vaso-motor responses and organic sensations--cardiac,
stomachic, and the like--which no artifice can affect in a waking
person. The legendary flow of perspiration with which the flatterer
sympathises with his patron's complaint of heat--_si dixeris "Æstuo,"
sudat_--is no exaggeration if applied to the hypnotic subject, who will
often sweat and shiver at your bidding as you transplant him from the
Equator to frosty Caucasus.

Well, then, given this strength and vigour of hallucination, one sees a
possible extension of knowledge in more than one direction. To begin
with, by suggestion to the subject that he is feeling or doing something
which is beyond his normal range of faculties, we may perhaps enable him
to perceive or to act as thus suggested.

What we need is to address to a sensitive subject a series of strong
suggestions of the increase of his sensory range and power. We must
needs begin by suggesting hallucinatory sensations:--the subject should
be told that he perceives some stimulus which is, in fact, too feeble
for ordinary perception. If you can make him _think_ that he perceives
it, he probably will after a time perceive it; the direction given to
his attention heightening either peripheral or central sensory faculty.
You may then be able to attack the question as to how far his
specialised end-organs are really concerned in the perception;--and it
may then be possible to deal in a more fruitful way with those alleged
cases of _transposition of senses_ which have so great a theoretical
interest as being apparently intermediate between hyperæsthesia and
telæsthesia or clairvoyance. If we once admit (as I, of course, admit)
the reality of telæsthesia, it is just in some such way as this that we
should expect to find it beginning.

I start from the thesis that the perceptive power within us precedes and
is independent of the specialised sense-organs, which it has developed
for earthly use.

    νοὑς ὁρα καἱ νοὑς ἁκοὑει τἁλλα κωφἁ καἱ τυφλα.

I conceive further that under certain circumstances this primary
telæsthetic faculty resumes direct operations, in spite of the fleshly
barriers which are constructed so as to allow it to operate through
certain channels alone. And I conceive that in thus resuming exercise of
the wider faculty, the incarnate spirit will be influenced or hampered
by the habits or self-suggestions of the more specialised faculty; so
that there may be apparent _compromises_ of different kinds between
telæsthetic and hyperæsthetic perception,--as the specialised senses
endeavour, as it were, to retain credit for the perception which is in
reality widening beyond their scope.

In this attitude of mind, then, I approach the recorded cases of
transposition of special sense.[83]

Two main hypotheses have been put forward as a general explanation of
such cases, neither of which seems to me quite satisfactory. (1) The
common theory would be that these are merely cases of erroneous
self-suggestion;--that the subject really sees with the eye, but thinks
that he sees with the knee, or the stomach, or the finger-tips. This may
probably have been so in many, but not, I think, in all instances. (2)
Dr. Prosper Despine and others suppose that, while the accustomed
cerebral centres are still concerned in the act of sight, the finger-end
(for example) acts for the nonce as the end-organ required to carry the
visual sensation to the brain. I cannot here get over the mechanical
difficulty of the absence of a lens. However hyperæsthetic the
finger-end might be (say) to light and darkness, I can hardly imagine
its acting as an organ of definite sight.

My own suggestion (which, for aught I know, may have been made before)
is that the finger-end is no more a true organ of sight than the
arbitrary "hypnogenous zone" is a true organ for inducing trance. I
think it possible that there may be actual telæsthesia,--not necessarily
involving any perception by the bodily organism;--and that the spirit
which thus perceives in wholly supernormal fashion may be under the
impression that it is perceiving through some bizarre corporeal
channel--as the knee or the stomach. I think, therefore, that the
perception may not be _optical_ sight at all, but rather some
generalised telæsthetic perception represented as visual, but
_incoherently_ so represented; so that it may be referred to the knee
instead of the retina. And here again, as at several previous points in
my argument, I must refer the reader to what will be said in my chapter
on _Possession_ by external spirits (Chapter IX.) to illustrate the
operation even of the subject's own spirit acting without external aid.

And now I come to the third main type of the dynamogenic efficacy of
suggestion: its influence, namely, on _attention_, on _will_, and on
_character_--character, indeed, being largely a resultant of the
direction and persistence of voluntary attention.

It will be remembered that for convenience' sake I have discussed the
dynamogenic effect of suggestion first upon the external senses, then
upon the internal sensibility,--the mind's eye, the mind's ear, and the
imagination generally;--and now I am turning to similar effects
exercised upon that central power which reasons upon the ideas and
images which external and internal senses supply, which chooses between
them, and which reacts according to its choice. These are "highest-level
centres," which I began by saying that the hypnotist could rarely hope
to reach;--since those spontaneous somnambulisms which the hypnotic
trance imitates and develops do so seldom reach them. We have, however,
already found a good deal of intelligence of a certain kind in hypnotic
phenomena; what we do here is to pass from one stage to another and
higher stage of consciousness of intelligent action.

To explain this statement, let us dwell for a moment upon the degree of
intelligence which is sometimes displayed in those modifications of the
organism which suggestion effects. Take, for instance, the formation of
a cruciform blister, as recorded by Dr. Biggs, of Lima.[84] In this
experiment the hypnotised subject was told that a red cross would appear
on her chest every Friday during a period of four months. For the
carrying out of this suggestion an unusual combination of capacities was
needed;--the capacity of directing physiological changes in a new way,
and also, and combined therewith, the capacity of recognising and
imitating an abstract, arbitrary, non-physiological idea, such as that
of _cruciformity_.

All this, in my view, is the expression of _subliminal_ control over the
organism--more potent and profound than _supraliminal_, and exercised
neither blindly nor wisely, but with intelligent caprice.

Bearing this in mind as we go on to suggestions more directly affecting
central faculty, in which _highest-level_ centres begin to be involved,
we need not be surprised to find an intermediate stage in which high
faculties are used in obedience to suggestion, for purely capricious

I speak of _calculations_ subliminally performed in the carrying out of
post-hypnotic suggestions.

These suggestions _à échéance_--commands, given in the trance, to do
something under certain contingent circumstances, or after a certain
time has elapsed--form a very convenient mode of testing the amount of
mentation which can be started and carried out without the intervention
of the supraliminal consciousness. Experiments have been made in this
direction by three men especially who have in recent times done some of
the best work on the psychological side of hypnotism, namely, Edmund
Gurney, Delbœuf, and Milne Bramwell.

Dr. Milne Bramwell's experiments[85] (to mention these as a sample of
the rest) were post-hypnotic suggestions involving arithmetical
calculations; the entranced subject, for instance, being told to make a
cross when 20,180 minutes had elapsed from the moment of the order.
Their primary importance lay in showing that a subliminal or hypnotic
memory persisted across the intervening gulf of time,--days and nights
of ordinary life,--and prompted obedience to the order when at last it
fell due. But incidentally, as I say, it became clear that the subject,
whose arithmetical capacity in common life was small, worked out these
sums subliminally a good deal better than she could work them out by her
normal waking intelligence.

Of course, all that was needed for such simple calculations was close
attention to easy rules; but this was just what the waking mind was
unable to give, at least without the help of pencil and paper. If we lay
this long and careful experiment side by side with the accounts already
given of the solution of problems in somnambulic states, it seems clear
that there is yet much to be done in the education of subliminal memory
and acumen as a help to supraliminal work.

Important in this connection is Dr. Dufay's account of help given to an
actress in the representation of her _rôles_ by hypnotisation.[86] It
seems obvious that stage-fright is just the kind of nervous annoyance
from which hypnotisation should give relief. Somewhat similarly I
believe some persons can secure a cheap substitute for genius on stage
or platform, evoking by suggestion or self-suggestion a helpful
subliminal uprush. Here again, the hypnotisation is a kind of extension
of "secondary automatism,"--of the familiar lapse from ordinary
consciousness of movements (walking, pianoforte-playing, etc.), which
have been very frequently performed. The possibilities thus opened up
are very great: no less than the combination by mankind of the stability
of instinct with the plasticity of reason. There seems no reason why
man's range of automatism should not thus be largely increased in two
main ways: many things now unpleasant to do might be done with
indifference, and many things now difficult to do might be done with

And now let us pass on from these specialised influences of suggestion
on certain kinds of attention to its influence on attention generally,
as needed, for instance, in education. If we can arrest the shifting of
the mental focus to undesired ideational centres in at all the same way
as we can arrest the choreic or fidgety shiftings of motor impulse to
undesired motor centres, we shall have done perhaps as much for the
world's ordinary work as if we had raised the average man's actual
intelligence a step higher in the scale. We shall have checked waste,
although we may not have improved quality. The well-known case of Dr.
Forel's warders,[87] who were enabled by hypnotic suggestion to sleep
soundly by the side of the patients they had to watch, and wake only
when the patients required to be restrained, shows us how by this means
the attention may be concentrated on selected impressions and waste of
energy be avoided in a way that could hardly be compassed by any
ordinary exercise of the will.

How far, indeed, we can go in actually _heightening_ intelligence by
suggestion we have yet to learn. We must not expect to add a cubit to
intellectual any more than to physical stature. Limitations at birth
must prevent our developing the common man into a Newton; but there
seems no reason why we should not bring up his practical achievements
much nearer than at present to the maximum of his innate capacity.[88]

In passing on from the influence of suggestion on _attention_ to its
influence on _will_, I am not meaning to draw any but the most every-day
distinction between these two forms of inward concentration. The point,
in fact, which I wish now to notice is rather a matter of common
observation than a provable and measurable phenomenon. I speak of the
energy and resolution with which a hypnotic suggestion is carried
out;--the _ferocity_, even, with which the entranced subject pushes
aside the opposition of much more powerful men. I do not, indeed, assert
that he would thus risk very serious injury; for I believe (with
Bramwell and others) that there does exist somewhere within him a
knowledge that the whole proceeding is a mere experiment. But,
nevertheless, he actually risks something; he behaves, in short, as a
confident, resolute man would behave, and this however timid and
unaggressive his habitual character may be. I believe that much
advantage may yet be drawn from this confident temper. We can thus
inhibit the acquired self-distrust and shyness of the supraliminal self,
and get the subliminal self concentrated upon some task which may be as
difficult as we please;--which may, if we can adjust it rightly, draw
out to the uttermost the innate powers of man.

It has been supposed that the mere fact of being hypnotised tended to
weaken the will; that the hypnotised person fell inevitably more and
more under the control of the hypnotiser, and even that he could at last
be induced to commit crimes by suggestion. In his article "What is
Hypnotism?"[89] Dr. Milne Bramwell shows on how small a foundation of
fact these fanciful theories have been erected. It may suffice to say
here that nothing is easier, either for subject or for hypnotiser, than
to _avert_ undue influence. A trusted friend has only to suggest to the
hypnotised subject that _no one else_ will be able to affect him, and
the thing is done. As to the crimes supposed to be committed by
hypnotised persons under the influence of suggestion, the evidence for
such crimes, in spite of great efforts made to collect it and set it
forth, remains, I think, practically _nil_.

This fact, I must add, is quite in harmony with the views expressed in
the present chapter. For it implies that the higher subliminal centres
(so to term them) never really abdicate their rule; that they may indeed
remain passive while the middle centres obey the experimenter's caprice,
but are still ready to resume their control if such experiment should
become really dangerous to the individual. And this runs parallel with
common experience in the spontaneous somnambulisms. The sleeper may
perform apparently rash exploits; but yet, unless he be suddenly
awakened, serious accidents are very rare. Nevertheless, both in
spontaneous and in induced somnambulism, accidents _may_ occur; nor
should any experiment be undertaken in a careless or jesting spirit.

But the rôle of the hypnotiser, as our command over hypnotic artifice
increases, is likely to become continually smaller in proportion to the
rôle played by the subject himself. Especially must this be so where the
object is to strengthen the subject's own power of will. All that can be
done from _without_ in such a case is to imbue the man's spirit with the
sense of its unexhausted prerogatives,--the strength which he may then
employ, not only to avert pain or anxiety, but in any active direction
which his original nature itself admits.

These last words may naturally lead us on to our next topic: the
influence of suggestion on _character_,--on that function of combined
attention and will, which is, of course, also ultimately a function of
the possibilities latent in the individual germ.

First of all, then, and going back to the evidence already given as to
the cure of the victims of morphia, we may say with truth that _there_
we have seen as tremendous a moral _lift_--as sudden an elevation from
utter baseness to at least normal living--as can be anywhere presented
to us.

Here, then, the question arises as to the possible range of such sudden
reformations. Did we succeed with the morphinomaniac only because his
was a _functional_, and not an _organic_, degradation?

And may it not be a much harder task to create honesty, purity,
unselfishness in a brain whose very conformation must keep the spirit
that thinks through it nearly on the level of the brute? The question is
of the highest psychological interest; the answer, though as yet
rudimentary, is unexpectedly encouraging. The examples given in Appendix
V. B show that if the subject is hypnotisable, and if hypnotic
suggestion be applied with sufficient persistency and skill, no depth of
previous baseness and foulness need prevent the man or woman whom we
charge with "moral insanity," or stamp as a "criminal-born," from rising
into a state where he or she can work steadily, and render services
useful to the community.[90]

I purposely limit my assertion to these words. We must still work within
the bounds of natural capacity. Just as we cannot improvise a genius, we
cannot improvise a saint. But what experience seems to show is that we
can _select_ from the lowest and poorest range of feelings and faculties
enough of sound feeling, enough of helpful faculty, to keep the man in a
position of moral stability, and capable of falling in with the common
labours of his kind.

And here we approach a point of much interest. Hypnotic suggestion or
self-suggestion is not an agency which stands wholly alone. It melts
into the suasion of ordinary life. Ministers of religion as well as
physicians have always wielded with authority the suasive power. From
the crude animistic dances and ceremonies of the savage up to the
"missions" and "revivals" in English and American churches and chapels,
we find sudden and exciting impressions on mind and sense called into
play for the purpose of producing religious and moral change.[91] Among
the lower races especially these exciting reunions often involve both
hysterical and hypnotic phenomena. There are sometimes convulsive
accesses and there is sometimes the milder phenomenon of a deep
restorative sleep. The influence exerted upon the convert is
intermediate between hypnotic artifice, dependent on trance-states for
access to subliminal plasticity, and ordinary moral suasion, addressed
primarily to ordinary waking reason.

Let us pause here to consider the point which we have already reached.
We began by defining hypnotism as the empirical development of the
sleeping phase of man's personality. In that sleeping phase the most
conspicuous element--the most obvious function of the subliminal
self--is the repair of wasted tissues, the physical, and therefore also
largely the moral, refreshment and rejuvenation of the tired organism.

But we found reason to believe that the subliminal self has other
functions to fulfil during sleep. Those other functions are concerned in
some unknown way with the spiritual world; and the indication of their
exercise is given by the sporadic occurrence, in the sleeping phase, of
supernormal phenomena. Such phenomena, as we shall presently see, occur
also at various points in hypnotic practice. To them we must now turn,
if our account of the phenomena of induced somnambulism is to be

Yet here, in order to give completeness to our intended review, we shall
need a certain apparent extension of the scope of this chapter. We shall
need to consider a group of cases which might have been introduced at
various points in our scheme, but which are perhaps richest in their
illustrations of the supernormal phenomena of hypnotism.

_Spontaneous somnambulisms_,--those crude uprushes of incoherent
subliminal faculty which sometimes break through the surface of
sleep,--seem to occupy a kind of midway position among the various
phenomena through which our inquiry has thus far carried us.

The somnambulism often _starts_ as an exaggerated dream; it _develops_
into a kind of secondary personality. The thoughts and impulses which
the upheaval raises into manifestations--the psychical output--resemble
sometimes the inspirations of genius, sometimes the follies of hysteria.
And, finally, the spontaneous sleep-waking state itself is manifestly
akin to hypnosis,--is sometimes actually interchangeable with the
induced somnambulisms of the hypnotic trance. The _chain of memory_
which repeated spontaneous somnambulisms gradually form,--while lying
quite outside the primary or waking memory,--will often be found to form
a part of the _hypnotic_ memory, which gradually accretes in similar
fashion from repeated hypnosis.

For one form of sleep-waking capacity we are already prepared by what
has been said in Chapter IV. of the solution of problems in sleep. This
is one of the ways in which we can watch the gradual merging of a vivid
dream into a definite somnambulic act. The solution of a problem (as we
have seen) may present itself merely as a sentence or a diagram,
constructed in dream and remembered on waking. Or the sleeper (as in
various cases familiar in text-books) may rise from bed and _write out_
the chain of reasoning, or the sermon, or whatever it may be. Or again,
in rarer cases the somnambulic output may take the form of oratory, and
edifying discourses may be delivered by a preacher whom no amount of
shaking or pinching will silence or, generally, even interrupt. This, so
to speak, is genius with a vengeance; this is a too persistent uprush of
subliminal zeal, co-operating even out of season with the hortatory
instincts of the waking self.

The group of sleep-waking cases which we may next discuss illustrates a
natural evolution of the faculty of the sleeping phase of personality.
The subliminal self, exercising in sleep a profounder _influence_ over
the organism than the supraliminal can exert, may also be presumed to
possess a profounder _knowledge_ of the organism--of its present, and
therefore of its future--than the supraliminal self enjoys.

There are cases[92] in which the somnambulic personality is discerned
throughout as a wiser self--advising a treatment, or at least foreseeing
future developments of the disease with great particularity. Of course,
in such a case prediction is often simply a form of suggestion; the
symptom occurs simply because it has been ordained beforehand. In the
case of cures of long-standing disease the sagacity which foresees
probably co-operates with the control which directs the changes in the

The next stage is a very important one. We come to the manifestation in
spontaneous sleep-waking states of manifestly supernormal
powers,--sometimes of telepathy, but more commonly of clairvoyance or
telæsthesia. Unfortunately, these cases have been, as a rule, very
insufficiently observed. Still, it appears that in spontaneous
somnambulism there is frequently some indication of supernormal powers,
though the observers--even if competent in other ways--have generally
neglected to take account of the hyperæsthesia and heightening of memory
and of general intelligence that often accompany the state.

Before leaving this subject of spontaneous sleep-waking states I ought
briefly to mention a form of trance with which we shall have to deal
more at length in a later chapter. I speak of trance ascribed to
_spirit-possession_. As will be seen, I myself fully adopt this
explanation in a small number of the cases where it is put forward. Yet
I do not think that spirit-agency is necessarily present in all the
trances even of a true subject of possession. With all the leading
sensitives--with D. D. Home, with Stainton Moses, with Mrs. Piper and
with others--I think that the depth of the trance has varied greatly on
different occasions, and that sometimes the subliminal self of the
sensitive is vaguely simulating, probably in an unconscious dream-like
way, an external intelligence. This hypothesis suggested itself to
several observers in the case especially of D. D. Home, with whom the
moments of strong characterisation of a departed personality, though far
from rare, were yet scattered among tracts of dreamy improvisation which
suggested only the utterance of Home's subliminal self. However we
choose to interpret these trances, they should be mentioned in
comparison with all the other sleep-waking states. They probably form
the best transition between those shallow somnambulisms, on the one
hand, which are little more than a vivid dream, and those profound
trances, on the other hand, in which the native spirit quits, as nearly
as may be, the sensitive's organism, and is for the time replaced, as
nearly as may be, by an invading spirit from that unseen world.

This brief review of non-hypnotic somnambulisms has not been without its
lessons. It has shown us that the supernormal powers which we have
traced in each of the preceding chapters in turn do also show
themselves, in much the same fashion, in spontaneous sleep-waking states
of various types. We must now inquire how far they occur in sleep-waking
states experimentally induced.

And here the very fact of _induction_ suggests to us a question
specially applicable to the hypnotic state itself. Is hypnosis ever
supernormally induced? Can any one, that is to say, be thrown into
hypnotic trance by a telepathic impact? or, to phrase it more generally,
by any influence, inexplicable by existing science, which may pass from
man to man?

In the first place one may say that of the anti-mesmeric schools of
opinion, the "purely physiological" school has on the whole failed, the
"purely suggestive" school has triumphantly succeeded. The school of
Nancy, reinforced by hypnotists all over Europe, has abundantly proved
that "pure suggestion" (whatever that be) is the determining cause of a
very large proportion of hypnotic phenomena. That is beyond dispute; and
the two other schools, the "pure physiologists" and the "mesmerists"
alike, must now manage to prove as best they can that their favourite
methods play any real part in the induction of any case of hypnosis. For
to the pure suggestionist, monotonous stimulation and mesmeric passes
are alike in themselves inert, are alike mere facilitations of
suggestion, acting not directly on the patient's organism, but rather
on his state of mental expectation.

I reply that there is absolutely no need to go as far as this. In
admitting suggestion as a _vera causa_ of hypnosis, we are recognising a
cause which, if we really try to grasp it, resolves itself into
_subliminal operation, brought about we know not how_. So far,
therefore, from negativing and excluding any obscure and perhaps
supernormal agency, the suggestion theory leaves the way for any such
agency broadly open. Some unknown cause or other must determine whether
each suggestion is to "take" or no; and that unknown cause must
presumably act somehow upon the subliminal self. We should have
something like a real explanation of suggestion, if we could show that a
suggestion's success or failure was linked with some telepathic impact
from the suggester's mind, or with some mesmeric effluence from his

I know well that in many cases we can establish no link of this kind. In
Bernheim's rapid hospital practice there seems no opportunity to bring
the hypnotist's will, or the hypnotiser's organism, into any effective
_rapport_ with the subject. Rather, the subject seems to do all that is
wanted for himself almost instantaneously. He often falls into the
suggested slumber almost before the word "_Dormez!_" has left the
physician's mouth. But on the other hand, this is by no means the only
type of hypnotic success. Just as in the mesmeric days, so also now
there are continual instances where much more than the mere command has
been needed for effective hypnotisation. Persistence, proximity,
passes--all these prove needful still in the practice even of physicians
who place no faith at all in the old mesmeric theory.

The fact is, that since the days of those old controversies between
mesmerists proper and hypnotists proper, the conditions of the
controversy have greatly changed. The supposed mesmeric effluence was
then treated as an entirely isolated, yet an entirely physiological
phenomenon. There was supposed to be a kind of radiation or infection
passing from one nervous system to another. It was of this that Cuvier
(for instance) was convinced; it was this theory which Elliotson
defended in the _Zoist_ with a wealth of illustration and argument to
which little justice has even yet been done. Yet it was hard to prove
_effluence_ as opposed to _suggestion_, because where there was
proximity enough for effluence to be effective there was also proximity
enough for suggestion to be possible. Only in some few
circumstances,--such as Esdaile's mesmerisation of a blind man over a
wall,[93]--was it possible to claim that the mesmeric trance had been
induced without any suspicion whatever on the subject's part that the
mesmerist was trying to entrance him.

Since those days, however, the evidence for _telepathy_--for psychical
influence from a distance--has grown to goodly proportions. A new form
of experiment has been found possible, from which the influence of
suggestion can be entirely excluded. It has now, as I shall presently
try to show, been actually proved that the hypnotic trance can be
induced from a distance so great, and with precautions so complete, that
telepathy or some similar supernormal influence is the only efficient
cause which can be conceived.

I subjoin one of a series of experiments in this "telepathic hypnotism."
(See Appendix V. C.) These experiments are not easy to manage, since it
is essential at once to prevent the subject from suspecting that the
experiment is being tried, and also to provide for his safety in the
event of its success. In Dr. Gibert's experiment, for instance, it was a
responsible matter to bring this elderly woman in her dream-like state
through the streets of Havre. It was needful to provide her with an
unnoticed escort; and, in fact, several persons had to devote themselves
for some hours to a single experiment.

I have cited first this experiment at a distance, without attempting to
analyse the nature of the suggestion given or power employed by the
hypnotist. Of course it is plain that if one can thus influence
unexpectant persons from a distance there must be sometimes some kind of
power actually exercised by the hypnotiser;--something beyond the mere
tact and impressiveness of address, which is all that Bernheim and his
followers admit or claim. Evidence of this has been afforded by the
occasional production of organic and other effects in hypnotised
subjects by the unuttered will of the operator when near them. The
ingenious experiments of Gurney[94] in the production of local rigidity
and anæsthesia were undertaken to test whether the agency employed were
more in the nature of an effort of will or,--as the early mesmerists
claimed,--of an emission of actual "mesmeric fluid" or physical
effluence of some sort. Gurney was inclined to think that his results
could not be explained solely by mental suggestion or telepathy, because
the physical proximity of the operator's hand seemed necessary to
produce them, and he thought it probable that they were due to a direct
nervous influence, exercised through the hand of the operator, but not
perceptible through the ordinary sensory channels. Mrs. Sidgwick's
experiments[95] of the same kind, however, in which success was obtained
when the operator was standing with folded arms several feet away from
the subject, removed Gurney's main objection to the telepathic
explanation. The fact that a thick sheet of glass over the subject's
hands did not interfere with the results also afforded some presumption
against the hypothesis of a physical influence; and Mrs. Sidgwick
pointed out that the delicate discrimination involved in the specific
limitations of the effects is much more easily attributable to mental
suggestion, through the action of the operator's mind on that of the
subject, than to any direct physical influence on the latter's nerves.

It is, however, in my view, by no means improbable that effluences, as
yet unknown to science, but perceptible by sensitive persons as the
telepathic impulse is perceptible, should radiate from living human
organisms. I see no reason to assume that the varied and concordant
statements made by patients in the _Zoist_ and early mesmeric works
merely reflect subjective fancies. I have myself performed and witnessed
experiments on intelligent persons expressly designed to test whether or
no the sensation following the hand was a mere fancy. It seems to me
hardly likely that persons who have never experienced other purely
subjective sensations, and who are expressly alive to the question here
at issue, should nevertheless again and again feel the classical
tingling, etc., along the track of the hypnotiser's passes without any
real external cause. To assume that all which they feel is a mere result
of suggestion, may be a premature attempt at simplifying modes of
supernormal communication which, in fact, are probably not simpler but
more complex than any idea which we have as yet formed of them.

And here at last we arrive at what is in reality the most interesting
group of inquiries connected with the hypnotic trance.

We have just seen that the subliminal state of the hypnotised subject
may be approached by ways subtler than mere verbal suggestion--by
telepathic impacts and perhaps by some effluence of kindred supernormal
type. We have now to trace the supernormal elements in the hypnotic
_response_. Whether those elements are most readily excited by a
directly subliminal appeal, or whether they depend mainly on the special
powers innate in the hypnotised person, we can as yet but imperfectly
guess. We can be pretty sure, at any rate, that they are not often
evoked in answer to any rapid and, so to say, perfunctory hypnotic
suggestion; they do not spring up in miscellaneous hospital practice;
they need an education and a development which is hardly bestowed on
one hypnotised subject in a hundred. The first stage of this response
lies in a subliminal relation established between the subject and his
hypnotiser, and manifesting itself in what is called _rapport_, or in
_community of sensation_. The earlier stages of _rapport_--conditions
when the subject apparently bears or feels the hypnotiser only, and so
forth--arise probably from mere self-suggestion or from the suggestions
of the operator, causing the conscious attention of the subject to be
exclusively directed to him. Indications of the possible development of
a real link between the two persons may rather be found in the cases
where there is provable community of sensation,--the hypnotised subject
tasting or feeling what the hypnotiser (unknown to the subject) does
actually at that moment taste or feel.

We have thus brought the hypnotised subject up to the point of knowing
supernormally, at any rate, the superficial sensations of his
hypnotiser. From that starting-point,--or, at any rate, from some
supernormal perception of narrow range,--his cognition widens and
deepens. He may seem to discern some picture of the past, and may
retrace the history of some object which he holds in his hand, or he may
seem to wander in spirit over the habitable globe, and to bring back
knowledge of present facts discernible by no other means. Perhaps he
seems to behold the future, predicting oftenest the organic history of
some person near him; but sometimes discerning, as it were pictorially,
scattered events to which we can guess at no attainable due. For all
this there is already more of positive evidence than is generally
realised; nor (I must repeat) is there any _negative_ evidence which
might lead us to doubt that further care in developing hypnotic subjects
may not at any moment be rewarded in the same way. We have here, in
fact, a successful branch of investigation which has of late years been
practically dropped from mere inattention to what has been done
already,--mere diversion of effort to the easier and more practical
triumphs of suggestive therapeutics.[96]

The next group of cases to which I pass relate chiefly to knowledge of
present facts. I may first refer to some experiments in
thought-transference with hypnotised persons[97] analogous to the
experiments with persons in a normal condition recorded in my next
chapter. Here the subject seems simply to become aware telepathically
of the thoughts of his hypnotiser, the hypnotic condition perhaps
facilitating the transfer of the impression. Next come the cases of what
used to be called "travelling clairvoyance" in the hypnotic state. These
are more like the partially retrocognitive cases in that they cannot be
traced with certainty to the contemporary thoughts of any particular
person. In travelling clairvoyance we seem to have a development of
"invasive dreams,"--of those visions of the night in which the sleeper
seems to visit distant scenes and to bring back intelligence otherwise
unattainable. These distant hypnotic visions seem to develop out of
thought-transference; thus the subject may discern an imaginary picture
as it is conceived in the hypnotiser's mind. Thence he may pass on and
discern a true contemporaneous scene,[98] unknown to any one present,
and in some few cases there is an element of apparent prevision in the

Our survey of that important, though inchoate, appeal to the subliminal
self which passes under the name of hypnotism is now nearly as
complete--in its brief sketchy form--as the present state of knowledge

I have attempted to trace the inevitable _rise_ of hypnotism--its
necessary development out of the spontaneous phenomena which preceded
and which might so naturally have suggested it. I have shown,
nevertheless, its almost accidental initiation, and then its rapid
development in ways which no single experimenter has ever been able to
correlate or to foresee. I am bound to say something further as to its
prospect in the future. A systematic appeal to the deeper powers in
man--conceived with the generality with which I have here conceived
it--cannot remain a mere appanage of medical practice. It must be fitted
on in some way to the whole serious life of man; it must present itself
to him as a development of faiths and instincts which lie already deep
in his heart. In other words, there must needs be some _scheme of
self-suggestion_,--some general theory which can give the individual a
basis for his appeal, whether he regards that appeal as directed to an
intelligence outside himself or to his own inherent faculties and
informing soul. These helps to the power of generalisation--to the
feeling of confidence--we must consider now.

The schemes of self-suggestion which have actually been found effective
have covered, not unnaturally, a range as wide as all the superstition
and all the religion of men. That is to say that each form of
supernatural belief in turn has been utilised as a means of securing
that urgently-needed temporal blessing--relief from physical pain. We
see the same tendency running through fetichistic, polytheistic,
monotheistic forms of belief. Beginning with fetichistic peoples, we
observe that _charms_ of various kinds,--inert objects, arbitrary
gestures, meaningless words,--have probably been actually the most
general means which our race has employed for the cure of disease. We
know how long some forms of primitive belief persisted in medicine,--as,
for example, the doctrine of _likenesses_, or the cure of a disease by
some object supposed to resemble its leading symptom. What is, however,
even more remarkable is the efficacy which charms still continue in some
cases to possess, even when they are worn merely as an experiment in
self-suggestion by a person who is perfectly well aware of their
intrinsic futility. Experiments on this subject seem to show that the
mere continual contact of some small unfamiliar object will often act as
a reminder to the subliminal self, and keep, at any rate, some nervous
disturbances in check. Until one reads these modern examples, one can
hardly realise how veritably potent for good may have been the savage
amulet, the savage incantation.

The transition from fetichistic to polytheistic conceptions of cure is,
of course, a gradual one. It may be said to begin when curative
properties are ascribed to objects not arbitrarily, nor on account of
the _look_ of the objects themselves, but on account of their having
been blessed or handled by some divine or semi-divine personage, or
having formed part of his body or surroundings during some incarnation.
Thus Lourdes water, bottled and exported, is still held to possess
curative virtue on account of the Virgin's original blessing bestowed
upon the Lourdes spring. But generally the influence of the divine or
divinised being is more directly exercised, as in oracles, dreams,
invisible touches, or actual _theophanies_, or appearances of the gods
to the adoring patient. It will be seen as we proceed how amply the
tradition of Lourdes has incorporated these ancient aids to faith.

But at this point our modern experience suggests to us a remarkable
interpolation in the antique chain of ideas. It is now alleged that
departed persons need not exert influence through their dead bones
alone, nor yet only by their supposed intermediacy with higher powers.
There intervenes, in fact, the whole topic of _spirit-healing_,--which
cannot, however, be treated fully here.

Next in the ascending scale from polytheism to monotheism we come to the
"Miracles of Lourdes," to which I have just alluded, where the supposed
healer is the Virgin Mary, reverenced as semi-divine. This form of
belief, however, retains (as has been said) some affinity with
fetichism, since the actual _water_ from the Lourdes spring, supposed to
have been blessed by the Virgin, is an important factor in the

Much further removed from primitive belief is the appeal made by
Christian scientists to the aid of Jesus Christ;--either as directly
answering prayer, or as enabling the worshippers to comprehend the
infinite love on which the universe is based, and in face of which pain
and sickness become a vain imagination or even a sheer nonentity. To the
readers of this chapter, however, there will be nothing surprising in my
own inclination to include all these efforts at health under the general
category of schemes of self-suggestion.

In my view they are but crude attempts at a practical realisation of the
essential truth that it is possible by a right disposition of our own
minds to draw energy from an environing world of spiritual life.

It seems, at least, that no real explanation of hypnotic vitalisation
can, in fact, be given except upon the general theory supported in this
work--the theory that a world of spiritual life exists, an environment
profounder than those environments of matter and ether which in a sense
we know. Let us look at this hypothesis a little more closely. When we
say that an organism exists in a certain environment, we mean that its
energy, or some part thereof, forms an element in a certain system of
cosmic forces, which represents some special modification of the
ultimate energy. The life of the organism consists in its power of
interchanging energy with its environment,--of appropriating by its own
action some fragment of that pre-existent and limitless Power. We human
beings exist in the first place in a world of matter, whence we draw the
obvious sustenance of our bodily functions.

We exist also in a world of ether;--that is to say, we are constructed
to respond to a system of laws,--ultimately continuous, no doubt, with
the laws of matter, but affording a new, a generalised, a profounder
conception of the Cosmos. So widely different, indeed, is this new
aspect of things from the old, that it is common to speak of the ether
as a newly-known environment. On this environment our organic existence
depends as absolutely as on the material environment, although less
obviously. In ways which we cannot fathom, the ether is at the
foundation of our physical being. Perceiving heat, light, electricity,
we do but recognise in certain conspicuous ways,--as in perceiving the
"X rays" we recognise in a way less conspicuous,--the pervading
influence of etherial vibrations which in range and variety far
transcend our capacity of response.

Within, beyond, the world of ether,--as a still profounder, still more
generalised aspect of the Cosmos,--must lie, as I believe, the world of
spiritual life. That the world of spiritual life does not depend upon
the existence of the material world I hold as now proved by actual
evidence. That it is in some way continuous with the world of ether I
can well suppose. But for our minds there must needs be a "critical
point" in any such imagined continuity; so that the world where life and
thought are carried on apart from matter, must certainly rank again as a
new, a _metetherial_ environment. In giving it this name I expressly
imply only that from our human point of view it lies after or beyond the
ether, as metaphysic lies after or beyond physics. I say only that what
does not originate in matter or in ether originates _there_; but I well
believe that beyond the ether there must be not one stage only, but
countless stages in the infinity of things.

On this hypothesis there will be an essential concordance between all
views--spiritual or materialistic--which ascribe to any direction of
attention or will any practical effect upon the human organism. "The
prayer of faith shall save the sick," says St. James. "There is nothing
in hypnotism but suggestion," says Bernheim. In my clumsier language
these two statements (setting aside a possible telepathic element in St.
James' words) will be expressible in identical terms. "There will be
effective therapeutical or ethical self-suggestion whenever by any
artifice subliminal attention to a bodily function or to a moral purpose
is carried to some unknown pitch of intensity which draws energy from
the metetherial world."

A great practical question remains, to which St. James' words supply a
direct, though perhaps an inadequate answer, while Bernheim's words
supply no answer at all.

What is this saving faith to be, and how is it to be attained? Can we
find any sure way of touching the spring which moves us so potently, at
once from without and from within? Can we propose any form of
self-suggestion effective for all the human race? any controlling
thought on which all alike can fix that long-sought mountain-moving

Assuredly no man can extemporise such a faith as this. Whatever form it
may ultimately take, it must begin as the purification, the
intensification, of the purest, the intensest beliefs to which human
minds have yet attained. It must invoke the whole strength of all
philosophies, of all religions;--not indeed the special arguments or
evidence adduced for each, which lie outside my present theme, but all
the spiritual energy by which in truth they live. And so far as this
purpose goes, of drawing strength from the unseen, if one faith is true,
all faiths are true; in so far at least as human mind can grasp or human
prayer appropriate the unknown metetherial energy, the inscrutable Grace
of God.



    Βλἑπομεν γἁρ ἁρτι δἱ'ἑσὑπτρου ἑν ἁινἱγματι.

Each of the several lines of inquiry pursued in the foregoing chapters
has brought indications of something transcending sensory experience in
the reserves of human faculty; and we have come to a point where we need
some further colligating generalisation--some conception under which
these scattered phenomena may be gathered in their true kinship.

Some steps at least towards such a generalisation the evidence to be
presented in these next chapters may allow us to take. Considering
together, under the heading of sensory and motor _automatism_, the whole
range of that subliminal action of which we have as yet discussed
fragments only, we shall gradually come to see that its distinctive
faculty of telepathy or telæsthesia is in fact an introduction into a
realm where the limitations of organic life can no longer be assumed to
persist. Considering, again, the evidence which shows that that portion
of the personality which exercises these powers during our earthly
existence does actually continue to exercise them after our bodily
decay, _we shall recognise a relation--obscure but indisputable--between
the subliminal and the surviving self_.

I begin, then, with my definition of _automatism_, as the widest term
under which to include the range of subliminal emergences into ordinary
life. The turbulent uprush and downdraught of hysteria; the helpful
uprushes of genius, co-operating with supraliminal thought; the profound
and recuperative changes which follow on hypnotic suggestion; these have
been described under their separate headings. But the main mass of
subliminal manifestations remains undescribed. I have dealt little with
veridical hallucinations, not at all with automatic writing, nor with
the utterances of spontaneous trance. The products of inner vision or
inner audition externalised into quasi-percepts,--these form what I term
_sensory automatisms_. The messages conveyed by movement of limbs or
hand or tongue, initiated by an inner motor impulse beyond the
conscious will--these are what I term _motor automatisms_. And I claim
that when all these are surveyed together their essential analogy will
be recognised beneath much diversity of form. They will be seen to be
_messages_ from the subliminal to the supraliminal self;
endeavours--conscious or unconscious--of submerged tracts of our
personality to present to ordinary waking thought fragments of a
knowledge which no ordinary waking thought could attain.

I regard supraliminal life merely as a _privileged case_ of personality;
a special phase of our personality, which is easiest for us to study,
because it is simplified for us by our ready consciousness of what is
going on in it; yet which is by no means necessarily either central or
prepotent, could we see our whole being in comprehensive view.

Now if we thus regard the whole supraliminal personality as a special
case of something much more extensive, it follows that we must similarly
regard all human faculty, and each sense severally, as mere special or
privileged cases of some more general power.

All human terrene faculty will be in this view simply a selection from
faculty existing in the metetherial world; such part of that antecedent,
even if not individualised, faculty as may be expressible through each
several human organism.

Each of our special senses, therefore, may be conceived as straining
towards development of a wider kind than earthly experience has as yet
allowed. And each special sense is both an internal and an external
sense; involves a tract of the brain, of unknown capacity, as well as an
end-organ, whose capacity is more nearly measurable. The relation of
this internal, mental, mind's-eye vision to non-sensory psychological
perception on the one hand, and to ocular vision on the other hand, is
exactly one of the points on which some profounder observation will be
seen to be necessary. One must at least speak of "mind's eye" perception
in these sensory terms, if one is to discuss it at all.

But ordinary experience at any rate assumes that the end-organ alone can
acquire fresh information, and that the central tract can but combine
this new information already sent in to it. This must plainly be the
case, for instance, with optical or acoustic knowledge;--with such
knowledge as is borne on waves of ether or of air, and is caught by a
terminal apparatus, evolved for the purpose. But observe that it is by
no means necessary that all seeing and all hearing should be through eye
or ear.

The vision of our dreams--to keep to vision alone for greater
simplicity--is non-optical vision. It is usually generated in the
central brain, not sent up thither from an excited retina. Optical laws
can only by a stretch of terms be said to apply to it at all.

Let us attempt some rough conspectus, which may show something of the
relation in which central and peripheral vision stand to each other.

We start from a region below the specialisation of visual faculty. The
study of the successive dermal and nervous modifications which have led
up to that faculty belongs to Biology, and all that our argument needs
here is to point out that the very fact that this faculty has been
developed in a germ, animated by metetherial life, indicates that some
perceptivity from which sight could take its origin pre-existed in the
originating, the unseen world. We know vaguely how vision differentiated
itself peripherally, with the growing sensibility of the pigment-spot to
light and shadow. But there must have been a cerebral differentiation
also, and also a psychological differentiation, namely, a gradual
shaping of a distinct feeling from obscure feelings, whose history we
cannot recover.

Yet I believe that we have still persistent in our brain-structure some
dim vestige of the transition from that early undifferentiated
continuous sensitivity to our existing specialisation of sense. Probably
in all of us, though in some men much more distinctly than in others,
there exist certain _synæsthesiæ_ or concomitances of sense-impression,
which are at any rate not dependent on any recognisable link of
association.[101] My present point is that such synæsthesiæ stand on the
dividing line between percepts externally and internally originated.
These irradiations of sensitivity, sometimes apparently congenital,
cannot, on the one hand, be called a purely mental phenomenon. Nor again
can they be definitely classed under external vision; since they do
sometimes follow upon a mental process of association. It seems safer to
term them _entencephalic_, on the analogy of _entoptic_, since they seem
to be due to something in brain-structure, much as entoptic percepts are
due to something in the structure of the eye.

I will, then, start with the synæsthesiæ as the most generalised form of
inward perception, and will pass on to other classes which approach more
nearly to ordinary external vision.

From these entencephalic photisms we seem to proceed by an easy
transition to the most inward form of unmistakable entoptic
vision--which is therefore the most inward form of all external
vision--the flash of light consequent on electrisation of the optic
nerve. Next on our outward road we may place the phosphenes caused by
pressure on the optic nerve or irritation of the retina. Next Purkinje's
figures, or shadows cast by the blood-vessels of the middle layer upon
the bacillary layer of the retina. Then _muscæ volitantes_, or shadows
cast by motes in the vitreous humour upon the fibrous layer of the

Midway, again, between entoptic and ordinary external vision we may
place _after-images_; which, although themselves perceptible with shut
eyes, presuppose a previous retinal stimulation from without;--forming,
in fact, the entoptic sequelæ of ordinary external vision.

Next comes our ordinary vision of the external world--and this, again,
is pushed to its highest degree of externality by the employment of
artificial aids to sight. He who gazes through a telescope at the stars
has mechanically improved his end-organs to the furthest point now
possible to man.

And now, standing once more upon our watershed of entencephalic vision,
let us trace the advancing capacities of internal vision. The forms of
vision now to be considered are virtually independent of the eye; they
can persist, that is to say, after the destruction of the eye, if only
the eye has worked for a few years, so as to give visual education to
the brain. We do not, in fact, fully know the limits of this
independence, which can only be learnt by a fuller examination of
intelligent blind persons than has yet been made. Nor can we say with
certainty how far in a seeing person the eye is in its turn influenced
by the brain. I shall avoid postulating any "retropulsive current" from
brain to retina, just as I have avoided any expression more specific
than "the brain" to indicate the primary seat of sight. The arrangement
here presented, as already explained, is a psychological one, and can
be set forth without trespassing on controverted physiological ground.

We may take _memory-images_ as the simplest type of internal vision.
These images, as commonly understood, introduce us to no fresh
knowledge; they preserve the knowledge gained by conscious gaze upon the
outer world. In their simplest spontaneous form they are the _cerebral_
sequelæ of external vision, just as after-images are its _entoptic_
sequelæ. These two classes of vision have been sometimes confounded,
although the distinction is a marked one. Into the cerebral storage of
impressions one element habitually enters which is totally absent from
the mere retinal storage, namely, a psychical element--a rearrangement
or generalisation of the impressions retinally received.

Next we come to a common class of memory-images, in which the subliminal
rearrangement is particularly marked. I speak of _dreams_--which lead us
on in two directions from memory-images; in the direction of
_imagination-images_, and in the direction of _hallucinations_. Certain
individual dreams, indeed, of rare types point also in other directions
which later on we shall have to follow. But dreams as a class consist of
confused memory-images, reaching a kind of low hallucinatory intensity,
a glow, so to say, sufficient to be perceptible in darkness.

I will give the name of _imagination-images_ to those conscious
recombinations of our store of visual imagery which we compose either
for our mere enjoyment, as "waking dreams," or as artifices to help us
to the better understanding of facts of nature confusedly discerned.
Such, for instance, are imagined geometrical diagrams; and Watt, lying
in bed in a dark room and conceiving the steam-engine, illustrates the
utmost limit to which voluntary internal visualisation can go.

Here at any rate the commonly admitted category of stages of inward
vision will close. Thus far and no farther the brain's capacity for
presenting visual images can be pushed on under the guidance of the
conscious will of man. It is now my business to show, on the contrary,
that we have here reached a mere intermediate point in the development
of _internal_ vision. These imagination-images, valuable as they are,
are merely attempts to control supraliminally a form of vision which--as
spontaneous memory-images have already shown us--is predominantly
subliminal. The memory-images welled up from a just-submerged stratum;
we must now consider what other images also well upward from the same
hidden source.

To begin with, it is by no means certain that some of Watt's images of
steam-engines did not well up from that source,--did not emerge
ready-made into the supraliminal mind while it rested in that merely
_expectant_ state which forms generally a great part of invention. We
have seen in Chapter III. that there is reason to believe in such a
conveyance in the much inferior mental processes of calculating boys,
etc., and also in the mental processes of the painter. In short, without
pretending to judge of the proportion of voluntary to involuntary
imagery in each several creative mind, we must undoubtedly rank the
spontaneously emergent visual images of genius as a further stage of
internal vision.

And now we have reached, by a triple road, the verge of a most important
development of inward vision--namely, that vast range of phenomena which
we call _hallucination_. Each of our last three classes had led up to
hallucination in a different way. _Dreams_ actually _are_
hallucinations; but they are usually hallucinations of low intensity;
and are only rarely capable of maintaining themselves for a few seconds
(as hypnopompic illusions) when the dreamer wakes to the stimuli of the
material world. _Imagination-images_ may be carried to a hallucinatory
pitch by good visualisers.[102] And the _inspirations of
genius_--Raphael's San Sisto is the classical instance--may present
themselves in hallucinatory vividness to the astonished artist.

A hallucination, one may say boldly, is in fact a _hyperæsthesia_; and
generally a _central_ hyperæsthesia. That is to say, the hallucination
is in some cases due indirectly to peripheral stimulation; but often
also it is the result of a stimulus to "mind's-eye vision," which sweeps
the idea onwards into visual form, regardless of ordinary checks.

Here, then, is a comprehensive and reasonable way of regarding these
multifarious hallucinations or sensory automatisms. They are phenomena
which must neither be feared nor ignored, but rather controlled and
interpreted. Nor will that interpretation be an easy matter. The
interpretation of the symbols by which the retina represents the
external world has been, whether for the race or for the individual, no
short or simple process. Yet ocular vision is in my view a simple, easy,
privileged case of vision generally; and the symbols which represent our
internal percepts of an immaterial world are likely to be far more
complex than any impressions from the material world on the retina.

All inward visions are like symbols abridged from a picture-alphabet. In
order to understand any one class of hallucinations we ought to have all
classes before us. At the lower limit of the series, indeed, the
analysis of the physician should precede that of the psychologist. We
already know to some extent, and may hope soon to know more accurately,
what sensory disturbance corresponds to what nervous lesion. Yet these
violent disturbances of inward perception--the snakes of the drunkard,
the scarlet fire of the epileptic, the jeering voices of the
paranoiac--these are perhaps of too gross a kind to afford more than a
kind of neurological introduction to the subtler points which arise when
hallucination is unaccompanied by any observable defect or malady.

It is, indeed, obvious enough that the more idiognomonic the
hallucination is, the more isolated from any other disturbance of
normality, the greater will be its psychological interest. _An
apparently spontaneous modification of central percepts_--what
phenomenon could promise to take us deeper into the mystery of the mind?

Yet until quite recently--until, in short, Edmund Gurney took up the
inquiry in 1882--this wide, important subject was treated, even in
serious text-books, in a superficial and perfunctory way. Few statistics
were collected; hardly anything was really known; rather there was a
facile assumption that all hallucinations or sensory automatisms _must_
somehow be due to physical malady, even when there was no evidence
whatever for such a connection. I must refer my readers to Gurney's
résumé in his chapter on "Hallucinations" in _Phantasms of the Living_,
if they would realise the gradual confused fashion in which men's minds
had been prepared for the wider view soon to be opened, largely by
Gurney's own statistical and analytical work. The wide collection of
first-hand experiences of sensory automatisms of every kind which he
initiated, and which the S.P.R. "Census of Hallucinations" continued
after his death, has for the first time made it possible to treat these
phenomena with some surety of hand.[103]

The results of these inquiries show that a great number of sensory
automatisms occur among sane and healthy persons, and that for many of
these we can at present offer no explanation whatever. For some of them,
however, we can offer a kind of explanation, or at least an indication
of a probable determining cause, whose mode of working remains wholly

Thus, in some few instances, although there is no disturbance of health,
there seems to be a predisposition to the externalisation of figures or
sounds. Since this in no way interferes with comfort, we must simply
class it as an idiosyncratic central hyperæsthesia--much like the
tendency to extremely vivid dreams, which by no means always implies a
poor quality of sleep.

In a few instances, again, we can trace moral predisposing
causes--expectation, grief, anxiety.

These causes, however, turn out to be much less often effective than
might have been expected from the popular readiness to invoke them. In
two ways especially the weakness of this predisposing cause is impressed
upon us. In the first place, the bulk of our percipients experience
their hallucinations at ordinary unexciting moments; traversing their
more anxious crises without any such phenomenon. In the second place,
those of our percipients whose hallucination is in fact more or less
coincident with some distressing external event, seldom seem to have
been predisposed to the hallucination by a knowledge of the event. For
the event was generally unknown to them when the corresponding
hallucination occurred.

This last remark, it will be seen, introduces us to the most interesting
and important group of percipients and of percepts; the percipients
whose gift constitutes a fresh faculty rather than a degeneration; the
percepts which are _veridical_--which are (as we shall see cause to
infer) in some way generated by some event outside the percipient's
mind, so that their correspondence with that event conveys some new
fact, in however obscure a form. It is this group, of course, which
gives high importance to the whole inquiry; which makes the study of
inward vision no mere curiosity, but rather the opening of an inlet into
forms of knowledge to which we can assign no bound.

Now these telepathic hallucinations will introduce us to very varying
forms of inward vision. It will be well to begin their study by
recalling and somewhat expanding the thesis already advanced: that man's
_ocular_ vision is but a special or privileged case of visual power, of
which power his _inner_ vision affords a more extensive example.

Ocular vision is the perception of material objects, in accordance with
optical laws, from a definite point in space. Our review of
hallucinations has already removed two of these limitations. If I see a
hallucinatory figure--and figures seen in _dreams_ come under this
category--I see something which is not a material object, and I see it
in a manner not determined by optical laws. A dream-figure may indeed
seem to _conform_ to optical laws; but that will be the result of
self-suggestion, or of organised memories, and will vary according to
the dreamer's visualising power. While a portrait-painter may see a face
in dream which he can paint from memory when he wakes, the ordinary
man's dream-percept will be vague, shifting, and unrememberable.

Similarly, if I see a subjective hallucinatory figure "out in the room,"
its aspect is not _determined_ by optical laws (it may even seem to
stand _behind_ the observer, or otherwise _outside_ his visual field),
but it will more or less _conform_--by my mere self-suggestion, if by
nothing else--to optical laws; and, moreover, it will still seem to be
seen from a fixed point in space, namely, from the stationary observer's
eyes or brain.

All this seems fairly plain, so long as we are admittedly dealing with
hallucinatory figures whose origin must be in the percipient's own mind.
But so soon as we come to quasi-percepts which we believe to exist or to
originate somewhere outside the percipient's mind, our difficulties come
thick and fast.

If there be some external origin for our inward vision (which thereby
becomes _veridical_) we must not any longer assume that all veridical
inward vision starts or is exercised from the same point. If it gets
hold of _facts_ (veridical impressions or pictures, not mere subjective
fancies), we cannot be sure _a priori_ whether it somehow goes to find
the facts, or the facts come to find it. Again, we cannot any longer
take for granted that it will be cognisant only of phantasmal or
immaterial percepts. If it can get at phantasmal percepts outside the
organism, may it not get at _material_ percepts also? May it not see
distant houses, as well as the images of distant souls?

Hazardous as these speculations may seem, they nevertheless represent an
attempt to get our notions of supersensory things as near down to our
notions of sensory things as we fairly can. Whatever may be our ultimate
conception of an ideal world, we must not for the present attempt to
start from any standpoint too far removed from the temporal and spatial
existence which alone we know.

As telepathy is a conception intermediate between the apparent isolation
of minds here communicating only as a rule through material organs, and
the ultimate conception of the unity of all mind, so the conception
which I am about to propose, of a recognition of space without our
concomitant subjection to laws of matter, is strictly intermediate
between man's incarnate condition and the condition which we may imagine
him ultimately to attain. We cannot possibly infer _a priori_ that all
recognition of space must needs disappear with the disappearance of the
particular bodily sensations by means of which our conception of space
has been developed. But we can imagine that a spirit should be
essentially _independent_ of space, and yet capable of recognising it.

Provisionally admitting this view, let us consider what range we are now
led to assign to inner vision, when it is no longer merely subjective
but veridical; bringing news to the percipient of actual fact outside
his own organism.

We infer that it may represent to us (1) material objects; or (2)
symbols of immaterial things; (3) in ways not necessarily accordant with
optical laws; and (4) from a point of view not necessarily located
within the organism, by means of what I have called a _psychical
excursion_. I will take an illustration from a case which is recorded in
detail in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 41 [666 C].

A Mrs. Wilmot has a vision of her husband in a cabin in a distant
steamer. Besides her husband, she sees in the cabin a stranger (who was
in fact present there), with certain material details. Now here I should
say that Mrs. Wilmot's inner vision discerned material objects, from a
point of view outside her own organism. But, on the other hand, although
the perception came to her in visual terms, I do not suppose that it was
really _optical_, that it came through the eye.

Mrs. Wilmot might believe, say, that her husband's head concealed from
her some part of the berth in which he lay; but this would not mean a
real optical concealment, but only a special direction of her attention,
guided by preconceived notions of what would be optically visible from a
given point.

As we proceed further we shall see, I think, in many ways how needful is
this _excursive_ theory to explain _many_ telepathic and _all_
telæsthetic experiences; _many_, I mean, of the cases where two minds
are in communication, and _all_ the cases where the percipient learns
material facts (as words in a closed book, etc.) with which no other
known mind is concerned.

Another most important corollary of this excursive theory must just be
mentioned here. If there be spiritual excursion to a particular point of
space, it is conceivable that this should involve not only the migrant
spirit's perception _from_ that point, but also perception of that point
by persons materially present near it. That point may become a
_phantasmogenetic centre_, as well as a centre of outlook. In plain
words, if A has spiritually invaded B's room, and there sees B, B on his
part may see A symbolically standing there; and C and D if present may
see A as well.

This hint, here thrown out as an additional argument for the excursive
theory, will fall to be developed later on. For the present we must
confine our attention to our immediate subject: the range of man's inner
vision, and the means which he must take to understand, to foster, and
to control it.

The first and simplest step in the control of inner vision is the
repression by hypnotic suggestion of degenerative hallucinations. It is
a noteworthy fact that such of these as are at all curable are much more
often curable by hypnotism than in any other way.

The next step is one to which, as the reader of my chapter on hypnotism
already knows, I attribute an importance much greater than is generally
accorded to it. I refer to the hypnotiser's power not only of
controlling but of _inducing_ hallucinations in his subject.

As I have already said, the evocation of hallucinations is commonly
spoken of as a mere example of the subject's _obedience_ to the
hypnotiser. "I tell my subject to raise his arm, and he raises it; I
tell him to see a tiger in the room, and he sees one accordingly." But
manifestly these two incidents are not on the same level, and only
appear to be so through a certain laxity of language. The usage of
speech allows me to say, "I will make my subject lift his arm," although
I am of course unable to affect the motor centres in his brain which
start that motion. But it is so easy for a man to lift his arm that my
speech takes that familiar power for granted, and notes, only his
readiness to lift it when I tell him--the hypnotic complaisance which
prompts him to obey me if I suggest this trivial action. But when I say,
"I will make him see a tiger," I take for granted a power on his part
which is _not_ familiar, which I have no longer a right to assume. For
under ordinary circumstances my subject simply _cannot_ see a tiger at
will; nor can I affect the visual centres which might enable him to do
so. All that I can ask him to do, therefore, is to choose this
particular way of indicating that in his hypnotic condition he has
become able to stimulate his central sensory tracts more powerfully than
ever before.

And not only this. His hallucinations are in most cases elaborate
products--complex images which must have needed intelligence to fashion
them--although the process of their fashioning is hidden from our view.
In this respect they resemble the inspirations of genius. For here we
find again just what we found in those inspirations--the uprush of a
complex intellectual product, performed beneath the threshold, and
projected ready-made into ordinary consciousness. The uprushing stream
of intelligence, indeed, in the man of genius flowed habitually in
conformity with the superficial stream. Only rarely does the great
conception intrude itself upon him with such vigour and such
untimeliness as to bring confusion and incoherence into his ordinary
life. But in the case of these induced hallucinations the incongruity
between the two streams of intelligence is much more marked. When a
subject, for instance, is trying to keep down some post-hypnotic
hallucinatory suggestion, one can watch the smooth surface of the
supraliminal river disturbed by that suggestion as though by jets of
steam from below, which sometimes merely break in bubbles, but sometimes
force themselves up bodily through the superficial film.

It is by considering hallucinations in this generalised manner and among
these analogies, that we can best realise their absence of necessary
connection with any bodily degeneration or disease. Often, of course,
they accompany disease; but that is only to say that the central sensory
tracts, like any other part of the organism, are capable of morbid as
well as of healthful stimulus. Taken in itself, the mere fact of the
quasi-externalisation of a centrally initiated image indicates strong
central stimulation, and absolutely nothing more. There is no
physiological law whatever which can tell us what degree of vividness
our central pictures may assume consistently with health--short of the
point where they get to be so indistinguishable from external
preceptions that, as in madness, they interfere with the rational
conduct of life. That point no well-attested case of veridical
hallucinations, so far as my knowledge goes, has yet approached.

It was, of course, natural that in the study of these phantasms, as
elsewhere, the therapeutic interest should have preceded the
psychological, but in the newer practical study of _eugenics_--the study
which aims at improving the human organism, instead of merely conserving
it--experimental psychology is indispensable, and one branch of this is
the experimental study of mental visions.

Let us consider whether, apart from such a rare and startling incident
as an actual hallucination, there is any previous indication of a habit
of receiving, or a power of summoning, pictures from a subliminal
store-house? Any self-suggestion, conscious or unconscious, which places
before the supraliminal intelligence visual images apparently matured

Such indications have not been wanting. In the chapter on Genius, and in
the chapter on Sleep, we have traced the existence of many classes of
these pictures; all of them ready, as it would seem, to manifest
themselves on slight inducement. _Dream-figures_ will rise in any
momentary blur of consciousness; _inspirations_ will respond to the
concentrated desire or the mere passing emotion of the man of genius;
_after-images_ will recur, under unknown conditions, long after the
original stimulus has been withdrawn; _memory-images_ will surge up into
our minds with even unwished-for vividness; the brilliant exactness of
_illusions hypnagogiques_ will astonish us in the revealing transition
from waking to sleep.

All is prepared, so to say, for some empirical short-cut to a fuller
control of these subjacent pictures; just as before Mesmer and Puységur
all was prepared for an empirical short-cut to trance, somnambulism,

All that we want is to hit on some simple empirical way of bringing out
the correlation between all these types of subjacent vision, just as
mesmerism was a simple empirical way of bringing out the correlation
between various trances and sleep-waking states.

_Crystal-vision_, then, like hypnotic trance, might have been gradually
evolved by a series of reasoned experiments, along an unexceptionable
scientific road.

In reality, of course, this prehistoric practice must have been reached
in some quite different way. It does not fall within the scope of this
book to trace the various streams of divination which converge into Dr.
Dee's magic, and "the attracting of spirits into the ball." But it is
really to the Elizabethan Dr. Dee--one of the leading _savants_ of his
time--that the credit must be given of the first systematic attempt to
describe, analyse, and utilise these externalised pictures.[104]

I will describe briefly the general type of the experiment, and we shall
see how near we can get to a psychological explanation.

Let the observer gaze, steadily but not fatiguingly, into some speculum,
or clear depth, so arranged as to return as little reflection as
possible. A good example of what is meant will be a glass ball enveloped
in a black shawl, or placed in the back part of a half-opened drawer; so
arranged, in short, that the observer can gaze into it with as little
distraction as may be from the reflection of his own face or of
surrounding objects. After he has tried (say) three or four times, for
ten minutes or so at a time--preferably in solitude, and in a state of
mental passivity--he will perhaps begin to see the glass ball or crystal
_clouding_, or to see some figure or picture apparently _in_ the ball.
Perhaps one man or woman in twenty will have some slight occasional
experience of this kind; and perhaps one in twenty of these seers (the
percentages must as yet be mainly guess-work) will be able by practice
to develop this faculty of inward vision up to a point where it will
sometimes convey to him information not attainable by ordinary means.

How comes it, in the first place, that he sees any figure in the crystal
at all? Common hypnotic experiments supply two obvious answers, each of
which no doubt explains some part of the phenomena.

In the first place, we know that the hypnotic trance is often induced by
gazing at some small bright object. This may or may not be a mere effect
of suggestion; but it certainly sometimes occurs, and the "scryer"
consequently may be partially hypnotised, and in a state which
facilitates hallucinations.

In the second place, a hypnotised subject--hypnotised but in a fully
alert state--can often be caused by suggestion to see (say) a portrait
upon a blank card; and will continue to see that portrait on that card,
after the card has been shuffled with others; thus showing that he
discerns with unusual acuteness such _points de repère_, or little
guiding marks, as may exist on the surface of even an apparently blank

Correspondently with the _first_ of these observations, we find that
crystal-vision is sometimes accompanied by a state of partial
hypnotisation, perhaps merging into trance. This has been the case with
various French hysterical subjects; and not only with them but with that
exceptionally sound and vigorous observer, Mr. J. G. Keulemans. His
evidence (in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 516-521) is just what
one would have expected _a priori_ on such a matter.

Correspondently with the _second_ of the above observations, we find
that _points de repère_ do occasionally seem to determine crystal

This, again, has been noticed among the French hysterical subjects; and
not only with them, but with another among our best observers, Mrs.

These things being so--both these causes being apparently operative
along the whole series of "scryers," or crystal-gazers, from the most
unstable to the most scientific--one might be tempted to assume that
these two clues, if we could follow them far enough, would explain the
whole group of phenomena. Persons who have not _seen_ the phenomena,
indeed, can hardly be persuaded to the contrary. But the real fact is,
as even those who have seen much less of crystal-gazing than I have will
very well know, that these explanations cannot be stretched to cover a
quarter--perhaps not even a tenth--of the phenomena which actually

Judging both from the testimony of scryers themselves, and from the
observations of Dr. Hodgson and others (myself included), who have had
many opportunities of watching them, it is very seldom that the gaze
into the glass ball induces any hypnotic symptoms whatever. It does not
induce such symptoms with successful scryers any more than with
unsuccessful. Furthermore, there is no proof that the gift of
crystal-vision goes along with hypnotic sensibility. The most that one
can say is that the gift often goes along with _telepathic_ sensibility;
but although telepathic sensibility may sometimes be quickened by
hypnotism, we have no proof that those two forms of sensitiveness
habitually go together.

The ordinary attitude of the scryer, I repeat, is one of complete
detachment; an interested and often puzzled scrutiny and analysis of the
figures which display themselves in swift or slow succession in the
crystal ball.

This last sentence applies to the theory of _points de repère_ as well.
As a general rule, the crystal vision, however meaningless and
fantastic, is a thing which changes and develops somewhat as a dream
does; following, it may be, some trivial chain of associations, but not
maintaining, any more than a dream maintains, any continuous scheme of
line or colour. At the most, the scraps of reflection in the crystal
could only _start_ such a series of pictures as this. And the start, the
initiation of one of these series, is often accompanied by an odd
phenomenon mentioned above--a _milky clouding_ of the crystal, which
obscures any fragments of reflected images, and from out of which the
images of the vision gradually grow clear. I cannot explain this
clouding. It occurs too often and too independently to be a mere effect
of suggestion. It does not seem to depend on any optical condition--to
be, for instance, a result of change of focus of the eye, or of
prolonged gazing. It is a picture like other pictures; it may come when
the eyes are quite fresh (nor ought they ever to be strained); and it
may persist for some time, so that the scryer looks away and back again,
and sees it still. It comes at the beginning of a first series of
pictures, or as a kind of drop scene between one series of pictures and
another. Its closest parallel, perhaps, is the mist or cloud out of
which phantasmal figures, "out in the room," sometimes seem to form

Moreover, the connection, if one can so call it, between the crystal and
the vision is a very variable one. Sometimes the figures seem clearly
defined within the crystal and limited thereby; sometimes all perception
of the crystal or other speculum disappears, and the scryer seems
clairvoyantly introduced into some group of life-sized figures. Nay,
further, when the habit of gazing is fully acquired, some scryers can
dispense with any speculum whatever, and can see pictures in mere
blackness; thus approximating to the seers of "faces in the dark," or of
_illusions hypnagogiques_.

On the whole it seems safest to attempt at present no further
explanation of crystal-gazing than to say that it is an empirical method
of developing internal vision; of externalising pictures which are
associated with changes in the sensorial tracts of the brain, due partly
to internal stimuli, and partly to stimuli which may come from minds
external to the scryer's own. The hallucinations thus induced appear to
be absolutely harmless. I at least know of no kind of injury resulting
from them; and I have probably heard of most of the experiments made in
England, with any scientific aim or care, during the somewhat limited
revival of crystal-gazing which has proceeded for the last few years.

The crystal picture is what we must call (for want of knowledge of
determining causes) a _random_ glimpse into inner vision, a reflection
caught at some odd angle from the universe as it shines through the
perturbing medium of that special soul. Normal and supernormal knowledge
and imaginings are blended in strangely mingled rays. Memory, dream,
telepathy, telæsthesia, retrocognition, precognition, all are there.
Nay, there are indications of spiritual communications and of a kind of

We cannot pursue all these phenomena at once. In turning, as we must now
turn, to the _spontaneous_ cases of sensory automatism--of every type of
which the _induced_ visions of the crystal afford us a foretaste--we
must needs single out first some fundamental phenomenon, illustrating
some principle from which the rarer or more complex phenomena may be in
part at least derived. Nor will there be difficulty in such a choice.
Theory and actual experience point here in the same direction. If this
inward vision, this inward audition, on whose importance I have been
insisting, are to have any such importance--if they are to have any
validity at all--if their contents are to represent anything more than
dream or meditation--they must receive knowledge from other minds or
from distant objects;--knowledge which is _not_ received by the external
organs of sense. Communication must exist from the subliminal to the
subliminal as well as from the supraliminal to the supraliminal parts of
the being of different individual men. Telepathy, in short, must be the
prerequisite of all these supernormal phenomena.

Actual experience, as we shall presently see, confirms this view of the
place of telepathy. For when we pass from the induced to the spontaneous
phenomena we shall find that these illustrate before all else this
transmission of thought and emotion directly from mind to mind.

Now as to telepathy, there is in the first place this to be said, that
such a faculty must absolutely exist somewhere in the universe, if the
universe contains any unembodied intelligences at all. If there be any
life less rooted in flesh than ours--any life more spiritual (as men
have supposed that a higher life would be), then either it must not be
_social_ life--there can be no exchange of thought in it at all--or else
there must exist some method of exchanging thought which does not
depend upon either tongue or brain.

Thus much, one may say, has been evident since man first speculated on
such subjects at all. But the advance of knowledge has added a new
presumption--it can be no more than a presumption--to all such cosmic
speculations. I mean the presumption of _continuity_. Learning how close
a tie in reality unites man with inferior lives,--once treated as
something wholly alien, impassably separated from the human race--we are
led to conceive that a close tie may unite him also with superior
lives,--that the series may be fundamentally unbroken, the essential
qualities of life the same throughout. It used to be asked whether man
was akin to the ape or to the angel. I reply that the very fact of his
kinship with the ape is proof presumptive of his kinship with the angel.

It is natural enough that man's instinctive feeling should have
anticipated any argument of this speculative type. Men have in most ages
believed, and do still widely believe, in the reality of prayer; that
is, in the possibility of telepathic communication between our human
minds and minds above our own, which are supposed not only to understand
our wish or aspiration, but to impress or influence us inwardly in

So widely spread has been this belief in prayer that it is somewhat
strange that men should not have more commonly made what seems the
natural deduction--namely, that if our spirits can communicate with
higher spirits in a way transcending sense, they may also perhaps be
able in like manner to communicate with each other. The idea, indeed,
has been thrown out at intervals by leading thinkers--from Augustine to
Bacon, from Bacon to Goethe, from Goethe to Tennyson.

Isolated experiments from time to time indicated its practical truth.
Yet it is only within the last few years that the vague and floating
notion has been developed into definite theory by systematic experiment.

To make such experiment possible has indeed been no easy matter. It has
been needful to elicit and to isolate from the complex emotions and
interactions of common life a certain psychical element of whose nature
and working we have beforehand but a very obscure idea.

If indeed we possessed any certain method of detecting the action of
telepathy,--of distinguishing it from chance coincidence or from
unconscious suggestion,--we should probably find that its action was
widely diffused and mingled with other more commonplace causes in many
incidents of life. We should find telepathy, perhaps, at the base of
many sympathies and antipathies, of many wide communities of feeling;
operating, it may be, in cases as different as the quasi-recognition of
some friend in a stranger seen at a distance just before the friend
himself unexpectedly appears, and the _Phêmê_ or Rumour which in
Hindostan or in ancient Greece is said to have often spread far an
inexplicable knowledge of victory or disaster.

But we are obliged, for the sake of clearness of evidence, to set aside,
when dealing with experimentation, all these mixed emotional cases, and
to start from telepathic communications intentionally planned to be so
trivial, so devoid of associations or emotions, that it shall be
impossible to refer them to any common memory or sympathy; to anything
save a direct transmission of idea, or impulse, or sensation, or image,
from one to another mind.

The reader who has studied the evidence originally set forth in Chapters
II. and III. of _Phantasms of the Living_ will, I trust, carry away a
pretty clear notion of what can at present actually be done in the way
of experimental transferences of small definite ideas or pictures from
one or more persons--the "agent" or "agents"--to one or more
persons--the "percipient" or "percipients."[106] In these experiments
actual _contact_ has been forbidden, to avoid the risk of unconscious
indications by pressure. It is at present still doubtful how far close
proximity really operates in aid of telepathy, or how far its advantage
is a mere effect of self-suggestion--on the part either of agent or of
percipient. Some few pairs of experimenters have obtained results of
just the same type at distances of half a mile or more.[107] Similarly,
in the case of induction of hypnotic trance, Dr. Gibert attained at the
distance of nearly a mile results which are usually supposed to require
close and actual presence. [See Appendix V. C.]

We must clearly realise that in telepathic experiment we encounter just
the same difficulty which makes our results in hypnotic therapeutics so
unpredictable and irregular. We do not know how to get our suggestions
to _take hold_ of the subliminal self. They are liable to fail for two
main reasons. Either they somehow never _reach_ the subliminal centres
which we wish to affect, or they find those centres preoccupied with
some self-suggestion hostile to our behest. This source of uncertainty
can only be removed by a far greater number of experiments than have yet
been made--experiments repeated until we have oftener struck upon the
happy veins which make up for an immense amount of sterile exploration.
Meantime we must record, but can hardly interpret. Yet there is one
provisional interpretation of telepathic experiment which must be
noticed thus early in our discussion, because, if true, it may
conceivably connect our groping work with more advanced departments of
science, while, if seen to be inadequate, it may bid us turn our inquiry
in some other direction. I refer to the suggestion that telepathy is
propagated by "brain-waves"; or, as Sir W. Crookes has more exactly
expressed it, by ether-waves of even smaller amplitude and greater
frequency than those which carry the X rays. These waves are conceived
as passing from one brain to another, and arousing in the _second_ brain
an excitation or image similar to the excitation or image from which
they start in the _first_. The hypothesis is an attractive one; because
it fits an agency which certainly exists, but whose effect is unknown,
to an effect which certainly exists, but whose agency is unknown.

In this world of vibrations it may seem at first the simplest plan to
invoke a vibration the more. It would be rash, indeed, to affirm that
any phenomenon perceptible by men may not be expressible, in part at
least, in terms of ethereal undulations. But in the case of telepathy
the analogy which suggests this explanation, the obvious likeness
between the picture emitted (so to say) by the agent and the picture
received by the percipient--as when I fix my mind on the two of
diamonds, and he sees a mental picture of that card--goes but a very
short way. One has very soon to begin assuming that the percipient's
mind _modifies_ the picture despatched from the agent: until the
likeness between the two pictures becomes a quite symbolical affair. We
have seen that there is a continuous transition from experimental to
spontaneous telepathy; from our transferred pictures of cards to
monitions of a friend's death at a distance. These monitions may indeed
be pictures of the dying friend, but they are seldom such pictures as
the decedent's brain seems likely to project in the form in which they
reach the percipient. Mr. L.--to take a well-known case in our
collection (_Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 210)--dies of heart
disease when in the act of lying down undressed, in bed. At or about
the same moment Mr. N. J. S. sees Mr. L. standing beside him with a
cheerful air, dressed for walking and with a cane in his hand. One does
not see how a system of undulations could have transmuted the physical
facts in this way.

A still greater difficulty for the vibration-theory is presented by
_collective_ telepathic hallucinations. It is hard to understand how A
can emit a pattern of vibrations which, radiating equally in all
directions, shall affect not only his distant friend B, but also the
strangers C and D, who happen to be standing near B;--and affect no
other persons, so far as we know, in the world.

The above points have been fair matter of argument almost since our
research began. But as our evidence has developed, our conception of
telepathy has needed to be more and more generalised in other and new
directions,--still less compatible with the vibration theory. Three such
directions may be briefly specified here--namely, the relation of
telepathy (_a_) to telæsthesia or clairvoyance, (_b_) to time, and (_c_)
to disembodied spirits. (_a_) It is increasingly hard to refer all the
scenes of which percipients become aware to the action of any given mind
which is perceiving those distant scenes. This is especially noticeable
in crystal-gazing experiments. (_b_) And these crystal visions also show
what, from the strict telepathic point of view, we should call a great
laxity of time relations. The scryer chooses his own time to look in the
ball;--and though sometimes he sees events which are taking place at the
moment, he may also see past events,--and even, as it seems, future
events. I at least cannot deny _precognition_, nor can I draw a definite
line amid these complex visions which may separate precognition from
telepathy (see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 408-593). (_c_)
Precognition itself may be explained, if you will, as telepathy from
disembodied spirits;--and this would at any rate bring it under a class
of phenomena which I think all students of our subject must before long
admit. Admitting here, for argument's sake, that we do receive
communications from the dead which we should term telepathic if we
received them from the living, it is of course open to us to conjecture
that these messages also are conveyed on ether-waves. But since those
waves do not at any rate emanate from material brains, we shall by this
time have got so far from the original brain-wave hypothesis that few
will care still to defend it.

I doubt, indeed, whether we can safely say of telepathy anything more
definite than this: _Life has the power of manifesting itself to life._
The laws of life, as we have thus far known them, have been only laws of
life when already associated with matter. Thus limited, we have learnt
little as to Life's true nature. We know not even whether Life be only
a directive Force, or, on the other hand, an effective Energy. We know
not in what way it operates on matter. We can in no way define the
connection between our own consciousness and our organisms. Just here it
is, I should say, that telepathic observations ought to supply us with
some hint. From the mode in which some element of one individual
life,--apart from material impact,--gets hold of another organism, we
may in time learn something of the way in which our own life gets hold
of our own organism,--and maintains, intermits, or abandons its organic

The hypothesis which I suggested in _Phantasms of the Living_ itself, in
my "Note on a possible mode of psychical interaction," seems to me to
have been rendered increasingly plausible by evidence of many kinds
since received; evidence of which the larger part falls outside the
limits of this present work. I still believe--and more confidently than
in 1886--that a "psychical invasion" does take place; that a
"phantasmogenetic centre" is actually established in the percipient's
surroundings; that some movement bearing some relation to space as we
know it is actually accomplished; and some presence is transferred, and
may or may not be discerned by the invaded person; some perception of
the distant scene in itself is acquired, and may or may not be
remembered by the invader.

But the words which I am here beginning to use carry with them
associations from which the scientific reader may well shrink. Fully
realising the offence which such expressions may give, I see no better
line of excuse than simply to recount the way in which the gradual
accretion of evidence has obliged me, for the mere sake of covering all
the phenomena, to use phrases and assumptions which go far beyond those
which Edmund Gurney and I employed in our first papers on this inquiry
in 1883.

When in 1882 our small group began the collection of evidence bearing
upon "veridical hallucinations"--or apparitions which coincided with
other events in such a way as to suggest a causal connection--we found
scattered among the cases from the first certain types which were with
difficulty reducible under the conception of telepathy pure and
simple--even if such a conception could be distinctly formed. Sometimes
the apparition was seen by more than one percipient at once--a result
which we could hardly have expected if all that had passed were the
transference of an impression from the agent's mind to another mind,
which then bodied forth that impression in externalised shape according
to laws of its own structure. There were instances, too, where the
percipient seemed to be the agent also--in so far that it was he who had
an impression of having somehow visited and noted a distant scene, whose
occupant was not necessarily conscious of any immediate relation with
him. Or sometimes this "telepathic clairvoyance" developed into
"reciprocity," and each of the two persons concerned was conscious of
the other;--the _scene_ of their encounter being the same in the vision
of each, or at least the experience being in some way common to both.
These and cognate difficulties were present to my mind from the first;
and in the above-mentioned "Note on a suggested mode of psychical
interaction," included in vol. ii of _Phantasms of the Living_, I
indicated briefly the extension of the telepathic theory to which they
seemed to me to point.

Meantime cases of certain other definite types continued to come
steadily to hand, although in lesser numbers than the cases of
apparition at death. To mention two important types only--there were
apparitions of the so-called _dead_, and there were cases of
_precognition_. With regard to each of these classes, it seemed
reasonable to defer belief until time should have shown whether the
influx of first-hand cases was likely to be permanent; whether
independent witnesses continued to testify to incidents which could be
better explained on these hypotheses than on any other. Before Edmund
Gurney's death in 1888 our cases of apparitions and other manifestations
of the dead had reached a degree of weight and consistency which, as his
last paper showed, was beginning to convince him of their veridical
character; and since that date these have been much further increased;
and especially have drawn from Mrs. Piper's and other trance-phenomena
an unexpected enlargement and corroboration. The evidence for
communication from the departed is now in my personal estimate quite as
strong as that for telepathic communication between the living; and it
is moreover evidence which inevitably alters and widens our conception
of telepathy between living men.

The evidence for precognition, again, was from the first scantier, and
has advanced at a slower rate. It has increased steadily enough to lead
me to feel confident that it will have to be seriously reckoned with;
but I cannot yet say--as I do say with reference to the evidence for
messages from the departed--that almost every one who accepts our
evidence for telepathy at all, must ultimately accept this evidence
also. It must run on at any rate for some years longer before it shall
have accreted a convincing weight.

But at whatever point one or another inquirer may happen at present to
stand, I urge that this is the reasonable course for conviction to
follow. First analyse the miscellaneous stream of evidence into definite
types; then observe the frequency with which these types recur, and let
your sense of their importance gradually grow, if the evidence grows

Now this mode of procedure evidently excludes all definite _a priori_
views, and compels one's conceptions to be little more than the mere
grouping to which the facts thus far known have to be subjected in order
that they may be realised in their _ensemble_.

"What definite reason do I know why this should _not_ be true?"--this is
the question which needs to be pushed home again and again if one is to
realise--and not in the ordinary paths of scientific speculation
alone--how profound our ignorance of the Universe really is.

My own ignorance, at any rate, I recognise to be such that my notions of
the probable or improbable in the Universe are not of weight enough to
lead me to set aside any facts which seem to me well attested, and which
are not shown by experts actually to conflict with any
better-established facts or generalisations. Wide though the range of
established science may be, it represents, as its most far-sighted
prophets are the first to admit, a narrow glance only into the unknown
and infinite realm of law.

The evidence, then, leading me thus unresisting along, has led me to
this main difference from our early treatment of veridical phantasms.
Instead of starting from a root-conception of a telepathic impulse
merely passing from mind to mind, I now start from a root-conception of
the dissociability of the self, of the possibility that different
fractions of the personality can act so far independently of each other
that the one is not conscious of the other's action.

Naturally the two conceptions coincide over much of the ground. Where
experimental thought-transference is concerned--even where the commoner
types of coincidental phantasms are concerned--the second formula seems
a needless and unprovable variation on the first. But as soon as we get
among the difficult types--reciprocal cases, clairvoyant cases,
collective cases, above all, manifestations of the dead--we find that
the conception of a telepathic impulse as a message despatched and then
left alone, as it were, to effect its purpose needs more and more of
straining, of manipulation, to fit it to the evidence. On the other
hand, it is just in those difficult regions that the analogies of other
splits of personality recur, and that phantasmal or automatic behaviour
recalls to us the behaviour of segments of personality detached from
primary personality, but operating through the organism which is common
to both.

The innovation which we are here called upon to make is to suppose that
segments of the personality can operate in apparent separation from the
organism. Such a supposition, of course, could not have been started
without proof of telepathy, and could with difficulty be sustained
without proof of survival of death. But, given telepathy, we have _some_
psychical agency connected with man operating apart from his organism.
Given survival, we have an element of his personality--to say the least
of it--operating when his organism is destroyed. There is therefore no
very great additional burden in supposing that an element of his
personality may operate apart from his organism, while that organism
still exists.

_Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coûte._ If we have once got a man's
_thought_ operating apart from his body--if my fixation of attention on
the two of diamonds does somehow so modify another man's brain a few
yards off that he seems to see the two of diamonds floating before
him--there is no obvious halting-place on _his_ side till we come to
"possession" by a departed spirit, and there is no obvious halting-place
on _my_ side till we come to "travelling clairvoyance," with a
corresponding visibility of my own phantasm to other persons in the
scenes which I spiritually visit. No obvious halting-place, I say; for
the point which at first seems abruptly transitional has been already
shown to be only the critical point of a continuous curve. I mean, of
course, the point where consciousness is duplicated--where each segment
of the personality begins to possess a separate and definite, but
contemporaneous stream of memory and perception. That these can exist
concurrently in the same organism our study of hypnotism has already
shown, and our study of motor automatisms will still further prove to

_Dissociation of personality, combined with activity in the metetherial
environment_; such, in the phraseology used in this book, will be the
formula which will most easily cover those actually observed facts of
veridical apparition on which we must now enter at considerable length.
And after this preliminary explanation I shall ask leave to use for
clearness in my argument such words as are simplest and shortest,
however vague or disputable their connotation may be. I must needs, for
instance, use the word "spirit," when I speak of that unknown fraction
of a man's personality--not the supraliminal fraction--which we discern
as operating before or after death in the metetherial environment. For
this conception I can find no other term, but by the word _spirit_ I
wish to imply nothing more definite than this. Of the spirit's relation
to space, or (which is a part of the same problem) to its own spatial
manifestation in definite form, something has already been said, and
there will be more to say hereafter. And similarly those terms,
_invader_ or _invaded_, from whose strangeness and barbarity our
immediate discussion began, will depend for their meaning upon
conceptions which the evidence itself must gradually supply.

That evidence, as it now lies before us, is perplexingly various both in
content and quality. For some of the canons needed in its analysis I
have already referred the reader to extracts from Edmund Gurney's
writings. Certain points must still be mentioned here before the
narrative begins.

It must be remembered, in the first place, that all these veridical or
coincidental cases stand out together as a single group from a
background of hallucinations which involve no coincidence, which have no
claim to veridicality. If purely subjective hallucinations of the senses
affected insane or disordered brains alone,--as was pretty generally the
assumption, even in scientific circles, when our inquiry began,--our
task would have been much easier than it is. But while there can be no
question as to the sound and healthy condition of the great majority of
our percipients, Edmund Gurney's "Census of Hallucinations" of 1884,
confirmed and extended by the wider inquiry of 1889-1892, showed a
frequency, previously unsuspected, of scattered hallucinations among
sane and healthy persons, the experience being often unique in a
lifetime, and in no apparent connection with any other circumstance

Since casual hallucinations of the sane, then, are thus _frequent_, we
can hardly venture to assume that they are all _veridical_. And the
existence of all these perhaps merely subjective hallucinations greatly
complicates our investigation of veridical hallucinations. It prevents
the mere existence of the hallucinations, however strangely interposed
in ordinary life, from having any evidential value, and throws us upon
evidence afforded by external coincidence;--on the mere fact, to put
such a coincidence in its simplest form, that I see a phantom of my
friend Smith at the moment when Smith is unexpectedly dying at a
distance. A coincidence of this general type, if it occurs, need not be
difficult to substantiate, and we have in fact substantiated it with
more or less completeness in several hundred cases.

The _primâ facie_ conclusion will obviously be that there is a causal
connection between the death and the apparition. To overcome this
presumption it would be necessary either to impugn the accuracy of the
informant's testimony, or to show that chance alone might have brought
about the observed coincidences.

On both of these questions there have been full and repeated discussions
elsewhere. I need not re-argue them at length here, but will refer the
reader to the "Report on the Census of Hallucinations," _Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. x., where every source of error as yet discovered has been
pretty fully considered.

To that volume also I must refer him for a thorough discussion of the
arguments for and against chance-coincidence. The conclusion to which
the Committee unanimously came is expressed in the closing words:
"Between deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connection exists
which is not due to chance alone."

We have a right, I think, to say that only by another census of
hallucinations, equally careful, more extensive, and yielding absolutely
different results, could this conclusion be overthrown.

In forming this conclusion, apparitions at death are of course selected,
because, death being an unique event in man's earthly existence, the
coincidences between death and apparitions afford a favourable case for
statistical treatment. But the coincidences between apparitions and
crises other than death, although not susceptible of the same
arithmetical precision of estimate, are, as will be seen, quite equally
convincing. To this great mass of spontaneous cases we must now turn.

The arrangement of these cases is not easy; nor are they capable of
being presented in one logically consequent series.

But the conception of _psychical invasion or excursion_ on which I have
already dwelt has at any rate this advantage, that it is sufficiently
fundamental to allow of our arrangement of all our recorded
cases--perhaps of all possible cases of apparition--in accordance with
its own lines.

Our scheme will include all observable telepathic action, from the faint
currents which we may imagine to be continually passing between man and
man, up to the point--reserved for the following chapter--where one of
the parties to the telepathic intercourse has definitely quitted the
flesh. The _first_ term in our series must be conveniently vague: the
_last_ must lead us to the threshold of the spiritual world.

I must begin with cases where the action of the excursive fragment of
the personality is of the weakest kind--the least capable of affecting
other observers, or of being recalled into the agent's own waking

Such cases, naturally enough, will be hard to bring up to evidential
level. It must depend on mere chance whether these weak and aimless
psychical excursions are observed at all; or are observed in such a way
as to lead us to attribute them to anything more than the subjective
fancy of the observers.

How can a casual vision--say, of a lady sitting in her
drawing-room,--of a man returning home at six o'clock--be distinguished
from memory-images on the one hand and from what I may term
"expectation-images" on the other? The picture of the lady may be a
slightly modified and externalised reminiscence; the picture of the man
walking up to the door may be a mere projection of what the observer was
hoping to see.

I have assumed that these phantoms coincided with no marked event. The
lady may have been thinking of going to her drawing-room; the man may
have been in the act of walking home;--but these are trivial
circumstances which might be repeated any day.

Yet, however trivial, almost any set of human circumstances are
sufficiently complex to leave room for coincidence. If the sitter in the
drawing-room is wearing a distinctive article of dress, never seen by
the percipient until it is seen in the hallucination;--if the phantasmal
homeward traveller is carrying a parcel of unusual shape, which the real
man does afterwards unexpectedly bring home with him;--there may be
reason to think that there is a causal connection between the apparent
agent's condition at the moment, and the apparition.

In Appendix VI. A, I quote one of these "arrival-cases," so to term
them, where the peculiarity of dress was such as to make the coincidence
between vision and reality well worth attention. The case is interesting
also as one of our earliest examples of a psychical incident carefully
recorded at the time; so that after the lapse of nearly forty years it
was possible to correct the percipient's surviving recollection by his
contemporary written statement.

In these _arrival_ cases, there is, I say, a certain likelihood that the
man's mind may be fixed on his return home, so that his phantasm is seen
in what might seem both to himself and to others the most probable
place.[110] But there are other cases where a man's phantasm is seen, in
a place where there is no special reason for his appearing, although
these places seem always to lie within the beat and circuit of his
habitual thought.

In such cases there are still possible circumstances which may give
reason to think that the apparition is causally connected with the
apparent agent. The phantasm of a given person may be seen _repeatedly_
by different percipients, or it may be seen _collectively_ by several
persons at a time; or it may combine both these evidential
characteristics, and may be seen several times and by several persons

Now considering the rarity of phantasmal appearances, considering that
not one person in (say) five thousand is ever phantasmally seen at all;
the mere fact that a given person's phantasm is seen even _twice_, by
different percipients (for we cannot count a second appearance to the
_same_ percipient as of equal value), is in itself a remarkable fact;
while if this happens _three or four times_ (as in the case of Mrs.
Hawkins)[111] we can hardly ascribe such a sequence of rare occurrences
to chance alone.

Again, impressive as is the _repetition_ of the apparition in these
cases, it is yet less so to my mind than the _collective_ character of
some of the perceptions. In Mrs. Hawkins's first case there were two
simultaneous percipients, and in Canon Bourne's first case (given in
Appendix VI. B) there were three.

And we now come to other cases, where the percipience has been
collective, although it has not been repeated. There is a case[112]
where two persons at one moment--a moment of no stress or excitement
whatever--see the phantasm of a third; that third person being perhaps
occupied with some supraliminal or subliminal thought of the scene in
the midst of which she is phantasmally discerned. Both the percipients
supposed at the moment that it was their actual sister whom they saw;
and one can hardly fancy that a mere act of tranquil recognition of the
figure by one percipient would communicate to the other percipient a
telepathic shock such as would make _her_ see the same figure as well.

The question of the true import of collectivity of percipience renews in
another form that problem of _invasion_ to which our evidence so often
brings us back. When two or three persons see what seems to be the same
phantom in the same place and at the same time, does that mean that that
special part of space is somehow modified? or does it mean that a mental
impression, conveyed by the distant agent--the phantom-begetter--to one
of the percipients is reflected telepathically from that percipient's
mind to the minds of the other--as it were secondary--percipients? The
reader already knows that I prefer the former of these views. And I
observe--as telling against that other view, of psychical
contagion--that in certain collective cases we discern no probable link
between any one of the percipient minds and the distant agent.

In some of that group of collective cases which we are at this moment
considering, this absence of link is noticeable in a special way. There
is nothing to show that any thought or emotion was passing from agent to
percipients at the moment of the apparition. On the contrary, the
indication is that there is no necessary connection whatever between the
agent's condition of mind at the moment and the fact that such and such
persons observed his phantasm. The projection of the phantasm, if I may
so term it, seems a matter wholly automatic on the agent's part, as
automatic and meaningless as a dream.

Assuming, then, that this is so--that these _bilocations_ or
self-projections to a point apparently remote from one's body do occur
without any appreciable stimulus from without, and in moments of
apparent calm and indifference--in what way will this fact tend to
modify previous conceptions?

It suggests that the continuous dream-life which we must suppose to run
concurrently with our waking life is potent enough to effect from time
to time enough of dissociation to enable some element of the personality
to be perceived at a distance from the organism. How much of
consciousness, if any, may be felt at the point where the excursive
phantasm is seen, we cannot say. But the notion that a mere incoherent
quasi-dream should thus become perceptible to others is fully in
accordance with the theories suggested in this work. For I regard
subliminal operation as _continuously_ going on, and I hold that the
degree of dissociation which can generate a perceptible phantasm is not
necessarily a profound change, since that perceptibility depends so
largely upon idiosyncrasies of agent and percipient as yet wholly

That special idiosyncracy on the part of the agent which tends to make
his phantasm easily visible has never yet, so far as I know, received a
name, although for convenience' sake it certainly needs one. I propose
to use the Greek word φυχορραγὡ, which means strictly "to let the soul
break loose," and from which I form the words _psychorrhagy_ and
_psychorrhagic_, on obvious analogies. When I say that the agents in
these cases were born with the _psychorrhagic diathesis_, I express what
I believe to be an important fact, physiological as well as
psychological, in terms which seem pedantic, but which are the only ones
which mean exactly what the facts oblige me to say. That which "breaks
loose" on my hypothesis is not (as in the Greek use of the word) the
whole principle of life in the organism; rather it is some psychical
element probably of very varying character, and definable mainly by its
power of producing a phantasm, perceptible by one or more persons, in
some portion or other of space. I hold that this phantasmogenetic effect
may be produced either on the mind, and consequently on the brain of
another person--in which case he may discern the phantasm somewhere in
his vicinity, according to his own mental habit or prepossession--or
else directly on a portion of space, "out in the open," in which case
several persons may simultaneously discern the phantasm in that actual

Let us apply this view to one of our most bizarre and puzzling
cases--that of Canon Bourne (see Appendix VI. B). Here I conceive that
Canon Bourne, while riding in the hunting-field, was also subliminally
dreaming of himself (imagining himself with some part of his submerged
consciousness) as having had a fall, and as beckoning to his
daughters--an incoherent dream indeed, but of a quite ordinary type. I
go on to suppose that, Canon Bourne being born with the psychorrhagic
diathesis, a certain psychical element so far detached itself from his
organism as to affect a certain portion of space--near the daughters of
whom he was thinking--to effect it, I say, not materially nor even
optically, but yet in such a manner that to a certain kind of immaterial
and non-optical sensitivity a phantasm of himself and his horse became
discernible. His horse was of course as purely a part of the phantasmal
picture as his hat. The non-optical distinctness with which the words
printed inside his hat were seen indicates that it was some inner
non-retinal vision which received the impression from the
phantasmogenetic centre. The other phantasmal appearance of Canon Bourne
chanced to affect only one percipient, but was of precisely the same
character; and of course adds, so far as it goes, to the plausibility of
the above explanation.

That explanation, indeed, suffers from the complexity and apparent
absurdity inevitable in dealing with phenomena which greatly transcend
known laws; but on the other hand it does in its way colligate Canon
Bourne's case with a good many others of odd and varying types. Thus
appearances such as Canon Bourne's are in my view exactly parallel to
the _hauntings_ ascribed to departed spirits. There also we find a
psychorrhagic diathesis--a habit or capacity on the part of certain
spirits of detaching some psychical element in such a manner as to form
a phantasmal picture, which represents the spirit as going through some
dream-like action in a given place.

The phantasmogenetic centre may thus, in my view, be equally well
produced by an incarnate or by a discarnate spirit.

Again, my hypothesis of a real modification of a part of space,
transforming it into a phantasmogenetic centre, applies to a phantasmal
voice just as well as to a phantasmal figure. The voice is not heard
acoustically any more than the figure is seen optically. Yet a
phantasmal voice may in a true sense "come from" a given spot.

These psychorrhagic cases are, I think, important as showing us the
earliest or feeblest stages of self-projection--where the dissociation
belongs to the dream-stratum--implicating neither the supraliminal will
nor the profounder subliminal strata.

And now let us pass on from these, which hardly concern anybody beyond
the phantom-begetter himself--and do not even add anything to his own
knowledge--to cases where there is some sort of communication from one
mind to another, or some knowledge gained by the excursive spirit.

It is impossible to arrange these groups in one continuous logical
series. But, roughly speaking, the degree in which the psychical
collision is _recollected_ on either side may in some degree indicate
its _intensity_, and may serve as a guide to our provisional

Following this scheme I shall begin with a group of cases which seem to
promise but little information,--cases, namely, where A, the agent, in
some way impresses or invades P, the percipient,--but nevertheless
neither A nor P retains in supraliminal memory any knowledge of what has

Now to begin with we shall have no difficulty in admitting that cases of
this type are likely often to occur. The psychical _rapprochement_ of
telepathy takes place, _ex hypothesi_, in a region which is subliminal
for both agent and percipient, and from whence but few and scattered
impressions rise for either of them above the conscious threshold.
Telepathy will thus probably operate far more continuously than our
scattered glimpses would in themselves suggest.

But how can we outside inquirers know anything of telepathic incidents
which the principals themselves fail altogether to remember?

In ordinary life we may sometimes learn from bystanders incidents which
we cannot learn from the principals themselves. Can there be bystanders
who look on at a psychical invasion?

The question is of much theoretical import. On my view that there is a
real transference of something from the agent, involving an alteration
of some kind in a particular part of space, there might theoretically be
some bystander who might discern that alteration in space more clearly
than the person for whose benefit, so to say, the alteration was made.
If, on the other hand, what has happened is merely a transference of
some impulse "from mind to mind";--then one can hardly understand how
any mind except the mind aimed at could perceive the telepathic
impression. Yet, in _collective_ cases, persons in whom the agent feels
no interest, nay, of whose presence along with the intended percipient
he is not aware, do in fact receive the impression in just the same way
as that intended percipient himself. This was explained by Gurney as
probably due to a fresh telepathic transmission,--this time from the
due or original percipient's mind to the minds of his neighbours of the

Such a supposition, however, in itself a difficult one, becomes much
more difficult when the telepathic impulse has never, so far as we know,
penetrated into the due or intended percipient's mind at all. If in such
a case a bystander perceives the invading figure, I must think that he
perceives it merely as a bystander,--not as a person telepathically
influenced by the intended percipient, who does not in fact perceive
anything whatsoever. I quote in illustration a bizarre but well-attested
case (see Appendix VI. C) which this explanation seems to fit better
than any other.

In a somewhat similar case[113] there is strong attestation that a
sailor, watching by a dying comrade, saw figures around his hammock,
apparently representing the dying man's family, in mourning garb. The
family, although they had no ordinary knowledge of the sailor's illness,
had been alarmed by noises, etc., which rightly or wrongly they took as
indications of some danger to him. I conceive, then, that the wife paid
a psychical visit to her husband; and I take the mourning garb and the
accompanying children's figures to be symbolical accompaniments,
representing her thought, "My children will be orphans." I think this
more likely than that the sailor's children also should have possessed
this rare peculiarity of becoming perceptible at a distant point in
space. And secondary figures, as we shall see later on, are not uncommon
in such telepathic presentations. One may picture oneself as though
holding a child by the hand, or even driving in a carriage and pair, as
vividly as though carrying an umbrella or walking across a room; and one
may be thus pictured to others.

And here I note a gradual transition to the next large class of cases on
which I am about to enter. I am about to deal with _telæsthesia_;--with
cases where an agent-percipient--for he is both in one--makes a
clairvoyant excursion (of a more serious type than the mere
psychorrhagies already described), and brings back some memory of the
scene which he has psychically visited. Now, of course, it may happen
that he fails to bring back any such memory, or that if he _does_ bring
it back, he tells no one about it. In such cases, just as in the
telepathic cases of which I have just spoken, the excursive phantom may
possibly be observed by a bystander, and the circumstances may be such
as to involve some coincidence which negatives the supposition of the
bystander's mere subjective fancy. Such, I think, is the case which I
give in Appendix VI. D.

There is a similar case in _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 541,
where a girl, who is corporeally present in a certain drawing-room, is
seen phantasmally in a neighbouring grove, whither she herself presently
goes and hangs herself.

Ponderings on projected suicide form perhaps the strongest instance of
mental preoccupation with a particular spot. But of course, in our
ignorance of the precise quality of thought or emotion needed to prompt
a psychical excursion, we need not be surprised to find such an
excursion observed on some occasions as trivial as the "arrival-case" of
Col. Reed, with which I prefaced the mere psychorrhagic cases.

Again, there is a strange case,[114] which comes to us on good
authority, where we must suppose one man's subliminal impulse to have
created a picture of himself, his wife, a carriage and a horse,
persistent enough to have been watched for some seconds at least by
three observers in one place, and by a fourth and independent observer
at another point in the moving picture's career. The only alternative,
if the narrative be accepted as substantially true, will be the
hypothesis before alluded to of the flashing of an impending scene, as
in crystal-vision, from some source external to any of the human minds
concerned. I need hardly at this point repeat that in my view the wife
and the horse will be as purely a part of the man's conception of his
own aspect or environment as the coat on his back.

And here, for purposes of comparison, I must refer to one of the most
bizarre cases in our collection.[115] Four credible persons, to some
extent independently, see a carriage and pair, with two men on the box
and an inside occupant, under circumstances which make it impossible
that the carriage was real. Now this vision cannot have been
_precognitive_; nothing of the kind occurred for years after it, nor
well _could_ occur; and I am forced to regard it as the externalisation
of some dream, whether of an incarnate or of a discarnate mind. The
parallel between this case and the one mentioned above tends therefore
to show that the first, in spite of the paraphernalia of wife, horse,
and dog-cart, may have been the outcome of a single waking dream;--of
the phantasmogenetic dissociation of elements of one sole personality.

In the cases which I have just been discussing there has been a
psychical excursion, with its possibilities of clairvoyance; but the
excursive element has not brought home any assignable knowledge to the
supraliminal personality. I go on now to cases where such knowledge
_has_ thus been garnered. But here there is need of some further pause,
to consider a little in how many ways we can imagine that knowledge to
be reached.

Firstly, the distant knowledge may, it would seem, be reached through
hyperæsthesia,--an extended power of the ordinary senses. Secondly, it
sometimes seems to come through crystal-gazing or its correlative
shell-hearing,--artifices which seem to utilise the ordinary senses in a
new way. And besides these two avenues to distant knowledge there is a
_third_, the telepathic avenue, which, as we have already surmised,
sometimes shades off into the purely telæsthetic; when no distant
_mind_, but only the distant _scene_, seems to be attracting the
excursive spirit. And in the _fourth_ place we must remember that it is
mainly in the form of _dream or vision_ that the most striking instances
of telæsthesia which I have as yet recorded have come. Can we in any way
harmonise these various modes of perception? Can we discover any
condition of the percipient which is common to all?

To a certain limited extent such co-ordination is possible. In each
approach to telæsthesia in turn we find a tendency to something like a
dream-excursion. Hyperæsthesia, in the first place, although it exists
sometimes in persons wide awake, is characteristically an attribute of
sleep-waking states.

We have seen in discussing hypnotic experiments that it is sometimes
possible to extend the subject's perceptive faculty by gradual
suggestion, so far as to transform a hyperæsthesia which can still be
referred to the action of the sense-organs into a telæsthesia which
cannot be so referred. It is observable that percipients in such cases
sometimes describe their sensation as that of receiving an impression,
or seeing a picture placed before them; sometimes as that of
_travelling_ and visiting the distant scene or person. Or the feeling
may oscillate between these two sensations, just as the sense of
_time-relation_ in the picture shown may oscillate between past,
present, and future.

To all these complex sensations the phenomena of crystal-gazing offer
close analogies. I have already remarked on the curious fact that the
simple artifice of gazing into a speculum should prove the avenue to
phenomena of such various types. There may be very different origins
even for pictures which in the crystal present very similar aspects; and
certain sensations do also accompany these pictures; sensations not
merely of _gazing_ but sometimes (though rarely) of partial _trance_;
and oftener of _bilocation_;--of psychical _presence_ among the scenes
which the crystal has indeed initiated, but no longer seems to limit or
to contain.

The idea of psychical excursion thus suggested must, however, be
somehow reconciled with the frequently _symbolic_ character of these
visions. The features of a crystal-vision seem often to be no mere
transcription of material facts, but an abbreviated selection from such
facts, or even a bold modification of such facts with a view of telling
some story more quickly and clearly. We are familiar with the same kind
of succession of symbolical scenes in dream, or in waking reverie. And
of course if an intelligence outside the crystal-gazer's mind is
endeavouring to impress him, this might well be the chosen way.

And moreover through all telæsthetic vision some element of similar
character is wont to run--some indication that _mind_ has been at work
upon the picture--that the scene has not been presented, so to say, in
crude objectivity, but that there has been some _choice_ as to the
details discerned; and some _symbolism_ in the way in which they are

Let us consider how these characteristics affect different theories of
the mechanism of clairvoyance. Let us suppose first that there is some
kind of transition from hyperæsthesia to telæsthesia, so that when
peripheral sensation is no longer possible, central perception may be
still operating across obstacles otherwise insurmountable.

If this be the case, it seems likely that central perception will shape
itself on the types of perception to which the central tracts of the
brain are accustomed; and that the _connaissance supérieure_, the
telæsthetic knowledge, however it may really be acquired, will present
itself mainly as clairvoyance or clairaudience--as some form of sight or
sound. Yet these telæsthetic sights and sounds may be expected to show
some trace of their unusual origin. They may, for instance, be
_imperfectly co-ordinated_ with sights and sounds arriving through
external channels; and, since they must in some way be a translation of
supernormal impressions into sensory terms, they are likely to show
something _symbolic_ in character.

This tendency to subliminal symbolism, indeed, meets us at each point of
our inquiry. As an instance of it in its simplest form, I may mention a
case where a botanical student passing inattentively in front of the
glass door of a restaurant thought that he had seen _Verbascum Thapsus_
printed thereon. The real word was _Bouillon_; and that happens to be
the trivial name in French for the plant Verbascum Thapsus. The actual
optical perception had thus been subliminally transformed; the words
Verbascum Thapsus were the report to the inattentive supraliminal self
by a subliminal self more interested in botany than in dinner.

Nay, we know that our own optical perception is in its own way highly
symbolic. The scene which the baby sees instinctively,--which the
impressionist painter manages to see by a sort of deliberate
self-simplification,--is very different from the highly elaborate
interpretation and selection of blotches of colour by which the ordinary
adult figures to himself the visible world.

Now we adults stand towards this subliminal symbolism in much the same
attitude as the baby stands towards our educated optical symbolism. Just
as the baby fails to grasp the third dimension, so may we still be
failing to grasp a fourth;--or whatever be the law of that higher
cognisance which begins to report fragmentarily to man that which his
ordinary senses cannot discern.

Assuredly then we must not take the fact that any knowledge comes to us
symbolically as a proof that it comes to us from a mind outside our own.
The symbolism may be the inevitable language in which one stratum of our
personality makes its report to another. The symbolism, in short, may be
either the easiest, or the only possible psychical record of actual
objective fact; whether that fact be in the first instance discerned by
our deeper selves, or be conveyed to us from other minds in this
form;--elaborated for our mind's digestion, as animal food has been
elaborated for our body's digestion, from a primitive crudity of things.

But again one must question, on general idealistic principles, whether
there be in such cases any real distinction between symbolism and
reality,--between subjective and objective as we commonly use those
terms. The resisting matter which we see and touch has "solid" reality
for minds so constituted as to have the same subjective feeling awakened
by it. But to other minds, endowed with other forms of
sensibility--minds possibly both higher and more numerous than our
own--this solid matter may seem disputable and unreal, while thought and
emotion, perceived in ways unknown to us, may be the only reality.

This material world constitutes, in fact, a "privileged case"--a
simplified example--among all discernible worlds, so far as the
perception of incarnate spirits is concerned. For discarnate spirits it
is no longer a privileged case; to _them_ it is apparently easier to
discern thoughts and emotions by non-material signs.[116] But they need
not therefore be wholly cut off from discerning material things, any
more than incarnate spirits are wholly cut off from discerning
immaterial things--thoughts and emotions symbolised in phantasmal form.
"The ghost in man, the ghost that once was man," to use Tennyson's
words, have each of them to overcome by empirical artifices certain
difficulties which are of different type for each, but are not
insurmountable by either.

These reflections, applicable at various points in our argument, have
seemed specially needed when we had first to attack the meaning of the
so-called "travelling clairvoyance," of which instances were given in
the chapter on hypnotism. It was needful to consider how far there was a
continuous transition between these excursions and directer
transferences between mind and mind,--between telæsthesia and telepathy.
It now seems to me that such a continuous transition may well exist, and
that there is no absolute gulf between the supernormal perception of
ideas as existing in other minds, and the supernormal perception of what
we know as matter. All matter may, for aught we know, exist as an idea
in some cosmic mind, with which mind each individual spirit may be in
relation, as fully as with individual minds. The difference perhaps lies
rather in the fact that there may be generally a _summons_ from a
cognate mind which starts the so-called agent's mind into action; his
invasion may be in some way _invited_; while a spiritual excursion among
inanimate objects only may often lack an impulse to start it. If this be
so, it would explain the fact that such excursions have mainly succeeded
under the influence of hypnotic suggestion.

We see in travelling clairvoyance,[117] just as we see in
crystal-visions, a kind of fusion of all our forms of supernormal
faculty. There is telepathy, telæsthesia, retrocognition, precognition;
and in the cases reported by Cahagnet, which will be referred to in
Chapter IX., there is apparently something more besides. We see, in
short, that any empirical inlet into the metetherial world is apt to
show us those powers, which we try to distinguish, coexisting in some
synthesis by us incomprehensible. Here, therefore, just as with the
crystal-visions, we have artificially to separate out the special class
of phenomena with which we wish first to deal.

In these experiments, then, there seems to be an independent power of
visiting almost any desired place, its position having been perhaps
first explained by reference to some landmark already known. The
clairvoyante (I use the female word, but in several cases a man or boy
has shown this power) will frequently miss her way, and describe houses
or scenes adjacent to those desired. Then if she--almost literally--gets
on the scent,--if she finds some place which the man whom she is sent
to seek has some time traversed,--she follows up his track with greater
ease, apparently recognising past events in his life as well as present

In these prolonged experimental cases there is thus time enough to allow
of the clairvoyante's traversing certain places, such as empty rooms,
factories, and the like, whither no assignable link from any living
person could draw her. The evidence to prove telæsthesia, unmixed with
telepathy, has thus generally come _incidentally_ in the course of some
experiment mainly telepathic in character.

These long clairvoyant wanderings are more nearly paralleled by _dreams_
than by waking hallucinations.

In a case which I will here quote a physician is impressed, probably in
dream, with a picture of a special place in a street, where something is
happening, which, though in itself unemotional--merely that a man is
standing and talking in the street--is of moment to the physician, who
wants to get unobtrusively into the man's house.

From _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 267. The case is there
described as coming "from a Fellow of the College of Physicians, who
fears professional injury if he were 'supposed to defend opinions at
variance with general scientific belief,' and does not therefore allow
his name to appear."

_May 20th, 1884._

     Twenty years ago [abroad] I had a patient, wife of a parson. She
     had a peculiar kind of delirium which did not belong to her
     disease, and perplexed me. The house in which she lived was closed
     at midnight, that is--the outer door had no bell. One night I saw
     her at nine. When I came home I said to my wife, "I don't
     understand that case; I wish I could get into the house late." We
     went to bed rather early. At about one o'clock I got up. She said,
     "What are you about? are you not well?" I said, "Perfectly so."
     "Then why get up?" "Because I can get into that house." "How, if it
     is shut up?" "I see the proprietor standing under the lamp-post
     this side of the bridge, with another man." "You have been
     dreaming." "No, I have been wide awake; but dreaming or waking, I
     mean to try." I started with the firm conviction that I should find
     the individual in question. Sure enough there he was under the
     lamp-post, talking to a friend. I asked him if he was going home.
     (I knew him very well.) He said he was, so I told him I was going
     to see a patient, and would accompany him. I was positively ashamed
     to explain matters; it seemed so absurd that I knew he would not
     believe me. On arriving at the house I said, "Now I am here, I will
     drop in and see my patient." On entering the room I found the maid
     giving her a tumbler of strong grog. The case was clear; it was as
     I suspected--delirium from drink. The next day I delicately spoke
     to the husband about it. He denied it, and in the afternoon I
     received a note requesting me not to repeat the visits. Three weeks
     ago I was recounting the story and mentioned the name. A lady
     present said: "That is the name of the clergyman in my parish, at
     B., and his wife is in a lunatic asylum from drink!"

In conversation with Gurney, the narrator explained that the
vision--though giving an impression of externality and seen, as he
believes, with open eyes--was not definably located in space. He had
never encountered the proprietor in the spot where he saw him, and it
was not a likely thing that he should be standing talking in the streets
at so late an hour.

In this case we cannot consider either the drunken patient or the
indifferent proprietor as in any sense the _agent_. Somehow or other the
physician's own persistent wish to get some such opportunity induced a
collaboration of his subliminal with his supraliminal self, akin to the
inspirations of genius. Genius, however, operates within ordinary
sensory limits; while in this physician's case the subliminal self
exercised its farthest-reaching supernormal powers.

With this again may be compared a case in _Phantasms of the Living_
(vol. ii. p. 368), where a dreamer seems to himself to be present in the
Thames Tunnel during a fatal accident, which did in fact occur during
that night. Here again the drowned workman--who was quite unknown to the
distant dreamer--can hardly be called an _agent_; yet it may have been
the excitement surrounding his death which attracted the dreamer's
spirit to that scene, as a conflagration might attract a waking

There are, on the other hand, a good many cases where a scene thus
discerned in a flash is one of special interest to the percipient,
although no one in the scene may have actually wished to transfer it to

A case again of a somewhat different type is the sudden waking vision of
Mr. Gottschalk,[118] who sees in a circle of light the chalked hands and
ruffled wrists of Mr. Courtenay Thorpe--a well-known actor--who was
opening a letter of Mr. Gottschalk's in that costume at the time.
Trivial in itself, this incident illustrates an interesting class of
cases, where a picture very much like a crystal-vision suddenly appears
on a wall or even in the air with no apparent background.

I know one or two persons who have had in their lives one single round
or oval hallucinatory picture of this kind, of which no interpretation
was apparent,--a curious indication of some subliminal predisposition
towards this somewhat elaborate form of message.

Somewhat like Mr. Gottschalk's projection of his picture upon a
background of dark air is the experience of Mrs. Taunton.[119] In this
case the phantasm was perfectly external; yet it certainly did not hold
to the real objects around the same relation as a figure of flesh and
blood would have held; it was in a peculiar way transparent. Gurney
regards this transparency as indicating _imperfect externalisation_ of
the hallucinatory image.

My own phrase, "imperfect _co-ordination_ of inner with outward vision,"
comes to much the same thing, and seems specially applicable to Mrs.
Taunton's words: "The appearance was not transparent or filmy, but
perfectly solid-looking; _and yet I could somehow see the orchestra, not
through, but behind it_." There are a few cases where the percipient
seems to see a hallucinatory figure _behind_ him, out of the range of
optical vision.[120] There is of course no reason why this should not be
so,--even if a part of space external to the percipient's brain should
be actually affected.

Mr. Searle's case also is very interesting.[121] Here Mrs. Searle faints
when visiting a house a few miles from Mr. Searle's chambers in the
Temple. At or about the same time, he sees as though in a looking-glass,
upon a window opposite him, his wife's head and face, white and

Gurney suggests that this was a transference from Mrs. Searle's mind
simply of "the _idea_ of fainting," which then worked itself out into
perception in an appropriate fashion.

Was it thus? Or did Mr. Searle in the Temple see with inner vision his
wife's head as she lay back faint and pallid in Gloucester Gardens? Our
nearest analogy here is plainly crystal-vision; and crystal-visions, as
we have observed, point both ways. Sometimes the picture in the crystal
is conspicuously symbolical; sometimes it seems a transcript of an
actual distant scene.

There are two further problems which occur as we deal with each class of
cases in turn,--the problem of time-relations and the problem of
spirit-agency. Can an incident be said to be seen clairvoyantly if it is
seen some hours after it occurred? Ought we to say that a scene is
clairvoyantly visited, or that it is spiritually shown, if it represents
a still chamber of death,[122] where no emotion is any longer stirring;
but to which the freed spirit might desire to attract the friend's
attention and sympathy?

Such problems cannot at present be solved; nor, as I have said, can any
one class of these psychical interchanges be clearly demarcated from
other classes. Recognising this, we must explain the central
characteristics of each group in turn, and show at what points that
group appears to merge into the next.

And now we come to that class of cases where B invades A, and A
perceives the invasion; but B retains no memory of it in supraliminal
life. From one point of view, as will be seen, this is just the reverse
of the class last discussed--where the invader remembered an invasion
which the invaded person (when there was one) did not perceive.

We have already discussed some cases of this sort which seemed to be
_psychorrhagic_--to have occurred without will or purpose on the part of
the invader. What we must now do is to collect cases where there may
probably have been some real projection of will or desire on the
invader's part, leading to the projection of his phantasm in a manner
recognisable by the distant friend whom he thus invades--yet without
subsequent memory of his own. These cases will be intermediate between
the _psychorrhagic_ cases already described and the _experimental_ cases
on which we shall presently enter.

In the case of Canon Warburton--in Chapter IV.--the person undergoing
the accident did recollect having had a vivid thought of his brother at
the moment;--while his brother on the other hand was startled from a
slight doze by the vision of the scene of danger as then taking
place;--the steep stairs and the falling figure. This is an acute
crisis, much resembling impending death by drowning, etc.; and the
apparition may be construed either way--either as a scene clairvoyantly
discerned by Canon Warburton, owing, as I say, to a spasmodic tightening
of his psychical link with his brother, or as a sudden _invasion_ on
that brother's part, whose very rapidity perhaps helped to prevent his
remembering it.

The case given in Appendix VI. E is interesting, both evidentially and
from its intrinsic character. The narrative, printed in _Phantasms of
the Living_, on the authority of one only of the witnesses concerned,
led to the discovery of the _second_ witness--whom we had no other means
of finding--and has been amply corroborated by her independent account.

The case stands about midway between psychorrhagic cases and intentional
self-projections, and is clearly of the nature of an _invasion_, since
the phantasm was seen by a stranger as well as by the friend, and seemed
to both to be moving about the room. The figure, that is to say, was
adapted to the percipient's environment.

Cases of this general character, both visual and auditory, occupy a
great part of _Phantasms of the Living_, and others have been frequently
quoted in the S.P.R. _Journal_ during recent years.[123]

Of still greater interest is the class which comes next in order in my
ascending scale of apparent _intensity_; the cases, namely, where there
is recollection on both sides, so that the experience is
_reciprocal_.[124] These deserve study, for it is by noting under what
circumstances these spontaneously reciprocal cases occur that we have
the best chance of learning how to produce them experimentally. It will
be seen that there have been various degrees of tension of thought on
the agent's part.

And here comes in a small but important group--the group of what I may
call death-compacts prematurely fulfilled. We shall see in the next
chapter that the exchange of a solemn promise between two friends to
appear to one another, if possible, after death is far from being a
useless piece of sentiment. Such posthumous appearances, it is true, may
be in most cases impossible, but nevertheless there is real ground to
believe that the previous tension of the will in that direction makes it
more likely that the longed-for meeting shall be accomplished. If so,
this is a kind of _experiment_, and an experiment which all can make.

Now we have two or three cases where this compact has been made, and
where an apparition has followed--but before and not after the agent's
death--at the moment, that is to say, of some dangerous accident, when
the sufferer was perhaps all but drowned, or was stunned, or otherwise

Lastly, the lessons of these spontaneous apparitions have been confirmed
and widened by actual experiment. It is plain that just as we are not
confined to noting small spontaneous telepathic transferences when they
occur, but can also endeavour to reproduce them by experiment, so also
we can endeavour to reproduce experimentally these more advanced
telepathic phenomena of the invasion of the presence of the percipient
by the agent. It is to be hoped, indeed, that such experiment may become
one of the most important features of our inquiry. The type of the
experiment is somewhat as follows. The intending agent endeavours by an
effort at self-concentration, made either in waking hours or just before
sleep, to render himself perceptible to a given person at a distance,
who, of course, must have no reason to expect a phantasmal visit at that
hour. Independent records must be made on each side, of all attempts
made, and of all phantoms seen. The evidential point is, of course, the
coincidence between the _attempt_ and the _phantom_, whether or not the
agent can afterwards remember his own success.[126]

Now the _experimental_ element here is obviously very incomplete. It
consists in little more than in a concentrated desire to produce an
effect which one can never explain, and seldom fully remember. I have
seen no evidence to show that any one can claim to be an adept in such
matters--has learned a method of thus appearing at will.[127] We are
acting in the dark. Yet nevertheless the mere fact that on some few
occasions this strong desire has actually been followed by a result of
this extremely interesting kind is one of the most encouraging phenomena
in our whole research. The successes indeed have borne a higher
proportion to the failures than I should have ventured to hope. But
nowhere is there more need of persistent and careful
experimentation;--nowhere, I may add, have emotions quite alien from
Science--mere groundless fears of seeing anything unusual--interfered
with more disastrous effect. Such fears, one hopes, will pass away, and
the friend's visible image will be recognised as a welcome proof of the
link that binds the two spirits together.

The case which I quote in Appendix VI. F illustrates both the essential
harmlessness--nay, naturalness--of such an experiment, and the causeless
fear which it may engender even in rational and serious minds.

In these experimental apparitions, which form, as it were, the _spolia
opima_ of the collector, we naturally wish to know all that we can about
each detail in the experience. Two important points are the _amount of
effort_ made by the experimenter, and the degree of his _consciousness
of success_. The amount of effort in Mr. S. H. B.'s case (for instance)
seems to have been great; and this is encouraging, since what we want is
to be assured that the tension of will has really some power. It seems
to act in much the same way as a therapeutic suggestion from the
conscious self; one can never make sure that any given self-suggestion
will "take"; but, on the whole, the stronger the self-suggestions, the
better the result. It is therefore quite in accordance with analogy that
a suggestion from without, given to a hypnotised person, should be the
most promising way of inducing these self-projections. It should be
strongly impressed on hypnotised subjects that they can and must
temporarily "leave the body," as they call it, and manifest themselves
to distant persons--the consent, of course, of both parties to the
experiment having been previously secured.

Of this type were Dr. Backman's experiments with his subject
"Alma,"[128] and although that series of efforts was prematurely broken
off, it was full of promise. There were some slight indications that
Alma's clairvoyant excursions were sometimes perceptible to persons in
the scenes psychically invaded; and there was considerable and growing
evidence to her own retention in subsequent memory of some details of
those distant scenes.

By all analogy, indeed, that subsequent memory should be an eminently
_educable_ thing. The carrying over of recollections from one stratum of
personality into another--as hypnotic experiment shows us--is largely a
matter of patient suggestion. It would be very desirable to hypnotise
the person who had succeeded in producing an experimental apparition, of
Mr. S. H. B.'s type, and to see if he could then recall the psychical
excursion. Hypnotic states should be far more carefully utilised in
connection with all these forms of self-projection.

In these self-projections we have before us, I do not say the most
useful, but the most extraordinary achievement of the human will. What
can lie further outside any known capacity than the power to cause a
semblance of oneself to appear at a distance? What can be a more
_central_ action--more manifestly the outcome of whatsoever is deepest
and most unitary in man's whole being? Here, indeed, begins the
justification of the conception expressed at the beginning of this
chapter;--that we should now see the subliminal self no longer as a mere
chain of eddies or backwaters, in some way secluded from the main stream
of man's being, but rather as itself the central and potent current, the
most truly identifiable with the man himself. Other achievements have
their manifest limit; where is the limit here? The spirit has shown
itself in part dissociated from the organism; to what point may its
dissociation go? It has shown some independence, some intelligence, some
permanence. To what degree of intelligence, independence, permanence,
may it conceivably attain? Of all vital phenomena, I say, this is the
most significant; this self-projection is the one definite act which it
seems as though a man might perform equally well before and after bodily



    οὑκἑτι πρὁσω
    ἁβἁταν ἁλα κιὁνων ὑπἑρ Ἡρακλἑος περἁν εὑμαρἑς.
    ...θυμἑ, τἱνα πρὁς ἁλλοδαπἁν
    ἁκραν ἑμὁν πλὁον παραμειβεαι;


The course of our argument has gradually conducted us to a point of
capital importance. A profound and central question, approached in
irregular fashion from time to time in previous chapters, must now be
directly faced. From the actions and perceptions of spirits still in the
flesh, and concerned with one another, we must pass on to inquire into
the actions of spirits no longer in the flesh, and into the forms of
perception with which men still in the flesh respond to that unfamiliar
and mysterious agency.

There need, I hope, be no real break here in my previous line of
argument. The subliminal self, which we have already traced through
various phases of growing sensitivity, growing independence of organic
bonds, will now be studied as sensitive to yet remoter influences;--as
maintaining an independent existence even when the organism is
destroyed. Our subject will divide itself conveniently under three main
heads. _First_, it will be well to discuss briefly the nature of the
evidence to man's survival of death which may theoretically be
obtainable, and its possible connections with evidence set forth in
previous chapters. _Secondly_,--and this must form the bulk of the
present chapter,--we need a classified exposition of the main evidence
to survival thus far obtained;--so far, that is to say, as sensory
automatism--audition or apparition--is concerned; for motor
automatism--automatic writing and trance-utterance--must be left for
later discussion. _Thirdly_, there will be need of some consideration of
the meaning of this evidence as a whole, and of its implications alike
for the scientific and for the ethical future of mankind. Much more,
indeed, of discussion (as well as of evidence) than I can furnish will
be needed before this great conception can be realised or argued from
with the scientific thoroughness due to its position among fundamental
cosmical laws. Considering how familiar the notion--the vague shadowy
notion--of "immortality" has always been, it is strange indeed that so
little should have been done in these modern days to grasp or to
criticise it;--so little, one might almost say, since the _Phædo_ of

Beginning, then, with the inquiry as to what kind of evidence ought to
be demanded for human survival, we are met first by the bluff statement
which is still often uttered even by intelligent men, that _no_ evidence
would convince them of such a fact; "neither would they be persuaded
though one rose from the dead."

Extravagant as such a profession sounds, it has a meaning which we shall
do well to note. These resolute antagonists mean that no new evidence
can carry conviction to them unless it be _continuous_ with old
evidence; and that they cannot conceive that evidence to a world of
spirit can possibly be continuous with evidence based upon our
experience of a world of matter. I agree with this demand for
continuity; and I agree also that the claims usually advanced for a
spiritual world have not only made no attempt at continuity with known
fact, but have even ostentatiously thrown such continuity to the winds.
The popular mind has expressly desired something startling, something
outside Law and above Nature. It has loved, if not a _Credo quia
absurdum_, at least a _Credo quia non probatum_. But the inevitable
retribution is a deep insecurity in the conviction thus attained.
Unsupported by the general fabric of knowledge, the act of faith seems
to shrink into the background as that great fabric stands and grows.

I can hardly too often repeat that my object in these pages is of a
quite opposite character. Believing that all cognisable Mind is as
continuous as all cognisable Matter, my ideal would be to attempt for
the realm of mind what the spectroscope and the law of gravitation have
effected for the realm of matter, and to carry that known cosmic
uniformity of substance and interaction upwards among the essences and
operations of an unknown spiritual world. And in order to explore these
unreachable altitudes I would not ask to stand with the theologian on
the summit of a "cloud-capt tower," but rather on plain earth at the
measured base of a trigonometrical survey.

If we would measure such a base, the jungle must be cleared to begin
with. Let us move for a while among first definitions; trying to make
clear to ourselves what kind of thing it is that we are endeavouring to
trace or discover. In popular parlance, we are looking out for _ghosts_.
What connotation, then, are we to give to the word "ghost"--a word
which has embodied so many unfounded theories and causeless fears? It
would be more satisfactory, in the present state of our knowledge,
simply to collect facts without offering speculative comment. But it
seems safer to begin by briefly pointing out the manifest errors of the
traditional view; since that tradition, if left unnoticed, would remain
lodged in the background even of many minds which have never really
accepted it.

Briefly, then, the popular view regards a "ghost" as a _deceased person
permitted by Providence to hold communication with survivors_. And this
short definition contains, I think, at least three unwarrantable

In the first place, such words as _permission_ and _Providence_ are
simply neither more nor less applicable to this phenomenon than to any
other. We conceive that all phenomena alike take place in accordance
with the laws of the universe, and consequently by permission of the
Supreme Power in the universe. Undoubtedly the phenomena with which we
are dealing are in this sense permitted to occur. But there is no _a
priori_ reason whatever for assuming that they are permitted in any
especial sense of their own, or that they form exceptions to law,
instead of being exemplifications of law. Nor is there any _a
posteriori_ reason for supposing any such inference to be deducible from
a study of the phenomena themselves. If we attempt to find in these
phenomena any poetical justice or manifest adaptation to human cravings,
we shall be just as much disappointed as if we endeavoured to find a
similar satisfaction in the ordinary course of terrene history.

In the second place, we have no warrant for the assumption that the
phantom seen, even though it be somehow _caused_ by a deceased person,
_is_ that deceased person, in any ordinary sense of the word. Instead of
appealing to the crude analogy of the living friend who, when he has
walked into the room, _is_ in the room, we shall find for the ghost a
much closer parallel in those hallucinatory figures or phantasms which
living persons can sometimes project at a distance.

But experience shows that when--as with these _post-mortem_
phantoms--the deceased person has gone well out of sight or reach there
is a tendency, so to say, to _anthropomorphose_ the apparition; to
suppose that, as the deceased person is not provably anywhere else, he
is probably here; and that the apparition is bound to behave
accordingly. All such assumptions must be dismissed, and the phantom
must be taken on its merits, as indicating merely a certain connection
with the deceased, the precise nature of that connection being a part of
the problem to be solved.

And in the third place, just as we must cease to say that the phantom
_is_ the deceased, so also must we cease to ascribe to the phantom the
motives by which we imagine that the deceased might be swayed. We must
therefore exclude from our definition of a ghost any words which assume
its intention to communicate with the living. It may bear such a
relation to the deceased that it can reflect or represent his presumed
wish to communicate, or it may not. If, for instance, its relation to
his _post-mortem_ life be like the relation of my dreams to my earthly
life, it may represent little that is truly his, save such vague
memories and instincts as give a dim individuality to each man's trivial

Let us attempt, then, a truer definition. Instead of describing a
"ghost" as a dead person permitted to communicate with the living, let
us define it as _a manifestation of persistent personal energy_, or as
an indication that some kind of force is being exercised after death
which is in some way connected with a person previously known on earth.
In this definition we have eliminated, as will be seen, a great mass of
popular assumptions. Yet we must introduce a further proviso, lest our
definition still seem to imply an assumption which we have no right to
make. It is theoretically possible that this force or influence, which
after a man's death creates a phantasmal impression of him, may indicate
no continuing action on his part, but may be some residue of the force
or energy which he generated while yet alive. There may be _veridical
after-images_--such as Gurney hints at (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p.
417) when in his comments on the recurring figure of an old woman--seen
on the bed where she was murdered--he remarks that this figure suggests
not so much "any continuing local interest on the part of the deceased
person, as the survival of a mere image, impressed, we cannot guess how,
on we cannot guess what, by that person's physical organism, and
perceptible at times to those endowed with some cognate form of

Strange as this notion may seem, it is strongly suggested by many of the
cases of _haunting_ which do not fall within the scope of the present
chapter. We shall presently find that there is strong evidence for the
recurrence of the same hallucinatory figures in the same localities, but
weak evidence to indicate any purpose in most of these figures, or any
connection with bygone individuals, or with such tragedies as are
popularly supposed to start a ghost on its career. In some of these
cases of frequent, meaningless recurrence of a figure in a given spot,
we are driven to wonder whether it can be some deceased person's past
frequentation of that spot, rather than any fresh action of his after
death, which has generated what I have termed the veridical
after-image--veridical in the sense that it communicates information,
previously unknown to the percipient, as to a former inhabitant of the
haunted locality.

Such are some of the questions which our evidence suggests. And I may
point out that the very fact that such bizarre problems should present
themselves at every turn does in a certain sense tend to show that these
apparitions are not purely subjective things,--do not originate merely
in the percipient's imagination. For they are not like what any man
would have imagined. What man's mind does tend to fancy on such topics
may be seen in the endless crop of fictitious ghost stories, which
furnish, indeed, a curious proof of the persistence of preconceived
notions. For they go on being framed according to canons of their own,
and deal with a set of imaginary phenomena quite different from those
which actually occur. The actual phenomena, I may add, could scarcely be
made romantic. One true "ghost story" is apt to be very like another,
and most of them to be fragmentary and apparently meaningless. Their
meaning, that is to say, lies in their conformity, not to the
mythopœic instinct of mankind, which fabricates and enjoys the
fictitious tales, but to some unknown law, not based on human sentiment
or convenience at all.

And thus, absurdly enough, we sometimes hear men ridicule the phenomena
which actually do happen, simply because those phenomena do not suit
their preconceived notions of what ghostly phenomena ought to be;--not
perceiving that this very divergence, this very unexpectedness, is in
itself no slight indication of an origin _outside_ the minds which
obviously were so far from anticipating anything of the kind.

And in fact the very qualities which are most apt to raise derision are
such as the evidence set forth in the earlier chapters of this work
might reasonably lead us to expect. For I hold that now for the first
time can we form a conception of ghostly communications which shall in
any way consist or cohere with more established conceptions; which can
be presented as in any way a development of facts which are already
experimentally known. Two preliminary conceptions were
needed--conceptions in one sense ancient enough; but yet the first of
which has only in this generation found its place in science, while the
second is as yet awaiting its brevet of orthodoxy. The first conception
is that with which hypnotism and various automatisms have familiarised
us,--the conception of multiplex personality, of the potential
coexistence of many states and many memories in the same individual. The
second is the conception of telepathy; of the action of mind on mind
apart from the ordinary organs of sense; and especially of its action by
means of hallucinations; by the generation of veridical phantasms which
form, as it were, messages from men still in the flesh. And I believe
that these two conceptions are in this way connected, that the
telepathic message generally starts from, and generally impinges upon, a
subconscious or submerged stratum in both agent and percipient.[129]
Wherever there is hallucination, whether delusive or veridical, I hold
that a message of some sort is forcing its way upwards from one stratum
of personality to another,--a message which may be merely dreamlike and
incoherent, or which may symbolise a fact otherwise unreachable by the
percipient personality. And the mechanism seems much the same whether
the message's path be continued within one individual or pass between
two; whether A's own submerged self be signalling to his emergent self,
or B be telepathically stimulating the hidden fountains of perception in
A. If anything like this be true, it seems plainly needful that all that
we know of abnormal or supernormal communications between minds, or
states of the same mind, still embodied in flesh, should be searched for
analogies which may throw light on this strangest mode of intercourse
between embodied and disembodied minds.

A communication (if such a thing exists) from a departed person to a
person still on earth is, at any rate, a communication from a mind in
one state of existence to a mind in a very different state of existence.
And it is, moreover, a communication from one mind to another which
passes through some channel other than the ordinary channels of sense,
since on one side of the gulf no material sense-organs exist. It will
apparently be an extreme instance of both these classes--of
communications between state and state,[130] and of telepathic
communications; and we ought, therefore, to approach it by considering
the less advanced cases of both these types.

On what occasions do we commonly find a mind conversing with another
mind not on the same plane with itself?--with a mind inhabiting in some
sense a different world, and viewing the environment with a difference
of outlook greater than the mere difference of character of the two
personages will account for?

The first instance of this sort which will occur to us lies in
spontaneous somnambulism, or colloquy between a person asleep and a
person awake. And observe here how slight an accident allows us to
enter into converse with a state which at first sight seems a type of
incommunicable isolation. "Awake, we share our world," runs the old
saying, "but each dreamer inhabits a world of his own." Yet the dreamer,
apparently so self-enclosed, may be gently led, or will spontaneously
enter, into converse with waking men.

The somnambulist, or rather the somniloquist--for it is the talking
rather than the walking which is the gist of the matter--is thus our
first natural type of the _revenant_.

And observing the habits of somnambulists, we note that the degree in
which they can communicate with other minds varies greatly in different
cases. One sleep-waker will go about his customary avocations without
recognising the presence of any other person whatever; another will
recognise certain persons only, or will answer when addressed, but only
on certain subjects, his mind coming into contact with other minds only
on a very few points. Rarely or never will a somnambulist spontaneously
notice what other persons are doing, and adapt his own actions thereto.

Next let us turn from natural to induced sleep-waking, from idiopathic
somnambulism to the hypnotic trance. Here, too, throughout the different
stages of the trance, we find a varying and partial (or elective) power
of communication. Sometimes the entranced subject makes no sign
whatever; sometimes he seems able to hear and answer one person, or
certain persons, and not others; sometimes he will talk freely to all;
but, however freely he may talk, he is not exactly his waking self, and
as a rule he has no recollection, or a very imperfect recollection, in
waking life of what he has said or done in his trance.

Judging, then, from such analogy as communications from one living state
to another can suggest to us, we shall expect that the communication of
a disembodied or discarnate person with an incarnate, if such exist,
will be subject to narrow limitations, and very possibly will not form a
part of the main current of the supposed discarnate consciousness.

These preliminary considerations are applicable to any kind of alleged
communication from the departed--whether well or ill evidenced; whether
conveyed in sensory or in motor form.

Let us next consider what types of communication from the dead our
existing evidence of communications among the living suggests to us as
analogically possible. It appears to me that there is an important
parallelism running through each class of our experiments in automatism
and each class of our spontaneous phenomena. Roughly speaking, we may
say that our experiment and observation up to this point have comprised
five different stages of phenomena, viz., (I.) hypnotic suggestion;
(II.) telepathic experiments; (III.) spontaneous telepathy during life;
(IV.) phantasms at death; (V.) phantasms after death. And we find, I
think, that the same types of communication meet us at each stage; so
that this recurrent similarity of types raises a presumption that the
underlying mechanism of manifestation at each stage may be in some way

Again using a mere rough form of division, we shall find three main
forms of manifestation at each stage: (1) hallucinations of the senses;
(2) emotional and motor impulses; (3) definite intellectual messages.

(I.) And first let us start from a class of experiments into which
telepathy does not enter, but which exhibit in its simplest form the
mechanism of the automatic transfer of messages from one stratum to
another of the same personality. I speak, of course, of post-hypnotic
suggestions. Here the agent is a living man, operating in an ordinary
way, by direct speech. The unusual feature lies in the condition of the
percipient, who is hypnotised at the time, and is thus undergoing a kind
of dislocation of personality, or temporary upheaval of a habitually
subjacent stratum of the self. This hypnotic personality, being for the
time at the surface, receives the agent's verbal suggestion, of which
the percipient's waking self is unaware. Then afterwards, when the
waking self has resumed its usual upper position, the hypnotic self
carries out at the stated time the given suggestion,--an act whose
origin the upper stratum of consciousness does not know, but which is in
effect a message communicated to the upper stratum from the now
submerged or subconscious stratum on which the suggestion was originally

And this message may take any one of the three leading forms mentioned
above;--say a hallucinatory image of the hypnotiser or of some other
person; or an impulse to perform some action; or a definite word or
sentence to be written automatically by the waking self, which thus
learns what order has been laid upon the hypnotic self while the waking
consciousness was in abeyance.

(II.) Now turn to our experiments in thought-transference. Here again
the agent is a living man; but he is no longer operating by ordinary
means,--by spoken words or visible gestures. He is operating on the
percipient's subconscious self by means of a telepathic impulse, which
he desires, indeed, to project from himself, and which the percipient
may desire to receive, but of whose _modus operandi_ the ordinary waking
selves of agent and percipient alike are entirely unaware.

Here again we may divide the messages sent into the same three main
classes. First come the hallucinatory figures--always or almost always
of himself--which the agent causes the percipient to see. Secondly come
impulses to act, telepathically impressed; as when the hypnotiser
desires his subject to come to him at an hour not previously notified.
And thirdly, we have a parallel to the post-hypnotic writing of definite
words or figures in our own experiments on the direct telepathic
transmission of words, figures, cards, etc., from the agent, using no
normal means of communication, to the percipient, either in the
hypnotised or in the waking state.

(III.) We come next to the spontaneous phantasms occurring during life.
Here we find the same three broad classes of messages, with this
difference, that the actual apparitions, which in our telepathic
experimentation are thus far unfortunately rare, become now the most
important class. I need not recall the instances given in Chapters IV.
and VI., etc., where an agent undergoing some sudden crisis seems in
some way to generate an apparition of himself seen by a distant
percipient. Important also in this connection are those apparitions of
the _double_, where some one agent is seen repeatedly in phantasmal form
by different percipients at times when that agent is undergoing no
special crisis.

Again, among our telepathic impressions generated (spontaneously, not
experimentally) by living agents, we have cases, which I need not here
recapitulate, of pervading sensations of distress; or impulses to return
home, which are parallel to the hypnotised subject's impulse to approach
his distant hypnotiser, at a moment when that hypnotiser is willing him
to do so.

And thirdly, among these telepathic communications from the living to
the living, we have definite sentences automatically written,
communicating facts which the distant person knows, but is not
consciously endeavouring to transmit.

(IV.) Passing on to phantasms which cluster about the moment of death,
we find our three main classes of cases still meeting us. Our readers
are familiar with the _visual_ cases, where there is an actual
apparition of the dying man, seen by one or more persons; and also with
the _emotional and motor_ cases, where the impression, although
powerful, is not definitely sensory in character. And various cases also
have been published where the message has consisted of definite words,
not always externalised as an auditory hallucination, but sometimes
automatically _uttered_ or automatically _written_ by the percipient
himself, as in the case communicated by Dr. Liébeault (see Appendix
VIII. C), where a girl writes the message announcing her friend's death
at the time when that friend is, in fact, dying in a distant city.

(V.) And now I maintain that in these post-mortem cases also we find the
same general classes persisting, and in somewhat the same proportion.
Most conspicuous are the actual _apparitions_, with which, indeed, the
following pages will mainly deal. It is very rare to find an apparition
which seems to impart any verbal message; but a case of this kind has
been given in Appendix IV. F. As a rule, however, the apparition is of
the apparently automatic, purposeless character, already so fully
described. We have also the _emotional and motor_ class of post-mortem
cases;[131] and these may, perhaps, be more numerous in proportion than
our collection would indicate; for it is obvious that impressions which
are so much less definite than a visual hallucination (although they may
be even more impressive to the percipient himself) can rarely be used as
evidence of communication with the departed.

But now I wish to point out that, besides these two classes of
post-mortem manifestations, we have our _third_ class also still
persisting; we have definite verbal messages which at least purport, and
sometimes, I think, with strong probability, to come from the departed.

I have, indeed, for the reader's convenience, postponed these motor
cases to a subsequent chapter, so that the evidence here and now
presented for survival will be very incomplete. Yet, at any rate, we are
gradually getting before us a fairly definite task. We have in this
chapter to record and analyse such sensory experiences of living men as
seem referable to the action of some human individuality persisting
after death. We have also obtained some preliminary notion as to the
kind of phenomena for which we can hope, especially as to what their
probable limitations must be, considering how great a gulf between
psychical states any communication must overpass.

Let us now press the actual evidential question somewhat closer. Let us
consider, for it is by no means evident at first sight, what conditions
a visual or auditory phantasm is bound to fulfil before it can be
regarded as indicating _primâ facie_ the influence of a discarnate mind.
The discussion may be best introduced by quoting the words in which
Edmund Gurney opened it in 1888.[132] The main evidential lines as there
laid down retain their validity, although the years which have since
passed have greatly augmented the testimony, and in so doing have
illustrated yet other tests of true post-mortem communication,--to which
we shall presently come.

     "It is evident that in alleged cases of apparitions of the dead,
     the point which we have held to distinguish certain apparitions of
     _living_ persons from purely subjective hallucinations is
     necessarily lacking. That point is _coincidence_ between the
     apparition and some critical or exceptional condition of the person
     who seems to appear; but with regard to the dead, we have no
     independent knowledge of their condition, and therefore never have
     the opportunity of observing any such coincidences.

     "There remain three, and I think only three, conditions which might
     establish a presumption that an apparition or other immediate
     manifestation of a dead person is something more than a mere
     subjective hallucination of the percipient's senses. Either (1)
     more persons than one might be independently affected by the
     phenomenon; or (2) the phantasm might convey information,
     afterwards discovered to be true, of something which the percipient
     had never known; or (3) the appearance might be that of a person
     whom the percipient himself had never seen, and of whose aspect he
     was ignorant, and yet his description of it might be sufficiently
     definite for identification. But though one or more of these
     conditions would have to be fully satisfied before we could be
     convinced that any particular apparition of the dead had some cause
     external to the percipient's own mind, there is one more general
     characteristic of the class which is sufficiently suggestive of
     such a cause to be worth considering. I mean the disproportionate
     number of cases which occur _shortly after_ the death of the person
     represented. Such a time-relation, if frequently enough
     encountered, might enable us to argue for the objective origin of
     the phenomenon in a manner analogous to that which leads us to
     conclude that many phantasms of the living have an objective (a
     telepathic) origin. For, according to the doctrines of
     probabilities, a hallucination representing a known person would
     not _by chance_ present a definite time-relation to a special
     cognate event--viz., the death of that person--in more than a
     certain percentage of the whole number of similar hallucinations
     that occur; and if that percentage is decidedly exceeded, there is
     reason to surmise that some other cause than chance--in other
     words, some objective origin for the phantasm--is present."

But on the other hand, a phantasm representing a person whose death is
recent is specially likely to arouse interest and, in cases where the
death is previously known to the percipient, his emotional state may be
considered a sufficient cause of the hallucination.

     "If, then," Gurney continues, "we are to draw any probable
     conclusion as to the objective nature of _post-mortem_ appearances
     and communications (or of some of them) from the fact of their
     special frequency soon after death, we must confine ourselves to
     cases where the fact of death has been unknown to the percipient at
     the time of his experience. Now, in these days of letters and
     telegrams, people for the most part hear of the deaths of friends
     and relatives within a very few days, sometimes within a very few
     hours, after the death occurs; so that appearances of the sort
     required would, as a rule, have to follow very closely indeed on
     the death. Have we evidence of any considerable number of such

     "Readers of _Phantasms of the Living_ will know that we have. In a
     number of cases which were treated in that book as examples of
     telepathic transference from a dying person, the person was
     actually dead at the time that the percipient's experience
     occurred; and the inclusion of such cases under the title of
     _Phantasms of the Living_ naturally occasioned a certain amount of
     adverse criticism. Their inclusion, it will be remembered, required
     an assumption which cannot by any means be regarded as certain. We
     had to suppose that the telepathic transfer took place just before,
     or exactly at, the moment of death; but that the impression
     remained latent in the percipient's mind, and only after an
     interval emerged into his consciousness, whether as waking vision
     or as dream or in some other form. Now, as a provisional
     hypothesis, I think that this assumption was justified. For in the
     first place, the moment of death is, in time, the central point of
     a cluster of abnormal experiences occurring to percipients at a
     distance, of which some _precede_, while others follow, the death;
     it is natural, therefore, to surmise that the same explanation will
     cover the whole group, and that the motive force in each of its
     divisions lies in a state of the 'agent' prior to bodily death. In
     the second place, some of the facts of experimental
     thought-transference countenance the view that 'transferred
     impressions' may be latent for a time before the recipient becomes
     aware of them; and recent discoveries with respect to the whole
     subject of automatism and 'secondary intelligence' make it seem far
     less improbable than it would otherwise have seemed that telepathy
     may take effect first on the 'unconscious' part of the mind.[133]
     And in the third place, the period of supposed latency has in a
     good many instances been a period when the person affected was in
     activity, and when his mind and senses were being solicited by
     other things; and in such cases it is specially easy to suppose
     that the telepathic impression did not get the right conditions for
     rising into consciousness until a season of silence and
     _recueillement_ arrived.[134] But though the theory of latency has
     thus a good deal to be said for it, my colleagues and I are most
     anxious not to be supposed to be putting forward as a dogma what
     must be regarded at present merely as a working hypothesis.
     Psychical research is of all subjects the one where it is most
     important to avoid this error, and to keep the mind open for new
     interpretations of the facts. And in the present instance there are
     certain definite objections which may fairly be made to the
     hypothesis that a telepathic impression derived from a dying person
     may emerge after hours of latency. The experimental cases to which
     I have referred as analogous are few and uncertain, and, moreover,
     in them the period of latency has been measured by seconds or
     minutes, not by hours. And though, as I have said, some of the
     instances of apparent delay among the death-cases might be
     accounted for by the fact that the percipient's mind or senses
     needed to be withdrawn from other occupations before the
     manifestation could take place, there are other instances where
     this is not so, and where no ground at all appears for connecting
     the delay with the percipient's condition. On the whole, then, the
     alternative hypothesis--that the condition of the phenomenon on the
     'agent's' side (be it psychical or be it physical) is one which
     only comes into existence at a distinct interval after death, and
     that the percipient really is impressed at the moment, and not
     before the moment, when he is conscious of the impression--is one
     which must be steadily kept in view.

     "So far I have been speaking of cases where the interval between
     the death and the manifestation was so short as to make the theory
     of latency possible. The rule adopted in _Phantasms of the Living_
     was that this interval must not exceed twelve hours. But we have
     records of a few cases where this interval has been greatly
     exceeded, and yet where the fact of the death was still unknown to
     the percipient at the time of his experience. The theory of latency
     cannot reasonably be applied to cases where weeks or months divide
     the vision (or whatever it may be) from the moment of death, which
     is the latest at which an ordinary[135] telepathically transferred
     idea could have obtained access to the percipient. And the
     existence of such cases--so far as it tends to establish the
     reality of objectively-caused apparitions of the dead--diminishes
     the objection to conceiving that the appearances, etc., which have
     very shortly _followed_ death have had a different causation from
     those which have coincided with or very shortly _preceded_ it. For
     we shall not be inventing a wholly new class for the former cases,
     but only provisionally shifting them from one class to another--to
     a much smaller and much less well-evidenced class, it is true, but
     one nevertheless for which we have evidence enough to justify us in
     expecting more."

This, as I conceive, is a sound method of proceeding from ground made
secure in _Phantasms of the Living_--and traversed in my own just
previous chapter--to cases closely analogous, save for that little
difference in _time-relations_, that occurrence in the hours which
follow, instead of the hours which precede, bodily dissolution, which
counts for so much in our insight into cosmic law.[136]

The hypothesis of _latency_ which thus meets us _in limine_ in this
inquiry will soon be found inadequate to cover the facts. Yet it will be
well to dwell somewhat more fully upon its possible range.

If we examine the proportionate number of apparitions observed at
various periods before and after death, we find that they increase very
rapidly for the few hours which precede death, and decrease gradually
during the hours and days which follow, until after about a year's time
they become merely sporadic.

Yet one more point must be touched on, to avoid misconception of the
phrase cited above, that "the moment of death is the centre of a cluster
of abnormal experiences, of which some precede, while others follow, the
death." Gurney, of course, did not mean to assume that the act of death
itself was the cause of all these experiences. Those which occur before
death may be caused or conditioned, not by the death itself, but by the
abnormal state, as of coma, delirium, etc., which preceded the death.
This we say because we have many instances where veridical phantasms
have coincided with moments of _crisis_--carriage-accidents and the
like--occurring to distant agents, but not followed by death.
Accordingly we find that in almost all cases where a phantasm,
apparently veridical, has _preceded_ the agent's death, that death was
the result of disease and not of accident. To this rule there are very
few exceptions. There is a case given in _Phantasms of the Living_ (vol.
ii. p. 52), where the phantasm seems on the evidence to have preceded by
about half an hour (longitude allowed for) a sudden death by drowning.
In this case the percipient was in a Norfolk farmhouse, the drowning
man--or agent--was in a storm off the island of Tristan d'Acunha; and we
have suggested that an error of clocks or of observation may account for
the discrepancy. In another case the death was in a sense a violent one,
for it was a suicide; but the morbidly excited state of the girl a few
hours before death--when her phantasm was seen--was in itself a state
of crisis. But there are also a few recorded cases (none of which were
cited in _Phantasms of the Living_) where a phantasm or double of some
person has been observed some days previous to that person's accidental
death. The evidence obtained in the Census of Hallucinations, however,
tended to show that cases of this sort are too few to suggest even
_primâ facie_ a causal connection between the death and the apparition
(see _Proceedings_ S.P.R. vol. x. p. 331).

I now proceed briefly to review some of the cases where the interval
between death and phantasm has been measurable by minutes or hours.

It is not easy to get definite cases where the interval has been
measurable by _minutes_; for if the percipient is at a distance from the
agent we can seldom be sure that the clocks at both places have been
correct, and correctly observed; while if he is _present_ with the agent
we can rarely be sure that the phantasm observed is more than a mere
subjective hallucination. Thus we have several accounts of a rushing
sound heard by the watcher of a dying man just after his apparent death,
or of some kind of luminosity observed near his person; but this is just
the moment when we may suppose some subjective hallucination likely to
occur, and if one person's senses alone are affected we cannot allow
much evidential weight to the occurrence.[137]

There are some circumstances, however, in which, in spite of the fact
that the death is already known, a hallucination occurring shortly
afterwards may have some slight evidential value. Thus we have a case
where a lady who knew that her sister had died a few hours previously,
but who was not herself in any morbidly excited condition, seemed to see
some one enter her own dining-room, opening and shutting the door. The
percipient (who had never had any other hallucination) was much
astonished when she found no one in the dining-room; but it did not till
some time afterwards occur to her that the incident could be in any way
connected with her recent loss. This reminds us of a case (ii. p.
694[138]) where the Rev. R. M. Hill sees a tall figure rush into the
room, which alarms and surprises him, then vanishes before he has time
to recognise it. An uncle, a tall man, dies about that moment, and it is
remarked that although Mr. Hill knew his uncle to be ill, the anxiety
which he may have felt would hardly have given rise to an unrecognised
and formidable apparition.

There are cases also where a percipient who has had an apparition of a
friend shortly after that friend's known death has had _veridical_
hallucinations at other times, and has never had any hallucination of
purely subjective origin. Such a percipient may naturally suppose that
his apparition of the departed friend possessed the same veridical
character which was common to the rest, although it was not _per se_
evidential, since the fact of the death was already known.

For the present, however, it will be better to return to the cases which
are free from this important _primâ facie_ drawback--cases where the
percipient was, at any rate, unaware that the death, which the phantasm
seemed to indicate, had in fact taken place.

In the first place, there are a few cases where a percipient is informed
of a death by a veridical phantasm, and then some hours afterwards a
similar phantasm differing perhaps in detail, recurs.

Such was the case of Archdeacon Farler (i. p. 414), who _twice_ during
one night saw the dripping figure of a friend who, as it turned out, had
been drowned during the previous day. Even the first appearance was
several hours after the death, but this we might explain by the latency
of the impression till a season of quiet. The second appearance may have
been a kind of recrudescence of the first; but if the theory of latency
be discarded, so that the _first_ appearance (if more than a mere chance
coincidence) is held to depend upon some energy excited by the deceased
person after death, it would afford some ground for regarding the
_second_ appearance as also veridical. The figure in this case was once
more seen a fortnight later, and on this occasion, as Archdeacon Farler
informs me, in ordinary garb, with no special trace of accident.

A similar repetition occurs in seven other cases recorded in _Phantasms
of the Living_.[139]

Turning now to the cases where the phantasm is not repeated, but occurs
some hours after death, let us take a few narratives where the interval
of time is pretty certain, and consider how far the hypothesis of
_latency_ looks probable in each instance.

Where there is no actual hallucination, but only a feeling of unique
_malaise_ or distress following at a few hours' interval on a friend's
death at a distance, as in Archdeacon Wilson's case (i. p. 280), it is
very hard to picture to ourselves what has taken place. Some injurious
shock communicated to the percipient's brain at the moment of the
agent's death may conceivably have slowly worked itself into
consciousness. The delay may have been due, so to say, to physiological
rather than to psychical causes.

Next take a case like that of Mrs. Wheatcroft (i. p. 420), or of Mrs.
Evens (ii. p. 690), or Sister Bertha (quoted below in Appendix VII. F),
where a definite hallucination of sight or sound occurs some hours after
the death, but in the middle of the night. It is in a case of this sort
that we can most readily suppose that a "telepathic impact" received
during the day has lain dormant until other excitations were hushed, and
has externalised itself as a hallucination after the first sleep, just
as when we wake from a first sleep some subject of interest or anxiety,
which has been thrust out of our thoughts during the day, will often
well upwards into consciousness with quite a new distinctness and force.
But on the other hand, in the case (for instance) of Mrs. Teale (ii. p.
693), there is a deferment of some eight hours, and then the
hallucination occurs while the percipient is sitting wide awake in the
middle of her family. And in one of the most remarkable dream-cases in
our collection (given in Chapter IV.), Mrs. Storie's experience does not
resemble the mere emergence of a latent impression. It is long and
complex, and suggests some sort of clairvoyance; but if it be
"telepathic clairvoyance," that is, a picture transferred from the
decedent's mind, then it almost requires us to suppose that a
_post-mortem_ picture was thus transferred, a view of the accident and
its consequences _fuller_ than any which could have flashed through the
dying man's mind during his moment of sudden and violent death from "the
striking off of the top of the skull" by a railway train.

If once we assume that the deceased person's mind could continue to act
on living persons after his bodily death, then the confused horror of
the series of pictures which were presented to Mrs. Storie's
view--mixed, it should be said, with an element of _fresh departure_
which there was nothing in the accident itself to suggest--would
correspond well enough to what one can imagine a man's feelings a few
hours after such a death to be. This is trespassing, no doubt, on
hazardous ground; but if once we admit communication from the other side
of death as a working hypothesis, we must allow ourselves to imagine
something as to the attitude of the communicating mind, and the least
violent supposition will be that that mind is still in part at least
occupied with the same thoughts which last occupied it on earth. It is
possible that there may be some interpretation of this kind for some of
the cases where a funeral scene, or a dead body, is what the phantasm
presents. There is a remarkable case (i. p. 265) [§ 664] where a lady
sees the body of a well-known London physician--about ten hours after
death--lying in a bare unfurnished room (a cottage hospital abroad).
Here the description, as we have it, would certainly fit best with some
kind of telepathic clairvoyance prolonged after death--some power on the
deceased person's part to cause the percipient to share the picture
which might at that moment be occupying his own mind.

It will be seen that these phenomena are not of so simple a type as to
admit of our considering them from the point of view of _time-relations_
alone. Whatever else, indeed, a "ghost" may be, it is probably one of
the most complex phenomena in nature. It is a function of two unknown
variables--the incarnate spirit's sensitivity and the discarnate
spirit's capacity of self-manifestation. Our attempt, therefore, to
study such intercourse may begin at either end of the
communication--with the percipient or with the agent. We shall have to
ask, How does the incarnate mind receive the message? and we shall have
to ask also, How does the discarnate mind originate and convey it?

Now it is by pressing the _former_ of these two questions that we have,
I think, the best chance at present of gaining fresh light. So long as
we are considering the incarnate mind we are, to some extent at least,
on known ground; and we may hope to discern analogies in some other
among that mind's operations to that possibly most perplexing of all its
operations, which consists in taking cognisance of messages from
unembodied minds, and from an unseen world. I think, therefore, that
"the surest way, though most about," as Bacon would say, to the
comprehension of this sudden and startling phenomenon lies in the study
of other rare mental phenomena which can be observed more at leisure,
just as "the surest way, though most about," to the comprehension of
some blazing inaccessible star has lain in the patient study of the
spectra of the incandescence of terrestrial substances which lie about
our feet. I am in hopes that by the study of various forms of subliminal
consciousness, subliminal faculty, subliminal perception, we may
ultimately obtain a conception of our own total being and operation
which may show us the incarnate mind's perception of the discarnate
mind's message as no isolated anomaly, but an orderly exercise of
natural and innate powers, frequently observed in action in somewhat
similar ways.

It is, I say, from this human or terrene side that I should prefer, were
it possible, to study in the first instance all our cases. Could we not
only share but interpret the percipient's subjective feelings, could we
compare those feelings with the feelings evoked by ordinary vision or
telepathy among living men, we might get at a more intimate knowledge of
what is happening than any observation from outside of the details of an
apparition can supply. But this, of course, is not possible in any
systematic way; occasional glimpses, inferences, comparisons, are all
that we can attain to as yet. On the other hand, it is comparatively
easy to arrange the whole group of our cases in some series depending on
their observed external character and details. They can, indeed, be
arranged in more than one series of this kind--the difficulty is in
selecting the most instructive. That which I shall here select is in
some points arbitrary, but it has the advantage of bringing out the wide
range of variation in the clearness and content of these apparitional
communications, here arranged mainly in a descending series, beginning
with those cases where fullest knowledge or purpose is shown, and ending
with those where the indication of intelligence becomes feeblest, dying
away at last into vague sounds and sights without recognisable

But I shall begin by referring to a small group of cases,[140] which I
admit to be anomalous and non-evidential--for we cannot prove that they
were more than subjective experiences--yet which certainly should not be
lost, filling as they do, in all their grotesqueness, a niche in our
series otherwise as yet vacant. If man's spirit is separated at death
from his organism, there must needs be cases where that separation,
although apparently, is not really complete. There must be subjective
sensations corresponding to the objective external facts of apparent
death and subsequent resuscitation. Nor need it surprise those who may
have followed my general argument, if those subjective sensations should
prove to be dreamlike and fantastic. Here, as so often in our inquiries,
the very oddity and unexpectedness of the details--the absence of that
solemnity which one would think the dying man's own mind would have
infused into the occasion--may point to the existence of some reality
beneath the grotesque symbolism of the transitional dream.

The transitional dream, I call it, for it seems to me not
improbable--remote though such a view may be from current notions--that
the passage from one state to another may sometimes be accompanied with
some temporary lack of adjustment between experiences taking place in
such different environments--between the systems of symbolism belonging
to the one and to the other state. But the reason why I refer to the
cases in this place is that here we have perhaps our nearest possible
approach to the sensations of the spirit which is endeavouring to
manifest itself;--an inside view of a would-be apparition. The
narratives suggest, moreover, that spirits recently freed from the body
may enjoy a fuller perception of earthly scenes than it is afterwards
possible to retain, and that thus the predominance of apparitions of the
_recently_ dead may be to some extent explained.

We have, indeed, very few cases where actual apparitions give evidence
of any _continuity_ in the knowledge possessed by a spirit of friends on
earth. Such evidence is, naturally enough, more often furnished by
automatic script or utterance. But there is one case (which I give in
Appendix VII. A) where a spirit is recorded as appearing repeatedly--in
guardian-angel fashion--and especially as foreseeing and sympathising
with the survivor's future marriage.

Among repeated apparitions this case at present stands almost alone; its
parallels will be found when we come to deal with the persistent
"controls," or alleged communicating spirits, which influence
trance-utterance or automatic script. A case bearing some resemblance to
it, however, is given in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 233, the
main difference being that the repeated communications are there made in
_dream_, and in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p. 450, [714 A], is
recorded another case, where the deceased person seems to make repeated
efforts to impress on survivors a wish prompted by continued affection.

Less uncommon are the cases where an apparition, occurring singly and
not repeated, indicates a continued knowledge of the affairs of earth.
That knowledge, indeed, runs mainly, as we shall presently see, in two
directions. There is often knowledge of some circumstance connected with
the deceased person's own death, as the appearance of his body after
dissolution, or the place of its temporary deposit or final burial. And
there is often knowledge of the impending or actual death of some friend
of the deceased person's. On the view here taken of the gradual passage
from the one environment into the other, both these kinds of knowledge
seem probable enough. I think it likely that some part of the
consciousness after death may for some time be dreamily occupied with
the physical scene. And similarly, when some surviving friend is
gradually verging towards the same dissolution, the fact may be readily
perceptible in the spiritual world. When the friend has actually died,
the knowledge which his predecessor may have of his transition is
knowledge appertaining to events of the next world as much as of this.

But apart from this information, acquired perhaps on the borderland
between two states, apparitions do sometimes imply a perception of more
definitely terrene events, such as the moral crises (as marriage, grave
quarrels, or impending crimes) of friends left behind on earth. In
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 25 [716 A], is a case of impressive
warning, in which the phantom was seen by two persons, one of whom had
already had a less evidential experience.

In another case of similar type,[141] the message, while felt by the
percipient to be convincing and satisfactory, was held too private to be
communicated in detail. It is plain that just in the cases where the
message is most ultimately veracious, the greatest difficulty is likely
to be felt as to making it known to strangers.

I have already given a case (Appendix VII. A) where a departed spirit
seems to show a sympathetic anticipation of a marriage some time before
it is contemplated. In another case (_Journal_ S.P.R., vol v. p. 10),
the percipient, Mrs. V., describes a vision of a mother's form
suspended, as it were, in a church where her son is undergoing the rite
of confirmation. That vision, indeed, might have been purely subjective,
as Mrs. V. was familiar with the departed mother's aspect; though value
is given to it by the fact that Mrs. V. has had other experiences which
included evidential coincidences.

From these instances of knowledge shown by the departed of events which
seem wholly terrene, I pass to knowledge of events which seem in some
sense more nearly concerned with the spirit-world. We have, as already
hinted, a considerable group of cases where a spirit seems to be aware
of the _impending death_ of a survivor.[142] In some few of those cases
the foreknowledge is entirely inexplicable by any such foresight as we
mortals can imagine, but in the case given in Appendix VII. B, though
the family did not foresee the death, a physician might, for aught we
know, have been able to anticipate it. However explained, the case is
one of the best-attested, and in itself one of the most remarkable, that
we possess.

I place next by themselves a small group of cases which have the
interest of uniting the group just recounted, where the spirit
anticipates the friend's departure, with the group next to be
considered, where the spirit welcomes the friend already departed from
earth. This class forms at the same time a natural extension of the
clairvoyance of the dying exemplified in some "reciprocal" cases (_e.g._
in the case of Miss W., where a dying aunt has a vision of her little
niece who sees an apparition of her at the same time; see _Phantasms of
the Living_, vol. ii. p. 253). Just as the approaching severance of
spirit from body there aided the spirit to project its observation among
incarnate spirits at a distance upon this earth, so here does that same
approaching severance enable the dying person to see spirits who are
already in the next world. It is not very uncommon for dying persons to
say, or to indicate when beyond speech, that they see spirit friends
apparently near them. But, of course, such vision becomes evidential
only when the dying person is unaware that the friend whose spirit he
sees has actually departed, or is just about to depart, from earth. Such
a conjuncture must plainly be rare; it is even rather surprising that
these "Peak in Darien" cases, as Miss Cobbe has termed them in a small
collection which she made some years ago, should be found at all. We can
add to Miss Cobbe's cases two of fair attestation. (_Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 93, and vol. xiv. p. 288 [718 A and B]).

From this last group, then, there is scarcely a noticeable transition to
the group where departed spirits manifest their knowledge that some
friend who survived them has now passed on into their world. That such
recognition and welcome does in fact take place, later evidence, drawn
especially from trance-utterances, will give good ground to believe.
Only rarely, however, will such welcome--taking place as it does in the
spiritual world--be reflected by apparitions in _this_. When so
reflected, it may take different forms, from an actual utterance of
sympathy, as from a known departed friend, down to a mere silent
presence, perhaps inexplicable except to those who happen to have known
some long predeceased friend of the decedent's.

I quote in Appendix VII. C one of the most complete cases of this type,
which was brought to us by the Census of Hallucinations.

There are other cases more or less analogous to this. In one[143] the
apparition of a dying mother brings the news of her own death and that
her baby is living. In another[144] a mother sees a vision of her son
being drowned and also an apparition of her own dead mother, who tells
her of the drowning. In this case, the question may be raised as to
whether the second figure seen may not have been, so to say,
_substitutive_--a symbol in which the percipient's own mind clothed a
telepathic impression of the actual decedent's passage from earth. Such
a view might perhaps be supported by some anomalous cases where news of
the death is brought by the apparition of a person still living, who,
nevertheless, is not by any normal means aware of the death. (See the
case of Mrs. T., already given in Appendix IV. E.)

But such an explanation is not always possible. In the case of Mrs.
Bacchus,[145] for instance, both the deceased person and the phantasmal
figure were previously unknown to the percipient. This case--the last
which Edmund Gurney published--comes from an excellent witness. The
psychical incident which it seems to imply, while very remote from
popular notions, would be quite in accordance with the rest of our
present series. A lady dies; her husband in the spirit-world is moved by
her arrival; and the direction thus given to his thought projects a
picture of him, clothed as in the days when he lived with her, into
visibility in the house where her body is lying. We have thus a
dream-like recurrence to earthly memories, prompted by a revival of
those memories which had taken place in the spiritual world. The case is
midway between a case of _welcome_ and a case of _haunting_.

I now come to a considerable group of cases where the departed spirit
shows a definite knowledge of some fact connected with his own
earth-life, his death, or subsequent events connected with that death.
The knowledge of subsequent events, as of the spread of the news of his
death, or as to the place of his burial, is, of course, a greater
achievement (so to term it) than a mere recollection of facts known to
him in life, and ought strictly, on the plan of this series, to be first
illustrated. But it will be seen that all these stages of knowledge
cohere together; and their connection can better be shown if I begin at
the lower stage,--of mere earth-memory. Now here again, as so often
already, we shall have to wait for automatic script and the like to
illustrate the full extent of the deceased person's possible memory.
Readers of the utterances, for instance, of "George Pelham" (see
Chapter IX.) will know how full and accurate may be these recollections
from beyond the grave. Mere apparitions, such as those with which we are
now dealing, can rarely give more than one brief message, probably felt
by the deceased to be of urgent importance.

A well-attested case where the information communicated in a vision
proved to be definite, accurate, and important to the survivors is given
in Appendix VII. D. In the same Appendix another case in this group is
also quoted. It illustrates the fact that the cases of deepest interest
are often the hardest for the inquirer to get hold of.

In this connection I may refer again to Mrs. Storie's dream of the death
of her brother in a railway accident, given in Chapter IV. While I think
that Gurney was right--in the state of the evidence at the time
_Phantasms of the Living_ was written--in doing his best to bring this
incident under the head of telepathic clairvoyance, I yet feel that the
knowledge since gained makes it impossible for me to adhere to that
view. I cannot regard the visionary scene as wholly reflected from the
mind of the dying man. I cannot think, in the first place, that the
vision of Mr. Johnstone--interpolated with seeming irrelevance among the
details of the disaster--did only by accident coincide with the fact
that that gentleman really _was_ in the train, and with the further fact
that it was _he_ who communicated the fact of Mr. Hunter's death to Mr.
and Mrs. Stone. I must suppose that the communicating intelligence was
aware of Mr. Johnstone's presence, and at least guessed that upon him
(as a clergyman) that task would naturally fall. Nor can I pass over as
purely symbolic so important a part of the vision as the _second
figure_, and the scrap of conversation, which seemed to be half heard. I
therefore consider that the case falls among those where a friend
recently departed appears in company of some other friend, dead some
time before.

We have thus seen the spirit occupied shortly after death with various
duties or engagements, small or great, which it has incurred during life
on earth. Such ties seem to prompt or aid its action upon its old
surroundings. And here an important reflection occurs. Can we _prepare_
such a tie for the departing spirit? Can we create for it some welcome
and helpful train of association which may facilitate the
self-manifestation which many souls appear to desire? I believe that we
can to some extent do this. At an early stage of our collection, Edmund
Gurney was struck by the unexpectedly large proportion of cases where
the percipient informed us that there had been a _compact_ between
himself and the deceased person that whichever passed away first should
try to appear to the other. "Considering," he adds, "what an extremely
small number of persons make such a compact, compared with those who do
not, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that its existence has a
certain efficacy."

Let us now review the compact-cases given in _Phantasms of the Living_
and consider how far they seem to indicate _ante-mortem_ or
_post-mortem_ communication. The twelve cases there recorded are such as
fell, or may have fallen, within twelve hours of the death. In three of
these cases, the agent whose phantasm appeared was certainly still
alive. In most of the other cases the exact time relation is obscure; in
a few of them there is strong probability that the agent was already
dead. The inference will be that the existence of a promise or compact
may act effectively both on the subliminal self before death and also
probably on the spirit after death.

This conclusion is confirmed by several other cases, one of which is
given in Appendix VII. E. This case suggests an important practical
reflection. When a compact to appear, if possible, after death is made,
it should be understood that the appearance need not be to the special
partner in the compact, but to any one whom the agent can succeed in
impressing. It is likely enough that many such attempts, which have
faded on account of the surviving friend's lack of appropriate
sensitivity, might have succeeded if the agent had tried to influence
some one already known to be capable of receiving these
impressions.[146] There is a case given in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v.
p. 440, in which a lady, having made a compact with her husband and also
with a friend, her phantom is seen after her death by her husband and
daughter and the latter's nurse, collectively; but not by the friend,
who was living elsewhere.

Again, we cannot tell how long the spirit may continue the effort, or,
so to say, renew the experiment. In a case recorded in _Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. x. p. 378, the compact is fulfilled after a space of five
years. In another case,[147] there had been no formal compact; but there
is an attempt to express gratitude on an anniversary of death; and this
implies the same kind of mindful effort as the fulfilment of a definite

I have now traced certain _post-mortem_ manifestations which reveal a
recollection of events known at death, and also a persistence of purpose
in carrying out intentions formed before death. In this next group I
shall trace the knowledge of the departed a little further, and shall
discuss some cases where they appear cognisant of the aspect of their
bodies after death, or of the scenes in which those bodies are
temporarily deposited or finally laid. Such knowledge may appear
trivial,--unworthy the attention of spirits transported into a higher
world. But it is in accordance with the view of a gradual transference
of interests and perceptions,--a period of intermediate confusion, such
as may follow especially upon a death of a sudden or violent kind, or
perhaps upon a death which interrupts very strong affections.

Thus we have already (Appendix VII. B) encountered one striking case of
this type,--the _scratch on the cheek_, perceived by the departed
daughter, as we may conjecture, by reason of the close sympathy which
united her to the mother who was caring for her remains.

There are also two cases closely resembling each other, though from
percipients in widely different parts of the world, where a clairvoyant
vision seems to be presented of a tranquil death-chamber. In that of Mr.
Hector of Valencia, South Australia (see _Phantasms of the Living_, vol.
i. p. 353), the percipient sees in a dream his father dying in the room
he usually occupied, with a candle burning on a chair by his bed; and
the father is found dead in the morning, with a candle by his bedside in
the position seen in the dream. There is not, however, in this case any
sure indication that the dead or dying person was cognisant of his own
body's aspect or surroundings. There may have been a clairvoyant
excursion on the percipient's part, evoked by some impulse from the
agent which did not itself develop into distinctness.[148]

But in certain cases of violent death there seems to have been an
intention on the deceased person's part to show the condition in which
his body is left. Such was Mrs. Storie's dream, or rather series of
visions referred to earlier in this chapter. Such are the cases given in
_Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 365 [429 A], and _Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. iii. (1885) p. 95 [§ 730]. Here, too, may be placed two
cases--those of Dr. Bruce (in Appendix IV. D) and Miss Hall (_Journal_
S.P.R., vol. vii. p. 173 [731 A])--where there are _successive_ pictures
of a death and the subsequent arrangement of the body. The _milieux_ of
the percipients, the nature of the deaths, are here again totally
disparate; yet we seem to see the same unknown laws producing effects
closely similar.

In Dr. Bruce's case one might interpret the visions as coming to the
percipient through the mind of his wife, who was present at the scene of
the murder. But this explanation would be impossible in Miss Hall's
case. Rather it seems as though some telepathic link, set up between the
dying brother and the sister, had been maintained after death until all
duties had been fulfilled to the departed. The case reminds one of the
old Homeric notions of the restless appeal of unburied comrades.

In the case of Mrs. Green (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p. 420 [429
D]), we come across an interesting problem. Two women are drowned under
very peculiar circumstances. A friend has apparently a clairvoyant
vision of the scene, yet not at the moment when it occurred, but many
hours afterwards, and about the time when another person, deeply
interested, heard of the death. It is therefore possible to suppose that
the apparently clairvoyant scene was in reality impressed telepathically
on the percipient by another living mind. I think, however, that both
the nature of the vision and certain analogies, which will appear later
in our argument, point to a different view, involving an agency both of
the dead and of the living. I conjecture that a current of influence may
be started by a deceased person, which, however, only becomes strong
enough to be perceptible to its object when reinforced by some vivid
current of emotion arising in living minds. I do not say that this is
yet provable; yet the hint may be of value when the far-reaching
interdependencies of telepathy between the two worlds come to be better

Two singular cases in this group remain, where the departed spirit, long
after death, seems preoccupied with the spot where his bones are laid.
The first of these cases (_Journal_ S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 230 [733 A])
approaches farce; the second (in which the skeleton of a man who had
probably been murdered about forty years before was discovered by means
of a dream; see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 35), stands alone
among our narratives in the tragedy which follows on the communication.
Mr. Podmore in an article in the same volume (p. 303) suggests other
theories to account for this case without invoking the agency of the
dead; but to me the least impossible explanation is still the notion
that the murdered man's dreams harked back after all those years to his
remote unconsecrated grave. I may refer further to another case (in
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. iv. p. 155, footnote) where feelings of
horror and depression were constantly experienced in a room over which a
baby's body was afterwards found. This case makes, perhaps, for another
explanation--depending not so much on any _continued_ influence of the
departed spirit as on some _persistent_ influence inhering in the bones
themselves--deposited under circumstances of terror or anguish, and
possibly in some way still radiating a malignant memory. Bizarre as this
interpretation looks, we shall find some confirmation of such a
possibility in our chapter on Possession. Yet another case belonging to
the same group (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p. 418) supplies a variant
on this view; suggesting, as Edward Gurney has remarked, the local
imprintation of a tragic picture, by _whom_ and upon _what_ we cannot

I think it well to suggest even these wild conjectures; so long as they
are understood to be conjectures and nothing more. I hold it probable
that those communications, of which telepathy from one spirit to another
forms the most easily traceable variety, are in reality infinitely
varied and complex, and show themselves from time to time in forms which
must for long remain quite beyond our comprehension.

The next class of cases in this series well illustrates this
unexpectedness. It has only been as the result of a gradual accumulation
of concordant cases that I have come to believe there is some reality in
the bizarre supposition that the departed spirit is sometimes specially
aware of the tune at which news of his death is about to reach some
given friend.[149] Proof of such knowledge on his part is rendered
harder by the alternative possibility that the friend may by
clairvoyance become aware of a letter in his own proximity. As was shown
in _Phantasms of the Living_, there is some evidence for such
clairvoyance even in cases where the letter seen is quite unimportant.

Again, there are cases where the percipient states that a cloud of
unreasonable depression fell upon him about the time of his friend's
death at a distance, and continued until the actual news arrived; when,
instead of becoming intensified, it lifted suddenly. In one or two such
cases there was an actual presence or apparition, which seemed to hang
about until the news arrived, and then disappeared. Or, on the other
hand, there is sometimes a happy vision of the departed preluding the
news, as though to prepare the percipient's mind for the shock
(_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 90 [735 A]). The suggested inference
is that in such cases the spirit's attention is more or less
continuously directed to the survivor until the news reaches him. This
does not, of course, explain how the spirit learns as to the arrival of
the news; yet it makes that piece of knowledge seem a less isolated

Having thus referred to a number of cases where the apparition shows
varying degrees of knowledge or memory, I pass on to the somewhat
commoner type, where the apparition lacks the power or the impulse to
communicate any message much more definite than that all-important
one--of his own continued life and love. These cases, nevertheless,
might be subdivided on many lines. Each apparition, even though it be
momentary, is a phenomenon complex in more ways than our minds can
follow. We must look for some broad line of demarcation, which may apply
to a great many different incidents, while continuing to some extent
the series which we have already been descending--from knowledge and
purpose on the deceased person's part down to vagueness and apparent

Such a division--gradual, indeed, but for that very reason the more
instructive--exists between _personal_ and _local_ apparitions; between
manifestations plainly intended to impress the minds of certain definite
survivors and manifestations in accustomed haunts, some of which,
indeed, may be destined to impress survivors, but which degenerate and
disintegrate into sights and sounds too meaningless to prove either
purpose or intelligence.

Let us look, then, for these characteristics, not expecting, of course,
that our series will be logically simple; for it must often happen that
the personal and local impulses will be indistinguishable, as when the
desired percipient is inhabiting the familiar home. But we may begin
with some cases where the apparition has shown itself in some scene
altogether strange to the deceased person.

We have had, of course, some cases of this type already. Such was the
case of the apparition with the _red scratch_ (Appendix VII. B); such
too was the apparition in the Countess Kapnist's carriage (Appendix VII.
E). Such cases, indeed, occur most frequently--and this fact is itself
significant--among the higher and more developed forms of manifestation.
Among the briefer, less-developed apparitions with which we have now to
deal, invasions by the phantasm of quite unknown territory are
relatively few. I will begin by referring to a curious case, where the
impression given is that of a spiritual presence which seeks and finds
the percipient, but is itself too confused for coherent communication
(Mrs. Lightfoot's case, _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 453 [429
B]). It will be seen that this narrative is thoroughly in accordance
with previous indications of a state of posthumous _bewilderment_
supervening before the spirit has adjusted its perceptions to the new

In cases like Mrs. Lightfoot's, where the percipient's surroundings are
unknown to the deceased person, and especially in cases where the
intimation of a death reaches the percipient when _at sea_, there is
plainly nothing except the percipient's own personality to guide the
spirit in his search. We have several narratives of this type. In one of
these--Archdeacon Farler's, already referred to (p. 227), the apparition
appears _twice_, the second appearance at least being subsequent to the
death. It is plain that if in such a case the _second_ apparition
conveys no fresh intelligence, we cannot prove that it is more than a
subjective recrudescence of the _first_. Yet analogy is in favour of
its veridical character, since we have cases where successive
manifestations _do_ bring fresh knowledge, and seem to show a continued
effort to communicate.[150]

Then, again, there are _auditory_ cases where the phantasmal speech has
occurred in places not known to the deceased person. (_Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. iii. p. 90, and vol. v. p. 455.)

One specially impressive characteristic of apparitions (as has been
already remarked) is their occasional _collectivity_--the fact that more
percipients than one sometimes see or hear the phantasmal figure or
voice simultaneously. When one is considering the gradual decline in
definiteness and apparent purpose from one group of apparitions to
another, it is natural to ask whether this characteristic--in my view so
important--is found to accompany especially the higher, more intelligent

I cannot find that this is so. On the contrary, it is, I think, in cases
of mere _haunting_ that we oftenest find that the figure is seen by
several persons at once, or else (a cognate phenomenon) by several
persons successively. I know not how to explain this apparent tendency.
Could we admit the underlying assumptions, it would suit the view that
the "haunting" spirits are "earthbound," and thus somehow nearer to
matter than spirits more exalted. Yet instances of collectivity are
scattered through all classes of apparitions; and the irregular
appearance of a characteristic which seems to us so fundamental affords
another lesson how great may be the variety of inward mechanism in cases
which to us might seem constructed on much the same type.

I pass on to a group of cases which are both personal and local;
although the personal element in most of them--the desire to manifest to
the friend--may seem more important than the local element--the impulse
to revisit some accustomed haunt.

In the case which I shall now cite the deceased person's image is seen
simultaneously by several members of his own household, in his own
house. Note the analogy to a collective crystal vision.[151]

The account is taken from _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 213. It
is given by Mr. Charles A. W. Lett, of the Military and Royal Naval
Club, Albemarle Street, W.

_December 3rd, 1885._

     On the 5th April 1873 my wife's father, Captain Towns, died at his
     residence, Cranbrook, Rose Bay, near Sidney, N. S. Wales. About six
     weeks after his death my wife had occasion, one evening about nine
     o'clock, to go to one of the bedrooms in the house. She was
     accompanied by a young lady, Miss Berthon, and as they entered the
     room--the gas was burning all the time--they were amazed to see,
     reflected as it were on the polished surface of the wardrobe, the
     image of Captain Towns. It was barely half figure, the head,
     shoulders, and part of the arms only showing--in fact, it was like
     an ordinary medallion portrait, but life-size. The face appeared
     wan and pale, as it did before his death, and he wore a kind of
     grey flannel jacket, in which he had been accustomed to sleep.
     Surprised and half alarmed at what they saw, their first idea was
     that a portrait had been hung in the room, and that what they saw
     was its reflection; but there was no picture of the kind.

     Whilst they were looking and wondering, my wife's sister, Miss
     Towns, came into the room, and before either of the others had time
     to speak she exclaimed, "Good gracious! Do you see papa?" One of
     the housemaids happened to be passing downstairs at the moment, and
     she was called in, and asked if she saw anything, and her reply
     was, "Oh, miss! the master." Graham--Captain Towns' old body
     servant--was then sent for, and he also immediately exclaimed, "Oh,
     Lord save us! Mrs. Lett, it's the Captain!" The butler was called,
     and then Mrs. Crane, my wife's nurse, and they both said what they
     saw. Finally, Mrs. Towns was sent for, and, seeing the apparition,
     she advanced towards it with her arm extended as if to touch it,
     and as she passed her hand over the panel of the wardrobe the
     figure gradually faded away, and never again appeared, though the
     room was regularly occupied for a long time after.

     These are the simple facts of the case, and they admit of no doubt;
     no kind of intimation was given to any of the witnesses; the same
     question was put to each one as they came into the room, and the
     reply was given without hesitation by each. It was by the merest
     accident that I did not see the apparition. I was in the house at
     the time, but did not hear when I was called.

C. A. W. LETT.

     We, the undersigned, having read the above statement, certify that
     it is strictly accurate, as we both were witnesses of the


Gurney writes:--

     Mrs. Lett assures me that neither she nor her sister ever
     experienced a hallucination of the senses on any other occasion.
     She is positive that the recognition of the appearance on the part
     of each of the later witnesses was _independent_, and not due to
     any suggestion from the persons already in the room.

There is another collective case which is noticeable from the fact that
the departed spirit appears to influence two persons at a distance from
each other in a concordant way, so that one of them becomes conscious of
the appearance to the other.[152] Compare with this the incident given
at the end of Appendix VII. G, when Miss Campbell has a vision of her
friend seeing an apparition at a time when this is actually

The case given in Appendix VII. F--which comes from excellent
informants--is one of those which correspond most nearly to what one
would _desire_ in a posthumous message. I may refer also to General
Campbell's case (in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p. 476) in which a
long continued series of unaccountable noises and an apparition twice
seen by a child in the house suggested to the narrator the agency of his
dead wife. The case, which depends for its evidential force on a great
mass of detail, is too long for me to quote; but it is worth study, as
is any case where there seems evidence of persistent effort to manifest,
meeting with one knows not what difficulty. It may be that in such a
story there is nothing but strange coincidence, or it may be that from
records of partially successful effort, renewed often and in ambiguous
ways, we shall hereafter learn something of the nature of that curtain
of obstruction which now seems so arbitrary in its sudden lifting, its
sudden fall.

I will conclude this group by referring the reader to three cases
closely similar, all well attested, and all of them capable of
explanation either on local or personal grounds. In the first
(_Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 619 [744 A]) an apparition is
seen by two persons in a house in Edinburgh, a few hours before the
death of a lady who had lived there, and whose body was to be brought
back to it. In the second (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 57 [744 B])
the dead librarian haunts his library, but in the library are members of
his old staff. In the third (_Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 212
[§ 744]), the dead wife loiters round her husband's tomb, but near it
passes a gardener who had been in her employ.

In this last case the apparition was seen about seven and a half hours
after the death. This, as Gurney remarked, makes it still more difficult
to regard the case as a telepathic impression transmitted at the moment
of death, and remaining latent in the mind of the percipient. The
incident suggests rather that Bard, the gardener, had come upon Mrs. de
Fréville's spirit, so to say, unawares. One cannot imagine that she
specially wished him to see her, and to see her engaged in what seems so
needless and undignified a retracing of currents of earthly thought.
Rather this seems a rudimentary _haunting_--an incipient lapse into
those aimless, perhaps unconscious, reappearances in familiar spots
which may persist (as it would seem) for many years after death.

A somewhat similar case is that of Colonel Crealock (in _Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. v. p. 432) where a soldier who had been dead some hours was
seen by his superior officer in camp at night rolling up and taking away
his bed.

It is, indeed, mainly by dwelling on these intermediate cases, between a
message-bringing apparition and a purposeless haunt, that we have most
hope of understanding the typical haunt which, while it has been in a
sense the most popular of all our phenomena, is yet to the careful
inquirer one of the least satisfactory. One main evidential difficulty
generally lies in identifying the haunting figure, in finding anything
to connect the history of the house with the vague and often various
sights and sounds which perplex or terrify its flesh and blood
inhabitants. We must, at any rate, rid ourselves of the notion that some
great crime or catastrophe is always to be sought as the groundwork of a
haunt of this kind. To that negative conclusion our cases concordantly
point us.[154] The apparition is most often seen by a stranger, several
months after the death, with no apparent reason for its appearance at
that special time. This last point is of interest in considering the
question whether the hallucinatory picture could have been projected
from any still incarnate mind. In one case--the vision of the Bishop of
St. Brieuc (given in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. p. 460), there _was_
such a special reason--the Bishop's body, unknown to the percipient, was
at that moment being buried at the distance of a few miles. Mr. Podmore
suggests (_op. cit._, vol. vi. p. 301) that it was from the minds of the
living mourners that the Bishop's phantasm was generated. That
hypothesis may have its portion of truth; the surrounding emotion may
have been one of the factors which made the apparition possible. But the
assumption that it was the only admissible factor--that the departed
Bishop's own possible agency must be set aside altogether--lands us, I
think, in difficulties greater than those which we should thus escape.
The reader who tries to apply it to the apparitions quoted in my earlier
groups will find himself in a labyrinth of complexity. Still more will
this be the case in dealing with the far fuller and more explicit
_motor___ communications, by automatic writing or speech, which we shall
have to discuss in the two next chapters. Unless the actual evidence be
disallowed in a wholesale manner, we shall be forced, I think, to admit
the continued action of the departed as a main element in these

I do not say as the _only_ element. I myself hold, as already implied,
that the thought and emotion of living persons does largely intervene,
as aiding or conditioning the independent action of the departed. I even
believe that it is possible that, say, an intense fixation of my own
mind on a departed spirit may aid that spirit to manifest at a special
moment--and not even to me, but to a percipient more sensitive than
myself. In the boundless ocean of mind innumerable currents and tides
shift with the shifting emotion of each several soul.

But now we are confronted by another possible element in these vaguer
classes of apparitions, harder to evaluate even than the possible action
of incarnate minds. I mean the possible _results_ of past mental action,
which, for aught we know, may persist in some perceptible manner,
without fresh reinforcement, just as the results of past bodily action
persist. This question leads to the still wider question of
_retrocognition_, and of the relation of psychical phenomena to _time_
generally--a problem whose discussion cannot be attempted here.[155] Yet
we must remember that such possibilities exist; they may explain certain
phenomena into which little of fresh intelligence seems to enter, as,
for instance, the alleged persistence, perhaps for years, of meaningless
sounds in a particular room or house.

And since we are coming now to cases into which this element of
meaningless sound will enter largely, it seems right to begin their
discussion with a small group of cases where there is evidence for the
definite agency of some dying or deceased person in connection with
inarticulate sounds, or I should rather say of the _connection_ of some
deceased person with the sounds; since the best explanation may perhaps
be that they are _sounds of welcome_--before or after actual
death--corresponding to those _apparitions of welcome_ of which we have
already had specimens. One of our cases (see _Phantasms of the Living_,
vol. ii. p. 639 [§ 747]) is remarkable in that the auditory
hallucination--a sound as of female voices gently singing--was heard by
five persons, by four of them, as it seems, independently, and in two
places, on different sides of the house. At the same time, one
person--the Eton master whose mother had just died, and who was
therefore presumably in a frame of mind more prone to hallucination than
the physician, matron, friend, or servants who actually did hear the
singing--himself heard nothing at all. In this case the physician felt
no doubt that Mrs. L. was actually dead; and in fact it was during the
laying out of the body that the sounds occurred.

I have already discussed (Chapter VI.) the nature of these phantasmal
sounds;--nor is it contrary to our analogies that the person most deeply
concerned in the death should in this case fail to hear them. But the
point on which I would here lay stress is that phantasmal sounds--even
non-articulate sounds--may be as clear a manifestation of personality as
phantasmal figures. Among non-articulate noises music is, of course, the
most pleasing; but sounds, for instance, which imitate the work of a
carpenter's shop, may be equally human and intelligent. In some of the
cases of this class we see apparent attempts of various kinds to
simulate sounds such as men and women--or manufactured, as opposed to
natural, objects--are accustomed to produce. To claim this humanity, to
indicate this intelligence, seems the only motive of sounds of this

These sounds, in their rudimentary attempt at showing intelligence, are
about on a level with the exploits of the "Poltergeist," where coals are
thrown about, water spilt, and so forth. Poltergeist phenomena, however,
seldom coincide with the ordinary phenomena of a haunt. We have one
remarkable case (_Journal_ S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 280-84 [868 B]) where
Poltergeist phenomena coincide with a death, and a few cases where they
are supposed to follow on a death; but, as a rule, where figures appear
there are no movements; and where there are movements no apparition is
seen. If alleged Poltergeist phenomena are always fraudulent, there
would be nothing to be surprised at here. If, as I suspect, they are
sometimes genuine, their dissociation from visual hallucinations may
sometimes afford us a hint of value.

But after Poltergeists have been set aside,--after a severe line has
been drawn excluding all those cases (in themselves singular enough)
where the main phenomena observed consist of non-articulate
sounds,--there remains a great mass of evidence to haunting,--that is,
broadly speaking, to the fact that there are many houses in which more
than one person has independently seen phantasmal figures, which
usually, though not always, bear at least some resemblance to each
other.[157] The facts thus baldly stated are beyond dispute. Their true
interpretation is a very difficult matter. Mrs. Sidgwick gives four
hypotheses, which I must quote at length as the first serious attempt
ever made (so far as I know) to collect and face the difficulties of
this problem, so often, but so loosely, discussed through all historical
times. (From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. iii. pp. 146-8.)

"I will, therefore, proceed briefly to state and discuss the only four
theories that have occurred to me.

"The two which I will take first in order assume that the apparitions
are due to the agency or presence of the spirits of deceased men.

"There is first the popular view, that the apparition is something
belonging to the external world--that, like ordinary matter, it occupies
and moves through space, and would be in the room whether the percipient
were there to see it or not. This hypothesis involves us in many
difficulties, of which one serious one--that of accounting for the
clothes of the ghost--has often been urged, and never, I think,
satisfactorily answered. Nevertheless, I am bound to admit that there is
some little evidence tending to suggest this theory. For instance, in
the account,[158] of which I have given an abstract, of the weeping lady
who has appeared so frequently in a certain house, the following passage
occurs:--'They went after it (the figure) together into the
drawing-room; it then came out, and went down the aforesaid passage
(leading to the kitchen), but was the next minute seen by another Miss
[M.] ... come up the outside steps from the kitchen. On this particular
day, Captain [M.'s] married daughter happened to be at an upstairs
window ... and independently saw the figure continue her course across
the lawn and into the orchard.' A considerable amount of clear evidence
to the appearance of ghosts to independent observers in successive
points in space would certainly afford a strong argument for their
having a definite relation to space; but in estimating evidence of this
kind it would be necessary to know how far the observer's attention had
been drawn to the point in question. If it had been a real woman whom
the Miss [M.'s] were observing, we should have inferred, with perfect
certainty, from our knowledge that she could not be in two places at
once, that she had been successively, in a certain order, in the places
where she was seen by the three observers. If they had noted the moments
at which they saw her, and comparing notes afterwards, found that
according to these notes they had all seen her at the same time, or in
some other order to that inferred, we should still feel absolute
confidence in our inference, and should conclude that there must be
something wrong about the watches or the notes. From association of
ideas, it would be perfectly natural to make the same inference in the
case of a ghost which looks exactly like a woman. But in the case of the
ghost the inference would not be legitimate, because, unless the
particular theory of ghosts which we are discussing be true, there is no
reason, so far as we know, why it should not appear in two or more
places at once. Hence, in the case of the ghost, a well-founded
assurance that the appearances were successive would require a careful
observation of the times, which, so far as I know, has never been made.
On the whole, therefore, I must dismiss the popular theory as not
having, in my opinion, even a _primâ facie_ ground for serious

"The theory that I will next examine seems to me decidedly more
plausible, from its analogy to the conclusion to which I am brought by
the examination of the evidence for phantasms of the living. This theory
is that the apparition has no real relation to the external world, but
is a hallucination caused in some way by some communication, without the
intervention of the senses, between the disembodied spirit and the
percipient, its form depending on the mind either of the spirit or of
the percipient, or of both. In the case of haunted houses, however, a
difficulty meets us that we do not encounter, or at least rarely
encounter, in applying a similar hypothesis to explain phantasms of the
living, or phantasms of the dead other than fixed local ghosts. In these
cases we have generally to suppose a simple _rapport_ between mind and
mind, but in a haunted house we have a _rapport_ complicated by its
apparent dependence on locality. It seems necessary to make the
improbable assumption, that the spirit is interested in an entirely
special way in a particular house (though possibly this interest may be
of a subconscious kind), and that his interest in it puts him into
connection with another mind, occupied with it in the way that that of a
living person actually there must consciously or unconsciously be, while
he does not get into similar communication with the same, or with other
persons elsewhere.

"If, notwithstanding these difficulties, it be true that haunting is due
in any way to the agency of deceased persons, and conveys a definite
idea of them to the percipients through the resemblance to them of the
apparition, then, by patiently continuing our investigations, we may
expect, sooner or later, to obtain a sufficient amount of evidence to
connect clearly the commencement of hauntings with the death of
particular persons, and to establish clearly the likeness of the
apparition to those persons. The fact that almost everybody is now
photographed ought to be of material assistance in obtaining evidence of
this latter kind.

"My third theory dispenses with the agency of disembodied spirits, but
involves us in other and perhaps equally great improbabilities. It is
that the first appearance is a purely subjective hallucination, and that
the subsequent similar appearances, both to the original percipient and
to others, are the result of the first appearance; unconscious
expectancy causing them in the case of the original percipient, and some
sort of telepathic communication from the original percipient in the
case of others. In fact, it assumes that a tendency to a particular
hallucination is in a way infectious. If this theory be true, I should
expect to find that the apparently independent appearances after the
first depended on the percipient's having had some sort of intercourse
with some one who had seen the ghost before, and that any decided
discontinuity of occupancy would stop the haunting. I should also expect
to find, as we do in one of the cases I have quoted, that sometimes the
supposed ghost would follow the family from one abode to another,
appearing to haunt them rather than any particular house.

"The fourth theory that I shall mention is one which I can hardly expect
to appear plausible, and which, therefore, I only introduce because I
think that it corresponds best to a certain part of the evidence;--and,
as I have already said, considering the altogether tentative way in
which we are inevitably dealing with this obscure subject, it is as well
to express definitely every hypothesis which an impartial consideration
of the facts suggests. It is that there is something in the actual
building itself--some subtle physical influence--which produces in the
brain that effect which, in its turn, becomes the cause of a
hallucination. It is certainly difficult on this hypothesis alone to
suppose that the hallucinations of different people would be similar,
but we might account for this by a combination of this hypothesis and
the last. The idea is suggested by the case, of which I have given an
abstract, where the haunting continued through more than one occupancy,
but changed its character; and if there be any truth in the theory, I
should expect in time to obtain a good deal more evidence of this kind,
combined with evidence that the same persons do not as a rule encounter
ghosts elsewhere. I should also expect evidence to be forthcoming
supporting the popular idea that repairs and alterations of the building
sometimes cause the haunting to cease."[159]

These hypotheses--none of which, as Mrs. Sidgwick expressly states (_op.
cit._, p. 145), seemed to herself satisfactory--did nevertheless, I
think, comprise all the deductions which could reasonably be made from
the evidence as it at that time stood. A few modifications, which the
experience of subsequent years has led me to introduce, can hardly be
said to afford further _explanation_, although they state the
difficulties in what now seems to me a more hopeful way.

In the first place then--as already explained in Chapter VI.--I in some
sense fuse into one Mrs. Sidgwick's two first hypotheses by my own
hypothesis of actual presence, actual spatial changes induced in the
metetherial, but not in the material world. I hold that when the
phantasm is discerned by more than one person at once (and on some
other, but not all other occasions) it is actually effecting a change in
that portion of space where it is perceived, although not, as a rule, in
the matter which occupies that place. It is, therefore, not optically
nor acoustically perceived; perhaps no rays of light are reflected nor
waves of air set in motion; but an unknown form of supernormal
perception, not necessarily acting through the sensory end-organs, comes
into play. In the next place, I am inclined to lay stress on the
parallel between these narratives of haunting and those phantasms of the
living which I have already classed as _psychorrhagic_. In each case,
as it seems to me, there is an involuntary detachment of some element of
the spirit, probably with no knowledge thereof at the main centre of
consciousness. Those "haunts by the living," as they may be called,
where, for instance, a man is seen phantasmally standing before his own
fireplace, seem to me to be repeated, perhaps more readily, after the
spirit is freed from the flesh.

Again, I think that the curious question as to the influence of certain
_houses_ in generating apparitions may be included under the broader
heading of Retrocognition. That is to say, we are not here dealing with
a special condition of certain houses, but with a branch of the wide
problem as to the relation of supernormal phenomena to _time_.
Manifestations which occur in haunted houses depend, let us say, on
something which has taken place a long time ago. In what way do they
depend on that past event? Are they a sequel, or only a residue? Is
there fresh operation going on, or only fresh perception of something
already accomplished? Or can we in such a case draw any real distinction
between a continued action and a continued perception of a past action?
The closest parallel, as it seems to me, although not at first sight an
obvious one, lies between these phenomena of haunting, these persistent
sights and sounds, and certain phenomena of crystal-vision and of
automatic script, which also seem to depend somehow upon long-past
events,--to be their sequel or their residue. One specimen case I give
in Appendix (VII. G), where the connection of the haunting apparition
with a certain person long deceased may be maintained with more than
usual plausibility. From that level the traceable connections get weaker
and weaker, until we come to phantasmal scenes where there is no longer
any even apparent claim to the contemporary agency of human spirits.
Such a vision, for instance, as that of a line of spectral deer crossing
a ford, may indeed, if seen in the same place by several independent
observers, be held to be something more than a mere subjective fancy;
but what in reality such a picture signifies is a question which brings
us at once to theories of the permanence or simultaneity of all
phenomena in a timeless Universal Soul.

Such conceptions, however difficult, are among the highest to which our
mind can reach. Could we approach them more nearly, they might deeply
influence our view, even of our own remote individual destiny. So,
perhaps, shall it some day be; at present we may be well satisfied if we
can push our knowledge of that destiny one step further than of old,
even just behind that veil which has so long hung impenetrably before
the eyes of men.

Here, then, is a natural place of pause in our inquiry.

The discussion of the ethical aspect of these questions I have postponed
to my concluding chapter. But one point already stands out from the
evidence--at once so important and so manifest that it seems well to
call attention to it at once--as a solvent more potent than any
Lucretius could apply to human superstition and human fears.

In this long string of narratives, complex and bizarre though their
details may be, we yet observe that the character of the appearance
varies in a definite manner with their distinctness and individuality.
Haunting phantoms, incoherent and unintelligent, may seem restless and
unhappy. But as they rise into definiteness, intelligence,
individuality, the phantoms rise also into love and joy. I cannot recall
one single case of a proved posthumous combination of intelligence with
wickedness. Such evil as our evidence will show us--we have as yet
hardly come across it in this book--is scarcely more than monkeyish
mischief, childish folly. In dealing with automatic script, for
instance, we shall have to wonder whence come the occasional vulgar
jokes or silly mystifications. We shall discuss whether they are a kind
of dream of the automatist's own, or whether they indicate the existence
of unembodied intelligences on the level of the dog or the ape. But, on
the other hand, all that world-old conception of Evil Spirits, of
malevolent Powers, which has been the basis of so much of actual
devil-worship and of so much more of vague supernatural fear;--all this
insensibly melts from the mind as we study the evidence before us.

    Hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
    Non radii solis, neque lucida tela diei
    Discutiant sed, naturæ species ratioque.

Here surely is a fact of no little meaning. Our narratives have been
collected from men and women of many types, holding all varieties of
ordinary opinion. Yet the upshot of all these narratives is to emphasise
a point which profoundly differentiates the scientific from the
superstitious view of spiritual phenomena. The terror which shaped
primitive theologies still tinges for the populace every hint of
intercourse with disembodied souls. The transmutation of savage fear
into scientific curiosity is of the essence of civilisation. Towards
that transmutation each separate fragment of our evidence, with
undesigned concordance, indisputably tends. In that faintly opening
world of spirit I can find nothing worse than living men; I seem to
discern not an intensification but a disintegration of selfishness,
malevolence, pride. And is not this a natural result of any cosmic moral
evolution? If the selfish man (as Marcus Antoninus has it) "is a kind of
boil or imposthume upon the universe," must not his egoistic impulses
suffer in that wider world a sure, even if a painful, decay; finding no
support or sustenance among those permanent forces which maintain the
stream of things?

I have thus indicated one point of primary importance on which the
undesignedly coincident testimony of hundreds of first-hand narratives
supports a conclusion, not yet popularly accepted, but in harmony with
the evolutionary conceptions which rule our modern thought. Nor does
this point stand alone. I can find, indeed, no guarantee of absolute and
idle bliss; no triumph in any exclusive salvation. But the student of
these narratives will, I think, discover throughout them uncontradicted
indications of the persistence of Love, the growth of Joy, the willing
submission to Law.

These indications, no doubt, may seem weak and scattered la comparison
with the wholesale, thorough-going assertions of philosophical or
religious creeds. Their advantage is that they occur incidentally in the
course of our independent and cumulative demonstration of the
profoundest cosmical thesis which we can at present conceive as
susceptible of any kind of scientific proof. Cosmical questions, indeed,
there may be which are in themselves of deeper import than our own
survival of bodily death. The nature of the First Cause; the blind or
the providential ordering of the sum of things;--these are problems
vaster than any which affect only the destinies of men. But to whatever
moral certainty we may attain on those mightiest questions, we can
devise no way whatever of bringing them to scientific test. They deal
with infinity; and our modes of investigation have grasp only on finite

But the question of man's survival of death stands in a position
uniquely intermediate between matters capable and matters incapable of
proof. It is in itself a definite problem, admitting of conceivable
proof which, even if not technically rigorous, might amply satisfy the
scientific mind. And at the same time the conception which it involves
is in itself a kind of avenue and inlet into infinity. Could a proof of
our survival be obtained, it would carry us deeper into the true nature
of the universe than we should be carried by an even perfect knowledge
of the material scheme of things. It would carry us deeper both by
achievement and by promise. The discovery that there was a life in man
independent of blood and brain would be a cardinal, a dominating fact in
all science and in all philosophy. And the prospect thus opened to human
knowledge, in this or in other worlds, would be limitless indeed.



    Μηκἑτι μὁνον συπνεἱν τὡ περιἑχοντι ἁἑρι, ἁλλ' ἡδη καἱ συμφρονοιν
    τὡ περιἑχοντἱ πἁντα νοερὡ


At this point, one may broadly say, we reach the end of the phenomena
whose existence is vaguely familiar to popular talk. And here, too, I
might fairly claim, the evidence for my primary thesis,--namely, that
the analysis of man's personality reveals him as a spirit, surviving
death,--has attained an amplitude which would justify the reader in
accepting that view as the provisional hypothesis which comes nearest to
a comprehensive co-ordination of the actual facts. What we have already
recounted seems, indeed, impossible to explain except by supposing that
our inner vision has widened or deepened its purview so far as to attain
some glimpses of a spiritual world in which the individualities of our
departed friends still actually subsist.

The reader, however, who has followed me thus far must be well aware
that a large class of phenomena, of high importance, is still awaiting
discussion. _Motor_ automatisms,--though less familiar to the general
public than the phantasms which I have classed as _sensory_
automatisms,--are in fact even commoner, and even more significant.

Motor automatisms, as I define them, are phenomena of very wide range.
We have encountered them already many times in this book. We met them in
the first place in a highly developed form in connection with multiplex
personality in Chapter II. Numerous instances were there given of motor
effects, initiated by secondary selves without the knowledge of the
primary selves, or sometimes in spite of their actual resistance. All
motor action of a secondary self is an automatism in this sense, in
relation to the primary self. And of course we might by analogy extend
the use of the word still further, and might call not only
post-epileptic acts, but also maniacal acts, automatic; since they are
performed without the initiation of the presumedly sane primary
personality. Those degenerative phenomena, indeed, are not to be
discussed in this chapter. Yet it will be well to pause here long enough
to make it clear to the reader just what motor automatisms I am about to
discuss as _evolutive_ phenomena, and as therefore falling within the
scope of this treatise;--and what kind of relation they bear to the
dissolutive motor phenomena which occupy so much larger a place in
popular knowledge.

In order to meet this last question, I must here give more distinct
formulation to a thesis which has already suggested itself more than
once in dealing with special groups of our phenomena.

_It may be expected that supernormal vital phenomena will manifest
themselves as far as possible through the same channels as abnormal or
morbid vital phenomena, when the same centres or the same synergies are

To illustrate the meaning of this theorem, I may refer to a remark long
ago made by Edmund Gurney and myself in dealing with "Phantasms of the
Living," or veridical hallucinations, generated (as we maintained), not
by a morbid state of the percipient's brain, but by a telepathic impact
from an agent at a distance. We observed that if a hallucination--a
subjective image--is to be excited by this distant energy, it will
probably be most readily excited in somewhat the same manner as the
morbid hallucination which follows on a cerebral injury. We urged that
this is _likely_ to be the case--we showed ground for supposing that it
_is_ the case--both as regards the mode of evolution of the phantasm in
the percipient's brain, and the mode in which it seems to present itself
to his senses.

And here I should wish to give a much wider generality to this
principle, and to argue that if there be within us a secondary self
aiming at manifestation by physiological means, it seems probable that
its readiest _path of externalisation_--its readiest outlet of visible
action--may often lie along some track which has already been shown to
be a line of low resistance by the disintegrating processes of disease.
Or, varying the metaphor, we may anticipate that the partition of the
primary and the secondary self will lie along some plane of cleavage
which the _morbid_ dissociations of our psychical synergies have already
shown themselves disposed to follow. If epilepsy, madness, etc., tend to
_split up_ our faculties in certain ways, automatism is likely to split
them up in ways somewhat resembling these.

But in what way then, it will be asked, do you distinguish the
supernormal from the merely abnormal? Why assume that in these aberrant
states there is anything besides hysteria, besides epilepsy, besides

The answer to this question has virtually been given in previous
chapters of this book. The reader is already accustomed to the point of
view which regards all psychical as well as all physiological activities
as necessarily either developmental or degenerative, tending to
evolution or to dissolution. And now, whilst altogether waiving any
teleological speculation, I will ask him hypothetically to suppose that
an evolutionary _nisus_, something which we may represent as an effort
towards self-development, self-adaptation, self-renewal, is discernible
especially on the psychical side of at any rate the higher forms of
life. Our question, Supernormal or abnormal?--may then be phrased,
Evolutive or dissolutive? And in studying each psychical phenomenon in
turn we shall have to inquire whether it indicates a mere degeneration
of powers already acquired, or, on the other hand, the "promise and
potency," if not the actual possession, of powers as yet unrecognised or

Thus, for instance, Telepathy is surely a step in _evolution_.[160] To
learn the thoughts of other minds without the mediation of the special
senses, manifestly indicates the possibility of a vast extension of
psychical powers. And any knowledge which we can amass as to the
conditions under which telepathic action takes place will form a
valuable starting-point for an inquiry as to the evolutive or
dissolutive character of unfamiliar psychical states.[161]

For example, we may learn from our knowledge of telepathy that the
superficial aspect of certain stages of psychical evolution, like the
superficial aspect of certain stages of physiological evolution, may
resemble mere _inhibition_, or mere _perturbation_. But the inhibition
may involve latent dynamogeny, and the perturbation may mask evolution.
The hypnotised subject may pass through a lethargic stage before he
wakes into a state in which he has gained _community of sensation_ with
the operator; somewhat as the silkworm (to use the oldest and the most
suggestive of all illustrations) passes through the apparent torpor of
the cocoon-stage before evolving into the moth. Again, the automatist's
hand (as we shall presently see) is apt to pass through a stage of
inco-ordinated movements, which might almost be taken for choreic,
before it acquires the power of ready and intelligent writing. Similarly
the development, for instance, of a tooth may be preceded by a stage of
indefinite aching, which might be ascribed to the formation of an
abscess, did not the new tooth ultimately show itself. And still more
striking cases of a _perturbation which masks evolution_ might be drawn
from the history of the human organism as it develops into its own
maturity, or prepares for the appearance of the fresh human organism
which is to succeed it.

Analogy, therefore, both physiological and psychical, warns us not to
conclude that any given psychosis is merely degenerative until we have
examined its results closely enough to satisfy ourselves whether they
tend to bring about any enlargement of human powers, to open any new
inlet to the reception of objective truth. If such there prove to be,
then, with whatever morbid activities the psychosis may have been
intertwined, it contains indications of an evolutionary _nisus_ as well.

These remarks, I hope, may have sufficiently cleared the ground to admit
of our starting afresh on the consideration of such motor automatisms as
are at any rate not morbid in their effect on the organism, and which I
now have to show to be _evolutive_ in character. I maintain that we have
no valid ground for assuming that the movements which are _not_ due to
our conscious will must be less important, and less significant, than
those that _are_. We observe, of course, that in the organic region the
movements which are _not_ due to conscious will are really the most
important of all, though the voluntary movements by which a man seeks
food and protects himself against enemies are also of great practical
importance--he must first live and multiply if he is to learn and know.
But we must guard against confusing importance for immediate practical
life with importance for science--on which even practical life
ultimately depends. As soon as the task of living and multiplying is no
longer all-engrossing, we begin to change our relative estimate of
values, and to find that it is not the broad and obvious phenomena, but
the residual and elusive phenomena, which are oftenest likely to
introduce us to new avenues of knowledge. I wish to persuade my readers
that this is quite as truly the case in psychology as in physics.

As a first step in our analysis, we may point out certain main
characters which unite in a true class all the automatisms which we are
here considering--greatly though these may differ among themselves in
external form.

In the first place, then, our automatisms are _independent_ phenomena;
they are what the physician calls _idiognomonic_. That is to say, they
are not merely symptomatic of some other affection, or incidental to
some profounder change. The mere fact, for instance, that a man writes
messages which he does not consciously originate will not, when taken
alone, prove anything beyond this fact itself as to the writer's
condition. He may be perfectly sane, in normal health, and with nothing
unusual observable about him. This characteristic--provable by actual
observation and experiment--distinguishes our automatisms from various
seemingly kindred phenomena. Thus we may have to include in our class
the occasional automatic utterance of words or sentences. But the
continuous exhausting vociferation of acute mania does not fall within
our province; for those shouts are merely _symptomatic_; nor, again,
does the _cri hydrocéphalique_ (or spontaneous meaningless noise which
sometimes accompanies water on the brain); for that, too, is no
independent phenomenon, but the direct consequence of a definite lesion.
Furthermore, we shall have to include in our class certain simple
movements of the hands, co-ordinated into the act of writing. But here,
also, our definition will lead us to exclude _choreic_ movements, which
are merely symptomatic of nervous malnutrition; or which we may, if we
choose, call _idiopathic_, as constituting an independent malady. But
our automatisms are not _idiopathic_ but _idiognomonic_; they may indeed
be associated with or facilitated by certain states of the organism, but
they are neither a symptom of any other malady, nor are they a malady in

Agreeing, then, that our peculiar class consists of automatisms which
are idiognomonic,--whose existence does not necessarily imply the
existence of some profounder affection already known as producing
them,--we have still to look for some more positive bond of connection
between them, some quality common to all of them, and which makes them
worth our prolonged investigation.

This we shall find in the fact that they are all of them
_message-bearing_ or _nunciative_ automatisms. I do not, of course, mean
that they all of them bring messages from sources external to the
automatist's own mind. In some cases they probably do this; but as a
rule the so-called messages seem more probably to originate within the
automatist's own personality. Why, then, it may be asked, do I call them
_messages_? We do not usually speak of a man as sending a message to
himself. The answer to this question involves, as we shall presently
see, the profoundest conception of these automatisms to which we can as
yet attain. They present themselves to us as messages communicated from
one stratum to another stratum of the same personality. Originating in
some deeper zone of a man's being, they float up into superficial
consciousness, as deeds, visions, words, ready-made and full-blown,
without any accompanying perception of the elaborative process which has
made them what they are.

Can we then (we may next ask) in any way predict the possible _range_ of
these motor automatisms? Have we any limit assignable _a priori_,
outside which it would be useless to look for any externalisation of an
impulse emanating from sub-conscious strata of our being?

The answer to this must be that no such limit can be with any confidence
suggested. We have not yet learnt with any distinctness even how far the
wave from a _consciously_-perceived stimulus will spread, or what
changes its motion will assume. Still less can we predict the
limitations which the resistance of the organism will impose on the
radiation of a stimulus originated within itself. We are learning to
consider the human organism as a practically infinite complex of
interacting vibrations; and each year adds many new facts to our
knowledge of the various transformations which these vibrations may
undergo, and of the unexpected artifices by which we may learn to
cognise some stimulus which is not directly felt.

A few concrete instances will make my meaning plainer. And my first
example shall be taken from those experiments in _muscle-reading_--less
correctly termed mind-reading--with which the readers of the
_Proceedings_ of the S.P.R. are already familiar. Let us suppose that I
am to hide a pin, and that some accomplished muscle-reader is to take my
hand and find the pin by noting my muscular indications.[162] I first
hide the pin in the hearth-rug; then I change my mind and hide it in the
bookshelf. I fix my mind on the bookshelf, but resolve to make no
guiding movement. The muscle-reader takes my hand, leads me first to the
rug, then to the bookshelf, and finds the pin. Now, what has happened in
this case? What movements have I made?

Firstly, I have made no _voluntary_ movement; and secondly, I have made
no _conscious involuntary_ movement. But, thirdly, I have made an
_unconscious involuntary_ movement which directly depended on conscious
ideation. I strongly thought of the bookshelf, and when the bookshelf
was reached in our vague career about the room I made a movement--say
rather a tremor occurred--in my hand, which, although beyond both my
knowledge and my control, was enough to supply to the muscle-reader's
delicate sensibility all the indication required. All this is now
admitted, and, in a sense, understood; we formulate it by saying that my
conscious ideation contained a motor element; and that this motor
element, though inhibited from any conscious manifestation, did yet
inevitably externalise itself in a peripheral tremor.

But, fourthly, something more than this has clearly taken place. Before
the muscle-reader stopped at the bookshelf he stopped at the rug. I was
no longer consciously thinking of the rug; but the idea of the pin in
the rug must still have been reverberating, so to say, in my
sub-conscious region; and this unconscious memory, this unnoted
reverberation, revealed itself in a peripheral tremor nearly as distinct
as that which (when the bookshelf was reached) corresponded to the
strain of conscious thought.

This tremor, then, was in a certain sense a message-bearing automatism.
It was the externalisation of an idea which, once conscious, had become
unconscious, though in the slightest conceivable degree--namely, by a
mere slight escape from the field of direct attention.

Having, then, considered an instance where the automatic message passes
only between two closely-adjacent strata of consciousness, externalising
an impulse derived from an idea which has only recently sunk out of
consciousness and which could easily be summoned back again;--let us
find our next illustration in a case where the line of demarcation
between the strata of consciousness through which the automatic message
pierces is distinct and impassable by any effort of will.

Let us take a case of _post-hypnotic suggestion_;--say, for instance, an
experiment of Edmund Gurney's (see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. iv. p.
319). The subject had been trained to write with planchette, after he
had been awakened, the statements which had been made to him when in the
hypnotic trance. He wrote the desired words, or something like them, but
while he wrote them his waking self was entirely unaware of what his
hand was writing. Thus, having been told in the trance, "It has begun
snowing again," he wrote, after waking, "It begun snowing," while he
read aloud, with waking intelligence, from a book of stories, and was
quite unconscious of what his hand (placed on a planchette behind a
screen) was at the same time writing.

Here we have an automatic message of traceable origin; a message
implanted in the hypnotic stratum of the subject's self, and cropping
up--like a fault--in the waking stratum,--externalised in automatic
movements which the waking self could neither predict nor guide.

Yet once more. In the discussion which will follow we shall have various
instances of the transformation (as I shall regard it) of psychical
shock into definite muscular energy of apparently a quite alien kind.
Such transformations of so-called psychical into physical force--of will
into motion--do of course perpetually occur within us.

For example, I take a child to a circus; he sits by me holding my hand;
there is a discharge of musketry and his grip tightens. Now in this case
we should call the child's tightened grip automatic. But suppose that,
instead of merely holding my hand, he is trying with all his might to
squeeze the dynamometer, and that the sudden excitation enables him to
squeeze it harder--are we then to describe that extra squeeze as
automatic? or as voluntary?

However phrased, it is the fact (as amply established by M. Féré and
others[163]) that excitations of almost any kind--whether sudden and
startling or agreeable and prolonged--do tend to increase the subject's
dynamometrical power. In the first place, and this is in itself an
important fact, the average of squeezing-power is found to be greater
among educated students than among robust labouring men, thus showing
that it is not so much developed muscle as active brain which renders
possible a sudden concentration of muscular force. But more than this;
M. Féré finds that with himself and his friends the mere listening to an
interesting lecture, or the mere stress of thought in solitude, or still
more the act of writing or of speech, produces a decided increase of
strength in the grip, especially of the right hand. The same effect of
dynamogeny is produced with hypnotic subjects, by musical sounds, by
coloured light, especially red light, and even by a hallucinatory
suggestion of red light. "All our sensations," says M. Féré in
conclusion, "are accompanied by a development of potential energy, which
passes into a kinetic state, and externalises itself in motor
manifestations which even so rough a method as dynamometry is able to
observe and record."

I would beg the reader to keep these words in mind. We shall presently
find that a method apparently even rougher than dynamographic tracings
may be able to interpret, with far greater delicacy, the automatic
tremors which are coursing to and fro within us. If once we can get a
spy into the citadel of our own being, his rudest signalling will tell
us more than our subtlest inferences from outside of what is being
planned and done within.

And now having to deal with what I define as messages conveyed by one
stratum in man to another stratum, I must first consider in what general
ways human messages can be conveyed. Writing and speech have become
predominant in the intercourse of civilised men, and it is to writing
and speech that we look with most interest among the communications of
the subliminal self. But it does not follow that the subliminal self
will always have such complex methods at its command. We have seen
already that it often finds it hard to manage the delicate
co-ordinations of muscular movement required for writing,--that the
attempt at automatic script ends in a thump and a scrawl.

The subliminal self like the telegraphist begins its effort with full
knowledge, indeed, of the alphabet, but with only weak and rude command
over our muscular adjustments. It is therefore _a priori_ likely that
its easiest mode of communication will be through a repetition of simple
movements, so arranged as to correspond to letters of the alphabet.

And here, I think, we have attained to a conception of the mysterious
and much-derided phenomenon of "table-tilting" which enables us to
correlate it with known phenomena, and to start at least from an
intelligible basis, and on a definite line of inquiry.

A few words are needed to explain what are the verifiable phenomena, and
the less verifiable hypotheses, connoted by such words as
"table-turning," "spirit-rapping," and the like.

If one or more persons of a special type--at present definable only by
the question-begging and barbarous term "mediumistic"--remain quietly
for some time with hands in contact with some easily movable object, and
desiring its movement, that object will sometimes begin to move. If,
further, they desire it to indicate letters of the alphabet by its
movements,--as by tilting once for _a_, twice for _b_, etc., it will
often do so, and answers unexpected by any one present will be obtained.

Thus far, whatever our interpretation, we are in the region of easily
reproducible facts, which many of my readers may confirm for themselves
if they please.

But beyond the simple movements--or table-turning--and the intelligible
responses--or table-tilting--both of which are at least _primâ facie_
physically explicable by the sitters' unconscious pressure, without
postulating any unknown physical force at all,--it is alleged by many
persons that further physical phenomena occur; namely, that the table
moves in a direction, or with a violence, which no unconscious pressure
can explain; and also that percussive sounds or "raps" occur, which no
unconscious action, or indeed no agency known to us, could produce.
These raps communicate messages like the tilts, and it is to them that
the name of "spirit-rapping" is properly given. But spiritualists
generally draw little distinction between these four phenomena--mere
table-turning, responsive table-tilting, movements of inexplicable
vehemence, and responsive raps--attributing all alike to the agency of
departed spirits of men and women, or at any rate to disembodied
intelligences of some kind or other.

I am not at present discussing the physical phenomena of Spiritualism,
and I shall therefore leave on one side all the alleged movements and
noises of this kind for which unconscious pressure will not account. I
do not prejudge the question as to their real occurrence; but assuming
that such disturbances of the physical order do occur, there is at least
no _primâ facie_ need to refer them to disembodied spirits. If a table
moves when no one is touching it; this is not obviously more likely to
have been effected by my deceased grandfather than by myself. We cannot
tell how _I_ could move it; but then we cannot tell how _he_ could move
it either. The question must be argued on its merits in each case; and
our present argument is not therefore vitiated by our postponement of
this further problem.

M. Richet[164] was, I believe, the first writer, outside the
Spiritualistic group, who so much as showed any practical knowledge of
this phenomenon, still less endeavoured to explain it. Faraday's
well-known explanation of table-turning as the result of the summation
of many unconscious movements--obviously true as it is for some of the
simplest cases of table-movement--does not touch this far more difficult
question of the origination of these intelligent messages, conveyed by
distinct and repeated movements of some object admitting of ready
displacement. The ordinary explanation--I am speaking, of course, of
cases where fraud is not in question--is that the sitter unconsciously
sets going and stops the movements so as to shape the word in accordance
with his expectation. Now that he unconsciously sets going and stops the
movements is part of my own present contention, but that the word is
thereby shaped in accordance with his expectation is often far indeed
from being the case. To those indeed who are familiar with automatic
_written_ messages, this question as to the unexpectedness of the
_tilted_ messages will present itself in a new light. If the written
messages originate in a source beyond the automatist's supraliminal
self, so too may the tilted messages;--even though we admit that the
tilts are caused by his hand's pressure of the table just as directly as
the script by his hand's manipulation of the pen.

One piece of evidence showing that _written_ messages are not always the
mere echo of expectation is a case[165] where _anagrams_ were
automatically written, which their writer was not at once able to
decipher. Following this hint, I have occasionally succeeded in getting
anagrams tilted out for myself by movements of a small table which I
alone touched.

This is a kind of experiment which might with advantage be oftener
repeated; for the extreme incoherence and silliness of the responses
thus obtained does not prevent the process itself from being in a high
degree instructive. Here, again (as in automatic writing), a man may
hold colloquy with his own dream--may note in actual juxtaposition two
separate strata of his own intelligence.

I shall not at present pursue the discussion of these tilted responses
beyond this their very lowest and most rudimentary stage. They almost
immediately suggest another problem, for which our discussion is hardly
ripe, the participation, namely, of several minds in the production of
the same automatic message. There is something of this difficulty even
in the explanation of messages given when the hands of two persons are
touching a planchette; but when the instrument of response is large, and
the method of response simple, as with table-tilting, we find this
question of the influence of more minds than one imperatively recurring.

Our immediate object, however, is rather to correlate the different
attainable modes of automatic response in some intelligible scheme than
to pursue any one of them through all its phases. We regarded the
table-tilting process as in one sense the simplest, the least
differentiated form of motor response. It is a kind of _gesture_ merely,
though a gesture implying knowledge of the alphabet. Let us see in what
directions the movement of response becomes more specialised,--as
gesture parts into pictorial art and articulate speech. We find, in
fact, that a just similar divergence of impulses takes place in
automatic response. On the one hand the motor impulse specialises itself
into _drawing_; on the other hand it specialises itself into _speech_.
Of automatic drawing I have already said something (Chapter III.).
Automatic speech will receive detailed treatment in Chapter IX. At
present I shall only briefly indicate the position of each form of
movement among cognate automatisms.

Some of my readers may have seen these so-called
"spirit-drawings,"--designs, sometimes in colour, whose author asserts
that he drew them without any plan, or even knowledge of what his hand
was going to do. This assertion may be quite true, and the person making
it may be perfectly sane.[166] The drawings so made will be found
curiously accordant with what the view which I am explaining would lead
us to expect. For they exhibit a fusion of arabesque with ideography;
that is to say, they partly resemble the forms of ornamentation into
which the artistic hand strays when, as it were, dreaming on the paper
without definite plan; and partly they afford a parallel to the early
attempts at symbolic self-expression of savages who have not yet learnt
an alphabet. Like savage writing, they pass by insensible transitions
from direct pictorial symbolism to an abbreviated ideography, mingled in
its turn with writing of a fantastic or of an ordinary kind.

And here, before we enter on the study of automatic writing, I must
refer to two great historic cases of automatism, which may serve as a
kind of prologue to what is to follow. One case, that of Socrates, is a
case of monitory _inhibition_; the other, that of Jeanne d'Arc, of
monitory _impulse_.

The Founder of Science himself--the permanent type of sanity,
shrewdness, physical robustness, and moral balance--was guided in all
the affairs of life by a monitory Voice,--by "the Dæmon of Socrates."
This is a case which can never lose its interest, a case which has been
vouched for by the most practical, and discussed by the loftiest
intellect of Greece,--both of them intimate friends of the illustrious
subject;--a case, therefore, which one who endeavours to throw new light
on hallucination and automatism is bound, even at this distance of time,
to endeavour to explain.[167] And this is the more needful, since a
treatise was actually written, a generation ago, as "a specimen of the
application of the science of psychology to the science of history,"
arguing from the records of the δαιμὁνιον in Xenophon and Plato that
Socrates was in fact insane.[168]

I believe that it is now possible to give a truer explanation; to place
these old records in juxtaposition with more instructive parallels; and
to show that the messages which Socrates received were only advanced
examples of a process which, if supernormal, is not abnormal, and which
characterises that form of intelligence which we describe as _genius_.

The story of Socrates I take as a signal example of _wise automatism_;
of the possibility that the messages which are conveyed to the
supraliminal mind from subliminal strata of the personality,--whether as
sounds, as sights, or as movements,--may sometimes come from far beneath
the realm of dream and confusion,--from some self whose monitions convey
to us a wisdom profounder than we know.

Similarly in the case of Joan of Arc, I believe that only now, with the
comprehension which we are gradually gaining of the possibility of an
impulse from the mind's deeper strata which is so far from madness that
it is wiser than our sanity itself,--only now, I repeat, can we
understand aright that familiar story.

Joan's condemnation was based on her own admissions; and the Latin
_procès-verbal_ still exists, and was published from the MS. by M.
Quicherat, 1841-9, for the French Historical Society.[169] Joan, like
Socrates, was condemned mainly on the ground, or at least on the pretext
of her monitory voices: and her Apology remarkably resembles his, in its
resolute insistence on the truth of the very phenomena which were being
used to destroy her. Her answers are clear and self-consistent, and seem
to have been little, if at all, distorted by the recorder. Few pieces of
history so remote as this can be so accurately known.

Fortunately for our purpose, her inquisitors asked her many questions as
to her voices and visions; and her answers enable us to give a pretty
full analysis of the phenomena which concern us.

I. The voices do not begin with the summons to fight for France. Joan
heard them first at thirteen years of age,--as with Socrates also the
voice began in childhood. The first command consisted of nothing more
surprising than that "she was to be a good girl, and go often to
church." After this the voice--as in the case of Socrates--intervened
frequently, and on trivial occasions.

II. The voice was accompanied at first by a light, and sometimes
afterwards by figures of saints, who appeared to speak, and whom Joan
appears to have both seen and felt as dearly as though they had been
living persons. But here there is some obscurity; and Michelet thinks
that on one occasion the Maid was tricked by the courtiers for political
ends. For she asserted (apparently without contradiction) that several
persons, including the Archbishop of Rheims, as well as herself, had
seen an angel bringing to the King a material crown.[170]

III. The voices came mainly when she was awake, but also sometimes
roused her from sleep; a phenomenon often observed in our cases of
"veridical hallucination." "Ipsa dormiebat, et vox excitabat eam."
(Quicherat, i., p. 62.)

IV. The voice was not always fully intelligible (especially if she was
half awake);--in this respect again resembling some of our recorded
cases, both visual and auditory, where, on the view taken in _Phantasms
of the Living_, the externalisation has been incomplete. "Vox dixit
aliqua, sed non omnia intellexit." (Quicherat, i., p. 62.)

V. The predictions of the voice, so far as stated, were mainly
fulfilled; viz., that the siege of Orleans would be raised; that Charles
VII. would be crowned at Rheims; that she herself would be wounded; but
the prediction that there would be a great victory over the English
within seven years was not fulfilled in any exact way, although the
English continued to lose ground. In short, about so much was fulfilled
as an ardent self-devoted mind might have anticipated; much indeed that
might have seemed irrational to ordinary observers, but nothing which
actually needed a definite prophetic power. Here, again, we are reminded
of the general character of the monitions of Socrates. And yet in Joan's
case, more probably than in the case of Socrates, there may have been
one singular exception to this general rule. She knew by monition that
there was a sword "retro altare"--somewhere behind the altar--in the
Church of St. Catherine of Fierbois. "Scivit ipsum ibi esse per
voces":--she sent for it, nothing doubting, and it was found and given
to her. This was a unique incident in her career. Her judges asked
whether she had not once found a cup, and a missing priest, by help of
similar monitions, but this she denied; and it is remarkable that no
serious attempt was made either to show that she had claimed this
clairvoyant power habitually, or, on the other hand, to invalidate the
one instance of it which she did in effect claim. It would be absurd to
cite the alleged discovery of the sword as in itself affording a proof
of clairvoyance, any more than Socrates' alleged intimation of the
approaching herd of swine.[171] But when we are considering monitions
given in more recent times it will be well to remember that it is in
this direction that some supernormal extension of knowledge seems
possibly traceable.

The cases of Socrates and of Joan of Arc, on which I have just dwelt,
might with almost equal fitness have been introduced at certain other
points of my discussion. At first sight, at any rate, they appear rather
like sensory than like motor automatisms,--like hallucinations of
hearing rather than like the motor impulses which we are now about to
study. Each case, however, approaches motor automatism in a special way.

In the case of Socrates the "sign" seems to have been not so much a
definite voice as a sense of _inhibition_. In the case of Joan of Arc
the voices were definite enough, but they were accompanied--as such
voices sometimes are, but sometimes are _not_--with an overmastering
impulse to _act_ in obedience to them. These are, I may say, palmary
cases of inhibition and of impulse: and inhibition and impulse are at
the very root of motor phenomena.

They show moreover the furthest extent of the claim that can be made for
the agency of the subliminal self, apart from any external
influence,--apart from telepathy from the living, or possession by the
departed. Each of those other hypotheses will claim its own group of
cases; but we must not invoke them until the resources of subliminal
wisdom are manifestly overtaxed.

These two famous cases, then, have launched us on our subject in the
stress of a twofold difficulty in logical arrangement. We cannot always
answer these primary questions, Is the subliminal impulse sensory or
motor? is it originated in the automatist's own mind, or in some mind
external to him?

In the first place, we must reflect that, if the subliminal self really
possesses that profound power over the organism with which I have
credited it, we may expect that its "messages" will sometimes express
themselves in the form of deep organic modifications--of changes in the
vaso-motor, the circulatory, the respiratory systems. Such phenomena are
likely to be less noted or remembered as _coincidental_, from their very
indefiniteness, as compared, for instance, with a phantasmal appearance;
but we have, nevertheless, records of various telepathic cases of deep
cœnesthetic disturbance, of a profound _malaise_ which must, one
would think, have involved some unusual condition of the viscera.[172]

In cases, too, where the telepathic impression has ultimately assumed a
definite sensory form, some organic or emotional phenomena have been
noted, being perhaps the _first_ effects of the telepathic impact,
whether from the living or from the dead.[173]

And here I may mention an experience of Lady de Vesci's, who described
to me in conversation a feeling of _malaise_, defining itself into the
urgent need of definite action--namely, the despatch of a telegram to a
friend who was in fact then dying at the other side of the world.[174]
Such an impulse had one only parallel in her experience, which also was
telepathic in a similar way.

Similar sensory disturbances are sometimes reported in connection with
an important form of motor automatism,--that of "dowsing" or discovering
water by means of the movement of a rod held in the hands of the
automatist,--already treated of in Appendix V. A.

A small group of cases may naturally be mentioned here. From two
different points of view they stand for the most part at the entrance of
our subject. I speak of motor inhibitions, prompted at first by
subliminal memory, or by subliminal hyperæsthesia, but merging into
telæsthesia or telepathy. Inhibitions--sudden arrests or incapacities of
action--(more or less of the Socratic type)--form a simple, almost
rudimentary, type of motor automatisms. And an inhibition--a sudden
check on action of this kind--will be a natural way in which a strong
but obscure impression will work itself out. Such an impression, for
instance, is that of _alarm_, suggested by some vague sound or odour
which is only subliminally perceived. And thus in this series of motor
automatisms, just as in our series of dreams, or in our series of
sensory automatisms, we find ourselves beginning with cases where the
subliminal self merely shows some slight extension of memory or of
sensory perception,--and thence pass insensibly to cases where no
"cryptomnesia" will explain the facts known in the past, and no
hyperæsthesia will explain the facts discerned in the present.

We may most of us have observed that if we perform any small action to
which there are objections, which we have once known but which have
altogether passed from our minds, we are apt to perform it in a
hesitating, inefficient way.

Similarly there are cases where some sudden muscular impulse or
inhibition has probably depended on a subliminal perception or
interpretation of a sound which had not reached the supraliminal
attention. For instance, two friends walking together along a street in
a storm just evade by sudden movements a falling mass of masonry. Each
thinks that he has received some _monition_ of the fall; each asserting
that he heard no noise whatever to warn him. Here is an instance where
subliminal perception may have been slightly quicker and more delicate
than supraliminal, and may have warned them just in time.

In the case which I now quote (from _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. p.
416) there may have been some subliminal hyperæsthesia of hearing which
dimly warned Mr. Wyman of the approach of the extra train.[175]

Mr. Wm. H. Wyman writes to the Editor of the _Arena_ as follows:--

DUNKIRK, N. Y., _June 26th, 1891_.

     Some years ago my brother was employed and had charge as conductor
     and engineer of a working train on the Lake Shore and Michigan
     Southern Railway, running between Buffalo and Erie, which passes
     through this city (Dunkirk, N. Y.). I often went with him to the
     Grave Bank, where he had his headquarters, and returned on his
     train with him. On one occasion I was with him, and after the train
     of cars was loaded, we went together to the telegraph office to see
     if there were any orders, and to find out if the trains were on
     time, as he had to keep out of the way of all regular trains. After
     looking over the train reports and finding them all on time, we
     started for Buffalo. As we approached near Westfield Station,
     running about 12 miles per hour, and when within about one mile of
     a long curve in the line, my brother all of a sudden shut off the
     steam, and quickly stepping over to the fireman's side of the
     engine, he looked out of the cab window, and then to the rear of
     his train to see if there was anything the matter with either. Not
     discovering anything wrong, he stopped and put on steam, but almost
     immediately again shut it off and gave the signal for breaks and
     stopped. After inspecting the engine and train and finding nothing
     wrong, he seemed very much excited, and for a short time he acted
     as if he did not know where he was or what to do. I asked what was
     the matter. He replied that he did not know, when, after looking at
     his watch and orders, he said that he felt that there was some
     trouble on the line of the road. I suggested that he had better run
     his train to the station and find out. He then ordered his flagman
     with his flag to go ahead around the curve, which was just ahead of
     us, and he would follow with the train. The flagman started and had
     just time to flag an extra express train, with the General
     Superintendent and others on board, coming full 40 [forty] miles
     per hour. The Superintendent inquired what he was doing there, and
     if he did not receive orders to keep out of the way of the extra.
     My brother told him that he had not received orders and did not
     know of any extra train coming; that we had both examined the train
     reports before leaving the station. The train then backed to the
     station, where it was found that no orders had been given. The
     train despatcher was at once discharged from the road, and from
     that time to this both my brother and myself are unable to account
     for his stopping the train as he did. I consider it quite a
     mystery, and cannot give or find any intelligent reason for it. Can
     you suggest any?

     The above is true and correct in every particular.

In other cases again some subliminal sense of smell may be

_Tactile sensibility_, too, must be carefully allowed for. The sense of
varying resistance in the air may reach in some seeing persons, as well
as in the blind, a high degree of acuteness.[177]

But there are cases of sudden motor inhibition where no warning can well
have been received from hyperæsthetic sensation, where we come, as it
seems, to telæsthesia or to spirit guardianship.

(From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 459.)

     Four years ago, I made arrangements with my nephew, John W.
     Parsons, to go to my office after supper to investigate a case. We
     walked along together, both fully determined to go up into the
     office, but just as I stepped upon the door sill of the drug store,
     in which my office was situated, some invisible influence stopped
     me instantly. I was much surprised, felt like I was almost dazed,
     the influence was so strong, almost like a blow, I felt like I
     could not make another step. I said to my nephew, "John, I do not
     feel like going into the office now; you go and read Flint and
     Aitken on the subject." He went, lighted the lamp, took off his
     hat, and just as he was reaching for a book the report of a large
     pistol was heard. The ball entered the window near where he was
     standing, passed near to and over his head, struck the wall and
     fell to the floor. Had I been standing where he was, I would have
     been killed, as I am much taller than he. The pistol was fired by a
     man who had an old grudge against me, and had secreted himself in a
     vacant house near by to assassinate me.

     This impression was unlike any that I ever had before. All my
     former impressions were slow in their development, grew stronger
     and stronger, until the maximum was reached. I did not feel that I
     was in any danger, and could not understand what the strong
     impression meant. The fellow was drunk, had been drinking for two
     weeks. If my system had been in a different condition--I had just
     eaten supper--I think I would have received along with the
     impression some knowledge of the character of the danger, and would
     have prevented my nephew from going into the office.

     I am fully satisfied that the invisible and unknown intelligence
     did the best that could have been done, under the circumstances, to
     save us from harm.

D. J. PARSONS, M.D., Sweet Springs, Mo.

     (The above account was received in a letter from Dr. D. J. Parsons,
     dated _December 15th, 1891_.)

     Statement of Dr. J. W. PARSONS.

     About four years ago my uncle, Dr. D. J. Parsons, and I were going
     to supper, when a man halted us and expressed a desire for medical
     advice. My uncle requested him to call the next morning, and as we
     walked along he said the case was a bad one and that we would come
     back after supper and go to the office and examine the authorities
     on the subject. After supper we returned, walked along together on
     our way to the office, but just as we reached the door of the drug
     store he very unexpectedly, to me, stopped suddenly, which caused
     me to stop too; we stood there together a few seconds, and he
     remarked to me that he did not feel like going into the office
     then, or words to that effect, and told me to go and examine Flint
     and Aitken. I went, lit the lamp, and just as I was getting a book,
     a pistol was fired into the office, the ball passing close to my
     head, struck the east wall, then the north, and fell to the floor.

     This 5th day of July, 1891.

JOHN W. PARSONS [Ladonia, Texas.]

In the next group of cases, we reach a class of massive motor impulses
which are almost entirely free from any sensory admixture.

Take for instance the case of Mr. Garrison, who left a religious meeting
in the evening, and walked eighteen miles under the strong impulse to
see his mother, and found her dead. The account is given in the
_Journal_ S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 125 [§ 825].

In another case, that of Major Kobbé (given in _Phantasms of the
Living_, vol. i. p. 288), the percipient was prompted to visit a distant
cemetery, without any conscious reason, and there found his father, who
had, in fact, for certain unexpected reasons, sent to his son, Major
Kobbé, a request (accidentally _not received_) to meet him at that place
and hour.

In a third case, Mr. Skirving (see _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p.
285 [825 A]) was irresistibly compelled to leave his work and go
home--_why_, he knew not--at the moment when his wife was in fact
calling for him in the distress of a serious accident. See also a case
given in _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. ii. p. 377, where a bricklayer
has a sudden impulse to run home, and arrives just in time to save the
life of his little boy, who had set himself on fire.

This special sensibility to the _motor_ element in an impulse recalls to
us the special susceptibilities to different forms of hallucination or
suggestion shown by different hypnotic subjects. Some can be made to
see, some to hear, some to act out the conception proposed to them. Dr.
Bérillon[178] has even shown that certain subjects who seem at first
quite refractory to hypnotisation are nevertheless at once obedient,
even in the waking state, to a motor suggestion. This was the case both
with a very strong man, with weak men and women, and with at least one
subject actually suffering from locomotor ataxy. Thus the loss of
supraliminal motor control over certain muscular combinations may
actually lead to _motor suggestibility_ as regards those combinations;
just as the loss of supraliminal sensation in some anæsthetic patch may
lead to a special subliminal sensitiveness in the very directions where
the superficial sensibility has sunk away. On the other hand, a
specially well-developed motor control may predispose in a similar
way;--as for instance, the subject who can sing already is more easily
made to sing by suggestion. We must, then, await further observations
before we can pretend to say beforehand with which automatist the
messages will take a sensory, and with which a motor form.

Still less can we explain the special predisposition of each
experimenter to one or more of the common kinds of motor automatism--as
automatic speech, automatic writing, table movements, raps, and so
forth. These forms of messages may themselves be variously combined; and
the contents of a message of any one of these kinds may be purely
dream-like and fantastic, or may be veridical in various ways.

Let us enumerate the modes of subliminal motor message as nearly as we
can in order of their increasing specialisation.

1. We may place first the massive motor impulses (like Mr. Garrison's)
which mark a kind of transition between cœnesthetic affections and
motor impulses proper. There was here no impulse to special movement of
any limb; but an impulse to reach a certain place by ordinary methods.

2. Next, perhaps, in order of specialisation come the simple subliminal
muscular impulses which give rise to table-tilting and similar

3. Musical execution, subliminally initiated, might theoretically be
placed next; although definite evidence of this is hard to obtain, since
the threshold of consciousness with musical performers is notoriously
apt to be shifting and indefinite. ("When in doubt, play with your
fingers, and not with your head.")

4. Next we may place automatic drawing and painting. This curious group
of messages has but seldom a telepathic content, and, as was suggested
in Chapter III., is more akin to _genius_ and similar non-telepathic
forms of subliminal faculty.[179]

5. Next comes automatic writing, on which much remains to be said in
this chapter.

6. Automatic _speech_, which would not seem to be _per se_ a more
developed form of motor message than automatic script, is often
accompanied by profound changes of memory or of personality which raise
the question of "inspiration" or "possession";--for the two words,
however different their theological import, mean much the same thing
from the standpoint of experimental psychology.

7. I must conclude my list with a class of motor phenomena which I shall
here merely record in passing, without attempting any explanation. I
allude to raps, and to those telekinetic movements of objects whose real
existence is still matter of controversy.

Comparing this list of motor automatisms with the sensory automatisms
enumerated in Chapter VI., we shall find a certain general tendency
running through each alike. The sensory automatisms began with vague
unspecialised sensations. They then passed through a phase of
definition, of specialisation on the lines of the known senses. And
finally they reached a stage beyond these habitual forms of
specialisation: beyond them, as of wider reach, and including in an
apparently unanalysable act of perception a completer truth than any of
our specialised forms of perception could by itself convey. With motor
messages, too, we begin with something of similar vagueness. They, too,
develop from modifications of the percipient's general organic
condition, or cœnesthesia; and the first dim telepathic impulse
apparently hesitates between several channels of expression. They then
pass through various definitely specialised forms; and finally, as we
shall see when automatic script is considered, they, too, merge into an
unanalysable act of cognition in which the motor element of the message
has disappeared. But these motor messages point also in another even
more perplexing direction. They lead, as I have said above, towards the
old idea of _possession_;--using the word simply as an expression for
some form of temporary manifestation of some veritably distinct and
alien personality through the physical organism of some man or woman, as
is well exemplified in many cases of automatic writing. In Europe and
America the phenomenon of automatic writing first came into notice as an
element in so-called "modern spiritualism" about the middle of the
nineteenth century; but the writings of W. Stainton Moses--about
1870-80--were perhaps the first continuous series of such messages which
could be regarded as worthy of serious attention. Mr. Moses--a man whose
statements could not be lightly set aside--claimed for them that they
were the direct utterances of departed persons, some of them lately
dead, some dead long ago. However they were really to be explained, they
strongly impressed Edmund Gurney and myself and added to our desire to
work at the subject in as many ways as we could.

It was plain that these writings could not be judged aright without a
wide analysis of similar scripts,--without an experimental inquiry into
what the human mind, in states of somnambulism or the like, could
furnish of written messages, apart from the main stream of
consciousness. By his experiments on writing obtained in different
stages of hypnotic trance, Gurney acted as the pioneer of a long series
of researches which, independently set on foot by Professor Pierre Janet
in France, have become of high psychological, and even medical,
importance. What is here of prime interest is the indubitable fact that
fresh personalities can be artificially and temporarily created, which
will write down matter quite alien from the first personality's
character, and even matter which the first personality never knew. That
matter may consist merely of reminiscences of previous periods when the
second personality has been in control. But, nevertheless, if these
writings are shown to the primary personality, he will absolutely
repudiate their authorship--alleging not only that he has no
recollection of writing them, but also that they contain allusions to
facts which he never knew. Some of these messages, indeed, although
their source is so perfectly well defined--although we know the very
moment when the secondary personality which wrote them was called into
existence--do certainly look more alien from the automatist in his
normal state than many of the messages which claim to come from spirits
of lofty type. It is noticeable, moreover, that these manufactured
personalities sometimes cling obstinately to their fictitious names, and
refuse to admit that they are in reality only aspects or portions of the
automatist himself. This must be remembered when the persistent _claim_
to some spiritual identity--say Napoleon--is urged as an argument for
attributing a series of messages to that special person.

What has now been said may suffice as regards the varieties of
mechanism--the different forms of motor automatism--which the messages
employ. I shall pass on to consider the _contents_ of the messages, and
shall endeavour to classify them according to their apparent sources.

_A._ In the first place, the message may come from the percipient's own
mind; its contents being supplied from the resources of his ordinary
memory, or of his more extensive subliminal memory; while the
_dramatisation_ of the message--its assumption of some other mind as its
source--will resemble the dramatisations of dream or of hypnotic trance.

Of course the absence of facts unknown to the writer is not in itself a
proof that the message does not come from some other mind. We cannot be
sure that other minds, if they can communicate, will always be at the
pains to fill their messages with evidential facts. But, equally of
course, a message devoid of such facts must not, on the strength of its
mere assertions, be claimed as the product of any but the writer's own

_B._ Next above the motor messages whose content the automatist's own
mental resources might supply, we may place the messages whose content
seems to be derived telepathically from the mind of some other person
still living on earth; that person being either conscious or unconscious
of transmitting the suggestion.

_C._ Next comes the possibility that the message may emanate from some
unembodied intelligence of unknown type--other, at any rate, than the
intelligence of the alleged agent. Under this heading come the views
which ascribe the messages on the one hand to "elementaries," or even
devils, and on the other hand to "guides" or "guardians" of superhuman
goodness and wisdom.

_D._ Finally we have the possibility that the message may be derived, in
a more or less direct manner, from the mind of the agent--the departed
friend--from whom the communication does actually claim to come.

My main effort has naturally been thus far directed to the proof that
there are messages which do _not_ fall into the lowest class, _A_--in
which class most psychologists would still place them all. And I
myself--while reserving a certain small portion of the messages for my
other classes--do not only admit but assert that the great majority of
such communications represent the subliminal workings of the
automatist's mind alone. It does not, however, follow that such messages
have for us no interest or novelty. On the contrary, they form an
instructive, an indispensable transition from psychological
introspection of the old-fashioned kind to the bolder methods on whose
validity I am anxious to insist. The mind's subliminal action, as thus
revealed, differs from the supraliminal in ways which no one
anticipated, and which no one can explain. There seem to be subliminal
tendencies setting steadily in certain obscure directions, and bearing
as little relation to the individual characteristics of the person to
the deeps of whose being we have somehow penetrated as profound
ocean-currents bear to waves and winds on the surface of the sea.[180]

Another point also, of fundamental importance, connected with the powers
of the subliminal self, will be better deferred until a later chapter. I
have said that a message containing only facts normally known to the
automatist must not, on the strength of its mere assertions, be regarded
as proceeding from any mind but his own. This seems evident; but the
converse proposition is not equally indisputable. We must not take for
granted that a message which _does_ contain facts not normally known to
the automatist must therefore come from some mind other than his own. If
the subliminal self can acquire supernormal knowledge at all, it may
obtain such knowledge by means other than telepathic impressions from
other minds. It may assimilate its supernormal nutriment also by a
directer process--it may devour it not only cooked but raw. Parallel
with the possibilities of reception of such knowledge from the influence
of other embodied or disembodied minds lies the possibility of its own
clairvoyant perception, or active absorption of some kind, of facts
lying indefinitely beyond its supraliminal purview.

Now, as I have said, the great majority of the nunciative or
message-bearing motor automatisms originate in the automatist's own
mind, and do not involve the exercise of telepathy or telæsthesia, or
any other supernormal faculty; but they illustrate in various ways the
coexistence of the subliminal with the supraliminal self, its wider
memory, and its independent intelligence.

I need not here multiply instances of the simpler and commoner forms of
this type, and I will merely quote in illustration one short case
recounted by Mr. H. Arthur Smith (author of _The Principles of Equity_,
and a member of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research) who
has had the patience to analyse many communications through

(From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. ii. p. 233.)[181] Mr. Smith and his
nephew placed their hands on the Planchette, and a purely fantastic
name was given as that of the communicating agency.

     Q. "Where did you live?" A. "Wem." This name was quite unknown to
     any of us. I am sure it was to myself, and as sure of the word of
     the others as of that of any one I know.

     Q. "Is it decided who is to be Archbishop of Canterbury?" A. "Yes."

     Q. "Who?" A. "Durham." As none of us remembered his name, we asked.

     "What is his name?" A. "Lightfoot." Of course, how far the main
     statement is correct, I don't know. The curiosity at the time
     rested in the fact that the name was given which none of us could
     recall, but was found, to be right.

Now, this is just one of the cases which a less wary observer might have
brought forward as evidence of spirit agency. An identity, it would be
said, manifested itself, and gave an address which none present had ever
heard. But I venture to say that there cannot be any real proof that an
educated person has never heard of Wem. A permanent recorded fact, like
the name of a town which is to be found (for instance) in Bradshaw's
Guide, may at any moment have been presented to Mr. Smith's eye, and
have found a lodgment in his subliminal memory.

Similarly in the answers "Durham" and "Lightfoot" we are reminded of
cases where in a dream we ask a question with vivid curiosity, and are
astonished at the reply; which nevertheless proceeds from _ourselves_ as
undoubtedly as does the inquiry. The prediction in this case was wrong.

What we have been shown is an independent activity of the subliminal
self holding colloquies with the supraliminal, and nothing more. Yet we
shall find, if we go on accumulating instances of the same general type,
that traces of telæsthesia and telepathy begin insensibly to show
themselves; not at first with a distinctness or a persistence sufficient
for actual proof, but just in the same gradual way in which indications
of supernormal faculty stole in amid the disintegration of split
personalities; or in which indications of some clairvoyant outlook stole
in amid the incoherence of dream. Many of these faint indications,
valueless, as I have said, for purely evidential purposes, are
nevertheless of much theoretical interest, as showing how near is the
subliminal self to that region of supernormal knowledge which for the
supraliminal is so definitely closed.[182]

Mr. Schiller's case (see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. iv. pp. 216-224)
[832 A] is a good example of these obscure transitions between normal
and supernormal, and introduces us to several phenomena which we shall
afterwards find recurring again and again in independent quarters.
Dramatisation of fictitious personalities, for instance, which forms so
marked a feature in Professor Flournoy's celebrated case (to be
discussed later), begins in this series of experiments, conducted
throughout with a purely scientific aim, and with no sort of belief in
the imaginary "Irktomar" and the rest. It seems as though this
"objectivation of types" were part of a romance which some inscrutable
but childish humorist was bent on making up. The "cryptomnesia" shown in
this case through the reproduction of scraps of old French with which
the automatist had no conscious acquaintance, reached a point at which
(as again in Professor Flournoy's case) one is almost driven to suspect
that it was aided by some slight clairvoyance on the part of the
subliminal self.

Indeed as the cases become increasingly complex, one wonders to what
extent this strange manufacture of inward romances can be carried. There
is, I may say, a great deal more of it in the world than is commonly
suspected. I have myself received so many cases of these dramatised
utterances--as though a number of different spirits were writing in turn
through some automatist's hand--that I have come to recognise the
operation of some law of dreams, so to call it, as yet but obscurely
understood. The alleged personalities are for the most part not only
unidentified, but purposely unidentifiable; they give themselves
romantic or ludicrous names, and they are produced and disappear as
lightly as puppets on a mimic stage. The main curiosity of such cases
lies in their very persistence and complexity; it would be a waste of
space to quote any of the longer ones in such a way as to do them
justice. And, fortunately, there is no need for me to give any of my own
cases; since a specially good case has been specially well observed and
reported in a book with which many of my readers are probably already
acquainted,--Professor Flournoy's _Des Indes à la planète Mars: Etude
sur un cas de Somnambulisme avec Glossolalie_ (Paris and Geneva, 1900).
I shall here make some comments on that striking record, which all
students of these subjects ought to study in detail.

It happens, no doubt, to any group which pursues for many years a
somewhat unfamiliar line of inquiry, that those of their points which
are first assailed get gradually admitted, so that as they become
interested in new points they may scarcely observe what change has taken
place in the reception of the old. The reader of early volumes of the
_Proceedings_ S.P.R. will often observe this kind of progress of
opinion. And now Professor Flournoy's book indicates in a remarkable way
how things have moved in the psychology of the last twenty years. The
book--a model of fairness throughout--is indeed, for the most part,
critically _destructive_ in its treatment of the quasi-supernormal
phenomena with which it deals. But what a mass of conceptions a
competent psychologist now takes for granted in this realm, which the
official science of twenty years ago would scarcely stomach our hinting

One important point may be noticed at once as decisively corroborating a
contention of my own made long ago, and at a time when it probably
seemed fantastic to many readers. Arguing for the potential _continuity_
of subliminal mentation (as against those who urged that there were only
occasional flashes of submerged thought, like scattered dreams), I said
that it would soon be found needful to press this notion of a continuous
subliminal self to the utmost, if we were not prepared to admit a
continuous spiritual guidance or possession. Now, in fact, with
Professor Flournoy's subject the whole discussion turns on this very
point. There is unquestionably a continuous and complex series of
thoughts and feelings going on beneath the threshold of consciousness of
Mlle. "Hélène Smith." Is this submerged mentation due in any degree or
in any manner to the operation of spirits other than Mlle. Smith's own?
That is the broad question; but it is complicated here by a subsidiary
question: whether, namely, any previous incarnations of Mlle.
Smith's--other phases of her own spiritual history, now involving
complex relationship with the past--have any part in the crowd of
personalities which seem struggling to express themselves through her
quite healthy organism.

Mlle. Smith, I should at once say, is not,[183] and never has been, a
paid medium. At the date of M. Flournoy's book, she occupied a leading
post on the staff of a large _maison de commerce_ at Geneva, and gave
séances to her friends simply because she enjoyed the exercise of her
mediumistic faculties, and was herself interested in their explanation.

Her organism, I repeat, is regarded, both by herself and by others, as a
quite healthy one. Mlle. Smith, says Professor Flournoy, declares
distinctly that she is perfectly sound in body and mind--in no way
lacking in equilibrium--and indignantly repudiates the idea that there
is any hurtful anomaly or the slightest danger in mediumship as she
practises it.

"It is far from being demonstrated," he continues, "that mediumship is a
pathological phenomenon. It is abnormal, no doubt, in the sense of being
_rare_, _exceptional_; but rarity is not morbidity. The few years during
which these phenomena have been seriously and scientifically studied
have not been enough to allow us to pronounce on their true nature. It
is interesting to note that in the countries where these studies have
been pushed the furthest, in England and America, the dominant view
among the _savants_ who have gone deepest into the matter is not at all
unfavourable to mediumship; and that, far from regarding it as a special
case of hysteria, they see in it a faculty superior, advantageous,
healthy, of which hysteria is a form of degenerescence, a pathological
parody, a morbid caricature."

The phenomena which this sensitive presents (Hélène Smith is Professor
Flournoy's pseudonym for her) cover a range which looks at first very
wide, although a clearer analysis shows that these varieties are more
apparent than real, and that self-suggestion will perhaps account for
all of them.

There is, to begin with, every kind of automatic irruption of subliminal
into supraliminal life. As Professor Flournoy says (p. 45): "Phenomena
of hypermnesia, divinations, mysterious findings of lost objects, happy
inspirations, exact presentiments, just intuitions, teleological
(purposive or helpful) automatisms, in short, of every kind; she
possesses in a high degree this small change of genius--which
constitutes a more than sufficient compensation for the inconvenience
resulting from those distractions and moments of absence of mind which
accompany her visions; and which, moreover, generally pass unobserved."

At séances--where the deeper change has no inconveniences--Hélène
undergoes a sort of self-hypnotisation which produces various lethargic
and somnambulistic states. And when she is alone and safe from
interruption she has spontaneous visions, during which there may be some
approach to ecstasy. At the séances she experiences positive
hallucinations, and also negative hallucinations, or systematised
anæsthesiæ, so that, for instance, she will cease to see some person
present, especially one who is to be the recipient of messages in the
course of the séance. "It seems as though a dream-like incoherence
presided over this preliminary work of disaggregation, in which the
normal perceptions are arbitrarily split up or absorbed by the
subconscious personality--eager for materials with which to compose the
hallucinations which it is preparing." Then, when the séance begins, the
main actor is Hélène's guide _Léopold_ (a pseudonym for Cagliostro) who
speaks and writes through her, and is, in fact, either her leading
spirit-control or (much more probably) her most developed form of
secondary personality.

"Leopold," says Professor Flournoy (p. 134), "certainly manifests a very
honourable and amiable side of Mlle. Smith's character, and in taking
him as her 'guide' she has followed inspirations which are doubtless
among the highest in her nature."

The high moral quality of these automatic communications, on which
Professor Flournoy thus insists, is a phenomenon worth consideration.

I do not mean that it is specially strange in the case of Mlle. Smith.
But the almost universally high moral tone of genuinely automatic
utterances has not, I think, been sufficiently noticed or adequately

In evidential messages--where there is real reason to believe that an
identified spirit is communicating--there is a marked and independent
consensus on such matters as these spirits profess themselves able to

And again in non-evidential messages--in communications which probably
proceed from the automatist's subliminal self--I hold that there is a
remarkable and undesigned concordance in high moral tone, and also in
avoidance of certain prevalent tenets, which many of the automatists do
supraliminally hold as true. But I also insist that these subliminal
messages, even when not incoherent, are generally dream-like, and often
involve tenets which (though never in my experience base or immoral) are
unsupported by evidence, and are probably to be referred to mere

Prominent among such tenets is one which forms a large part of Mlle.
Smith's communications; namely, the doctrine of _reincarnation_, or of
successive lives spent by each soul upon this planet.

The simple fact that such was probably the opinion both of Plato and of
Virgil shows that there is nothing here which is alien to the best
reason or to the highest instincts of men. Nor, indeed, is it easy to
realise any theory of the _direct creation_ of spirits at such different
stages of advancement as those which enter upon the earth in the guise
of mortal man. There _must_, one feels, be some kind of continuity--some
form of spiritual Past. Yet for reincarnation there is at present no
valid evidence; and it must be my duty to show how its assertion in any
given instance--Mlle. Smith's included--constitutes in itself a strong
argument in favour of self-suggestion rather than extraneous inspiration
as the source of the messages in which it appears.

Whenever civilised men have received what they have regarded as a
revelation (which has generally been somewhat fragmentary in its first
delivery) they have naturally endeavoured to complete and systematise it
as well as they could. In so doing they have mostly aimed at three
objects: (1) to _understand_ as much as possible of the secrets of the
universe; (2) to _justify_ as far as possible Heaven's dealings with
men; and (3) to _appropriate_ as far as possible the favour or benefit
which the revelation may show as possibly accruing to believers. For all
these purposes the doctrine of reincarnation has proved useful in many
countries and times. But in no case could it seem more appropriate than
in this last revelation (so to term it) through automatic messages and
the like. And as a matter of history, a certain vigorous preacher of the
new faith, known under the name of Allan Kardec, took up
reincarnationist tenets, enforced them (as there is reason to believe)
by strong suggestion upon the minds of various automatic writers, and
set them forth in dogmatic works which have had much influence,
especially among Latin nations, from their clarity, symmetry, and
intrinsic reasonableness. Yet the data thus collected were absolutely
insufficient, and the _Livre des Esprits_ must simply rank as the
premature formulation of a new religion--the premature systematisation
of a nascent science.

I follow Professor Flournoy in believing that the teaching of that work
must have directly or indirectly influenced the mind of Mlle. Smith, and
is therefore responsible for her claim to these incarnations previous to
that which she now undergoes or enjoys.

On the general scheme here followed, each incarnation, if the last has
been used aright, ought to represent some advance in the scale of being.
If one earth-life has been misused, the next earth-life ought to afford
opportunity for expiation--or for further practice in the special virtue
which has been imperfectly acquired. Thus Mlle. Smith's present life in
a humble position may be thought to atone for her overmuch pride in her
last incarnation--as Marie Antoinette.

But the mention of Marie Antoinette suggests the risk which this theory
fosters--of assuming that one is the issue of a distinguished line of
spiritual progenitors; insomuch that, with whatever temporary sets-back,
one is sure in the end to find oneself in a leading position.

Pythagoras, indeed, was content with the secondary hero Euphorbus as his
bygone self. But in our days Dr. Anna Kingsford and Mr. Edward Maitland
must needs have been the Virgin Mary and St. John the Divine. And Victor
Hugo, who was naturally well to the front in these self-multiplications,
took possession of most of the leading personages of antiquity whom he
could manage to string together in chronological sequence. It is obvious
that any number of re-born souls can play at this game; but where no one
adduces any evidence it seems hardly worth while to go on. Even
Pythagoras does not appear to have adduced any evidence beyond his _ipse
dixit_ for his assertion that the alleged shield of Euphorbus had in
reality been borne by that mythical hero. Meantime the question as to
reincarnation has actually been put to a very few spirits who have given
some real evidence of their identity. So far as I know, no one of these
has claimed to know anything personally of such an incident; although
all have united in saying that their knowledge was too limited to allow
them to generalise on the matter.

Hélène's controls and previous incarnations--to return to our
subject--do perhaps suffer from the general fault of aiming too high.
She has to her credit a control from the planet Mars; one
pre-incarnation as an Indian Princess; and a second (as I have said) as
Marie Antoinette.

In each case there are certain impressive features in the impersonation;
but in each case also careful analysis negatives the idea that we can be
dealing with a personality really revived from a former epoch, or from a
distant planet;--and leaves us inclined to explain everything by
"cryptomnesia" (as Professor Flournoy calls submerged memory), and that
subliminal inventiveness of which we already know so much.

The _Martian_ control was naturally the most striking at first sight.
Its reality was supported by a Martian language, written in a Martian
alphabet, spoken with fluency, and sufficiently interpreted into French
to show that such part of it, at any rate, as could be committed to
writing was actually a grammatical and coherent form of speech.

And here I reach an appropriate point at which to remark that this book
of Professor Flournoy's is not the first account which has been
published of Mlle. Hélène. Professor Lemaître, of Geneva, printed two
papers about her in the _Annales des Sciences Psychiques_: first, a long
article in the number for March-April, 1897--then a reply to M. Lefébure
in the number for May-June, 1897. In these papers he distinctly claims
supernormal powers for Mlle. Hélène, implying a belief in her genuine
possession by spirits, and even in her previous incarnations, and in the
extra-terrene or ostensibly Martian language. I read these papers at the
time, but put them aside as inconclusive, mainly because that very
language, on which M. Lemaître seemed most to rely, appeared to me so
obviously factitious as to throw doubt on all the evidence presented by
an observer who could believe that denizens of another planet talked to
each other in a language corresponding in every particular with simple
French idioms, and including such words as _quisa_ for _quel_, _quisé_
for _quelle_, _vétèche_ for _voir_, _vèche_ for _vu_;--the fantastic
locutions of the nursery. M. Lemaître remarks, as a proof of the
consistency and reality of the extra-terrene tongue, "L'un des premiers
mots que nous ayons eus, _métiche_, signifiant _monsieur_, se retrouve
plus tard avec le sens de _homme_." That is to say, having
transmogrified _monsieur_ into _métiche_, Hélène further transmutes
_les messieurs_ into _cée métiché_;--in naïve imitation of ordinary
French usage. And this tongue is supposed to have sprung up
independently of all the influences which have shaped terrene grammar in
general or the French idiom in particular! And even after Professor
Flournoy's analysis of this absurdity I see newspapers speaking of this
Martian language as an impressive phenomenon! They seem willing to
believe that the evolution of another planet, if it has culminated in
conscious life at all, can have culminated in a conscious life into
which we could all of us enter affably, with a suitable Ollendorff's
phrase-book under our arms;--"_eni cée métiché oné qudé_,"--"ici les
hommes (messieurs) sont bons,"--"here the men are good";--and the rest
of it.

To the student of automatisms, of course, all this irresistibly suggests
the automatist's own subliminal handiwork. It is a case of "glossolaly,"
or "speaking with tongues"; and we have no modern case--no case later
than the half-mythical Miracles of the Cevennes--where such utterance
has proved to be other than gibberish. I have had various automatic
hieroglyphics shown to me, with the suggestion that they may be cursive
Japanese, or perhaps an old dialect of Northern China; but I confess
that I have grown tired of showing these fragments to the irresponsive
expert, who suggests that they may also be vague reminiscences of the
scrolls in an Oriental tea-tray.

It seems indeed to be a most difficult thing to get telepathically into
any brain even fragments of a language which it has not learnt. A few
simple Italian, and even Hawaiian, words occur in Mrs. Piper's
utterances, coming apparently from departed spirits (_Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 337 and 384 [960 A and § 961]), but these, with
some Kaffir and Chinese words given through Miss Browne (_Proceedings_
S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 124-127 [871 A]), form, I think, almost the only
instances which I know. And, speaking generally, whatever is elaborate,
finished, pretentious, is likely to be of subliminal facture; while only
things scrappy, perplexed, and tentative, have floated to us veritably
from afar.

I need not here go into the details of the Hindow preincarnation or of
the more modern and accessible characterisation of Marie Antoinette, but
will pass on to certain minor, but interesting phenomena, which
Professor Flournoy calls _teleological automatisms_. These are small
acts of helpfulness--_beneficent synergies_, as we might term them, in
contrast with the _injurious synergies_, or combined groups of _hurtful_
actions, with which hysteria has made us familiar.[184]

"One day," says Professor Flournoy (p. 35), "Miss Smith, when desiring
to lift down a large and heavy object which lay on a high shelf, was
prevented from doing so because her raised arm remained for some seconds
as though petrified in the air and incapable of movement. She took this
as a warning, and gave up the attempt. At a subsequent séance Leopold
stated that it was he who had thus fixed Hélène's arm to prevent her
from grasping this object, which was much too heavy for her and would
have caused her some accident.

"Another time, a shopman, who had been looking in vain for a certain
pattern, asked Hélène if by chance she knew what had become of it.
Hélène answered mechanically and without reflection--'Yes, it has been
sent to Mr. J.' (a client of the house). At the same time she saw before
her the number 18 in large black figures a few feet from the ground, and
added instinctively, 'It was sent eighteen days ago.' [This was in the
highest degree improbable, but was found to be absolutely correct.]
Leopold had no recollection of this, and does not seem to have been the
author of this cryptomnesic automatism."

A similar phenomenon has also been noted (p. 87) when warning is
conveyed by an actual phantasmal figure. Mlle. Smith has seen an
_apparition_ of Leopold, barring a particular road, under circumstances
which make it probable that Mlle. Smith would on that day have had cause
to regret taking that route.

This case of Professor Flournoy's, then--this classical case, as it may
already be fairly termed--may serve here as our culminant example of the
free scope and dominant activity of the unassisted subliminal self. The
telepathic element in this case, if it exists, is relatively small; what
we are watching in Mlle. Hélène Smith resembles, as I have said, a kind
of exaggeration of the submerged constructive faculty,--a hypertrophy of
genius--without the innate originality of mind which made even the
dreams of R. L. Stevenson a source of pleasure to thousands of readers.

In reference to the main purpose of this work, such cases as these,
however curious, can be only introductory to automatisms of deeper
moment. In our attempt to trace an evolutive series of phenomena
indicating ever higher human faculty, the smallest telepathic
incident,--the most trivial proof, if proof it be, of communication
received without sensory intermediation from either an incarnate or a
discarnate mind outweighs in importance the most complex ramifications
and burgeonings of the automatist's own submerged intelligence.

I pass on, then, to evidence which points, through motor automatisms, to
supernormal faculty; and I shall begin by referring the reader to
certain experiments (due to Professor Richet) in the simplest of all
forms of motor automatism, viz., table-tilting, with results which only
telepathy can explain. (See Appendix VIII. A.)

Trivial though they seem, such experiments may with a little care be
made absolutely conclusive. Had Professor Richet's friends, for example,
been willing to prolong this series, we might have had a standing
demonstration of telepathy, reproducible at will.[185]

And now I pass on to some experiments with Planchette, in which an
element of telepathy was shown. The following account from Mrs. Alfred
Moberly, Tynwald, Hythe, Kent, is corroborated, with some additional
examples, by two other ladies present at the time.

(From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. ii. p. 235.)

_May 9th, 1884._

     The operators were placed out of sight of the rest of the company,
     who selected--in silence--a photograph, one of an albumful, and
     fixed their attention on it. We--the operators--were requested to
     keep our minds a blank as far as possible and follow the first
     involuntary motion of the Planchette. In three out of five cases it
     wrote the name or initial or some word descriptive of the selected
     portrait. We also obtained the signatures to letters selected in
     the same manner. We both knew perfectly well that _we_ were
     writing--not the spirits, as the rest of the company persist to
     this day in believing--but had only the slightest idea what the
     words might prove to be.

     We have tried it since, and generally with some curious result. A
     crucial test was offered by two gentlemen in the form of a question
     to which we couldn't possibly guess the answer. "Where's Toosey?"
     The answer came, "In Vauxhall Road." "Toosey," they explained, was
     a pet terrier who had disappeared; suspicion attaching to a plumber
     living in the road mentioned, who had been working at the house and
     whose departure coincided with Toosey's.

Of course, in the case of the inquiry after the lost dog, we may suppose
that the answer given came from the questioner's own mind. Mrs. Moberly
and her friends seem to have been quite aware of this; and were little
likely to fall into the not uncommon error of asking Planchette, for
instance, what horse will win the Derby, and staking, perhaps, some
pecuniary consideration on the extremely illusory reply.[186]

And now we come to the palmary case of the late Rev. P. H. Newnham,
Vicar of Maker, Devonport, who was personally known to Edmund Gurney and
myself, and was a man in all ways worthy of high respect. The long
series of communications between Mr. Newnham and his wife, which date
back to 1871, and whose contemporaneous written record is preserved in
the archives of the S.P.R., must, I think, always retain their primacy
as early and trustworthy examples of a telepathic transference where the
percipient's automatic script answers questions penned by the agent in
such a position that the percipient could not in any normal manner
discern what those questions were. No part of our evidence seems to me
more worthy of study than this.[187]

It must be distinctly understood that Mrs. Newnham did not see or hear
the questions which Mr. Newnham wrote down.[188] The fact, therefore,
that her answers bore any relation to the questions shows that the sense
of the questions was telepathically conveyed to her. This is the leading
and important fact. The _substance_ of the replies written is also
interesting, and Mr. Newnham has some good comments thereon. But even
had the replies contained no facts which Mrs. Newnham could not have
known, this would not detract from the main value of the evidence, which
consists in the fact that _Mrs. Newnham's hand wrote replies clearly and
repeatedly answering questions which she neither heard nor saw_.

In this case we have the advantage of seeing before us the entire series
of questions and answers, and thus of satisfying ourselves that the
misses (which in that case are very few) are marked as well as the hits,
and consequently that the coincidences between question and answer are
at any rate not the result of chance. In several other cases which I
have known, where the good faith of the informants has been equally
above question, the possibility of an explanation by chance alone has
been a more important element in the problem. All our evidence has
tended to show that the telepathic power itself is a variable thing;
that it shows itself in flashes, for the most part spontaneously, and
seldom persists through a series of deliberate experiments. And if an
automatist possessing power of this uncertain kind has exercised it at
irregular moments and with no scientific aim;--and has kept, moreover,
no steady record of success and failure;--then it becomes difficult to
say that even some brilliant coincidences afford cogent proof of
telepathic action.[189]

I pass on to a small group of cases which form a curious transition from
these communications _inter vivos_ to communications which I shall class
as coming from the dead. These are cases where the message professes to
come from a deceased person, but shows internal evidence of having come,
telepathically, from the mind of some one present, or, indeed, from some
living person at a distance. (See the case given in Appendix VIII. B.)

But this, although a real risk, is by no means the only risk of
deception which such messages involve. The communication may conceivably
come from some unembodied spirit indeed, but not from the spirit who is
claimed as its author.

The reader who wishes to acquaint himself with this new range of
problems cannot do better than study the record of the varied
experiences of automatic writing which have been intermingled with Miss
A.'s crystal-visions, etc.[190]

There is no case that I have watched longer than Miss A.'s;--none where
I have more absolute assurance of the scrupulous probity of the
principal sensitive herself and of the group who share the
experiments;--but none also which leaves me more often baffled as to the
unseen source of the information given. There is a knowledge both of the
past and of the future, which seems capriciously limited, and is mingled
with mistakes, yet on the other hand is of a nature which it is
difficult to refer to any individual human mind, incarnate or
discarnate. We meet here some of the first indications of a possibility
that discarnate spirits communicating with us have occasional access to
certain sources of knowledge which even to themselves are inscrutably
remote and obscure.

The written diagnoses and prognoses given by the so-called "Semirus,"
often without Miss A.'s even seeing the patient or hearing the nature of
his malady, have become more and more remarkable. Miss A. and her
friends do not wish these private matters to be printed, and I cannot
therefore insist upon the phenomena here. Yet in view of the amount of
telæsthesia which Miss A.'s various automatisms reveal, it should first
be noted that human organisms seem especially pervious to such _vue à
distance_. "Semirus," "Gelalius," etc., are obvious pseudonyms; and
neither Semirus' prescriptions nor Gelalius' cosmogony contain enough of
indication to enable us to grasp their origin.[191]

From the communications of these remote personages I go on to certain
messages avowedly coming from persons more recently departed, and into
which something more of definite personality seems to enter. One element
of this kind is _handwriting_; there are many cases where resemblance of
handwriting is one of the evidential points alleged. Now proof of
identity from resemblance of handwriting may conceivably be very strong.
But in estimating it we must bear two points in mind. The first is that
(like the resemblances of so-called "spirit-photographs" to deceased
friends) it is often very loosely asserted. One needs, if not an
expert's opinion, at least a careful personal scrutiny of the three
scripts--the automatist's voluntary and his automatic script, and the
deceased person's script--before one can feel sure that the resemblance
is in more than some general scrawliness. This refers to the cases where
the automatist has provably never seen the deceased person's
handwriting. Where he _has_ seen that handwriting, we have to remember
(in the second place) that a hypnotised subject can frequently imitate
any known handwriting far more closely than in his waking state; and
that consequently we are bound to credit the subliminal self with a
mimetic faculty which may come out in these messages without any
supraliminal guidance whatever on the automatist's part. In
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 549-65 [864 A], is an account of a
series of experiments by Professor Rossi-Pagnoni at Pesaro, into which
the question of handwriting enters. The account illustrates automatic
utterance as well as other forms of motor automatism, and possibly also
telekinetic phenomena. The critical discussion of the evidence by Mr.
H. Babington Smith, to whom we are indebted for the account, shows with
what complex considerations we have to deal in the questions now before

I now cite a few cases where the point of central interest is the
announcement of a death unknown to the sitters.[192]

In Appendix VIII. C is given a case which we received from Dr.
Liébeault, of Nancy, and which was first published in _Phantasms of the
Living_ (vol. i. p. 293), where it was regarded as an example of a
spontaneous telepathic impulse proceeding directly from a dying person.
I now regard it as more probably due to the action of the spirit after
bodily death.

I shall next give a _résumé_ of a case of curious complexity received
from M. Aksakof;--an automatic message written by a Mdlle. Stramm,
informing her of the death of a M. Duvanel. The principal incidents may
here be disentangled as follows:--

     Duvanel dies by his own hand on January 15th, 1887, in a Swiss
     village, where he lives alone, having no relations except a brother
     living at a distance, whom Mdlle. Stramm had never seen (as the
     principal witness, M. Kaigorodoff, informs us in a letter of May

     Mdlle. Stramm's father does not hear of Duvanel's death till two
     days later, and sends her the news in a letter dated January 18th,

     Five hours after Duvanel's death an automatic message announcing it
     is written at the house of M. Kaigorodoff, at Wilna in Russia, by
     Mdlle. Stramm, who had certainly at that time received no news of
     the event.

     From what mind are we to suppose that this information came?

     (1) We may first attempt to account for Mdlle. Stramm's message on
     the theory of _latency_. We may suppose that the telepathic message
     came from the dying man, but did not rise into consciousness until
     an opportunity was afforded by Mdlle. Stramm's sitting down to
     write automatically.

     But to this interpretation there is an objection of a very curious
     kind. The message written by Mdlle. Stramm was not precisely
     accurate. Instead of ascribing Duvanel's death to suicide, it
     ascribed it to a stoppage of blood, "un engorgement de sang."

     And when M. Stramm, three days after the death, wrote to his
     daughter in Russia to tell her of it, he also used the same
     expression, "un engorgement de sang," thus disguising the actual
     truth in order to spare the feelings of his daughter, who had
     formerly refused to marry Duvanel, and who (as her father feared)
     might receive a painful shock if she learnt the tragic nature of
     his end. There was, therefore, a singular coincidence between the
     automatic and the normally-written message as to the death;--a
     coincidence which looks as though the same mind had been at work
     in each instance. But that mind cannot have been M. Stramm's
     ordinary mind, as he was not supraliminally aware of Duvanel's
     death at the time when the first message was written. It may,
     however, be supposed that his subliminal self had received the
     information of the death telepathically, had transmitted it in a
     deliberately modified form to his daughter, while it remained
     latent in himself, and had afterwards influenced his supraliminal
     self to modify the information in the same way when writing to her.

     (2) But we must also consider the explanation of the coincidence
     given by the intelligence which controlled the automatic writing.
     That intelligence asserted itself to be a brother of Mdlle.
     Stramm's, who died some years before. And this "Louis" further
     asserted that he had himself influenced M. Stramm to make use of
     the same euphemistic phrase, with the object of avoiding a shock to
     Mdlle. Stramm; for which purpose it was needful that the two
     messages should agree in ascribing the death to the same form of
     sudden illness.

     Now if this be true, and the message did indeed come from the
     deceased "Louis," we have an indication of continued existence, and
     continued knowledge of earthly affairs, on the part of a person
     long dead.

     But if we consider that the case, as presented to us, contains no
     proof of "Louis'" identity, so that "Louis" may be merely one of
     those arbitrary names which the automatist's subliminal
     intelligence seems so prone to assume; then we must suppose that
     Duvanel was actually operative on two occasions after death, first
     inspiring in Mdlle. Stramm the automatic message, and then
     modifying in M. Stramm the message which the father might otherwise
     have sent.

I next quote a case in Appendix VIII. D which illustrates the continued
terrene knowledge on the part of the dead of which other instances were
given in the last chapter.

And lastly, I give in Appendix VIII. E a case which in one respect
stands alone. It narrates the success of a direct experiment,--a
test-message planned before death, and communicated after death, by a
man who held that the hope of an assurance of continued existence was
worth at least a resolute effort, whatever its result might be. His
tests, indeed, were two, and both were successful. One was the revealing
of the place where, before death, he hid a piece of brick marked and
broken for special recognition, and the other was the communication of
the contents of a short letter which he wrote and sealed before death.
We may say that the information was certainly not possessed
supraliminally by any living person. There are two other cases
(_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vi. pp. 353-355, and _op. cit._ vol viii.
pp. 238-242 [876 A and B]) where information given through automatists
may hypothetically be explicable by telepathy from the living, although,
indeed, in my own view, it probably emanated from the deceased as
alleged. In one of these cases the place where a missing will had been
hidden was revealed to the automatist, but it is not clear whether the
will was actually discovered or not before the automatic writing was
obtained (although the automatist was unaware of its discovery), and in
any case, apparently, its whereabouts was known to some living person
who had hidden it, and may not have been known to the deceased before

In the other case the whereabouts of a missing note of hand was revealed
to the automatists, and even if this could be regarded as absolutely
unknown supraliminally to any living person, it is not by any means
certain that the fact was known before death to the deceased person from
whom the message purported to come.

These cases, therefore, are not such strong evidence for personal
identity as the one to which I have referred above, and which I have
given, as recording what purports to be the successful accomplishment of
an experiment which every one may make;--which every one _ought_ to
make;--for, small as may be the chances of success, a few score of
distinct successes would establish a presumption of man's survival which
the common sense of mankind would refuse to explain away.

Here, then, let us pause and consider to what point the evidence
contained in this chapter has gradually led us. We shall perceive that
the motor phenomena have confirmed, and have also greatly extended, the
results to which the cognate sensory phenomena had already pointed. We
have already noted, in each of the two states of sleep and of waking,
the variously expanding capacities of the subliminal self. We have
watched a hyperæsthetic intensification of ordinary faculty,--leading up
to telæsthesia, and to telepathy, from the living and from the departed.
Along with these powers, which, on the hypothesis of the soul's
independent existence, are at least within our range of analogical
conception, we have noted also a precognitive capacity of a type which
no fact as yet known to science will help us to explain.

Proceeding to the study of motor automatisms, we have found a _third_
group of cases which independently confirm in each of these lines in
turn the results of our analysis of sensory automatisms both in sleep
and in waking. Evidence thus convergent will already need no ordinary
boldness of negative assumption if it is to be set aside. But motor
automatisms have taught us much more than this. At once more energetic
and more persistent than the sensory, they oblige us to face certain
problems which the lightness and fugitiveness of sensory impressions
allowed us in some measure to evade. Thus when we discussed the
mechanism (so to call it) of visual and auditory phantasms, two
competing conceptions presented themselves for our choice,--the
conception of _telepathic impact_, and the conception of _psychical
invasion_. Either (we said) there was an influence exerted by the agent
on the percipient's mind, which so stimulated the sensory tracts of his
brain that he externalised that impression as a quasi-percept, or else
the agent in some way modified an actual portion of space where (say) an
apparition was discerned, perhaps by several percipients at once.

Phrased in this manner, the telepathic impact seemed the less startling,
the less extreme hypothesis of the two,--mainly, perhaps, because the
picture which it called up was left so vague and obscure. But now
instead of a fleeting hallucination we have to deal with a strong and
lasting impulse--such, for instance, as the girl's impulse to _write_,
in Dr. Liébeault's case (Appendix VIII. C):--an impulse which seems to
come from the depths of the being, and which (like a post-hypnotic
suggestion) may override even strong disinclination, and keep the
automatist uncomfortable until it has worked itself out. We may still
call this a _telepathic impact_, if we will, but we shall find it hard
to distinguish that term from a _psychical invasion_. This strong, yet
apparently alien, motor innervation corresponds in fact as closely as
possible to our idea of an _invasion_--an invasion no longer of the room
only in which the percipient is sitting, but of his own body and his own
powers. It is an invasion which, if sufficiently prolonged, would become
a _possession_; and it both unites and intensifies those two earlier
conjectures;--of telepathic impact on the percipient's mind, and of
"phantasmogenetic presence" in the percipient's surroundings. What
seemed at first a mere impact is tending to become a persistent control;
what seemed an incursion merely into the percipient's environment has
become an incursion into his organism itself.

As has been usual in this inquiry, this slight forward step from
vagueness to comparative clearness of conception introduces us at once
to a whole series of novel problems. Yet, as we have also learnt to
expect, some of our earlier phenomena may have to be called in with
advantage to illustrate phenomena more advanced.

In cases of split personality, to begin with, we have seen just the same
phenomena occurring where certainly no personality was concerned save
the percipient's own. We have seen a section of the subliminal self
partially or temporarily dominating the organism; perhaps controlling
permanently one arm alone;[193] or perhaps controlling intermittently
the whole nervous system;--and all this with varying degrees of
displacement of the primary personality.

Similarly with post-hypnotic suggestion. We have seen the subliminal
self ordered to write (say) "It has left off raining"--and thereupon
writing the words without the conscious will of the automatist--and
again with varying degrees of displacement of the waking self. The step
hence to such a case as Mrs. Newnham's is thus not a very long one. Mrs.
Newnham's subliminal self, exercising supernormal faculty, and by some
effort of its own, acquires certain facts from Mr. Newnham's mind, and
uses her hand to write them down automatically. The great problem here
introduced is how the subliminal self acquires the facts, rather than
how it succeeds in writing them down when it has once acquired them.

But as we go further we can no longer limit the problem in this way,--to
the activities of the automatist's subliminal self. We cannot always
assume that some portion of the automatist's personality gets at the
supernormal knowledge by some effort of its own. Our evidence, as we
know, has pointed decisively to telepathic impacts or influences from
without. What, then, is the mechanism here? Are we still to suppose that
the automatist's subliminal self executes the movements--obeying somehow
the bidding of the impulse from without? or does the external agent, who
sends the telepathic message, himself execute the movements also,
directly using the automatist's arm? And if telekinetic movements
accompany the message (a subject thus far deferred, but of prime
importance), are we to suppose that these also are effected by the
percipient's subliminal self, under the guidance of some external
spirit, incarnate or discarnate? or are they effected directly by that
external spirit?

We cannot really say which of these two is the easier hypothesis.

From one point of view it may seem simpler to keep as long as we can to
that acknowledged _vera causa_, the automatist's subliminal self; and to
collect such observations as may indicate any power on its part of
producing physical effects outside the organism. Such scattered
observations occur at every stage, and even Mrs. Newnham (I may briefly
observe in passing) thought that her pencil, when writing down the
messages telepathically derived from her husband, was moved by something
other than the ordinary muscular action of the fingers which held it. On
the other hand, there seems something very forced in attributing to an
external spirit's agency impulses and impressions which seem intimately
the automatist's own, and at the same time refusing to ascribe to that
external agency phenomena which take place outside the automatist's
organism, and which present themselves to him as objective facts, as
much outside his own being as the fall of the apple to the ground.

Reflecting on such points--and once admitting this kind of interaction
between the automatist's own spirit and an external spirit, incarnate or
discarnate--we find the possible combinations presenting themselves in
perplexing variety;--a variety both of agencies on the part of the
invading spirit, and of effects on the part of the invaded spirit and

What is that which invades? and what is that which is displaced or
superseded by this invasion? In what ways may two spirits co-operate in
the possession and control of the same organism?

These last words--control and possession--remind us of the great mass of
vague tradition and belief to the effect that spirits of the departed
may exercise such possession or control over the living. To those
ancient and vague beliefs it will be our task in the next chapter to
give a form as exact and stable as we can. And observe with how entirely
novel a preparation of mind we now enter on that task. The examination
of "possession" is no longer to us, as to the ordinary civilised
inquirer, a merely antiquarian or anthropological research into forms of
superstition lying wholly apart from any valid or systematic thought. On
the contrary, it is an inquiry directly growing out of previous
evidence; directly needed for the full comprehension of known facts as
well as for the discovery of facts unknown. We need, (so to say), to
analyse the spectrum of helium, as detected in the sun, in order to
check and correct our spectrum of helium as detected in the Bath waters.
We are obliged to seek for certain definite phenomena in the spiritual
world in order to explain certain definite phenomena of the world of



    Vicit iter durum pietas.


_Possession_, to define it for the moment in the narrowest way, is a
more developed form of Motor Automatism. The difference broadly is, that
in Possession the automatist's own personality does for the time
altogether disappear, while there is a more or less complete
_substitution_ of personality; writing or speech being given by a spirit
through the entranced organism. The change which has come over this
branch of evidence since the present work was first projected, in 1888,
is most significant. There existed indeed, at that date, a good deal of
evidence which pointed in this direction,[194] but for various reasons
most of that evidence was still possibly explicable in other ways. Even
the phenomena of Mr. W. S. Moses left it possible to argue that the main
"controls" under which he wrote or spoke when entranced were
self-suggestions of his own mind, or phases of his own deeper
personality. I had not then had the opportunity, which the kindness of
his executors after his death afforded to me, of studying the whole
series of his original note-books, and forming at first-hand my present
conviction that spiritual agency was an actual and important element in
that long sequence of communications. On the whole, I did not then
anticipate that the theory of possession could be presented as more than
a plausible speculation, or as a supplement to other lines of proof of
man's survival of death.

The position of things, as the reader of the S.P.R. _Proceedings_ knows,
has since that time undergone a complete change. The trance-phenomena of
Mrs. Piper--so long and so carefully watched by Dr. Hodgson and
others--formed, I think, by far the most remarkable mass of psychical
evidence till then adduced in any quarter. And more recently other
series of trance-phenomena with other "mediums"--though still
incomplete--have added materially to the evidence obtained through Mrs.
Piper. The result broadly is that these phenomena of possession are now
the most amply attested, as well as intrinsically the most advanced, in
our whole repertory.

Nor, again, is the mere increment of direct evidence, important though
that is, the sole factor in the changed situation. Not only has direct
evidence grown, but indirect evidence, so to say, has moved to meet it.
The notion of personality--of the control of organism by spirit--has
gradually been so modified that Possession, which passed till the other
day as a mere survival of savage thought, is now seen to be the
consummation, the furthest development of many lines of experiment,
observation, reflection, which the preceding chapters have opened to our

Let us then at once consider what the notion of possession does actually
claim. It will be better to face that claim in its full extent at once,
as it will be seen that the evidence, while rising through various
stages, does in the end insist on all that the ancient term implies. The
leading modern cases, of which Stainton Moses and Mrs. Piper may be
taken as types, are closely analogous, presenting many undesigned
coincidences, some of which come out only on close examination.

The claim, then, is that the automatist, in the first place, falls into
a trance, during which his spirit partially "quits his body:" enters at
any rate into a state in which the spiritual world is more or less open
to its perception; and in which also--and this is the novelty--it so far
ceases to occupy the organism as to leave room for an invading spirit to
use it in somewhat the same fashion as its owner is accustomed to use

The brain being thus left temporarily and partially uncontrolled, a
disembodied spirit sometimes, but not always, succeeds in occupying it;
and occupies it with varying degrees of control. In some cases (Mrs.
Piper) two or more spirits may simultaneously control different portions
of the same organism.

The controlling spirit proves his identity mainly by reproducing, in
speech or writing, facts which belong to his memory and not to the
automatist's memory. He may also give evidence of supernormal perception
of other kinds.

His manifestations may differ very considerably from the automatist's
normal personality. Yet in one sense it is a process of selection rather
than of addition; the spirit selects what parts of the brain-machinery
he will use, but he cannot get out of that machinery more than it is
constructed to perform. The spirit can indeed produce facts and names
unknown to the automatist; but they must be, as a rule, such facts and
names as the automatist could easily have repeated, had they been known
to him:--not, for instance, mathematical formulæ or Chinese sentences,
if the automatist is ignorant of mathematics or of Chinese.

After a time the control gives way, and the automatist's spirit returns.
The automatist, awaking, may or may not remember his experiences in the
spiritual world during the trance. In some cases (Swedenborg) there is
this memory of the spiritual world, but no possession of the organism by
an external spirit. In others (Cahagnet's subject) there is utterance
during the trance as to what is being discerned by the automatist, yet
no memory thereof on waking. In others (Mrs. Piper) there is neither
utterance as a rule, or at least no prolonged utterance, by the
automatist's own spirit, nor subsequent memory; but there is writing or
utterance during the trance by controlling spirits.

Now this seems a strange doctrine to have reached after so much
disputation. For it simply brings us back to the creeds of the Stone
Age. We have come round again to the primitive practices of the shaman
and the medicine-man;--to a doctrine of spiritual intercourse which was
once œcumenical, but has now taken refuge in African swamps and
Siberian tundras and the snow-clad wastes of the Red Indian and the
Esquimaux. If, as is sometimes advised, we judge of the worth of ideas
by tracing their _origins_, no conception could start from a lower level
of humanity. It might be put out of court at once as unworthy of
civilised men.

Fortunately, however, our previous discussions have supplied us with a
somewhat more searching criterion. Instead of asking in what age a
doctrine originated--with the implied assumption that the more recent it
is, the better--we can now ask how far it is in accord or in discord
with a great mass of actual recent evidence which comes into contact, in
one way or another, with nearly every belief as to an unseen world which
has been held at least by western men. Submitted to this test, the
theory of possession gives a remarkable result. It cannot be said to be
inconsistent with any of our proved facts. We know absolutely nothing
which negatives its possibility.

Nay, more than this. The theory of possession actually supplies us with
a powerful method of co-ordinating and explaining many earlier groups of
phenomena, if only we will consent to explain them in a way which at
first sight seemed extreme in its assumptions--seemed unduly prodigal of
the marvellous. Yet as to that difficulty we have learnt by this time
that no explanation of psychical phenomena is really simple, and that
our best clue is to get hold of some group which seems to admit of one
interpretation only, and then to use that group as a _point de repère_
from which to attack more complex problems.

Now I think that the Moses-Piper group of trance-phenomena cannot be
intelligently explained on any theory except that of possession. And I
therefore think it important to consider in what way earlier phenomena
have led up to possession, and in what way the facts of possession, in
their turn, affect our view of these earlier phenomena.

If we analyse our observations of possession, we find two main
factors--the central operation, which is the control by a spirit of the
sensitive's organism; and the indispensable prerequisite, which is the
partial and temporary desertion of that organism by the percipient's own

Let us consider first how far this withdrawal of the living man's spirit
from his organism has been rendered conceivable by evidence already

First of all, the splits, and substitutions of phases of personality
with which our second chapter made us familiar have great significance
for _possession_ also.

We have there seen some secondary personality, beginning with slight and
isolated sensory and motor manifestations, yet going on gradually to
complete predominance,--complete control of all supraliminal

The mere collection and description of such phenomena has up till now
savoured of a certain boldness. The idea of tracing the possible
mechanism involved in these transitions has scarcely arisen.

Yet it is manifest that there must be a complex set of laws concerned
with such alternating use of brain-centres;--developments, one may
suppose, of those unknown physical laws underlying ordinary memory, of
which no one has formed as yet even a first rough conception.

An ordinary case of ecmnesia may present problems as insoluble in their
way as those offered by spirit-possession itself. There may be in
ecmnesia periods of life absolutely and permanently extruded from
memory; and there may be also periods which are only temporarily thus
extruded. Thus on Wednesday and Thursday I may be unaware of what I
learnt and did on Monday and Tuesday; and then on Friday I may recover
Monday's and Tuesday's knowledge, as well as retaining Wednesday's and
Thursday's, so that my brain-cells have taken on, so to say, two
separate lines of education since Sunday--that which began on Monday,
and that which began on Wednesday. These intercurrent educations may
have been naturally discordant, and may be fused in all kinds of ways in
the ultimate synthesis.

These processes are completely obscure; and all that can be said is that
their mechanism probably belongs to the same unknown series of
operations which ultimately lead to that completest break in the history
of the brain-cells which consists in their intercalary occupation by an
external spirit.

Passing on to _genius_, which I discussed in my third chapter, it is
noticeable that there also there is a certain degree of temporary
substitution of one control for another over important brain-centres. We
must here regard the subliminal self as an entity partially distinct
from the supraliminal, and its occupation of these brain-centres
habitually devoted to supraliminal work is a kind of possession, which
illustrates in yet another way the rapid metastasis of psychical product
(so to term it) of which these highest centres are capable. The highest
genius would thus be the completest _self-possession_,--the occupation
and dominance of the whole organism by those profoundest elements of the
self which act from the fullest knowledge, and in the wisest way.

The next main subject which fell under our description was _sleep_. And
this state--the normal state which most resembles trance--has long ago
suggested the question which first hints at the possibility of ecstasy,
namely, What becomes of the soul during sleep? I think that our evidence
has shown that sometimes during apparent ordinary sleep the spirit may
travel away from the body, and may bring back a memory, more or less
confused, of what it has seen in this clairvoyant excursion. This may
indeed happen for brief flashes during waking moments also. But ordinary
sleep seems to help the process; and deeper states of sleep--spontaneous
or induced--seem still further to facilitate it. In the coma preceding
death, or during that "suspended animation" which is sometimes taken for
death, this travelling faculty has seemed to reach its highest point.

I have spoken of deeper states of sleep, "spontaneous or induced," and
here the reader will naturally recall much that has been said of
ordinary somnambulism, much that has been said of hypnotic trance.
Hypnotic trance has created for us, with perfect facility, situations
externally indistinguishable from what I shall presently claim as true
possession. A quasi-personality, arbitrarily created, may occupy the
organism, responding to speech or sign in some characteristic fashion,
although without producing any fresh verifiable facts as evidence to the
alleged identity. Nay, sometimes, as in a few of the Pesaro experiments
(see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. v. pp. 563-565), there may be
indications that something of a new personality is there. And on the
other hand, the sensitive's own spirit often claims to have been absent
elsewhere,--much in the fashion in which it sometimes imagines itself to
have been absent during ordinary sleep, but with greater persistence and

Our inquiry into the nature of what is thus alleged to be seen in sleep
and cognate states has proved instructive. Sometimes known earthly
scenes appear to be revisited--with only such alteration as may have
taken place since the sleeper last visited them in waking hours. But
sometimes also there is an admixture of an apparently _symbolical_
element. The earthly scene includes some element of human action, which
is presented in a selected or abbreviated fashion, as though some mind
had been concerned to bring out a special significance from the complex
story. Sometimes this element becomes quite dominant; phantasmal figures
are seen; or there may be a prolonged symbolical representation of an
entry into the spiritual world.

Cases like these do of course apparently support that primitive doctrine
of the spirit's actual wandering in space. On the other hand, this
notion has become unwelcome to modern thought, which is less unwilling
to believe in some telepathic intercourse between mind and mind in which
space is not involved. For my own part, I have already explained that I
think that the evidence to an at least apparent movement of some kind in
space must outweigh any mere speculative presumption against it. And I
hold that these new experiences of possession fall on this controversy
with decisive force. It is so strongly claimed, in every instance of
possession, that the sensitive's own spirit must in some sense _vacate_
the organism, in order to allow another spirit to enter,--and the
evidence for the reality of possession is at the same time so
strong,--that I think that we must argue back from this spatial change
as a relatively certain fact, and must place a corresponding
interpretation on earlier phenomena. Such an interpretation, if once
admitted, does certainly meet the phenomena in the way most accordant
with the subjective impressions of the various percipients.

As we have already repeatedly found, it is the bold evolutionary
hypothesis which best fixes and colligates the scattered facts. We
encounter in these studies phenomena of degeneration and phenomena of
evolution. The degenerative phenomena are explicable singly and in
detail as declensions in divergent directions from an existing level.
The evolutive phenomena point, on the other hand, to new
generalisations;--to powers previously unrecognised towards which our
evidence _converges_ along constantly multiplying lines.

This matter of psychical excursion from the organism ultimately involves
the extremest claim to novel faculty which has ever been advanced for
men. For it involves, as we shall see, the claim to _ecstasy_:--to a
wandering vision which is not confined to this earth or this material
world alone, but introduces the seer into the spiritual world and among
communities higher than any which this planet knows. The discussion of
this transportation, however, will be better deferred until after the
evidence for possession has been laid before the reader at some length.

Continuing, then, for the present our analysis of the idea of
possession, we come now to its specific feature,--the occupation by a
spiritual agency of the entranced and partially vacated organism. Here
it is that our previous studies will do most to clear our conceptions.
Instead of at once leaping to the question of what spirits in their
essence are,--of what they can do and cannot do,--of the antecedent
possibility of their re-entry into matter, and the like,--we must begin
by simply carrying the idea of telepathy to its furthest point. We must
imagine telepathy becoming as central and as intense as possible;--and
we shall find that of two diverging types of telepathic intercourse
which will thus present themselves, the one will gradually correspond to
possession, and the other to ecstasy.

But here let us pause, and consider what is the truest conception which
we are by this time able to form of telepathy. The _word_ has been a
convenient one; the _central notion_--of communication beyond this range
of sense--can at any rate thus be expressed in simple terms. But
nevertheless there has been nothing to assure us that our real
comprehension of telepathic processes has got much deeper than that
verbal definition. Our conception of telepathy, indeed, to say nothing
of telæsthesia, has needed to be broadened with each fresh stage of our
evidence. That evidence at first revealed to us certain transmissions of
thoughts and images which suggested the passage of actual etherial
vibrations from brain to brain. Nor indeed can any one say at any point
of our evidence that etherial vibrations are demonstrably _not_
concerned in the phenomena. We cannot tell how far from the material
world (to use a crude phrase) some etherial agency may possibly extend.
But telepathic phenomena are in fact soon seen to overpass any
development which imaginative analogy can give to the conception of
etherial radiation from one material point to another.

For from the mere transmission of isolated ideas or pictures there is,
as my readers know, a continuous progression to impressions and
apparitions far more persistent and complex. We encounter an influence
which suggests no mere impact of etherial waves, but an intelligent and
responsive _presence_, resembling nothing so much as the ordinary human
intercourse of persons in bodily nearness. Such visions or auditions,
inward or externalised, are indeed sometimes felt to involve an even
closer contact of spirits than the common intercourse of earth allows.
One could hardly assign etherial undulations as their cause without
assigning that same mechanism to all our emotions felt towards each
other, or even to our control over our own organisms.

Nay, more. There is--as I have striven to show--a further progression
from these telepathic intercommunications between living men to
intercommunications between living men and discarnate spirits. And this
new thesis,--in every way of vital importance,--while practically
solving one problem on which I have already dwelt, opens also a
possibility of the determination of another problem, nowise accessible
until now. In the first place, we may now rest assured that telepathic
communication is not necessarily propagated by vibrations proceeding
from an ordinary material _brain_. For the discarnate spirit at any rate
has no such brain from which to start them.

So much, in the first place, for the _agent's_ end of the communication.

And in the second place, we now discern a possibility of getting at the
_percipient's_ end; of determining whether the telepathic impact is
received by the _brain_ or by the _spirit_ of the living man, or by both
inseparably, or sometimes by one and sometimes by the other.

On this problem, I say, the phenomena of automatic script, of
trance-utterance, of spirit-possession, throw more of light than we
could have ventured to hope.

Stated broadly, our trance-phenomena show us to begin with that several
currents of communication can pass at once from discarnate spirits to a
living man;--and can pass in very varying ways. For clearness' sake I
will put aside for the present all cases where the telepathic impact
takes an externalised or sensory form, and will speak only of
intellectual impressions and motor automatisms.

Now these may pass through all grades of apparent _centrality_. If a
man, awake and in other respects fully self-controlled, feels his hand
impelled to scrawl words on a piece of paper, without consciousness of
motor effort of _his own_, the impulse does not seem to him a _central_
one, although some part of his brain is presumably involved. On the
other hand, a much less conspicuous invasion of his personality may feel
much more central;--as, for instance, a premonition of evil,--an inward
heaviness which he can scarcely define. And so the motor automatism
goes on until it reaches the point of _possession_;--that is to say,
until the man's own consciousness is absolutely in abeyance, and every
part of his body is utilised by the invading spirit or spirits. What
happens in such conditions to the man's ruling principle--to his own
spirit--we must consider presently. But so far as his organism is
concerned, the invasion seems complete: and it indicates a power which
is indeed telepathic in a true sense;--yet not quite in the sense which
we originally attached to the word. We first thought of telepathy as of
a communication between two minds, whereas what we have here looks more
like a communication between a mind and a body,--an external mind, in
place of the mind which is accustomed to rule that particular body.

There is in such a case no apparent communication between the discarnate
mind and the _mind_ of the automatist. Rather there is a kind of contact
between the discarnate mind and the _brain_ of the automatist, in so far
that the discarnate mind, pursuing its own ends, is helped up to a
certain point by the accumulated capacities of the automatist's
brain;--and similarly is hindered by its incapacities.

Yet here the most characteristic element of telepathy, I repeat, seems
to have dropped out altogether. There is no perceptible communion
between the mind of the entranced person and any other mind whatever. He
is _possessed_, but is kept in unconsciousness, and never regains memory
of what his lips have uttered during his trance.

But let us see whether we have thus grasped all the
trance-phenomena;--whether something else may not be going on, which is
more truly, more centrally telepathic.

To go back to the earliest stage of telepathic experience, we can see
well enough that the experimental process might quite possibly involve
two different factors. The percipient's mind must somehow receive the
telepathic impression;--and to this reception we can assign no definite
physical correlative;--and also the percipient's motor or sensory
centres must receive an excitation;--which excitation may be
communicated, for aught we know, either by his own mind in the ordinary
way, or by the agent's mind in some direct way,--which I may call
_telergic_, thus giving a more precise sense to a word which I long ago
suggested as a kind of correlative to _telepathic_. That is to say,
there may even in these apparently simple cases be first a transmission
from agent to percipient in the spiritual world, and then an action on
the percipient's physical brain, of the same type as spirit-possession.
This action on the physical brain may be due either to the percipient's
own spirit, or subliminal self, or else directly to the agent's spirit.
For I must repeat that the phenomena of possession seem to indicate
that the extraneous spirit acts on a man's organism in very much the
same way as the man's own spirit habitually acts on it. One must thus
practically regard the body as an instrument upon which a spirit
plays;--an ancient metaphor which now seems actually our nearest
approximation to truth.

Proceeding to the case of telepathic or veridical apparitions, we see
the same hints of a double nature in the process;--traces of two
elements mingling in various degrees. At the spiritual end there may be
what we have called "clairvoyant visions,"--pictures manifestly
symbolical, and not located by the observer in ordinary
three-dimensional space. These seem analogous to the views of the
spiritual world which the sensitive enjoys during entrancement. Then
comes that larger class of veridical apparitions where the figure seems
to be externalised from the percipient's mind, some stimulus having
actually been applied,--whether by agent's or percipient's spirit,--to
the appropriate brain-centre. These cases of "sensory automatism"
resemble those experimental transferences of pictures of cards, etc. And
beyond these again, on the physical or rather the ultra-physical side,
come those _collective_ apparitions which in my view involve some
unknown kind of modification of a certain portion of space not occupied
by any organism,--as opposed to a modification of centres in one special
brain. Here comes in, as I hold, the gradual transition from subjective
to objective, as the portion of space in question is modified in a
manner to affect a larger and larger number of percipient minds.

Now when we proceed from these apparitions of the living to apparitions
of the departed, we find very much the same types persisting still. We
find symbolical _visions_ of departed persons, and of scenes among which
they seem to dwell. We find externalised _apparitions_ or phantasms of
departed persons,--indicating that some point in the percipient's brain
has been stimulated by his own or by some other spirit. And finally, as
has already been said, we find that in certain cases of possession these
two kinds of influence are simultaneously carried to an extreme. The
percipient automatist of earlier stages becomes no longer a percipient
but an automatist pure and simple,--so far as his body is
concerned,--for his whole brain--not one point alone--seems now to be
stimulated and controlled by an extraneous spirit, and he is not himself
aware of what his body writes or utters. And meantime his spirit,
partially set free from the body, may be purely percipient;--may be
enjoying that other spiritual form of communication more completely than
in any type of vision which our description had hitherto reached.

This point attained, another analogy, already mentioned, will be at once
recalled. There is another class of phenomena, besides telepathy, of
which this definition of possession at once reminds us. We have dealt
much with _secondary personalities_,--with severances and alternations
affecting a man's own spirit, in varying relation with his organism.
Félida X.'s developed secondary personality, for instance (Appendix II.
C), might be defined as another fragment--or another synthesis--of
Félida's spirit acting upon her organism in much the same way as the
original fragment--or the primary synthesis--of her spirit was wont to
act upon it.

Plainly, this analogy is close enough to be likely to lead to practical
confusion. On what grounds can we base our distinctions? What justifies
us in saying that Félida X.'s organism was controlled only by another
modification of her own personality, but that Mrs. Piper's is controlled
by George Pelham (see page 330 _et seq._)? May there not be any amount
of self-suggestion, colouring with the fictitious hue of all kinds of
identities what is in reality no more than an allotropic form of the
entranced person himself? Is even the possession by the new personality
of some fragments of fresh knowledge any proof of spirit-control? May
not that knowledge be gained clairvoyantly or telepathically, with no
intervention of any spirit other than of living men?

Yes, indeed, we must reply, there _is_ here a danger of confusion, there
_is_ a lack of any well-defined dividing line. While we must decide on
general rules, we must also keep our minds open to possible exceptions.

On the negative side, indeed, general rules will carry us a good way. We
must _not_ allow ourselves to ascribe to spirit-control cases where no
new knowledge is shown in the trance state. And this rule has at once an
important consequence,--a consequence which profoundly modifies the
antique idea of possession. I know of no evidence,--reaching in any way
our habitual standard,--either for angelic, for diabolical, or for
hostile possession.

And here comes the question: What attitude are we to assume to savage
cases of possession? Are we to accept as genuine the possession of the
Esquimaux, the Chinaman,--nay, of the Hebrew of old days?

Chinese possession is a good example, as described in Dr. Nevius' book
(on _Demon Possession and Allied Themes_, an account of which by
Professor Newbold is given in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. p. 602
[912 A]). I agree with Professor Newbold in holding that no proof has
been shown that there is more in the Chinese cases than that hysterical
duplication of personality with which we are so familiar in France and

A devil is not a creature whose existence is independently known to
science; and from the accounts the behaviour of the invading devils
seems due to mere self-suggestion. With uncivilised races, even more
than among our own friends, we are bound to insist on the rule that
there must be some supernormal knowledge shown before we may assume an
external influence. It may of course be replied that the character shown
by the "devils" was fiendish and actually _hostile_ to the possessed
person. Can we suppose that the tormentor was actually a fraction of the

I reply that such a supposition, so far from being absurd, is supported
by well-known phenomena both in insanity and in mere hysteria.

Especially in the Middle Ages,--amid powerful self-suggestions of evil
and terror,--did these quasi-possessions reach an intensity and violence
which the calm and sceptical atmosphere of the modern hospital checks
and discredits. The devils with terrifying names which possessed Sœur
Angélique of Loudun[195] would at the Salpêtrière under Charcot in our
days have figured merely as stages of "clounisme" and "attitudes

And even now these splits of personality seem occasionally to destroy
all sympathy between the normal individual and a divergent fraction. No
great sympathy was felt by Léonie II. for Léonie I.[196] And Dr. Morton
Prince's case[197] shows us the deepest and ablest of the personalities
of his "Miss Beauchamp" positively spiteful in its relation to her main

Bizarre though a house thus divided against itself may seem, the moral
dissidence is merely an exaggeration of the moral discontinuity
observable in the typical case of Mrs. Newnham.[198] _There_ the
secondary intelligence was merely tricky, not malevolent. But its
trickiness was wholly alien from Mrs. Newnham's character,--was
something, indeed, which she would have energetically repudiated.

It seems, therefore,--and the analogy of dreams points in this direction
also,--that our moral nature is as easily split up as our intellectual
nature, and that we cannot be any more certain that the minor current of
personality which is diverted into some new channel will retain _moral_
than that it will retain _intellectual_ coherence.

To return once more to the Chinese devil-possessions. Dr. Nevius
asserts, though without adducing definite proof, that the possessing
devils sometimes showed supernormal knowledge. This is a better argument
for their separate existence than their fiendish temper is; but it is
not in itself enough. The knowledge does not seem to have been specially
appropriate to the supposed informing spirit. It seems as though it may
have depended upon heightened memory, with possibly some slight
telepathic or telæsthetic perception. Heightened memory is thoroughly
characteristic of some hysterical phases; and even the possible traces
of telepathy (although far the most important feature of the phenomena,
if they really occurred) are, as we have seen, not unknown in trance
states (like Léonie's) where there is no indication of an invading

Temporary control of the organism by a widely divergent fragment of the
personality, self-suggested in some dream-like manner into hostility to
the main mass of the personality, and perhaps better able than that
normal personality to reach and manipulate certain stored
impressions,--or even certain supernormal influences,--such will be the
formula to which we shall reduce the invading Chinese devil, as
described by Dr. Nevius,--and _probably_ the great majority of supposed
devil-possessions of similar type.

The great majority, no doubt, but perhaps not _all_. It would indeed be
matter for surprise if such trance-phenomena as those of Mrs. Piper and
other modern cases had appeared in the world without previous parallel.
Much more probable is it that similar phenomena have occurred
sporadically from the earliest times,--although men have not had enough
of training to analyse them.

And, in fact, among the endless descriptions of trance-phenomena with
which travellers furnish us, there are many which include points so
concordant with our recent observations that we cannot but attach some
weight to coincidences so wholly undesigned.[199] But although this may
be admitted, I still maintain that the only invaders of the organism
who have as yet made good their title have been human, and have been
friendly; and with this clearance should, I think, vanish the somewhat
grim associations which have gathered around the word _possession_.

Assuming, then, as I think we at present may assume, that we have to
deal only with spirits who have been men like ourselves, and who are
still animated by much the same motives as those which influence us, we
may briefly consider, on similar analogical grounds, what range of
spirits are likely to be able to affect us, and what difficulties they
are likely to find in doing so. Of course, actual experience alone can
decide this; but nevertheless our expectations may be usefully modified
if we reflect beforehand how far such changes of personality as we
already know can suggest to us the limits of these profounder

What, to begin with, do we find to be the case as to addition of faculty
in alternating states? How far do such changes bring with them
unfamiliar powers?

Reference to the recorded cases will show us that existing faculty may
be greatly quickened and exalted. There may be an increase both in
actual perception and in power of remembering or reproducing what has
once been perceived. There may be increased control over muscular
action,--as shown, for instance, in improved billiard-playing,--in the
secondary state. But there is little evidence of the
acquisition--telepathy apart--of any actual mass of fresh
knowledge,--such as a new language, or a stage of mathematical knowledge
unreached before. We shall not therefore be justified by analogy in
expecting that an external spirit controlling an organism will be able
easily to modify it in such a way as to produce speech in a language
previously unknown. The brain is used as something between a typewriter
and a calculating machine. German words, for instance, are not mere
combinations of letters, but specific formulæ; they can only seldom and
with great difficulty be got out of a machine which has not been
previously fashioned for their production.

Consider, again, the analogies as to _memory_. In the case of
alternations of personality, memory fails and changes in what seems a
quite capricious way. The gaps which then occur recall (as I have said)
the _ecmnesia_ or blank unrecollected spaces which follow upon accidents
to the head, or upon crises of fever, when all memories that belong to a
particular person or to a particular period of life are clean wiped out,
other memories remaining intact. Compare, again, the memory of waking
life which we retain in _dream_. This too is absolutely capricious;--I
may forget my own name in a dream, and yet remember perfectly the kind
of chairs in my dining-room. Or I may remember the chairs, but locate
them in some one else's house. No one can predict the kind of confusion
which may occur.

We have also the parallel of _somnambulic utterance_. In talking with a
somnambulist, be the somnambulism natural or induced, we find it hard to
get into continuous colloquy on our own subjects. To begin with, he
probably will not speak continuously for long together. He drops back
into a state in which he cannot express himself at all. And when he does
talk, he is apt to talk only on his own subjects;--to follow out his own
train of ideas,--interrupted rather than influenced by what _we_ say to
_him_. The difference of _state_ between waking and sleep is in many
ways hard to bridge over.

We have thus three parallelisms which may guide and limit our
expectations. From the parallelism of possession with split
personalities we may infer that a possessing spirit is not likely to be
able to inspire into the recipient brain ideas or words of very
unfamiliar type. From the parallelism of possession with dream we may
infer that the memory of the possessing spirit may be subject to strange
omissions and confusions. From the parallelism with somnambulism we may
infer that colloquy between a human observer and the possessing spirit
is not likely to be full or free, but rather to be hampered by
difference of state, and abbreviated by the difficulty of maintaining
psychical contact for long together.

These remarks will, I hope, prepare the reader to consider the problems
of possession with the same open-mindedness which has been needed for
the study of previous problems attacked in the present work.

But before we can proceed to the actual evidence there is another aspect
of possession which must be explained. A group of phenomena are involved
which have in various ways done much to confuse and even to retard our
main inquiry, but which, when properly placed and understood, are seen
to form an inevitable part of any scheme which strives to discover the
influence of unseen agencies in the world we know.

In our discussion of all telepathic and other supernormal influence I
have thus far regarded it mainly from the psychological and not from the
physical side. I have spoken as though the field of supernormal action
has been always the metetherial world. Yet true as this dictum may be in
its deepest sense, it cannot represent the _whole_ truth "for beings
such as we are, in a world like the present." For us every psychological
fact has (so far as we know) a physical side; and metetherial events, to
be perceptible to us, must somehow affect the world of matter.

In sensory and motor automatisms, then, we see effects, supernormally
initiated, upon the world of matter.

_Imprimis_, of course, and in ordinary life our own spirits (their
existence once granted) affect our own bodies and are our standing
examples of spirit affecting matter. Next, if a man receives a
telepathic impact from another incarnate spirit which causes him to see
a phantasmal figure, that man's brain has, we may suppose, been directly
affected by his own spirit rather than by the spirit of the distant
friend. But it may not always be true even in the case of sensory
automatisms that the distant spirit has made a suggestion merely to the
percipient's spirit which the percipient's own spirit carries out; and
in motor automatisms, as they develop into _possession_, there are
indications, as I have already pointed out, that the influence of the
agent's spirit is _telergic_ rather than telepathic, and that we have
extraneous spirits influencing the human brain or organism. That is to
say, they are producing movements in matter;--even though that matter be
organised matter and those movements molecular.

So soon as this fact is grasped,--and it has not always been grasped by
those who have striven to establish a fundamental difference between
spiritual influence on our spirits and spiritual influence on the
material world,--we shall naturally be prompted to inquire whether
inorganic matter as well as organic ever shows the agency of extraneous
spirits upon it. The reply which first suggests itself is, of course, in
the negative. We are constantly dealing with inorganic matter, and no
hypothesis of spiritual influence exerted on such matter is needed to
explain our experiments. But this is a rough general statement, hardly
likely to cover phenomena so rare and fugitive as many of those with
which in this inquiry we deal. Let us begin, so to say, at the other
end; not with the broad experience of life, but with the delicate and
exceptional cases of _possession_ of which we have lately been speaking.

Suppose that a discarnate spirit, in temporary possession of a living
organism, is impelling it to motor automatisms. Can we say _a priori_
what the limits of such automatic movements of that organism are likely
to be, in the same way as we can say what the limits of any of its
voluntary movements are likely to be? May not this extraneous spirit get
more motor power out of the organism than the waking man himself can get
out of it? It would not surprise us, for example, if the movements in
trance showed increased _concentration_; if a dynamometer (for instance)
was more forcibly squeezed by the spirit acting through the man than by
the man himself. Is there any other way in which one would imagine that
a spirit possessing me could use my vital force more skilfully than I
could use it myself?

I do not know how my will moves my arm; but I know by experience that my
will generally moves only my arm and what my arm can touch;--whatever
objects are actually in contact with the "protoplasmic skeleton" which
represents the life of my organism. Yet I can sometimes move objects not
in actual contact, as by melting them with the heat or (in the dry air
of Colorado) kindling them with the electricity, which my fingers emit.
I see no very definite limit to this power. I do not know all the forms
of energy which my fingers might, under suitable training, emit.

And now suppose that a possessing spirit can use my organism more
skilfully than I can. May he not manage to emit from that organism some
energy which can visibly move ponderable objects not actually in contact
with my flesh? That would be a phenomenon of possession not very unlike
its other phenomena;--and it would be _telekinesis_.

By that word (due to M. Aksakoff) it is convenient to describe what have
been called "the physical phenomena of spiritualism," as to whose
existence as a reality, and not as a system of fraudulent pretences,
fierce controversy has raged for half a century, and is still raging.

The interest excited in the ordinary public by these phenomena has, as
is well known, fostered much fraud, to expose and guard against which
has been one of the main tasks of the S.P.R.[200]

Indeed, the persistent simulation of telekinesis has, naturally enough,
inspired persistent doubt as to its genuine occurrence even in cases
where simulation has been carefully guarded against, or is antecedently
improbable. And thus while believing absolutely in the occurrence of
telekinetic phenomena, I yet hold that it would be premature to press
them upon my readers' belief, or to introduce them as an integral part
of my general expository scheme. From one point of view, their detailed
establishment, as against the theory of fraud, demands an expert
knowledge of conjuring and other arts which I cannot claim to possess.
From another point of view, their right comprehension must depend upon a
knowledge of the relations between matter and ether such as is now only
dimly adumbrated by the most recent discoveries;--for instance,
discoveries as to previously unsuspected forms of radiation.

In a long Appendix, viz., "Scheme of Vital Faculty"[201]--originally
written with reference to the manifestations through Mr. Stainton
Moses--I have tried to prepare the way for future inquiries; to indicate
in what directions a better equipped exploration may hereafter reap rich
reward. Even that tentative sketch, perhaps, may have been too ambitious
for my powers in the present state not only of my own, but of human
knowledge; and in this chapter I shall allude to telekinetic phenomena
only where unavoidable,--owing to their inmixture into phenomena more
directly psychological,--and in the tone of the historian rather than of
the scientific critic.

       *       *       *       *       *[202]

The way has now been so far cleared for our cases of Possession that at
least the principal phenomena claimed have been (I hope) made
intelligible, and shown to be concordant with other phenomena already
described and attested. It will be best, however, to consider first some
of the more rudimentary cases before going on to our own special
instances of possession,--those of Mr. Stainton Moses or Mrs. Piper.

We have already seen that there is no great gulf between the sudden
incursions, the rapid messages of the dead, with which we are already
familiar, and incursions so intimate, messages so prolonged, as to lay
claim to a name more descriptive than that of motor automatisms.

And similarly no line of absolute separation can be drawn between the
brief psychical _excursions_ previously described, and those more
prolonged excursions of the spirit which I would group under the name of

In the earlier part of this book I have naturally dwelt rather on the
evidence for supernormal acquisition of knowledge than on the methods of
such acquisition, and my present discussion must needs be restricted to
a certain extent in the same way. We must, however, attempt some
provisional scheme of classification, though recognising that the
difficulties of interpretation which I pointed out in Chapter IV., when
endeavouring to distinguish between telepathy and telæsthesia, meet us
again in dealing with possession and ecstasy. We may not, that is, be
able to say, as regards a particular manifestation, whether it is an
instance of incipient possession, or incipient ecstasy, or even whether
the organism is being "controlled" directly by some extraneous spirit or
by its own incarnate spirit. It is from the extreme cases that we form
our categories. But now that we have reached some conception of what is
involved in ecstasy and possession, we can interpret some earlier cases
in this new light. Such experiences, for instance, as those of Mr.
Mamtchitch (Appendix VII. A) and Miss Conley (Appendix VII. D), suggest
a close kinship to the more developed cases of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Piper.

In other cases it may be clear that no control of any discarnate spirit
is involved, but there seems to be something like incipient possession
by the subliminal self or incarnate spirit. From this point of view the
first case given in Appendix IX. B is of undoubted psychological
interest. If it is not a case of thought-transference from Miss C. to
Mrs. Luther (possibly between their subliminal selves during sleep), we
must assume that a very remarkable recrudescence of latent memory
occurred to the latter independently, at the same time that a similar
though less remarkable revival of memory occurred to the former. But I
introduce the case here simply as suggestive of the momentary domination
of the subliminal over the supraliminal self.

In Professor Thoulet's case[203] we find a fuller control by the
subliminal self, with a manifestation of knowledge suggesting some
spiritual excursion; in Mr. Goodall's case there seems to be a
telepathic conversation between his subliminal self controlling his
utterance and some perhaps discarnate spirit; and finally, in Mr.
Wilkie's case, there is the definite superposition, as it were, of a
discarnate spirit's message upon the automatist in such a way that we
are led to wonder whether it was the _mind_ or the _brain_ of the
automatist that received the message. The first step apparently is the
abeyance of the supraliminal self and the dominance of the subliminal
self, which may lead in rare cases to a form of trance (or of what we
have hitherto called secondary personality) where the whole body of the
automatist is controlled by his own subliminal self, or incarnate
spirit, but where there is no indication of any relation with discarnate
spirits. The next form of trance is where the incarnate spirit, whether
or not maintaining control of the whole body, makes excursions into or
holds telepathic intercourse with the spiritual world. And, lastly,
there is the trance of possession by another, a discarnate spirit. We
cannot, of course, always distinguish between these three main types of
trance--which, as we shall see later, themselves admit of different
degrees and varieties.

The most striking case known to me of the first form of
trance--possession by the subliminal self--is that of the Rev. C. B.
Sanders,[204] whose trance-personality has always called itself by the
name of "X + Y = Z." The life of the normal Mr. Sanders has apparently
been passed in the environment of a special form of Presbyterian
doctrine, and there seems to have been a fear on the part of Mr. Sanders
himself lest the trance manifestations of which he was the subject
should conflict with the theological position which he held as a
minister; and indeed for several years of his early suffering "he was
inclined to regard his peculiar case of affliction as the result of
Satanic agency." On the part of some of his friends also there seems to
be a special desire to show that "X + Y = Z" was not heterodox. Under
these circumstances it is perhaps not surprising that we find so much
reticence in "X + Y = Z" concerning his own relations to the normal Mr.
Sanders, whom he calls "his casket." What little explanation is offered
seems to be in singular harmony with one of the main tenets advanced in
this book, since the claim made by "X + Y = Z" is obviously that he
represents the incarnate spirit of Mr. Sanders exercising the higher
faculties which naturally pertain to it, but which can be manifested to
the full only when it is freed from its fleshly barriers. This
frequently occurs, he says, in dying persons, who describe scenes in the
spiritual world, and in his own experience when "his casket" is
similarly affected, and the bodily obstructions to spiritual vision are

In this case, then, the subliminal self seems to take complete control
of the organism, exercising its own powers of telepathy and telæsthesia,
but showing no evidence of direct communication with discarnate spirits.
We must now pass on to the most notable recent case where such
communication has been claimed,--that of Swedenborg,--to whose
exceptional trance-history and attempt to give some scientific system to
his experiences of ecstasy I referred in Chapter I.

The _evidential_ matter which Swedenborg has left behind him is
singularly scanty in comparison with his pretensions to a communion of
many years with so many spirits of the departed. But I think that the
half-dozen "evidential cases" scattered through his memoirs are stamped
with the impress of truth,--and I think, also, that without some true
experience of the spiritual world Swedenborg could not have entered into
that atmosphere of truth in which even his worst errors are held in
solution. Swedenborg's writings on the world of spirits fall in the
main into two classes,--albeit classes not easily divided. There are
_experiential_ writings and there are _dogmatic_ writings. The first of
these classes contains accounts of what he saw and felt in that world,
and of such inferences with regard to its laws as his actual experience
suggested. Now, speaking broadly, all this mass of matter, covering some
hundreds of propositions, is in substantial accord with what has been
given through the most trustworthy sensitives since Swedenborg's time.
It is indeed usual to suppose that they have all been influenced by
Swedenborg; and although I feel sure that this was not so in any direct
manner in the case of the sensitives best known to myself, it is
probable that Swedenborg's alleged experiences have affected modern
thought more deeply than most modern thinkers know.

On the other hand, the _second_ or purely _dogmatic_ class of
Swedenborg's writings,--the records of instruction alleged to have been
given to him by spirits on the inner meaning of the Scriptures,
etc.,--these have more and more appeared to be mere arbitrary
fancies;--mere projections and repercussions of his own preconceived

On the whole, then,--with some stretching, yet no contravention, of
conclusions independently reached,--I may say that Swedenborg's
story,--one of the strangest lives yet lived by mortal men,--is
corroborative rather than destructive of the slowly rising fabric of
knowledge of which he was the uniquely gifted, but uniquely dangerous,

It seemed desirable here to refer thus briefly to the doctrinal
teachings of Swedenborg, but I shall deal later with the general
question how much or how little of the statements of "sensitives" about
the spiritual world--whether based on their own visions or on the
allegations of their "controlling spirits"--are worthy of credence. In
the case of Swedenborg there was at least some evidence, of the kind to
which we can here appeal, of his actual communication with discarnate
spirits;[205] but in most other cases of alleged ecstasy there is little
or nothing to show that the supposed revelations are not purely
subjective. (See, _e.g._, the revelations of Alphonse Cahagnet's
sensitives, described in his _Arcanes de la vie future dévoilées_.)[206]
At most, these visions must be regarded as a kind of symbolical
representation of the unseen world.[207]

Among Cahagnet's subjects, however, there was one young woman, Adèle
Maginot, who not only saw heavenly visions of the usual
post-Swedenborgian kind, but also obtained evidential
communications--not unlike those of Mrs. Piper--purporting to come from
discarnate spirits. Fortunately these were recorded with unusual care
and thoroughness by Cahagnet, and the case thus becomes one of
considerable importance for our inquiries. A general account of
Cahagnet's work has recently been given in the _Proceedings_ S.P.R.
(vol. xiv. p. 50) by Mr. Podmore, who, though finding it "almost
impossible to doubt that Adèle's success was due to some kind of
supernormal faculty," thinks it might be accounted for by telepathy from
living persons. It appears that in all her trances Adèle--like Mr.
Sanders--was controlled by her own subliminal self--that is to say, her
supraliminal self became dormant, under "magnetism" by Cahagnet, while
her subliminal self in trance-utterance manifested a knowledge which
was, as I incline to think from its analogies with more developed cases,
obtained from the spiritual world. That this knowledge should be mixed
with much that was erroneous or unverifiable is not surprising.

It is also interesting to note the occurrence in this case of
circumstances which in their general character have become so habitual
in trances of "mediumistic" type that they are not only found in genuine
subjects, but are continually being simulated by the fraudulent. I refer
to the so-called "taking on of the death conditions" of a communicating
spirit, who, as Adèle stated, died of suffocation. "Adèle chokes as this
man choked, and coughed as he did.... I was obliged to release her by
passes; she suffered terribly."

I need scarcely say that this suggests incipient possession. There were
occasional analogous instances in the early trances of Mrs. Piper, when
Phinuit was the controlling influence (see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol.
viii. p. 98, Professor Barrett Wendell's account; and vol. xiii. p.
384). Other points of similarity between the accounts of the entranced
Adèle and the utterances of Phinuit will be apparent to the student of
the records.

The next case to be considered, and so far one of the most important, is
that of D. D. Home.

The study of such records as are available of Home's psychical phenomena
leaves me with the conviction that,--apart altogether from the
telekinetic phenomena with which they were associated,--his
trance-utterances belong to the same natural order as those, for
instance, of Mr. Moses and Mrs. Piper. There are, however, important
differences between these cases,--differences which should be of special
instruction to us in endeavouring to comprehend the possession that
completely excludes the subliminal self, and to appreciate the
difficulty of obtaining this complete possession.

Thus in Home's case the subliminal self seems, throughout the longest
series of séances of which we have a record, to have been the spirit
chiefly controlling him during the trance and acting as intermediary for
other spirits, who occasionally, however, took complete possession.

In Mrs. Piper's case, as we shall see, the subliminal self is very
little in direct evidence; its manifestations form a fleeting interlude
between her waking state and her possession by a discarnate spirit. In
Mr. Moses' case, the subliminal self was rarely in direct evidence at
all when he was entranced; but we infer from these other cases that it
was probably dominant at some stage of his trance, even if at other
times it was excluded or became completely dormant.

And if, in Home's case, as there seems reason to suppose, the subliminal
self may have participated with discarnate spirits in the production of
telekinetic phenomena, as well as in the communication of tests of
personal identity, it is not improbable that the subliminal self of Mr.
Moses may also have been actively concerned in both these classes of

But, although I attribute much value to what evidence exists in the case
of Home, it cannot but be deplored that the inestimable chance for
experiment and record which this case afforded was almost entirely
thrown away by the scientific world. Unfortunately the record is
especially inadequate in reference to Home's trances and the evidence
for the personal identity of the communicating spirits. His name is
known to the world chiefly in connection with the telekinetic phenomena
which are said to have occurred in his presence, and the best accounts
of which we owe to Sir William Crookes. It is not my intention, as I
have already explained, to deal with these, but it must be understood
that they form an integral part of the manifestations in this case, as
in the case of Stainton Moses. For detailed accounts of them the reader
should consult the history of Home's life and experiences.[208]

To the history of William Stainton Moses I now turn. Here the evidence
for the telekinetic phenomena is comparatively slight, since they
occurred almost exclusively in the presence of a small group of intimate
personal friends, and were never scrutinised and examined by outside
witnesses as were Home's manifestations. On the other hand, we have
detailed records of Mr. Moses' whole series of experiences, while in the
case of Home, as I have said, the record is very imperfect. As to the
telekinetic phenomena, Mr. Moses himself regarded them as a mere means
to an end, in accordance with the view urged on him by his
"controls,"--that they were intended as proofs of the power and
authority of these latter, while the real message lay in the religious
teaching imparted to him.

It was on May 9th, 1874, that Edmund Gurney and I met Stainton Moses for
the first time, through the kindness of Mrs. Cowper-Temple (afterwards
Lady Mount-Temple), who knew that we had become interested in
"psychical" problems, and wished to introduce us to a man of honour who
had recently experienced phenomena, due wholly to some gift of his own,
which had profoundly changed his conception of life.

Here was a man of University education, of manifest sanity and probity,
who vouched to us for a series of phenomena,--occurring to himself, and
with no doubtful or venal aid,--which seemed at least to prove, in
confusedly intermingled form, three main theses unknown to Science.
These were (1) the existence in the human spirit of hidden powers of
insight and of communication; (2) the personal survival and near
presence of the departed; and (3) interference, due to unknown agencies,
with the ponderable world. He spoke frankly and fully; he showed his
note-books; he referred us to his friends; he inspired a belief which
was at once sufficient, and which is still sufficient, to prompt to

The experiences which Stainton Moses had undergone had changed his
views, but not his character. He was already set in the mould of the
hard-working, conscientious, dogmatic clergyman, with a strong desire to
do good, and a strong belief in preaching as the best way to do it. For
himself the essential part of what I have called his "message" lay in
the actual words automatically uttered or written,--not in the
accompanying phenomena which really gave their uniqueness and importance
to the automatic processes. In a book called _Spirit Teachings_ he
collected what he regarded as the real fruits of those years of
mysterious listening in the vestibule of a world unknown.

My original impressions as regards Mr. Moses were strengthened by the
opportunity which I had of examining his unpublished MSS. after his
death on September 5th, 1892. These consist of thirty-one
note-books--twenty-four of automatic script, four of records of physical
phenomena, and three of retrospect and summary. In addition to these,
the material available for a knowledge of Mr. Moses' experiences
consists of his own printed works, and the written and printed
statements of witnesses to his phenomena.

Of this available material a detailed account will be found in
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. ix. pp. 245-352, and vol. xi. pp. 24-113,
together with a brief record of Mr. Moses' life.

With the even tenor of this straightforward and reputable life was
inwoven a chain of mysteries which, as I think, in what way soever they
be explained, make it one of the most extraordinary which our century
has seen. For its true history lies in that series of physical
manifestations which began in 1872 and lasted for some eight years, and
that series of automatic writings and trance-utterances which began in
1873, received a record for some ten years, and did not, as is believed,
cease altogether until the earthly end was near.

These two series were intimately connected; the physical phenomena being
avowedly designed to give authority to the speeches and writings which
professed to emanate from the same source. There is no ground for
separating the two groups, except the obvious one that the automatic
phenomena are less difficult of credence than the physical; but, for
reasons already stated, it has seemed to me desirable to exclude the
latter from detailed treatment in this work. They included the apparent
production of such phenomena as intelligent raps, movements of objects
untouched, levitation, disappearance and reappearance of objects,
passage of matter through matter, direct writing, sounds supernormally
made on instruments, direct sounds, scents, lights, objects
materialised, hands materialised (touched or seen). Mr. Moses was
sometimes, but not always, entranced while these physical phenomena were
occurring. Sometimes he was entranced and the trance-utterance purported
to be that of a discarnate spirit. At other times, especially when
alone, he wrote automatically, retaining his own ordinary consciousness
meanwhile, and carrying on lengthy discussions with the "spirit
influence" controlling his hand and answering his questions, etc. As a
general rule the same alleged spirits both manifested themselves by
raps, etc., at Mr. Moses' sittings with his friends, and also wrote
through his hand when he was alone. In this, as in other respects, Mr.
Moses' two series of writings--when alone and in company--were
concordant, and, so to say, complementary;--explanations being given by
the writing of what had happened at the séances. When "direct writing"
was given at the séances the handwriting of each alleged spirit was the
same as that which the same spirit was in the habit of employing in the
automatic script. The claim to individuality was thus in all cases
decisively made.

Now the personages thus claiming to appear may be divided roughly into
three classes:--

A.--First and most important are a group of persons recently deceased,
and sometimes manifesting themselves at the séances before their decease
was known through any ordinary channel to any of the persons present.
These spirits in many instances give tests of identity, mentioning facts
connected with their earth-lives which are afterwards found to be

B.--Next comes a group of personages belonging to generations more
remote, and generally of some distinction in their day. Grocyn, the
friend of Erasmus, may be taken as a type of these. Many of these also
contribute facts as a proof of identity, which facts are sometimes more
correct than the conscious or admitted knowledge of any of the sitters
could supply. In such cases, however, the difficulty of proving identity
is increased by the fact that most of the correct statements are readily
accessible in print, and may conceivably have either been read and
forgotten by Mr. Moses, or have become known to him by some kind of

C.--A third group consists of spirits who give such names as Rector,
Doctor, Theophilus, and, above all, Imperator. These from time to time
reveal the names which they assert to have been theirs in earth-life.
These concealed names are for the most part both more illustrious, and
more remote, than the names in Class B,--and were withheld by Mr. Moses
himself, who justly felt that the assumption of great names is likely
to diminish rather than to increase the weight of the communication.

I now pass on to consider briefly the nature of the evidence that the
alleged spirits were what they purported to be, as described, in the
first place, in Mr. Moses' books of automatic writing. The contents of
these books consist partly of messages tending to prove the identity of
communicating spirits; partly of discussions or explanations of the
physical phenomena; and partly of religious and moral disquisitions.

These automatic messages were almost wholly written by Mr. Moses' own
hand, while he was in a normal waking state. The exceptions are of two
kinds. (1) There is one long passage, alleged by Mr. Moses to have been
written by himself while in a state of trance. (2) There are, here and
there, a few words alleged to be in "direct writing";--written, that is
to say, by invisible hands, but in Mr. Moses' presence; as several times
described in the notes of séances where other persons were present.

Putting these exceptional instances aside, we find that the writings
generally take the form of a dialogue, Mr. Moses proposing a question in
his ordinary thick, black handwriting. An answer is then generally,
though not always, given; written also by Mr. Moses, and with the same
pen, but in some one of various scripts which differ more or less widely
from his own. Mr. Moses' own description of the process, as given in the
preface to _Spirit Teachings_, may be studied with advantage.

A prolonged study of the MS. books has revealed nothing inconsistent
with this description. I have myself, of course, searched them carefully
for any sign of confusion or alteration, but without finding any; and I
have shown parts of them to various friends, who have seen no points of
suspicion. It seems plain, moreover, that the various entries were made
at or about the dates to which they are ascribed. They contain constant
references to the séances which went on concurrently, and whose dates
are independently known; and in the later books, records of some of
these séances are interspersed in their due places amongst other matter.
The MSS. contain also a number of allusions to other contemporaneous
facts, many of which are independently known to myself.

I think, moreover, that no one who had studied these entries throughout
would doubt the originally private and intimate character of many of
them. The tone of the spirits towards Mr. Moses himself is habitually
courteous and respectful. But occasionally they have some criticism
which pierces to the quick, and which goes far to explain to me Mr.
Moses' unwillingness to have the books fully inspected during his
lifetime. He did, no doubt, contemplate their being at least read by
friends after his death; and there are indications that there may have
been a still more private book, now doubtless destroyed, to which
messages of an intimate character were sometimes consigned.

Indeed, the questions at issue, as to these messages, refer not so much
to their _genuineness_ as to their _authenticity_, in the proper sense
of those words. That they were written down in good faith by Mr. Moses
as proceeding from the personages whose names are signed to them, there
can be little doubt. But as to whether they did really proceed from
those personages or no there may in many cases be very great doubt;--a
doubt which I, at least, shall be quite unable to remove. By the very
conditions of the communication they cannot show commanding intellect,
or teach entirely new truths, since their manifestations are _ex
hypothesi_ limited by the capacity--not by the previous _knowledge_, but
by the previous _capacity_--of the medium. And if they give facts not
consciously known to the medium--facts however elaborate--it may, of
course, be suggested that these facts have been _subliminally acquired_
by the medium through some unconscious passage of the eye over a printed
page, or else that they are _clairvoyantly learnt_, without the agency
of any but the medium's own mind, though acting in a supernormal

The case of Hélène Smith has shown us how far-reaching may be the
faculties of hyperæsthesia and hypermnesia in the subliminal self; but
in view of the then general ignorance of the scientific world on this
subject, it is not surprising that both Mr. Moses and his friends
absolutely rejected this explanation of his phenomena, and that the
evidence appeared to them more conclusive than it possibly can to us.
Whether or not the alleged spirits were concerned,--as may sometimes, of
course, have been the case,--we can hardly avoid thinking that the
subliminal self of the medium played at least a considerable part in the

In two cases the announcement of a death was made to Mr. Moses, when the
news was apparently not known to him by any normal means. One of these
is the case of President Garfield (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. p.
100). The other (see my article in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. pp. 96
_et seq._) is in some ways the most remarkable of all, from the series
of chances which have been needful in order to establish its veracity.
Specially noticeable in this case is the resemblance of the handwriting
of the script to that of the alleged control, a lady whose writing was
almost certainly unknown to Mr. Moses. Both to the lady's son and to
myself the resemblance appeared incontestable, and our opinion was
confirmed by Dr. Hodgson, who was an expert in such matters.

And now we must briefly go through the points which make such messages
as were received by Mr. Moses _primâ facie_ evidential, which indicate,
that is to say, that they actually do come in some way from their
alleged source. A brief recapitulation of the main stages of evidential
quality in messages given by automatic writing or by trance-utterances
is all that will be needed here.

(1) Evidentially lowest comes the class of messages which is by far the
most common; messages, namely, in which, although some special identity
may be claimed, all the facts given have been consciously known to the
automatist. Here we may well suppose that his own personality alone is
concerned, and that the messages have a _subliminal_, but not an
_external_ source.

(2) Next above these come messages containing facts likely to be known
to the alleged spirit, and not consciously known to the automatist; but
which facts may nevertheless have some time been noted by the
automatist, even unwittingly, and may have thus obtained lodgment in his
subliminal memory.

(3) Next come facts which can be proved,--with such varying degrees of
certainty as such negative proof allows,--never to have been in any way
known to the automatist; but which nevertheless are easily to be found
in books; so that they may have been learnt clairvoyantly by the
automatist himself, or learnt and communicated to him by some mind other
than that of the alleged spirit.

(4) Next come facts which can be proved, with similar varying degrees of
certainty according to the circumstances, never to have been known to
the automatist, or recorded in print; but which were known to the
alleged spirit and can be verified by the memories of living persons.

(5) Above this again would come that class of _experimental_ messages,
or posthumous letters, of which we have as yet very few good examples,
where the departed person has before death arranged some special
test--some fact or sentence known only to himself, which he is to
transmit after death, if possible, as a token of his return.

(6) Thus much for the various kinds of verbal messages, which can be
kept and analysed at leisure. We must now turn to evidence of a
different and not precisely comparable kind. In point of fact it is not
these inferences from written matter which have commonly been most
efficacious in compelling the survivor's belief in the reality of the
friend's return. Whether logically or no, it is not so much the written
message that he trusts, but some phantom of face and voice that he knew
so well. It is this familiar convincing presence,--εικτο δἑ θἑσκελον
ἁυτὡ,--on which the percipient has always insisted, since Achilles
strove in vain to embrace Patroclus' shade.

How far such a phantasm is in fact a proof of any real action on the
part of the spirit thus recognised is a problem which has been dealt
with already in Chapter VII. The upshot of our evidence to my mind is
that although the apparition of a departed person cannot _per se_ rank
as evidence of his presence, yet this is not a shape which purely
hallucinatory phantasms seem often to assume; and if there be any
corroborative evidence, as, for instance, writing which claims to come
from the same person, the chance that he is really operative is
considerable. In Mr. Moses' case almost all the figures which he saw
brought with them some corroboration by writing, trance-utterance,
gesture-messages (as where a figure makes signs of assent or dissent),
or raps.

(7) And this brings us to a class largely represented in Mr. Moses'
series, where writings professing to come from a certain spirit are
supported by physical phenomena of which that spirit claims also to be
the author. Whether such a line of proof can ever be made logically
complete or no, one can imagine many cases where it would be practically
convincing to almost all minds. Materialisations of hands, or direct
writing in the script of the departed, have much of actual cogency; and
these methods, with others like them, are employed by Mr. Moses'
"controls" in their efforts to establish their own identities. Physical
phenomena in themselves, however, carry no proof of an intelligence
outside that of the sensitive himself, and, as I have said, may in many
cases be a mere extension of his own ordinary muscular powers, and not
due to any external agency at all.

If we confine ourselves to the verbal messages, we find that the cases
most fully represented in the records of Mr. Moses are limited to the
first three classes mentioned above, and those which come under the
fourth class--verifiable facts of which there is no printed record and
which it is practically certain that the medium could never have
known--are comparatively few. This may partly be accounted for by the
small number of sitters with Mr. Moses and the fact that they were his
personal friends. The records of Mrs. Piper, on the other hand, to which
we now turn, are especially rich in incidents that fall under the fourth
heading, and the evidential value of the verbal messages in this case
is, therefore, much greater than in the case of Mr. Moses. Whereas for
Mr. Moses the identity of many of his communicators rested largely upon
their being guaranteed by Imperator and his group of helpers,--in the
case of Mrs. Piper the spirits of some recently-departed friends who
have given much evidence of their identity appear to maintain the
independent reality and guiding control over Mrs. Piper of these same
intelligences--Imperator, Rector, Doctor, and others--that Mr. Moses
claimed as ruling in his own experience.

The case of Mrs. Piper differs in two important respects from that of W.
Stainton Moses or D. D. Home. In the first place no telekinetic
phenomena have occurred in connection with her trance-manifestations;
and in the second place her supraliminal self shows no traces of any
supernormal faculty whatsoever. She presents an instance of automatism
of the extreme type where the "possession" is not merely local or
partial, but affects, so to say, the whole psychical area,--where the
supraliminal self is for a time completely displaced, and the whole
personality appears to suffer intermittent change. In other words, she
passes into a trance, during which her organs of speech or writing are
"controlled" by other personalities than the normal waking one.
Occasionally, either just before or just after the trance, the
subliminal self appears to take some control of the organism for a brief
interval; but with this exception the personalities that speak or write
during her trance claim to be discarnate spirits.

Mrs. Piper's trances may be divided into three stages: (1) Where the
dominant controlling personality was known as "Dr. Phinuit" and used the
vocal organs almost exclusively, communicating by _trance-utterance_,

(2) Where the communications were made chiefly by automatic writing in
the trance under the supervision more particularly of the control known
as "George Pelham," or "G. P.," although "Dr. Phinuit" usually
communicated also by speech during this period, 1892-96.

(3) Where supervision is alleged to be exercised by Imperator, Doctor,
Rector, and others already mentioned in connection with the experiences
of Mr. Moses, and where the communications have been mainly by writing,
but occasionally also by speech. This last stage, which began early in
1897, still continues, and the final outcome remains to be seen.

I proceed now to indicate in further detail the nature of the evidence
and the character of the manifestations themselves, and begin by quoting
from Dr. Hodgson (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 367-68) a brief
statement of some of the historical facts of the case.

     Mrs. Piper has been giving sittings for a period extending over
     thirteen [now, 1901, seventeen] years. Very early in her trance
     history she came under the attention of Professor James, who sent
     many persons to her as strangers, in most cases making the
     appointments himself, and in no case giving their names. She came
     to some extent under my own supervision in 1887, and I also sent
     many persons to her, in many cases accompanying them and recording
     the statements made at their sittings, and taking all the care that
     I could to prevent Mrs. Piper's obtaining any knowledge beforehand
     of who the sitters were to be. In 1889-90 Mrs. Piper gave a series
     of sittings in England under the supervision of Dr. Walter Leaf and
     Mr. Myers and Professor Lodge, where also the most careful
     precautions possible were taken to ensure that the sitters went as
     strangers to Mrs. Piper. Further sittings were supervised by myself
     in 1890-91 after Mrs. Piper's return to America. Many persons who
     had sittings in the course of these earlier investigations were
     convinced that they were actually receiving communications from
     their "deceased" friends through Mrs. Piper's trance, but although
     the special investigators were satisfied, from their study of the
     trance-phenomena themselves and a careful analysis of the detailed
     records of the sittings, that some supernormal power was involved,
     there was no definite agreement as to their precise significance.
     And to myself it seemed that any hypothesis that was offered
     presented formidable difficulties in the way of its acceptance. In
     the course of these earlier investigations the communications were
     given almost entirely through the speech-utterance of the
     trance-personality known as Phinuit, and even the best of them were
     apt to include much matter that was irrelevant and unlike the
     alleged communicators, while there were many indications that
     Phinuit himself was far from being the kind of person in whom we
     should be disposed to place implicit credence.

     During the years 1892-96 inclusive, I exercised a yet closer
     supervision of Mrs. Piper's trances than I had done in previous
     years, continuing to take all the precautions that I could as
     regards the introduction of persons as strangers. This period was
     marked by a notable evolution in the quality of the trance results,
     beginning early in 1892. The character of the manifestations
     changed with the development of automatic writing in the trance,
     and with what was alleged to be the continual rendering of active
     assistance by the communicator whom I have called G. P. [George
     Pelham]. As a result of this it appeared that communicators were
     able to express their thoughts directly through the writing by Mrs.
     Piper's hand, instead of conveying them more dimly and partially
     through Phinuit as intermediary; and the advice and guidance which
     they, apparently, received from G. P. enabled them to avoid much of
     the confusion and irrelevancy so characteristic of the earlier

I do not propose here to discuss the hypothesis of fraud in this case,
since it has been fully discussed by Dr. Hodgson, Professor William
James, Professor Newbold of Pennsylvania University, Dr. Walter Leaf,
and Sir Oliver Lodge.[209] I merely quote, as a summary of the argument,
a few words of Professor James, from _The Psychological Review_, July,
1898, pp. 421-22:--

     Dr. Hodgson considers that the hypothesis of fraud cannot be
     seriously maintained. I agree with him absolutely. The medium has
     been under observation, much of the time under close observation,
     as to most of the conditions of her life, by a large number of
     persons, eager, many of them, to pounce upon any suspicious
     circumstance for [nearly] fifteen years. During that time, not only
     has there not been one single suspicious circumstance remarked, but
     not one suggestion has ever been made from any quarter which might
     tend positively to explain how the medium, living the apparent life
     she leads, could possibly collect information about so many sitters
     by natural means. The scientist who is confident of "fraud" here,
     must remember that in science as much as in common life a
     hypothesis must receive some positive specification and
     determination before it can be profitably discussed, and a fraud
     which is no assigned kind of fraud, but simply "fraud" at large,
     fraud _in abstracto_, can hardly be regarded as a specially
     scientific explanation of concrete facts.

Unfortunately we have no contemporary records of what occurred during
Mrs. Piper's earliest trances; nor practically any information as to the
first manifestations of the Phinuit personality. It seems clear at least
that the _name_ Phinuit was the result of suggestion at these earliest
trances (see _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. viii. pp. 46-58), and many may
think it most probable that the Phinuit "control" was nothing more than
a secondary personality of Mrs. Piper. But, according to the statements
(for which there is of course no evidence) made by "Imperator," Phinuit
was an "earth-bound" or inferior spirit, who had become confused and
bewildered in his first attempts at communication, and had, as we say,
"lost his consciousness of personal identity." That such an occurrence
is not uncommon in this life is plain from the cases to which I have
drawn attention in Chapter II. of this book, and we cannot prove it to
be impossible that profound memory disturbances should be produced in an
inexperienced discarnate spirit when first attempting to communicate
with us through a material organism. Be that as it may, the Phinuit
personality has not manifested either directly or indirectly since
January 1897, when "Imperator" claimed the supervision of Mrs. Piper's

There were various cases of alleged direct "control" by spirits other
than Phinuit during the first stage of Mrs. Piper's trance history. But
such cases were not usual, and on the whole, although there seemed to be
abundant proof of some supernormal faculty which demanded at least the
hypothesis of thought-transference from living persons both near and
distant, and suggested occasionally some power of telæsthesia or
perhaps even of premonition, yet the main question with which we are now
concerned,--whether Mrs. Piper's organism was controlled, directly or
indirectly, by discarnate spirits who could give satisfactory evidence
of their identity,--remained undecided.

More important, as regards this question of personal identity, is the
series of sittings which formed the second stage of Mrs. Piper's trance
history, in the years 1892-96, (of which a detailed account is given in
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 284-582, and vol. xiv. pp. 6-49),
where the chief communicator or intermediary was G. P. This G. P., whose
name (although, of course, well known to many persons) has been altered
for publication into "George Pelham," was a young man of great ability,
mainly occupied in literary pursuits. Although born an American citizen,
he was a member of a noble English family. I never met him, but I have
the good fortune to include a number of his friends among my own, and
with several of these I have been privileged to hold intimate
conversation on the nature of the communications which they received. I
have thus heard of many significant utterances of G. P.'s, which are
held too private for print; and I have myself been present at sittings
where G. P. manifested. For the full discussion of the evidence tending
to prove the identity of G. P., I refer my readers to the original
report in the _Proceedings_ S.P.R. I quote here a general summary, given
by Dr. Hodgson several years later, of the whole series of his
manifestations. (From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 328-330.)

     On the first appearance of the communicating G. P. to Mr. Hart in
     March 1892, he gave not only his own name and that of the sitter,
     but also the names of several of their most intimate common
     friends, and referred specifically to the most important private
     matters connected with them. At the same sitting reference was made
     to other incidents unknown to the sitters, such as the account of
     Mrs. Pelham's taking the studs from the body of G. P. and giving
     them to Mr. Pelham to be sent to Mr. Hart, and the reproduction of
     a notable remembrance of a conversation which G. P. living had with
     Katharine, the daughter of his most intimate friends, the Howards.
     These were primary examples of two kinds of knowledge concerning
     matters unknown to the sitters, of which various other instances
     were afterwards given; knowledge of events connected with G. P.
     which had occurred since his death, and knowledge of special
     memories pertaining to the G. P. personality before death. A week
     later, at the sitting of Mr. Vance, he made an appropriate inquiry
     after the sitter's son, and in reply to inquiries rightly specified
     that the sitter's son had been at college with him, and further
     correctly gave a correct description of the sitter's summer home as
     the place of a special visit. This, again, was paralleled by many
     later instances where appropriate inquiries were made and
     remembrances recalled concerning other personal friends of G. P.
     Nearly two weeks later came his most intimate friends, the Howards,
     and to these, using the voice directly, he showed such a fulness of
     private remembrance and specific knowledge and characteristic
     intellectual and emotional quality pertaining to G. P. that, though
     they had previously taken no interest in any branch of psychical
     research, they were unable to resist the conviction that they were
     actually conversing with their old friend G. P. And this conviction
     was strengthened by their later experiences. Not least important,
     at that time, was his anxiety about the disposal of a certain book
     and about certain specified letters which concern matters too
     private for publication. He was particularly desirous of convincing
     his father, who lived in Washington, that it was indeed G. P. who
     was communicating, and he soon afterwards stated that his father
     had taken his photograph to be copied, as was the case, though Mr.
     Pelham had not informed even his wife of this fact. Later on he
     reproduced a series of incidents, unknown to the sitters, in which
     Mrs. Howard had been engaged in her own home. Later still, at a
     sitting with his father and mother in New York, a further intimate
     knowledge was shown of private family circumstances, and at the
     following sitting, at which his father and mother were not present,
     he gave the details of certain private actions which they had done
     in the interim. At their sitting, and at various sittings of the
     Howards, appropriate comments were made concerning different
     articles presented which had belonged to G. P. living, or had been
     familiar to him; he inquired after other personal articles which
     were not presented at the sittings, and showed intimate and
     detailed recollections of incidents in connection with them. In
     points connected with the recognition of articles with their
     related associations of a personal sort, the G. P. communicating,
     so far as I know, has never failed. Nor has he failed in the
     recognition of personal friends. I may say generally that out of a
     large number of sitters who went as strangers to Mrs. Piper, the
     communicating G. P. has picked out the friends of G. P. living,
     precisely as the G. P. living might have been expected to do
     [thirty cases of recognition out of at least one hundred and fifty
     persons who have had sittings with Mrs. Piper since the first
     appearance of G. P., and no case of false recognition], and has
     exhibited memories in connection with these and other friends which
     are such as would naturally be associated as part of the G. P.
     personality, which certainly do not suggest in themselves that they
     originate otherwise, and which are accompanied by the emotional
     relations which were connected with such friends in the mind of G.
     P. living. At one of his early communications G. P. expressly
     undertook the task of rendering all the assistance in his power
     towards establishing the continued existence of himself and other
     communicators, in pursuance of a promise of which he himself
     reminded me, made some two years or more before his death, that if
     he died before me and found himself "still existing," he would
     devote himself to prove the fact; and in the persistence of his
     endeavour to overcome the difficulties in communicating as far as
     possible, in his constant readiness to act as amanuensis at the
     sittings, in the effect which he has produced by his counsels,--to
     myself as investigator, and to numerous other sitters and
     communicators,--he has, in so far as I can form a judgment in a
     problem so complex and still presenting so much obscurity,
     displayed all the keenness and pertinacity which were eminently
     characteristic of G. P. living.

     Finally the manifestations of this G. P. communicating have not
     been of a fitful and spasmodic nature, they have exhibited the
     marks of a continuous living and persistent personality,
     manifesting itself through a course of years, and showing the same
     characteristics of an independent intelligence whether friends of
     G. P. were present at the sittings or not. I learned of various
     cases where in my absence active assistance was rendered by G. P.
     to sitters who had never previously heard of him, and from time to
     time he would make brief pertinent reference to matters with which
     G. P. living was acquainted, though I was not, and sometimes in
     ways which indicated that he could to some extent see what was
     happening in our world to persons in whose welfare G. P. living
     would have been specially interested.

The sitter called Mr. Hart, to whom G. P. first manifested, died at
Naples three years afterwards, and communicated, with the help of G. P.,
on the second day after his death. An account of his communications is
given in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 353-57.

There are numerous instances in the reports in the _Proceedings_ (see
vol. vi. pp. 647-50; vol. viii. pp. 15-26; vol. xiii., _passim_; and
vol. xvi. pp. 131-3), of the giving of information unknown to the
sitters and afterwards verified. A striking illustration of this
occurred in the case of the lady called "Elisa Mannors," whose near
relatives and friends concerned in the communications were known to
myself. On the morning after the death of her uncle, called F. in the
report, she described an incident in connection with the appearance of
herself to her uncle on his death-bed. I quote Dr. Hodgson's account of
this (_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. p. 378, footnote).

     The notice of his [F.'s] death was in a Boston morning paper, and I
     happened to see it on my way to the sitting. The first writing of
     the sitting came from Madame Elisa, without my expecting it. She
     wrote clearly and strongly, explaining that F. was there with her,
     but unable to speak directly, that she wished to give me an account
     of how she had helped F. to reach her. She said that she had been
     present at his death-bed, and had spoken to him, and she repeated
     what she had said, an unusual form of expression, and indicated
     that he had heard and recognised her. This was confirmed in detail
     in the only way possible at that time, by a very intimate friend of
     Madame Elisa and myself, and also of the nearest surviving relative
     of F. I showed my friend the account of the sitting, and to this
     friend, a day or two later, the relative, who was present at the
     death-bed, stated spontaneously that F. when dying said that he saw
     Madame Elisa who was speaking to him, and he repeated what she was
     saying. The expression so repeated, which the relative quoted to my
     friend, was that which I had received from Madame Elisa through
     Mrs. Piper's trance, when the death-bed incident was of course
     entirely unknown to me.

Rare are the "Peak in Darien" cases (see page 233), but cases like this
are rarer still.

With regard to the last of the three periods of Mrs. Piper's
trance-history, the only detailed published accounts are contained in
Professor Hyslop's report of his sittings in _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol.
xvi.[210] But neither his records nor the manuscript records which I
have seen contain any proof of the personal identity of the alleged
spirits called "Imperator," "Doctor," "Rector," etc., or any proof of
the identity of these intelligences with those claimed by Mr. Moses.
(See _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 408-9.) Whether any such proof
will be forthcoming in the future remains to be seen,--or indeed,
whether proof or disproof for us at present is even possible.

We must now try to form some more definite idea--based not on
preconceived theories but on our actual observation of trances--of the
processes of possession.

Let us try to realise what kind of feat it is which we are expecting the
disembodied spirit to achieve. Such language, I know, again suggests the
medicine-man's wigwam rather than the study of the white philosopher.
Yet can we feel sure that the process in our own minds which has (as we
think) refined and spiritualised man's early conceptions of an unseen
world has been based upon any observed facts?

In dealing with matters which lie outside human experience, our only
clue is some attempt at _continuity_ with what we already know. We
cannot, for instance, form independently a reliable conception of life
in an unseen world. That conception has never yet been fairly faced from
the standpoint of our modern ideas of continuity, conservation,
evolution. The main notions that have been framed of such survival have
been framed first by savages and then by _a priori_ philosophers.

The savage made his own picture first. And he at any rate dimly felt
after a principle of continuity; although he applied it in the crudest
fashion. Yet the happy hunting-ground and the faithful dog were
conceptions not more arbitrary and unscientific than that eternal and
unimaginable worship _in vacuo_ which more accredited teachers have
proclaimed. And, passing on to modern philosophic conceptions, one may
say that where the savage assumed _too little_ difference between the
material and the spiritual world the philosopher has assumed _too much_.
He has regarded the gulf as too unbridgeable; he has taken for granted
too clean a sweep of earthly modes of thought. Trying to shake off time,
space, and definite form, he has attempted to transport himself too
magically to what may be in reality an immensely distant goal.

What, then, is to be our conception of identity prolonged beyond the
tomb? In earth-life the actual body, in itself but a subordinate element
in our thought of our friend, did yet by its physical continuity
override as a symbol of identity all lapses of memory, all changes of
the character within. Yet it was memory and character,--the stored
impressions upon which he reacted, and his specific mode of
reaction,--which made our veritable friend. How much of memory, how much
of character, must he preserve for our recognition?

Do we ask that either he or we should remember always, or should
remember all? Do we ask that his memory should be expanded into
omniscience and his character elevated into divinity? And, whatever
heights he may attain, do we demand that he should reveal to us? Are the
limitations of our material world no barrier to him?

It is safest to fall back for the present upon the few points which
these communications do seem to indicate. The spirit, then, is holding
converse with a living man, located in a certain place at a certain
moment, and animated by certain thoughts and emotions. The spirit (to
which I must give a neuter pronoun for greater clearness) in some cases
can find and follow the man as it pleases. It is therefore in some way
cognizant of space, although not conditioned by space. Its mastery of
space may perhaps bear somewhat the same relation to our eyesight as our
eyesight bears to the gropings of the blind. Similarly, the spirit
appears to be partly cognizant of our _time_, although not wholly
conditioned thereby. It is apt to see as _present_ both certain things
which appear to us as past and certain things which appear to us as

Once more, the spirit is at least partly conscious of the thought and
emotions of its earthly friend, so far as directed towards itself; and
this not only when the friend is in the presence of the sensitive, but
also (as G. P. has repeatedly shown) when the friend is at home and
living his ordinary life.

Lastly, it seems as though the spirit had some occasional glimpses of
material fact upon the earth (as the contents of drawers and the like),
not manifestly proceeding through any living mind. I do not, however,
recall any clear evidence of a spirit's perception of material facts
which provably have never been known to any incarnate mind whatever.

Accepting this, then, for argument's sake, as the normal condition of a
spirit in reference to human things, what process must it attempt if it
wishes to communicate with living men? That it _will_ wish to
communicate seems probable enough, if it retains not only memory of the
loves of earth, but actual fresh consciousness of loving emotion
directed towards it after death.

Seeking then for some open avenue, it discerns something which
corresponds (in G. P.'s phrase) to a _light_--a glimmer of translucency
in the confused darkness of our material world. This "light" indicates a
_sensitive_--a human organism so constituted that a spirit can
temporarily _inform_ or _control_ it, not necessarily interrupting the
stream of the sensitive's ordinary consciousness; perhaps using a hand
only, or perhaps, as in Mrs. Piper's case, using voice as well as hand,
and occupying all the sensitive's channels of self-manifestation. The
difficulties which must be inherent in such an act of control are thus
described by Dr. Hodgson:--

"If, indeed, each one of us is a 'spirit' that survives the death of the
fleshly organism, there are certain suppositions that I think we may not
unreasonably make concerning the ability of the discarnate 'spirit' to
communicate with those yet incarnate. Even under the best of conditions
for communication--which I am supposing for the nonce to be possible--it
may well be that the aptitude for communicating clearly may be as rare
as the gifts that make a great artist, or a great mathematician, or a
great philosopher. Again, it may well be that, owing to the change
connected with death itself, the 'spirit' may at first be much confused,
and such confusion may last for a long time; and even after the 'spirit'
has become accustomed to its new environment, it is not an unreasonable
supposition that if it came into some such relation to another living
human organism as it once maintained with its own former organism, it
would find itself confused by that relation. The state might be like
that of awaking from a prolonged period of unconsciousness into strange
surroundings. If my own ordinary body could be preserved in its present
state, and I could absent myself from it for days or months or years,
and continue my existence under another set of conditions altogether,
and if I could then return to my own body, it might well be that I
should be very confused and incoherent at first in my manifestations by
means of it. How much more would this be the case were I to return to
_another_ human body. I might be troubled with various forms of aphasia
and agraphia, might be particularly liable to failures of inhibition,
might find the conditions oppressive and exhausting, and my state of
mind would probably be of an automatic and dreamlike character. Now, the
communicators through Mrs. Piper's trance exhibit precisely the kind of
confusion and incoherence which it seems to me we have some reason _a
priori_ to expect if they are actually what they claim to be."

At the outset of this chapter I compared the phenomena of possession
with those of alternating personalities, of dreams, and of somnambulism.
Now it seems probable that the thesis of multiplex personality--namely,
that no known current of man's consciousness exhausts his whole
consciousness, and no known self-manifestation expresses man's whole
potential being--may hold good both for embodied and for unembodied men,
and this would lead us to expect that the manifestations of the
departed,--through the sensory automatisms dealt with in Chapter VII.,
and the motor automatisms considered in Chapter VIII., up to the
completer form of possession illustrated in the present chapter,--would
resemble those fugitive and unstable communications between widely
different strata of personality of which embodied minds offer us
examples. G. P. himself appears to be well aware of the dreamlike
character of the communications, which, indeed, his own style often
exemplifies. Thus he wrote on February 15th, 1894:--

"Remember we share and always shall have our friends in the dream-life,
_i.e._ your life so to speak, which will attract us for ever and ever,
and so long as we have any friends _sleeping_ in the material world; you
to us are more like as we understand sleep, you look shut up as one in
prison, and in order for us to get into communication with you, we have
to enter into your sphere, as one like yourself, asleep. This is just
why we make mistakes, as you call them, or get confused and muddled."

Yet even this very difficulty and fragmentariness of communication ought
in the end to be for us full of an instruction of its own. We are here
actually witnessing the central mystery of human life, unrolling itself
under novel conditions, and open to closer observation than ever before.
We are seeing a mind use a brain. The human brain is in its last
analysis an arrangement of matter expressly adapted to being acted upon
by a spirit; but so long as the accustomed spirit acts upon it the
working is generally too smooth to allow us a glimpse of the mechanism.
_Now_, however, we can watch an unaccustomed spirit, new to the
instrument, installing itself and feeling its way. The lessons thus
learnt are likely to be more penetrating than any which mere morbid
interruptions of the accustomed spirit's work can teach us. In aphasia,
for instance, we can watch with instruction special difficulties of
utterance, supervening on special injuries to the brain. But in
_possession_ we perceive the controlling spirit actually engaged in
overcoming somewhat similar difficulties--writing or uttering the wrong
word, and then getting hold of the right one--and sometimes even finding
power to explain to us something of the minute verbal mechanism (so to
term it) through whose blocking or dislocation the mistake has arisen.

And we may hope, indeed, that as our investigations proceed, and as we
on this side of the fateful gulf, and the discarnate spirits on the
other, learn more of the conditions necessary for perfect control of the
brain and nervous system of intermediaries,--the communications will
grow fuller and more coherent, and reach a higher level of unitary

Among the cases of trance discussed in this chapter, we have found
intimately interwoven with the phenomena of possession many instances of
its correlative,--ecstasy. Mrs. Piper's fragmentary utterances and
visions during her passage from trance to waking life,--utterances and
visions that fade away and leave no remembrance in her waking self;
Stainton Moses' occasional visions, his journeys in the "spirit world"
which he recorded on returning to his ordinary consciousness; Home's
entrancement and converse with the various controls whose messages he
gave;--all these suggest actual excursions of the incarnate spirit from
its organism. The theoretical importance of these spiritual excursions
is, of course, very great. It is, indeed, so great that most men will
hesitate to accept a thesis which carries us straight into the inmost
sanctuary of mysticism; which preaches "a precursory entrance into the
most holy place, as by divine transportation."

Yet I think that this belief, although extreme, is not, at the point to
which our evidence has carried us, in any real way improbable. To put
the matter briefly, if a spirit from outside can enter the organism, the
spirit from inside can go out, can change its centre of perception and
action, in a way less complete and irrevocable than the change of death.
Ecstasy would thus be simply the complementary or correlative aspect of
spirit-control. Such a change need not be a _spatial_ change, any more
than there need be any _spatial_ change for the spirit which invades the
deserted organism. Nay, further: if the incarnate spirit can in this
manner change its centre of perception in response (so to say) to a
discarnate spirit's invasion of the organism, there is no obvious reason
why it should not do so on other occasions as well. We are already
familiar with "travelling clairvoyance," a spirit's change of centre of
perception among the scenes of the material world. May there not be an
extension of travelling clairvoyance to the spiritual world? a
spontaneous transfer of the centre of perception into that region from
whence discarnate spirits seem now to be able, on their side, to
communicate with growing freedom?

The conception of _ecstasy_--at once in its most literal and in its most
lofty sense--has thus developed itself, almost insensibly, from several
concurrent lines of actual modern evidence. It must still, of course, be
long before we can at all adequately separate,--I can hardly say the
objective from the subjective element in the experience, for we have got
beyond the region where the meaning of those words is clear,--but the
element in the experience which is recognised and responded to by
spirits other than the ecstatic's, from the element which belongs to his
own spirit alone.

In the meantime, however, the fact that this kind of communion of
ecstasy has been, in preliminary fashion, rendered probable is of the
highest importance for our whole inquiry. We thus come directly into
relation with the highest form which the various religions known to men
have assumed in the past.

It is hardly a paradox to say that the evidence for ecstasy is stronger
than the evidence for any other religious belief. Of all the subjective
experiences of religion, ecstasy is that which has been most urgently,
perhaps to the psychologist most convincingly, asserted; and it is not
confined to any one religion. From a psychological point of view, one
main indication of the importance of a subjective phenomenon found in
religious experience will be the fact that it is common to all
religions. I doubt whether there is any phenomenon, except ecstasy, of
which this can be said. From the medicine-man of the lowest savages up
to St. John, St. Peter, St. Paul, with Buddha, Mahomet and Swedenborg on
the way, we find records which, though morally and intellectually much
differing, are in psychological essence the same.

At all stages alike we find that the spirit is conceived as quitting the
body; or, if not quitting it, at least as greatly expanding its range of
perception in some state resembling trance. Observe, moreover, that on
this view all genuine recorded forms of ecstasy are akin, and all of
them represent a real fact.

To our embodied souls the matter round us seems real and self-existent;
to souls emancipated it is but the sign of the degree which we have
reached, and thus the highest task of science must be to link and
co-ordinate the symbols appropriate to our terrene state with the
symbols appropriate to the state immediately above us. Nay, one might
push this truth to paradox, and maintain that of all earth's inspired
spirits it has been the least divinised, the least lovable, who has
opened the surest path for men. Religions have risen and die again;
philosophy, poetry, heroism, answer only indirectly the prime need of
men. Plotinus, "the eagle soaring above the tomb of Plato," is lost to
sight in the heavens. Conquering and to conquer, the Maid rides on
through other worlds than ours. Virgil himself, "light among the
vanished ages, star that gildest yet this earthly shore," sustains our
spirit, as I have said, but indirectly, by filling still our fountain of
purest intellectual joy. But the prosaic Swede,--his stiff mind prickly
with dogma,--the opaque cell-walls of his intelligence flooded cloudily
by the irradiant day,--this man as by the very limitations of his
faculty, by the practical humility of a spirit trained to acquire but
not to generate truth,--has awkwardly laid the corner-stone, grotesquely
sketched the elevation of a temple which our remotest posterity will be
upbuilding and adorning still. For he dimly felt that man's true passage
and intuition from state to state depends not upon individual ecstasy,
but upon comprehensive law; while yet all law is in fact but symbol;
adaptation of truth timeless and infinite to intelligences of lower or
higher range.

Beyond us still is mystery; but it is mystery lit and mellowed with an
infinite hope. We ride in darkness at the haven's mouth; but sometimes
through rifted clouds we see the desires and needs of many generations
floating and melting upwards into a distant glow, "up through the light
of the seas by the moon's long-silvering ray."

The high possibilities that lie before us should be grasped once for
all, in order that the dignity of the quest may help to carry the
inquirer through many disappointments, deceptions, delays. But he must
remember that this inquiry must be extended over many generations; nor
must he allow himself to be persuaded that there are byways to mastery.
I will not say that there cannot possibly be any such thing as occult
wisdom, or dominion over the secrets of nature ascetically or magically
acquired. But I will say that every claim of this kind which my
colleagues or I have been able to examine has proved deserving of
complete mistrust; and that we have no confidence here any more than
elsewhere in any methods except the open, candid, straightforward
methods which the spirit of modern science demands.

All omens point towards the steady continuance of just such labour as
has already taught us all we know. Perhaps, indeed, in this complex of
interpenetrating spirits our own effort is no individual, no transitory
thing. That which lies at the root of each of us lies at the root of the
Cosmos too. Our struggle is the struggle of the Universe itself; and the
very Godhead finds fulfilment through our upward-striving souls.



Εδὁκει τἱς μοι γυνἡ προσελθοὑσα καλἡ καἱ εὑειδἡς, λευκἁ ἱμἁτια με καἱ
ἑιπεἱν, Ὡ Σὡκρατες, Ἡυατἱ κεν τριτἁτω φθἱην ἑρἱβωλον ἱκοιο.--Πλἁτωνος

The task which I proposed to myself at the beginning of this work is
now, after a fashion, accomplished. Following the successive steps of my
programme, I have presented,--not indeed all the evidence which I
possess, and which I would willingly present,--but enough at least to
illustrate a continuous exposition, and as much as can be compressed
into two volumes, with any hope that these volumes will be read at
all.[211] I have indicated also the principal inferences which that
evidence immediately suggests. Such wider generalisations as I may now
add must needs be dangerously speculative; they must run the risk of
alienating still further from this research many of the scientific minds
which I am most anxious to influence.

This risk, nevertheless, I feel bound to face. For two reasons,--or, I
should perhaps say, for one main reason seen under two aspects,--I
cannot leave this obscure and unfamiliar mass of observation and
experiment without some words of wider generalisation, some epilogue
which may place these new discoveries in clearer relation to the
existing schemes of civilised thought and belief.

In the first place, I feel that some such attempt at synthesis is
needful for the practical purpose of enlisting help in our long inquiry.
As has been hinted more than once, the real drag upon its progress has
been not opposition but indifference. Or if indifference be too strong a
word, at any rate the interest evoked has not been such as to inspire to
steady independent work anything like the number of coadjutors who would
have responded to a new departure in one of the sciences which all men
have learnt to respect. The inquiry falls between the two stools of
religion and science; it cannot claim support either from the "religious
world" or from the Royal Society. Yet even apart from the instinct of
pure scientific curiosity (which surely has seldom seen such a field
opening before it), the mighty issues depending on these phenomena
ought, I think, to constitute in themselves a strong, an exceptional
appeal. I desire in this book to emphasise that appeal;--not only to
produce conviction, but also to attract co-operation. And actual
converse with many persons has led me to believe that in order to
attract such help, even from scientific men, some general view of the
moral upshot of all the phenomena is needed;--speculative and uncertain
though such a general view must be.

Again,--and here the practical reason already given expands into a wider
scope,--it would be unfair to the evidence itself were I to close this
work without touching more directly than hitherto on some of the deepest
faiths of men. The influence of the evidence set forth in this book
should not be limited to the conclusions, however weighty, which that
evidence may be thought to establish. Rather these discoveries should
prompt, as nothing else could have prompted, towards the ultimate
achievement of that programme of scientific dominance which the
_Instauratio Magna_ proclaimed for mankind. Bacon foresaw the gradual
victory of observation and experiment--the triumph of actual analysed
fact--in every department of human study;--in every department save one.
The realm of "Divine things" he left to Authority and Faith. I here urge
that that great exemption need be no longer made. I claim that there now
exists an incipient method of getting at this Divine knowledge also,
with the same certainty, the same calm assurance, with which we make our
steady progress in the knowledge of terrene things. The authority of
creeds and Churches will thus be replaced by the authority of
observation and experiment. The impulse of faith will resolve itself
into a reasoned and resolute imagination, bent upon raising even higher
than now the highest ideals of man.

Most readers of the preceding pages will have been prepared for the
point of view thus frankly avowed. Yet to few readers can that point of
view at first present itself otherwise than as alien and repellent.
Philosophy and orthodoxy will alike resent it as presumptuous; nor will
science readily accept the unauthorised transfer to herself of regions
of which she has long been wont either to deny the existence, or at any
rate to disclaim the rule. Nevertheless, I think that it will appear on
reflection that some such change of standpoint as this was urgently
needed,--nay, was ultimately inevitable.

I need not here describe at length the deep disquiet of our time. Never,
perhaps, did man's spiritual satisfaction bear a smaller proportion to
his needs. The old-world sustenance, however earnestly administered, is
too unsubstantial for the modern cravings. And thus through our
civilised societies two conflicting currents run. On the one hand
health, intelligence, morality,--all such boons as the steady progress
of planetary evolution can win for man,--are being achieved in
increasing measure. On the other hand this very sanity, this very
prosperity, do but bring out in stronger relief the underlying
_Welt-Schmers_, the decline of any real belief in the dignity, the
meaning, the endlessness of life.

There are many, of course, who readily accept this limitation of view;
who are willing to let earthly activities and pleasures gradually
dissipate and obscure the larger hope. But others cannot thus be easily
satisfied. They rather resemble children who are growing too old for
their games;--whose amusement sinks into an indifference and discontent
for which the fitting remedy is an initiation into the serious work of

A similar crisis has passed over Europe once before. There came a time
when the joyful naïveté, the unquestioning impulse of the early world
had passed away; when the worship of Greeks no more was beauty, nor the
religion of Romans Rome. Alexandrian decadence, Byzantine despair, found
utterance in many an epigram which might have been written to-day. Then
came a great uprush or incursion from the spiritual world, and with new
races and new ideals Europe regained its youth.

The unique effect of that great Christian impulse begins, perhaps, to
wear away. But more grace may yet be attainable from the region whence
that grace came. Our age's restlessness, as I believe, is the
restlessness not of senility but of adolescence; it resembles the
approach of puberty rather than the approach of death.

What the age needs is not an abandonment of effort, but an increase; the
time is ripe for a study of unseen things as strenuous and sincere as
that which Science has made familiar for the problems of earth. For now
the scientific instinct,--so newly developed in mankind,--seems likely
to spread until it becomes as dominant as was in time past the
religious; and if there be even the narrowest chink through which man
can look forth from his planetary cage, our descendants will not leave
that chink neglected or unwidened. The scheme of knowledge which can
commend itself to such seekers must be a scheme which, while it
_transcends_ our present knowledge, steadily _continues_ it;--a scheme
not catastrophic, but evolutionary; not promulgated and closed in a
moment, but gradually unfolding itself to progressive inquiry.

Must there not also be a continuous change, an unending advance in the
human ideal itself? so that Faith must shift her standpoint from the
brief Past to the endless Future, not so much caring to supply the
lacunæ of tradition as to intensify the conviction that there is still a
higher life to work for, a holiness which may be some day reached by
grace and effort as yet unknown.

It may be that for some generations to come the truest faith will lie in
the patient attempt to unravel from confused phenomena some trace of the
supernal world;--to find thus at last "the substance of things hoped
for, the evidence of things not seen." I confess, indeed, that I have
often felt as though this present age were even unduly favoured;--as
though no future revelation and calm could equal the joy of this great
struggle from doubt into certainty;--from the materialism or agnosticism
which accompany the first advance of Science into the deeper scientific
conviction that there is a deathless soul in man. I can imagine no other
crisis of such deep delight. But after all this is but like the starving
child's inability to imagine anything sweeter than his first bite at the
crust. Give him but _that_, and he can hardly care for the moment
whether he is fated to be Prime Minister or ploughboy.

Equally transitory, equally dependent on our special place in the story
of man's upward effort, is another shade of feeling which many men have
known. They have felt that uncertainty gave scope to faith and courage
in a way which scientific assurance could never do. There has been a
stern delight in the choice of virtue,--even though virtue might bring
no reward. This joy, like the joy of Columbus sailing westward from
Hierro, can hardly recur in precisely the same form. But neither (to
descend to a humbler comparison) can we grown men again give ourselves
up to learning in the same spirit of pure faith, without prefigurement
of result, as when we learnt the alphabet at our mother's knees. Have we
therefore relaxed since then our intellectual effort? Have we felt that
there was no longer need to struggle against idleness when once we knew
that knowledge brought a sure reward?

Endless are the varieties of lofty joy. In the age of Thales, Greece
knew the delight of the first dim notion of cosmic unity and law. In the
age of Christ, Europe felt the first high authentic message from a world
beyond our own. In our own age we reach the perception that such
messages may become continuous and progressive;--that between seen and
unseen there is a channel and fairway which future generations may learn
to widen and to clarify. Our own age may seem the best to us; so will
their mightier ages seem to them.

    "'Talia saecla' suis dixerunt 'currite' fusis
      Concordes stabili Fatorum numine Parcae."

_Spiritual evolution_:--that, then, is our destiny, in this and other
worlds;--an evolution gradual with many gradations, and rising to no
assignable close. And the passion for Life is no selfish weakness, it is
a factor in the universal energy. It should keep its strength unbroken
even when our weariness longs to fold the hands in endless slumber; it
should outlast and annihilate the "pangs that conquer trust." If to the
Greeks it seemed a λιποταξἱα--a desertion of one's
post in battle--to quit by suicide the life of earth, how much more
craven were the desire to desert the Cosmos,--the despair, not of this
planet only, but of the Sum of Things!

Nay, in the infinite Universe man may now feel, for the first time, at
home. The worst fear is over; the true security is won. The worst fear
was the fear of spiritual extinction or spiritual solitude; the true
security is in the telepathic law.

Let me draw out my meaning at somewhat greater length.

As we have dwelt successively on various aspects of telepathy, we have
gradually felt the conception enlarge and deepen under our study. It
began as a quasi-mechanical transference of ideas and images from one to
another brain. Presently we found it assuming a more varied and potent
form, as though it were the veritable ingruence or invasion of a distant
mind. Again, its action was traced across a gulf greater than any space
of earth or ocean, and it bridged the interval between spirits incarnate
and discarnate, between the visible and the invisible world. There
seemed no limit to the distance of its operation, or to the intimacy of
its appeal.

    ἑν θἡρσιν ἑν βροτοἱσιν ἑν θεοις ἁνω.

This Love, then, which (as Sophocles has it) rules "beasts and men and
gods" with equal sway, is no matter of carnal impulse or of emotional
caprice. Rather it is now possible to define Love (as we have already
defined Genius) in terms which convey for us some new meaning in
connection with phenomena described in this work. Genius, as has been
already said, is a kind of exalted but undeveloped clairvoyance. The
subliminal uprush which inspires the poet or the musician presents to
him a deep, but vague perception of that world unseen, through which the
seer or the sensitive projects a narrower but an exacter gaze. Somewhat
similarly, Love is a kind of exalted but unspecialised telepathy;--the
simplest and most universal expression of that mutual gravitation or
kinship of spirits which is the foundation of the telepathic law.

This is the answer to the ancient fear; the fear lest man's fellowships
be the outward and his solitude the inward thing; the fear lest all
close linking with our fellows be the mere product of the struggle for
existence,--of the tribal need of strength and cohesion;--the fear that
if love and virtue thus arose, love and virtue may thus likewise perish.
It is an answer to the dread that separate centres of conscious life
must be always strangers, and often foes; their leagues and fellowships
interested and illusory; their love the truce of a moment amid infinite
inevitable war.

Such fears, I say, vanish when we learn that it is the soul in man which
links him with other souls; the body which dissevers even while it seems
to unite; so that "no man liveth to himself nor dieth to himself," but
in a sense which goes deeper than metaphor, "We are every one members
one of another." Like atoms, like suns, like galaxies, our spirits are
systems of forces which vibrate continually to each other's attractive

All this as yet is dimly adumbrated; it is a first hint of a scheme of
thought which it may well take centuries to develop. But can we suppose
that, when once this conception of the bond between all souls has taken
root, men will turn back from it to the old exclusiveness, the old
controversy? Will they not see that this world-widening knowledge is
both old and new, that _die Geisterwelt ist nicht verschlossen_? that
always have such revelations been given, but develop now into a mightier
meaning,--with the growth of wisdom in those who send them, and in us
who receive?

Surely we have here a conception, at once wider and exacter than ever
before, of that "religious education of the world" on which theologians
have been fain to dwell. We need assume no "supernatural interference"
no "plan of redemption." We need suppose only that the same process
which we observe to-day has been operating for ages between this world
and the next.

Let us suppose that whilst incarnate men have risen from savagery into
intelligence, discarnate men have made on their part a like advance. Let
us suppose that they have become more eager and more able to use, for
communication with earth, the standing laws of relation between the
spiritual and the material Universe.

At first, on such a hypothesis, certain automatic phenomena will occur,
but will not be purposely modified by spirit power. Already and always
there must have been points of contact where unseen things impinged upon
the seen. Always there would be "clairvoyant wanderings," where the
spirit of _shaman_ or of medicine-man discerned things distant upon
earth by the spirit's excursive power. Always there would be apparitions
at death,--conscious or unconscious effects of the shock which separated
soul from body; and always "hauntings,"--where the spirit, already
discarnate, revisited, as in a dream perceptible by others, the scenes
which once he knew.

From this groundwork of phenomena developed (to take civilised Europe
alone) the oracular religion first, the Christian later. The golden
gifts of Crœsus to Delphi attested the clairvoyance of the Pythia as
strongly, perhaps, as can be expected of any tradition which comes to us
from the morning of history.

And furthermore, do we not better understand at once the uniqueness and
the reality of the Christian revelation itself, when we regard it as a
culmination rather than an exception,--as destined not to destroy the
cosmic law, but to fulfil it? Then first in human history came from the
unseen a message such as the whole heart desired;--a message adequate in
its response to fundamental emotional needs not in that age only, but in
all ages that should follow. _Intellectually_ adequate for all coming
ages that revelation could not be;--given the laws of mind, incarnate
alike and discarnate,--the evolution, on either side of the gulf of
death, of knowledge and power.

No one at the date of that revelation suspected that uniformity, that
continuity of the Universe which long experience has now made for us
almost axiomatic. No one foresaw the day when the demand for miracle
would be merged in the demand for higher law.

This newer scientific temper is not confined, as I believe, to the
denizens of this earth alone. The spiritual world meets it, as I think
our evidence has shown, with eager and strenuous response. But that
response is made, and must be made, along the lines of our normal
evolution. It must rest upon the education, the disentanglement, of
_that_ within us mortals which exists in the Invisible, a partaker of
the undying world. And on our side and on theirs alike, the process must
be steady and continuous. We have no longer to deal with some isolated
series of events in the past,--interpretable this way or that, but in no
way renewable,--but rather with a world-wide and actual condition of
things, recognisable every year in greater clearness, and changing in
directions which we can better and better foresee. This new aspect of
things needs something of new generalisation, of new forecast,--it
points to a provisional synthesis of religious belief which may fitly
conclude the present work.


    ὁλβιος ὁστις ἱδὡν ἑκεἱνα κοἱλαν
    εἱσιν ὑπὁ χθὁνα οἱδεν μἑν βἱου κεἱνος τελευτἁν,
    οἱδεν δε διὁσδοτον ἁρχἁν.


I see ground for hoping that we are within sight of a religious
synthesis, which, although as yet provisional and rudimentary, may in
the end meet more adequately than any previous synthesis the reasonable
needs of men. Such a synthesis cannot, I think, be reached by a mere
predominance of any one existing creed, nor by any eclectic or syncretic
process. Its prerequisite is the actual acquisition of new knowledge
whether by discovery or by revelation--knowledge discerned from without
the veil or from within--yet so realised that the main forms of
religious thought, by harmonious expansion and development, shall find
place severally as elements in a more comprehensive whole. And enough of
such knowledge has, I think, been now attained to make it desirable to
submit to my readers the religious results which seem likely to follow.

With such a purpose, our conception of religion should be both profound
and comprehensive. I will use here the definition already adopted of
religion as the sane and normal response of the human spirit to all that
we know of cosmic law; that is, to the known phenomena of the universe,
regarded as an intelligible whole. For on the one hand I cannot confine
the term to any single definite view or tradition of things unseen. On
the other hand, I am not content to define religion as "morality tinged
with emotion," lest morality _per se_ should seem to hang in air, so
that we should be merely gilding the tortoise which supports the earth.
Yet my definition needs some further guarding if it is to correspond
with our habitual use of language. Most men's subjective response to
their environment falls below the level of true religious thought. It is
scattered into cravings, or embittered by resentment, or distorted by
superstitious fear. But of such men I do not speak; rather of men in
whom the great pageant has inspired at least some vague out-reaching
toward the Source of All; men for whom knowledge has ripened into
meditation, and has prompted high desire. I would have Science first
sublimed into Philosophy, and then kindled by Religion into a burning
flame. For, from my point of view, man cannot be too religious. I desire
that the environing, the interpenetrating universe,--its energy, its
life, its love,--should illume in us, in our low degree, that which we
ascribe to the World-Soul, saying, "God is Love," "God is Light." The
World-Soul's infinite energy of omniscient benevolence should become in
us an enthusiasm of adoring co-operation,--an eager obedience to
whatsoever with our best pains we can discern as the justly ruling
principle--τὁ ἡγεμονικὁν--without us and within.

Yet if we form so high an ideal of religion,--raising it so far above
any blind obedience or self-seeking fear that its submission is wholly
willing, and its demand is for spiritual response alone,--we are bound
to ask ourselves whether it is right and reasonable to be religious, to
regard with this full devotion a universe apparently imperfect and
irresponsive, and a Ruling Principle which so many men have doubted or

The pessimist holds the view that sentient existence has been a
deplorable blunder in the scheme of things. The egotist at least _acts_
upon the view that the universe has no moral coherence, and that "each
for himself" is the only indisputable law. I am sanguine enough to think
that the answer to the pessimist and the egotist has by our new
knowledge been made complete. There remains, indeed, a difficulty of
subtler type, but instinctive in generous souls. "The world," such an
one may say, "is a mixed place, and I am plainly bound to do my best to
improve it. But am I bound to feel--can any bribe of personal happiness
justify me in feeling--_religious enthusiasm_ for a universe in which
even one being may have been summoned into a sentiency destined to
inescapable pain?"

The answer to this ethical scruple must be a matter largely of faith. If
indeed we knew that this earthly life was all, or (far worse) that it
was followed for any one soul by endless pain, we could not without some
moral jugglery ascribe perfection of both power and goodness to a
personal or impersonal First Cause of such a doom. But if we believe
that endless life exists for all, with infinite possibilities of human
redress and of divine justification, then it seems right to assume that
the universe is either already (in some inscrutable fashion) wholly
good, or is at least in course of becoming so; since it may be becoming
so in part through the very ardour of our own faith and hope.

I do but mention these initial difficulties; I shall not dwell on them
here. I speak to men who have determined, whether at the bidding of
instinct or of reason, that it is well to be religious; well to approach
in self-devoted reverence an infinite Power and Love. Our desire is
simply to find the least unworthy way of thinking of matters which
inevitably transcend and baffle our finite thought.

And here, for the broad purpose of our present survey, we may divide
the best religious emotion of the world in triple fashion; tracing three
main streams of thought,--streams which on the whole run parallel, and
which all rise, as I believe, from some source in the reality of things.

First, then, I place that obscure consensus of independent thinkers in
many ages and countries which, to avoid any disputable title, I will
here call simply the Religion of the Ancient Sage. Under that title
(though Lao Tz[)u] is hardly more than a name) it has been set forth to
us in brief summary by the great sage and poet of our own time; and such
words as Natural Religion, Pantheism, Platonism, Mysticism, do but
express or intensify varying aspects of its main underlying conception.
That conception is the coexistence and interpenetration of a real or
spiritual with this material or phenomenal world; a belief driven home
to many minds by experiences both more weighty and more concordant than
the percipients themselves have always known. More weighty, I say, for
they have implied the veritable nascency and operation of a "last and
largest sense"; a faculty for apprehending, not God, indeed (for what
finite faculty can apprehend the Infinite?), but at least some dim and
scattered tokens and prefigurements of a true world of Life and Love.
More _concordant_ also; and this for a reason which till recently would
have seemed a paradox. For the mutual corroboration of these signs and
messages lies not only in their fundamental agreement up to a certain
point, but in their inevitable divergence beyond it;--as they pass from
things felt into things imagined; from actual experience into dogmatic

The Religion of the Ancient Sage is of unknown antiquity. Of unknown
antiquity also are various Oriental types of religion, culminating in
historical times in the Religion of Buddha. For Buddhism all
interpenetrating universes make the steps upon man's upward way; until
deliverance from illusion leaves the spirit merged ineffably in the
impersonal All. But the teaching of Buddha has lost touch with reality;
it rests on no basis of observed or of reproducible fact.

On a basis of observed facts, on the other hand, Christianity, the
youngest of the great types of religion, does assuredly rest. Assuredly
those facts, so far as tradition has made them known to us, do tend to
prove the superhuman character of its Founder, and His triumph over
death; and thus the existence and influence of a spiritual world, where
men's true citizenship lies. These ideas, by common consent, lay at the
origin of the Faith. Since those first days, however, Christianity has
been elaborated into codes of ethic and ritual adapted to Western
civilisation;--has gained (some think) as a rule of life what it has
lost as a simplicity of spirit.

From the unfettered standpoint of the Ancient Sage the deep concordance
of these and other schemes of religious thought may well outweigh their
formal oppositions. And yet I repeat that it is not from any mere
welding of these schemes together, nor from any choice of the best
points in existing syntheses, that the new synthesis for which I hope
must be born. It must be born from new-dawning knowledge; and in that
new knowledge I believe that each great form of religious thought will
find its indispensable--I may almost say its predicted--development. Our
race from its very infancy has stumbled along a guarded way; and now the
first lessons of its early childhood reveal the root in reality of much
that it has instinctively believed.

What I think I know, therefore, I am bound to tell; I must give the
religious upshot of observation and experiment in such brief
announcement as an audience like this[212] has a right to hear, even
before our discoveries can be laid in full before the courts of science
for definite approval.

The _religious upshot_, I repeat:--for I cannot here reproduce the mass
of evidence which has been published in full elsewhere. Its general
character is by this time widely known. Observation, experiment,
inference, have led many inquirers, of whom I am one, to a belief in
direct or telepathic intercommunication, not only between the minds of
men still on earth, but between minds or spirits still on earth and
spirits departed. Such a _discovery_ opens the door also to
_revelation_. By discovery and by revelation--by observation from
without the veil, and by utterance from within--certain theses have been
provisionally established with regard to such departed souls as we have
been able to encounter. First and chiefly, I at least see ground to
believe that their state is one of endless evolution in wisdom and in
love. Their loves of earth persist; and most of all those highest loves
which seek their outlet in adoration and worship. We do not find,
indeed, that support is given by souls in bliss to any special scheme of
terrene theology. Thereon they know less than we mortal men have often
fancied that we knew. Yet from their step of vantage-ground in the
Universe, at least, they see that it is good. I do not mean that they
know either of an end or of an explanation of evil. Yet evil to them
seems less a terrible than a slavish thing. It is embodied in no mighty
Potentate; rather it forms an isolating madness from which higher
spirits strive to free the distorted soul. There needs no chastisement
of fire; self-knowledge is man's punishment and his reward;
self-knowledge, and the nearness or the aloofness of companion souls.
For in that world love is actually self-preservation; the Communion of
Saints not only adorns but constitutes the Life Everlasting. Nay, from
the law of telepathy it follows that that communion is valid for us here
and now. Even now the love of souls departed makes answer to our
invocations. Even now our loving memory--love is itself a
prayer--supports and strengthens those delivered spirits upon their
upward way. No wonder; since we are to them but as fellow-travellers
shrouded in a mist; "neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor
any other creature," can bar us from the hearth-fire of the universe, or
hide for more than a moment the inconceivable oneness of souls.

And is not this a fresh instalment, or a precursory adumbration, of that
Truth into which the Paraclete should lead? Has any world-scheme yet
been suggested so profoundly corroborative of the very core of the
Christian revelation? Jesus Christ "brought life and immortality to
light." By His appearance after bodily death He proved the deathlessness
of the spirit. By His character and His teaching He testified to the
Fatherhood of God. So far, then, as His unique message admitted of
evidential support, it is here supported. So far as He promised things
unprovable, that promise is here renewed.

I venture now on a bold saying; for I predict that, in consequence of
the new evidence, all reasonable men, a century hence, will believe the
Resurrection of Christ, whereas, in default of the new evidence, no
reasonable men, a century hence, would have believed it. The ground of
this forecast is plain enough. Our ever-growing recognition of the
continuity, the uniformity of cosmic law has gradually made of the
alleged _uniqueness_ of any incident its almost inevitable refutation.
Ever more clearly must our age of science realise that any relation
between a material and a spiritual world cannot be an ethical or
emotional relation alone; that it must needs be a great structural fact
of the Universe, involving laws at least as persistent, as identical
from age to age, as our known laws of Energy or of Motion. And
especially as to that central claim, of the soul's life manifested after
the body's death, it is plain that this can less and less be supported
by remote tradition alone; that it must more and more be tested by
modern experience and inquiry. Suppose, for instance, that we collect
many such histories, recorded on first-hand evidence in our critical
age; and suppose that all these narratives break down on analysis; that
they can all be traced to hallucination, misdescription, and other
persistent sources of error;--can we then expect reasonable men to
believe that this marvellous phenomenon, always vanishing into
nothingness when closely scrutinised in a modern English scene, must yet
compel adoring credence when alleged to have occurred in an Oriental
country, and in a remote and superstitious age? Had the results (in
short) of "psychical research" been purely negative, would not Christian
evidence--I do not say Christian _emotion_, but Christian
_evidence_--have received an overwhelming blow?

As a matter of fact,--or, if you prefer the phrase, in my own personal
opinion,--our research has led us to results of a quite different type.
They have not been negative only, but largely positive. We have shown
that amid much deception and self-deception, fraud and illusion,
veritable manifestations do reach us from beyond the grave. The central
claim of Christianity is thus confirmed, as never before. If our own
friends, men like ourselves, can sometimes return to tell us of love and
hope, a mightier Spirit may well have used the eternal laws with a more
commanding power. There is nothing to hinder the reverent faith that,
though we be all "the Children of the Most Highest," He came nearer than
we, by some space by us immeasurable, to That which is infinitely far.
There is nothing to hinder the devout conviction that He of His own act
"took upon Him the form of a servant," and was made flesh for our
salvation, foreseeing the earthly travail and the eternal crown. "Surely
before this descent into generation," says Plotinus,[213] "we existed in
the intelligible world; being other men than now we are, and some of us
Gods; clear souls, and minds unmixed with all existence; parts of the
Intelligible, nor severed thence; nor are we severed even now."

It is not thus to less of reverence that man is summoned, but to more.
Let him keep hold of early sanctities; but let him remember also that
once again "a great sheet has been let down out of heaven"; and lo!
neither Buddha nor Plato is found common or unclean.

Nay, as to our own soul's future, when that first shock of death is
past, it is in Buddhism that we find the more inspiring, the truer view.
That Western conception of an instant and unchangeable bliss or woe--a
bliss or woe determined largely by a man's beliefs, in this earthly
ignorance, on matters which "the angels desire to look into"--is the
bequest of a pre-Copernican era of speculative thought. In its Mahomedan
travesty, we see the same scheme with outlines coarsened into
grotesqueness;--we see it degrade the cosmic march and profluence into a
manner of children's play.

Meantime the immemorial musings of unnumbered men have dreamt of a
consummation so far removed that he who gazed has scarcely known whether
it were Nothingness or Deity. With profoundest fantasy, the East has
pondered on the vastness of the world that now is, of the worlds that
are to be. What rest or pasture for the mind in the seven days of
Creation, the four rivers of Paradise, the stars "made also"? The
farther East has reached blindly forth towards astronomical epochs,
sidereal spaces, galactic congregations of inconceivable Being. Pressed
by the incumbency of ancestral gods (as the Chinese legend tells us), it
has "created by one sweep of the imagination a thousand Universes, to be
the Buddha's realm."

The sacred tale of Buddha, developed from its earlier simplicity by the
shaping stress of many generations, opens to us the whole range and
majesty of human fate. "The destined Buddha has desired to be a Buddha
through an almost unimaginable series of worlds." No soul need ever be
without that hope. "The spirit-worlds are even now announcing the advent
of future Buddhas, in epochs too remote for the computation of men." No
obstacles without us can arrest our way. "The rocks that were thrown at
Buddha were changed into flowers." Not our own worst misdoings need
beget despair. "Buddha, too, had often been to hell for his sins." The
vast complexity of the Sum of Things need not appal us. "Beneath the
bottomless whirlpool of existences, behind the illusion of Form and
Name," we, too, like Buddha, may discover and reveal "the perfection of
the Eternal Law." Us, too, like Buddha, the cosmic welcome may await; as
when "Earth itself and the laws of all worlds" trembled with joy "as
Buddha attained the Supreme Intelligence, and entered into the Endless

I believe that some of those who once were near to us are already
mounting swiftly upon this heavenly way. And when from that cloud
encompassing of unforgetful souls some voice is heard,--as long
ago,--there needs no heroism, no sanctity, to inspire the apostle's
ἑπιθυμἱα εἱς τὁ ἁναλὑὁαι, the desire to lift our anchor, and to sail out
beyond the bar. What fitter summons for man than the wish to live in the
memory of the highest soul that he has known, now risen higher;--to lift
into an immortal security the yearning passion of his love? "As the soul
hasteneth," says Plotinus,[214] "to the things that are above, she will
ever forget the more; unless all her life on earth leave a memory of
things done well. For even here may man do well, if he stand clear of
the cares of earth. And he must stand clear of their memories too; so
that one may rightly speak of a noble soul as forgetting those things
that are behind. And the shade of Hêraklês, indeed, may talk of his own
valour to the shades, but the true Hêraklês in the true world will deem
all that of little worth; being transported into a more sacred place,
and strenuously engaging, even above his strength, in those battles in
which the wise engage." Can we men now on earth claim more of
sustainment than lies in the incipient communion with those enfranchised
souls? What day of hope, of exaltation, has dawned like this, since the
message of Pentecost?

Yet a durable religious synthesis should do more than satisfy man's
immediate aspiration. It should be in itself progressive and
evolutionary; it should bear a promise of ever deeper holiness, to
answer to the long ages of heightening wisdom during which our race may
be destined to inhabit the earth. This condition has never yet been met.
No scheme, indeed, could meet it which was not based upon recurrent and
developing facts. To such facts we now appeal. We look, not backward to
fading tradition, but onward to dawning experience. We hope that the
intercourse, now at last consciously begun--although as through the
mouth of babes and sucklings, and in confused and stammering
speech--between discarnate and incarnate souls, may through long effort
clarify into a director communion, so that they shall teach us all they

Science, then, need be no longer fettered by the limitations of this
planetary standpoint; nor ethics by the narrow experience of a single
life. Evolution will no longer appear as a truncated process, an
ever-arrested movement upon an unknown goal. Rather we may gain a
glimpse of an ultimate incandescence where science and religion fuse in
one; a cosmic evolution of Energy into Life, and of Life into Love,
which is Joy. Love, which is Joy at once and Wisdom;--we can do no more
than ring the changes on terms like these, whether we imagine the
transfigurement and apotheosis of conquering souls, or the lower, but
still sacred, destiny which may be some day possible for souls still
tarrying here. We picture the perfected soul as the Buddha, the Saviour,
the _aurai simplicis ignem_, dwelling on one or other aspect of that
trinal conception of Wisdom, Love, and Joy. For souls not yet perfected
but still held on earth I have foretold a growth in _holiness_. By this
I mean no unreal opposition or forced divorcement of sacred and secular,
of flesh and spirit. Rather I define holiness as the joy too high as yet
for our enjoyment; the wisdom just beyond our learning; the rapture of
love which we still strive to attain. Inevitably, as our link with other
spirits strengthens, as the life of the organism pours more fully
through the individual cell, we shall feel love more ardent, wider
wisdom, higher joy; perceiving that this organic unity of Soul, which
forms the inward aspect of the telepathic law, is in itself the Order of
the Cosmos, the Summation of Things. And such devotion may find its
flower in no vain self-martyrdom, no cloistered resignation, but rather
in such pervading ecstasy as already the elect have known; the Vision
which dissolves for a moment the corporeal prison-house; "the flight of
the One to the One."

"So let the soul that is not unworthy of that vision contemplate the
Great Soul; freed from deceit and every witchery, and collected into
calm. Calmed be the body for her in that hour, and the tumult of the
flesh; ay, all that is about her, calm; calm be the earth, the sea, the
air, and let Heaven itself be still. Then let her feel how into that
silent heaven the Great Soul floweth in.... And so may man's soul be
sure of Vision, when suddenly she is filled with light; for this light
is from Him and is He; and then surely shall one know His presence when,
like a god of old time, He entered into the house of one that calleth
Him, and maketh it full of light." "And how," concludes Plotinus, "may
this thing be for us? Let all else go."[215]

These heights, I confess, are above the stature of my spirit. Yet for
each of us is a fit ingress into the Unseen; and for some lesser man the
memory of one vanished soul may be beatific as of old for Plotinus the
flooding immensity of Heaven. And albeit no historical religion can
persist as a logical halting-place upon the endless mounting way--that
way which leads unbroken from the first germ of love in the heart to an
inconceivable union with the Divine--yet many a creed in turn may well
be close inwrought and inwoven with our eternal hope. What wonder, if in
the soul's long battle, some Captain of our Salvation shall sometimes
seem to tower unrivalled and alone?--οἱος γἁρ ἑρὑετο Ἱλιον Ἑκτωρ. And
yet in no single act or passion can that salvation stand; far hence,
beyond Orion and Andromeda, the cosmic process works and shall work for
ever through unbegotten souls. And even as it was not in truth the great
ghost of Hector only, but the whole nascent race of Rome, which bore
from the Trojan altar the hallowing fire, so is it not one Saviour only,
but the whole nascent race of man--nay, all the immeasurable progeny and
population of the heavens--which issues continually from behind the veil
of Being, and forth from the Sanctuary of the Universe carries the
ever-burning flame: _A eternumque adytis effert penetralibus ignem_.




II. A. It is well known that a great variety of slight causes--hunger,
fatigue, slight poisoning by impure air, a small degree of fever,
etc.--are sometimes enough to produce a transient perturbation of
personality of the most violent kind. I give as an instance the
following account of a feverish experience, sent to me by the late
Robert Louis Stevenson, from Samoa, in 1892 (and published in
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. ix. p. 9). In Stevenson's paper on his own
dreams, alluded to in Chapter III, we have one of the most striking
examples known to me of that helpful and productive subliminal uprush
which I have characterised as the mechanism of genius. It is therefore,
interesting to observe how, under morbid conditions, this temperament of
genius--this ready permeability of the psychical diaphragm--transforms
what might in others be a mere vague and massive discomfort into a vivid
though incoherent message from the subliminal storm and fire. The result
is a kind of supraliminal duality, the perception at the same time of
two personalities--the one rational and moral, the other belonging to
the stratum of dreams and nightmare.

_July 14th, 1892_.

     DEAR MR. MYERS,--I am tempted to communicate to you some
     experiences of mine which seem to me (ignorant as I am) of a high
     psychological interest.

     I had infamous bad health when I was a child and suffered much from
     night fears; but from the age of about thirteen until I was past
     thirty I did not know what it was to have a high fever or to wander
     in my mind. So that these experiences, when they were renewed, came
     upon me with entire freshness; and either I am a peculiar subject,
     or I was thus enabled to observe them with unusual closeness.

     Experience A. During an illness at Nice I lay awake a whole night
     in extreme pain. From the beginning of the evening _one part of my
     mind_ became possessed of a notion so grotesque and shapeless that
     it may best be described as a form of words. I thought the pain
     was, or was connected with, a wisp or coil of some sort; I knew
     not of what it consisted nor yet where it was, and cared not; only
     I thought, if the two ends were brought together, the pain would
     cease. Now all the time, with _another part of my mind_, which I
     venture to think was _myself_, I was fully alive to the absurdity
     of this idea, knew it to be a mark of impaired sanity, and was
     engaged with _my other self_ in a perpetual conflict. _Myself_ had
     nothing more at heart than to keep from my wife, who was nursing
     me, any hint of this ridiculous hallucination; the _other_ was
     bound that she should be told of it and ordered to effect the cure.
     I believe it must have been well on in the morning before the fever
     (or _the other fellow_) triumphed, and I called my wife to my
     bedside, seized her savagely by the wrist, and looking on her with
     a face of fury, cried: "Why do you not put the two ends together
     and put me out of pain?"

     Experience B. The other day in Sydney I was seized on a Saturday
     with a high fever. Early in the afternoon I began to repeat
     mechanically the sound usually written "mhn," caught myself in the
     act, instantly stopped it, and explained to my mother, who was in
     the room, my reasons for so doing. "That is the beginning of the
     mind to wander," I said, "and has to be resisted at the outset." I
     fell asleep and woke, and for the rest of the night repeated to
     myself mentally a nonsense word which I could not recall next
     morning. I had been reading the day before the life of Swift, and
     all night long one part of my mind (_the other fellow_) kept
     informing me that I was not repeating the word myself, but was only
     reading in a book that Swift had so repeated it in his last
     sickness. The temptation to communicate this nonsense was again
     strongly felt by _myself_, but was on this occasion triumphantly
     resisted, and my watcher heard from me all night nothing of Dean
     Swift or the word, nothing but what was rational and to the point.
     So much for the two consciousnesses when I can disentangle them;
     but there is a part of my thoughts that I have more difficulty in
     attributing. One part of my mind continually bid me remark the
     transrational felicity of the word, examined all the syllables,
     showed me that not one was in itself significant, and yet the whole
     expressed to a nicety the voluminous distress of one in a high
     fever and his annoyance at and recoil from the attentions of his
     nurses. It was probably the same part (and for a guess _the other
     fellow_) who bid me compare it with the nonsense words of Lewis
     Carroll as the invention of a lunatic with those of a sane man. But
     surely it was _myself_ (and myself in a perfectly clear-headed
     state) that kept me trying all night to get the word by heart, on
     the ground that it would afterwards be useful in literature if I
     wanted to deal with mad folk. It must have been myself, I say,
     because _the other fellow_ believed (or pretended to believe) he
     was reading the passage in a book where it could always be found
     again when wanted.

     Experience C. The next night _the other fellow_ had an explanation
     ready for my sufferings, of which I can only say that it had
     something to do with the navy, that it was sheer undiluted
     nonsense, had neither end nor beginning, and was insusceptible of
     being expressed in words. _Myself_ knew this; yet I gave way, and
     my watcher was favoured with some references to the navy. Nor only
     that; _the other fellow_ was annoyed--or _I_ was annoyed--on two
     inconsistent accounts: first, because he had failed to make his
     meaning comprehensible; and second, because the nurse displayed no
     interest. _The other fellow_ would have liked to explain further;
     but _myself_ was much hurt at having been got into this false
     position, and would be led no further.

     In cases A and C the illusion was amorphous. I knew it to be so,
     and yet succumbed to the temptation of trying to communicate it. In
     case B the idea was coherent, and I managed to hold my peace. Both
     consciousnesses, in other words, were less affected in case B, and
     both more affected in cases A and C. It is perhaps not always so:
     the illusion might be coherent, even practical, and the rational
     authority of the mind quite in abeyance. Would not that be lunacy?

     In case A I had an absolute knowledge that I was out of my mind,
     and that there was no meaning in my words; these were the very
     facts that I was anxious to conceal; and yet when I succumbed to
     the temptation of speaking my face was convulsed with anger, and I
     wrung my watcher's wrist with cruelty. Here is action, unnatural
     and uncharacteristic action, flowing from an idea in which I had no
     belief, and which I had been concealing for hours as a plain mark
     of aberration. Is it not so with lunatics?

     I have called the one person _myself_, and the other _the other
     fellow_. It was myself who spoke and acted; the other fellow seemed
     to have no control of the body or the tongue; he could only act
     through myself, on whom he brought to bear a heavy strain, resisted
     in one case, triumphant in the two others. Yet I am tempted to
     think that I know the other fellow; I am tempted to think he is the
     dreamer described in my Chapter on Dreams to which you refer. Here
     at least is a dream belonging to the same period, but this time a
     pure dream, an illusion, I mean, that disappeared with the return
     of the sense of sight, not one that persevered during waking
     moments, and while I was able to speak and take my medicine. It
     occurred the day after case B and before case C.

     Case D. In the afternoon there sprang up a storm of wind with
     monstrous clouds of dust; my room looked on a steep hill of trees
     whose boughs were all blowing in the same direction; the world
     seemed to pass by my windows like a mill-race. By this turmoil and
     movement I was confused, but not distressed, and surprised not to
     be distressed; for even in good health a high wind has often a
     painful influence on my nerves. In the midst of this I dozed off
     asleep. I had just been reading Scott's "Life of Dryden," and been
     struck with the fact that Dryden had translated some of the Latin
     hymns, and had wondered that I had never remarked them in his
     works. As soon as I was asleep I dreamed a reason why the sound of
     the wind and the sight of the flying dust had not distressed me.
     There was no wind, it seemed, no dust; it was only Dryden singing
     his translated hymns in _one direction_, and all those who had
     blamed and attacked him after the Revolution singing them in
     _another_. This point of the two directions is very singular and
     insane. In part it meant that Dryden was continuously flying past
     yet never passing my window in the direction of the wind and dust,
     and all his detractors similarly flying past yet not passing
     towards the other side. But it applied, besides this, both to the
     words and to the music in a manner wholly insusceptible of

     That was a dream; and yet how exactly it reproduces the method of
     _my other fellow_ while I was awake. Here is an explanation for a
     state of mind or body sought, and found, in a tissue of rabid,
     complicated, and inexpressible folly.--Yours very sincerely.


II. B. A good example of the application of true scientific method to
problems which doctors of the old school did not think worth their
science is Dr. Janet's treatment of a singular problem which the
mistakes of brutal ignorance turned in old times into a veritable
scourge of our race. I speak of _demoniacal possession_, in which
affliction Dr. Janet has shown himself a better than ecclesiastical

I give here a typical case of pseudo-possession from _Névroses et Idées
fixes_ (vol. i. pp. 377-389): Achille, as Professor Janet calls him, was
a timid and rather morbid young man, but he was married to a good wife,
and nothing went specially wrong with him until his return from a
business journey in 1890. He then became sombre and taciturn--sometimes
even seemed unable to speak--then took to his bed and lay murmuring
incomprehensible words, and at last said farewell to his wife and
children, and stretched himself out motionless for a couple of days,
while his family waited for his last breath.

"Suddenly one morning, after two days of apparent death, Achille sat up
in bed with his eyes wide open, and burst into a terrible laugh. It was
a convulsive laugh which shook all his limbs; an exaggerated laugh which
twisted his mouth; a lugubrious, satanic laugh which went on for more
than two hours.

"From this moment everything was changed. Achille leapt from his bed and
refused all attentions. To every question he answered, 'There's nothing
to be done! let's have some champagne; it's the end of the world!' Then
he uttered piercing cries, 'They are burning me--they are cutting me to

After an agitated sleep, Achille woke up with the conviction that he was
possessed with a devil. And in fact his mouth now uttered blasphemies,
his limbs were contorted, and he repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts at
suicide. Ultimately he was taken to the Salpêtrière, and placed under
Professor Janet, who recognised at once the classic signs of possession.
The poor man kept protesting against the odious outrages on religion,
which he attributed to a devil inside him, moving his tongue against
his will. "Achille could say, like a celebrated victim of possession,
Père Surin, 'It is as though I had two souls; one of which has been
dispossessed of its body and the use of its organs, and is frantic at
the sight of the other soul which has crept in.'"

It was by no means easy to get either at Achille or at his possessing
devil. Attempts to hypnotise him failed, and any remonstrance was met
with insult. But the wily psychologist was accustomed to such
difficulties, and had resort to a plan too insidious for a common devil
to suspect. He gently moved the hand of Achille in such a way as to
suggest the act of writing, and having thus succeeded in starting
automatic script, he got the devil thus to answer questions quietly put
while the raving was going on as usual. "I will not believe in your
power," said Professor Janet to the malignant intruder, "unless you give
me a proof." "What proof?" "Raise the poor man's left arm without his
knowing it." This was done--to the astonishment of poor Achille--and a
series of suggestions followed, all of which the demon triumphantly and
unsuspectingly carried out, to show his power. Then came the suggestion
to which Professor Janet had been leading up. It was like getting the
djinn into the bottle. "You cannot put Achille soundly to sleep in that
arm-chair!" "Yes, I can!" No sooner said than done, and no sooner done
than Achille was delivered from his tormentor--from his own tormenting

For there in that hypnotic sleep he was gently led on to tell all his
story; and such stories, when told to a skilled and kindly auditor, are
apt to come to an end in the very act of being told.

Achille had been living in a day-dream; it was a day-dream which had
swollen to these nightmare proportions, and had, as it were, ousted his
rational being; and in the deeper self-knowledge which the somnambulic
state brings with it the dream and the interpretation thereof became
present to his bewildered mind.

The fact was that on that fateful journey when Achille's troubles began
he had committed an act of unfaithfulness to his wife. A gloomy anxiety
to conceal this action prompted him to an increasing taciturnity, and
morbid fancies as to his health grew on him until at last his day-dream
led him to imagine himself as actually dead. "His two days' lethargy was
but an episode, a chapter in the long dream."

What then was the natural next stage of the dream's development? "He
dreamt that, now that he was dead indeed, the devil rose from the abyss
and came to take him. The poor man, as in his somnambulic state he
retraced the series of his dreams, remembered the precise instant when
this lamentable event took place. It was about 11 A.M.: a dog barked in
the court at the moment, incommoded, no doubt, by the smell of
brimstone; flames filled the room; numbers of little fiends scourged the
unhappy man, or drove nails into his eyes, and through the wounds in his
body Satan entered in to take possession of head and heart."

From this point the pseudo-possession may be said to have begun. The
fixed idea developed itself into sensory and motor automatisms--visions
of devils, uncontrollable utterances, automatic script--ascribed by the
automatist to the possessing devil within.

And now came the moment when the veracity, the utility, of this new type
of psychological analysis was to be submitted to yet another test. From
the point of view of the ordinary physician Achille's condition was
almost hopeless. Physical treatment had failed, and death from
exhaustion and misery seemed near at hand. Nor could any appeal have
been effective which did not go to the hidden root of the evil, which
did not lighten the load of morbid remorse from which the whole series
of troubles had developed. Fortunately for Achille, he was in the hands
of an unsurpassed minister to minds thus diseased. Professor Janet
adopted his usual tactics--what he terms the _dissociation_ and the
gradual _substitution_ of ideas. The incidents of the miserable memory
were modified, were explained away, were slowly dissolved from the
brooding brain, and the hallucinatory image of the offended wife was
presented to the sufferer at what novelists call the psychological
moment, with pardon in her eyes. "Such stuff as dreams are made
of!"--but even by such means was Achille restored to physical and moral
health; he leads now the life of normal man; he no longer "walketh in a
vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain."

II. C. I give here the case of Dr. Azam's often quoted patient, Félida
X.[216] In this case the somnambulic life finally became the normal
life; as the "second state," which appeared at first only in short,
dreamlike accesses, gradually replaced the "first state," which finally
recurred but for a few hours at long intervals. But the point on which I
wish to dwell is this: that Félida's second state was altogether
_superior_ to the first--physically superior, since the nervous pains
which had troubled her from childhood disappeared: and mentally
superior, inasmuch as her morose, self-centred disposition was exchanged
for a cheerful activity which enabled her to attend to her children and
her shop much more effectively than when she was in the "état bête," as
she called what was once the only personality that she knew. In this
case, then, which at the time Dr. Azam wrote--1887--was of nearly thirty
years' standing, the spontaneous readjustment of nervous activities--the
second state, no memory of which remained in the first state--resulted
in an improvement profounder than could have been anticipated from any
moral or medical treatment that we know. The case shows us how often the
word "normal" means nothing more than "what happens to exist." For
Félida's _normal_ state was in fact her _morbid_ state: and the new
condition, which seemed at first a mere hysterical abnormality, brought
her at last to a life of bodily and mental sanity which made her fully
the equal of average women of her class.

A very complete account of the case, reproducing in full almost the
whole of Dr. Azam's report, is given in Dr. A. Binet's _Altérations de
la Personnalité_ (pp. 6-20), and I briefly summarise this here:--

     Félida was born at Bordeaux, in 1843, of healthy parents. Towards
     the age of thirteen years she began to exhibit symptoms of
     hysteria. When about fourteen and a half she used suddenly to feel
     a pain in her forehead, and then to fall into a profound sleep for
     some ten minutes, after which she woke spontaneously in her
     secondary condition. This lasted an hour or two; then the sleep
     came on again, and she awoke in her normal state. The change at
     first occurred every five or six days. As the hysterical symptoms
     increased, Dr. Azam was called in to attend her in 1858.

     His report of that time states that in the primary state she
     appears very intelligent and fairly well educated; of a melancholy
     disposition, talking little, very industrious; constantly thinking
     of her maladies and suffering acute pains in various parts of the
     body, especially the head--the _clou hystérique_ being very marked;
     all her actions, ideas, and words perfectly rational. Almost every
     day what she calls her _crise_ comes on spontaneously--often while
     she is sitting at her needlework--preceded by a brief interval of
     the profound sleep, from which no external stimulus can rouse her.
     On waking into the secondary state, she appears like an entirely
     different person, smiling and gay; she continues her work
     cheerfully or walks about briskly, no longer feeling all the pains
     she has just before been complaining of. She looks after her
     ordinary domestic duties, goes out, walks about the town, and pays
     calls; behaves in every way like an ordinary healthy girl.

     In this condition she remembers perfectly all that has happened on
     previous occasions when she was in the same state, and also all the
     events of her normal life; whereas during her normal life she
     forgets absolutely the occurrences of the secondary state. She
     declares constantly that whatever state she is in at the moment is
     the normal one--her _raison_--while the other one is always her

     The change of character in the secondary state is strongly marked;
     she becomes gay and vivacious--almost noisy; instead of being
     indifferent to everything, her sensibilities--both imaginative and
     emotional--become excessive. All her faculties appear more
     developed and more complete. The condition, in fact, is much
     superior to her ordinary one, as shown by the disappearance of her
     physical pains, and especially by the state of her memory.

     She married early, and her _crises_ became more frequent, though
     there were occasionally long intervals when they never came at all.
     But the secondary state, which in 1858 and 1859 only occupied about
     a tenth part of her life, gradually encroached more and more on the
     primary state, till the latter began to appear only at intervals
     and for a brief space of time.

     In 1875 Dr. Azam, having for long lost sight of her, found her a
     mother of a family, keeping a shop. Now and then, but more and more
     rarely, occurred what she called her _crises_--really relapses into
     her _primary_ condition. These were excessively inconvenient, since
     she forgot in them all the events of what was now her ordinary
     life, all the arrangements of her business, etc.; for instance, in
     going to a funeral, she had a _crise_, and consequently found it
     impossible to remember who the deceased person was. She had a great
     dread of these occurrences, though, by long practice, she had
     become very skilful at concealing them from every one but her
     husband; and the transition periods in passing from one state to
     another, during which she was completely unconscious, were now so
     short as to escape general notice. A peculiar feeling of pressure
     in the head warned her that the _crise_ was coming, and she would
     then, for fear of making mistakes in her business, hastily write
     down whatever facts she most needed to keep in mind.

     While the primary state lasted, she relapsed into the extreme
     melancholy and depression that characterised her early life, these
     being, in fact, now aggravated by her troublesome amnesia. She also
     lost her affection for her husband and children, and suffered from
     many hysterical pains and other symptoms which were much less acute
     in the secondary state. By 1887, however, the primary state only
     occurred every month or two, lasting only for a few hours at a




IV. A. From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. viii. p. 389; related by Mr.
Herbert J. Lewis, 19 Park Place, Cardiff.

     In September 1880, I lost the landing order of a large steamer
     containing a cargo of iron ore, which had arrived in the port of
     Cardiff. She had to commence discharging at six o'clock the next
     morning. I received the landing order at four o'clock in the
     afternoon, and when I arrived at the office at six I found that I
     had lost it. During all the evening I was doing my utmost to find
     the officials of the Custom House to get a permit, as the loss was
     of the greatest importance, preventing the ship from discharging. I
     came home in a great degree of trouble about the matter, as I
     feared that I should lose my situation in consequence.

     That night I dreamed that I saw the lost landing order lying in a
     crack in the wall under a desk in the Long Room of the Custom

     At five the next morning I went down to the Custom House and got
     the keeper to get up and open it. I went to the spot of which I had
     dreamed, and found the paper in the very place. The ship was not
     ready to discharge at her proper time, and I went on board at seven
     and delivered the landing order, saving her from all delay.


     I can certify to the truth of the above statement.


(Herbert Lewis's father),


  _July 14th, 1884_.

[Mr. E. J. Newell, of the George and Abbotsford Hotel, Melrose, adds the
following corroborative note:--]

_August 14th, 1884._

     I made some inquiries about Mr. Herbert Lewis's dream before I left
     Cardiff. He had been searching throughout the room in which the
     order was found. His theory as to how the order got in the place in
     which it was found, is that it was probably put there by some one
     (perhaps with malicious intent), as he does not see how it could
     have fallen so.

     The fact that Mr. H. Lewis is exceedingly short-sighted adds to the
     probability of the thing which you suggest, that the dream was
     simply an unconscious act of memory in sleep. On the other hand he
     does not believe it was there when he searched.


Can there have been a momentary unnoticed spasm of the ciliary muscle,
with the result of extending the range of vision? It may suffice here to
quote--that my suggestion may not seem too fantastic--a few lines from a
personal observation of a somnambule by Dr. Dufay.[217]

"It is eight o'clock: several workwomen are busy around a table, on
which a lamp is placed. Mdlle. R. L. directs and shares in the work,
chatting cheerfully meantime. Suddenly a noise is heard; it is her head
which has fallen sharply on the edge of the table. This is the beginning
of the access. She picks herself up in a few seconds, pulls off her
spectacles with disgust, and continues the work which she had
begun;--having no further need of the concave glasses which a pronounced
myopia renders needful to her in ordinary life;--and even placing
herself so that her work is less exposed to the light of the lamp."
Similarly, and yet differently, Miss Goodrich-Freer has had an
experience where the title of a book quite unknown to her, which she had
vainly endeavoured to read where it lay at some distance from her,
presented itself in the crystal. In such a case we can hardly suppose
any such spasmodic alteration in ocular conditions as may perhaps occur
in trance.

IV. B. This case was recorded by Professor W. Romaine Newbold of the
University of Pennsylvania, in a paper entitled "Subconscious
Reasoning," in the _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xii. pp. 11-20.

     I give the following extracts:--

     For [these] cases I am indebted to another friend and colleague,
     Dr. Herman V. Hilprecht, Professor of Assyrian in the University of
     Pennsylvania. Both occurred in his own experience, and I write the
     account of the first from notes made by me upon his narrative.

     During the winter, 1882-1883, he was working with Professor
     Friedrich Delitzsch, and was preparing to publish, as his
     dissertation, a text, transliteration, and translation of a stone
     of Nebuchadnezzar I. with notes. He accepted at that time the
     explanation given by Professor Delitzsch of the name
     Nebuchadnezzar--"_Nabû-kudûrru-usur_," "Nebo protect my mason's
     pad, or mortar board," _i.e._, "my work as a builder." One night,
     after working late, he went to bed about two o'clock in the
     morning. After a somewhat restless sleep, he awoke with his mind
     full of the thought that the name should be translated "Nebo
     protect my boundary." He had a dim consciousness of having been
     working at his table in a dream, but could never recall the details
     of the process by which he arrived at this conclusion. Reflecting
     upon it when awake, however, he at once saw that _kudûrru_,
     "boundary," could be derived from the verb _kadâru_, to enclose.
     Shortly afterwards he published this translation in his
     dissertation, and it has since been universally adopted.

     I quote this experience, in itself of a familiar type, on account
     of its interest when viewed in connection with the more curious
     dream next to be related. I was told of the latter shortly after it
     happened, and here translate an account written in German by
     Professor Hilprecht, August 8th, 1893, before the more complete
     confirmation was received.

     "One Saturday evening, about the middle of March, 1893, I had been
     wearying myself, as I had done so often in the weeks preceding, in
     the vain attempt to decipher two small fragments of agate which
     were supposed to belong to the finger-rings of some Babylonian. The
     labour was much increased by the fact that the fragments presented
     remnants only of characters and lines, that dozens of similar small
     fragments had been found in the ruins of the temple of Bel at
     Nippur with which nothing could be done, that in this case
     furthermore I had never had the originals before me, but only a
     hasty sketch made by one of the members of the expedition sent by
     the University of Pennsylvania to Babylonia. I could not say more
     than that the fragments, taking into consideration the place in
     which they were found and the peculiar characteristics of the
     cuneiform characters preserved upon them, sprang from the Cassite
     period of Babylonian history (_circa_ 1700-1140 B.C.); moreover, as
     the first character of the third line of the first fragment seemed
     to be KU, I ascribed this fragment, with an interrogation point, to
     King Kurigalzu, while I placed the other fragment, as
     unclassifiable, with other Cassite fragments upon a page of my book
     where I published the unclassifiable fragments. The proofs already
     lay before me, but I was far from satisfied. The whole problem
     passed yet again through my mind that March evening before I placed
     my mark of approval under the last correction in the book. Even
     then I had come to no conclusion. About midnight, weary and
     exhausted, I went to bed and was soon in deep sleep. Then I dreamed
     the following remarkable dream. A tall, thin priest of the old
     pre-Christian Nippur, about forty years of age and clad in a simple
     abba, led me to the treasure chamber of the temple, on its
     south-east side. He went with me into a small, low-ceiled room
     without windows, in which there was a large wooden chest, while
     scraps of agate and lapis-lazuli lay scattered on the floor. Here
     he addressed me as follows: 'The two fragments which you have
     published separately upon pages 22 and 26, belong together, are not
     finger-rings, and their history is as follows. King Kurigalzu
     (_circa_ 1300 B.C.) once sent to the temple of Bel, among other
     articles of agate and lapis lazuli, an inscribed votive cylinder of
     agate. Then we priests suddenly received the command to make for
     the statue of the god Ninib a pair of earrings of agate. We were in
     great dismay, since there was no agate as raw material at hand. In
     order to execute the command there was nothing for us to do but cut
     the votive cylinder into three parts, thus making three rings, each
     of which contained a portion of the original inscription. The first
     two rings served as earrings for the statue of the god; the two
     fragments which have given you so much trouble are portions of
     them. If you will put the two together you will have confirmation
     of my words. But the third ring you have not yet found in the
     course of your excavations, and you never will find it.' With this,
     the priest disappeared. I awoke at once and immediately told my
     wife the dream that I might not forget it. Next morning--Sunday--I
     examined the fragments once more in the light of these disclosures,
     and to my astonishment found all the details of the dream precisely
     verified in so far as the means of verification were in my hands.
     The original inscription on the votive cylinder read: 'To the god
     Ninib, son of Bel, his lord, has Kurigalzu, pontifex of Bel,
     presented this.'

     "The problem was thus at last solved. I stated in the preface that
     I had unfortunately discovered too late that the two fragments
     belonged together, made the corresponding changes in the Table of
     Contents, pp. 50 and 52, and, it being not possible to transpose
     the fragments, as the plates were already made, I put in each plate
     a brief reference to the other. (Cf. Hilprecht, 'The Babylonian
     Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania,' Series A, Cuneiform
     Texts, Vol. I., Part I, 'Old Babylonian Inscriptions, chiefly from


Upon the priest's statement that the fragments were those of a votive
cylinder, Professor Hilprecht makes the following comment:--

"There are not many of these votive cylinders. I had seen, all told, up
to that evening, not more than two. They very much resemble the
so-called seal cylinders, but usually have no pictorial representations
upon them, and the inscription is not reversed, not being intended for
use in sealing, but is written as it is read."

The following transliteration of the inscription, in the Sumerian
language, will serve to give those of us who are unlearned in cuneiform
languages an idea of the material which suggested the dream. The
straight vertical lines represent the cuts by which the stone-cutter
divided the original cylinder into three sections. The bracketed words
are entirely lost, and have been supplied by analogy from the many
similar inscriptions.

    Line 1.    Dingir N    inib du    (mu)      To the god Ninib, child
     "   2.    dingir      En-        (lil)     of the god Bel
     "   3.    luga        l-a-ni     (ir)      his lord
     "   4.    Ku-r        (i- galzu)           Kurigalzu
     "   5.    pa-         (tesi dingir Enlil)  pontifex of the god Bel
     "   6.    (in- na-    ba)                  has presented it.

I translate also the following statement which Mrs. Hilprecht kindly
made at my request.

"I was awakened from sleep by a sigh, immediately thereafter heard a
spring from the bed, and at the same moment saw Professor Hilprecht
hurrying into his study. Thence came the cry, 'It is so, it is so.'
Grasping the situation, I followed him and satisfied myself in the
midnight hour as to the outcome of his most interesting dream.[218]


At the time Professor Hilprecht told me of this curious dream, which was
a few weeks after its occurrence, there remained a serious difficulty
which he was not able to explain. According to the memoranda in our
possession, the fragments were of different colours, and therefore could
have scarcely belonged to the same object. The original fragments were
in Constantinople, and it was with no little interest that I awaited
Professor Hilprecht's return from the trip which he made thither in the
summer of 1893. I translate again his own account of what he then

"_November 10th_, 1895.

     "In August 1893, I was sent by the Committee on the Babylonian
     Expedition to Constantinople, to catalogue and study the objects
     got from Nippur and preserved there in the Imperial Museum. It was
     to me a matter of the greatest interest to see for myself the
     objects which, according to my dream, belonged together, in order
     to satisfy myself that they had both originally been parts of the
     same votive cylinder. Halil Bey, the director of the museum, to
     whom I told my dream, and of whom I asked permission to see the
     objects, was so interested in the matter, that he at once opened
     all the cases of the Babylonian section, and requested me to
     search. Father Scheil, an Assyriologist from Paris, who had
     examined and arranged the articles excavated by us before me, had
     not recognised the fact that these fragments belonged together, and
     consequently I found one fragment in one case, and the other in a
     case far away from it. As soon as I found the fragments and put
     them together, the truth of the dream was demonstrated _ad
     oculos_--they had, in fact, once belonged to one and the same
     votive cylinder. As it had been originally of finely veined agate,
     the stone-cutter's saw had accidentally divided the object in such
     a way that the whitish vein of the stone appeared only upon the one
     fragment and the larger grey surface upon the other. Thus I was
     able to explain Dr. Peters's discordant description of the two

Professor Hilprecht is unable to say what language the old priest used
in addressing him. He is quite certain that it was not Assyrian, and
thinks it was either English or German.

There are two especial points of interest in this case, the character of
the information conveyed, and the dramatic form in which it was put. The
apparently novel points of information given were:--

    1. That the fragments belonged together.
    2. That they were fragments of a votive cylinder.
    3. That the cylinder was presented by King Kurigalzu.
    4. That it was dedicated to Ninib.
    5. That it had been made into a pair of earrings.

6. That the "treasure chamber" was located upon the south-east side of
the temple.

A careful analysis reveals the fact that not one of these items was
beyond the reach of the processes of associative reasoning which
Professor Hilprecht daily employs. Among the possible associative
consequents of the writing upon the one fragment, some of the
associative consequents of the writing on the other were sub-consciously
involved; the attraction of these identical elements brings the separate
pieces into mental juxtaposition, precisely as the pieces of a
"dissected map" find one another in thought. In waking life the
dissimilarity of colour inhibited any tendency on the part of the
associative processes to bring them together, but in sleep this
difference of colour seems to have been forgotten--there being no
mention made of it--and the assimilation took place. The second point is
more curious, but is not inexplicable. For as soon as the fragments were
brought into juxtaposition mentally, enough of the inscription became
legible to suggest the original character of the object. This is true
also of the third and fourth points. The source of the fifth is not so
clear. Upon examining the originals, Professor Hilprecht felt convinced
from the size of the hole still to be seen through the fragments that
they could not have been used as finger-rings, and that they had been
used as earrings, but the written description which he had before him at
the time of his dream did not bring these points to view. Still, such
earrings are by no means uncommon objects. Such a supposition might well
have occurred to Professor Hilprecht in his waking state and, in view of
the lack of positive confirmation, it would be rash to ascribe it to any
supernormal power. The last point is most interesting. When he told me
this story, Professor Hilprecht remembered that he had heard from Dr.
John P. Peters, before he had the dream, of the discovery of a room in
which were remnants of a wooden box, while the floor was strewn with
fragments of agate and lapis-lazuli. The walls, of course, and ceiling
have long since perished. The location, however, of the room he did not
know, and suggested I should write to Dr. Peters and find out whether it
was correctly given in his dream, and whether Dr. Peters had told him of
it. Dr. Peters replied that the location given was correct, but, he
adds, he told Professor Hilprecht all these facts as long ago as 1891,
and thinks he provided him with a drawing of the room's relation to the
temple. Of this Professor Hilprecht has no recollection. He thinks it
probable that Dr. Peters told him orally of the location of the room,
but feels sure that if any such plan was given him it would now be found
among his papers. This is a point of no importance, however. We
certainly cannot regard the location as ascertained by supernormal

IV. C. From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xi. p. 505.

From Mr. Alfred Cooper, of 9 Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, W.

[This account was orally confirmed by him to Mr. E. Gurney, June 6th,
1888. It is written by Mr. Cooper, but attested also by the Duchess of

       *       *       *       *       *

A fortnight before the death of the late Earl of L----, in 1882, I
called upon the Duke of Hamilton, in Hill Street, to see him
professionally. After I had finished seeing him we went into the
drawing-room, where the Duchess was, and the Duke said to me, "Oh,
Cooper; how is the Earl?"

The Duchess said, "What Earl?" and on my answering, "Lord L----," she
replied, "That is very odd. I have had a most extraordinary vision. I
went to bed, but after being in bed a short time, I was not exactly
asleep, but thought I saw a scene as if from a play before me. The
actors in it were Lord L----, in a chair, as if in a fit, with a man
standing over him with a red beard. He was by the side of a bath, over
which bath a red lamp was distinctly shown."

I then said, "I am attending Lord L---- at present; there is very little
the matter with him; he is not going to die; he will be all right very

Well, he got better for a week and was nearly well, but at the end of
six or seven days after this I was called to see him suddenly. He had
inflammation of both lungs.

I called in Sir William Jenner, but in six days he was a dead man. There
were two male nurses attending on him; one had been taken ill. But when
I saw the other the dream of the Duchess was exactly represented. He was
standing near a bath over the Earl and, strange to say, his beard was
red. There was the bath with the red lamp over it. It is rather rare to
find a bath with a red lamp over it, and this brought the story to my

The vision seen by the Duchess was told two weeks before the death of
Lord L----. It is a most remarkable thing.

This account, written in 1888, has been revised by the [late] Duke of
Manchester, father of the Duchess of Hamilton, who heard the vision from
his daughter on the morning after she had seen it.

(Signed)     MARY HAMILTON.
             ALFRED COOPER.

     Her Grace had been reading and had just blown out the candle. Her
     Grace has had many dreams which have come true years after.


[The Duchess only knew Lord L---- by sight, and had not heard that he
was ill. She knew she was not asleep, for she opened her eyes to get rid
of the vision and, shutting them, saw the same thing again.]

An independent and concordant account has been given to me (F. W. H. M.)
orally by a gentleman to whom the Duchess related the dream on the
morning after its occurrence.

IV. D. From _Phantasms of the Living_, vol. i. p. 383. The following
account, which first appeared in a letter in the _Religio-Philosophical
Journal_, is from Dr. Bruce, of Micanopy, Fla., U.S.A. The case might be
called "collective," but for the fact that one of the dreams, though
vivid and alarming, was probably not so distinctive as was afterwards
imagined, and, moreover, was possibly dreamt on the night _preceding_
that on which the tragic event took place.

_February 17th, 1884._

     On Thursday, the 27th of December last, I returned from Gainesville
     (twelve miles from here) to my orange grove, near Micanopy. I have
     only a small plank house of three rooms at my grove, where I spend
     most of my time when the grove is being cultivated. There was no
     one in the house but myself at the time, and being somewhat
     fatigued with my ride, I retired to my bed very early, probably 6
     o'clock; and, as I am frequently in the habit of doing, I lit my
     lamp on a stand by the bed for the purpose of reading. After
     reading a short time, I began to feel a little drowsy, put out the
     light, and soon fell asleep. Quite early in the night I was
     awakened. I could not have been asleep very long, I am sure. I felt
     as if I had been aroused intentionally, and at first thought some
     one was breaking into the house. I looked from where I lay into the
     other two rooms (the doors of both being open), and at once
     recognised where I was, and that there was no ground for the
     burglar theory; there being nothing in the house to make it worth a
     burglar's time to come after.

     I then turned on my side to go to sleep again, and immediately felt
     a consciousness of a presence in the room, and, singular to state,
     it was not the consciousness of a live person, but of a spiritual
     presence. This may provoke a smile, but I can only tell you the
     facts as they occurred to me. I do not know how to better describe
     my sensations than by simply stating that I felt a consciousness of
     a spiritual presence. This may have been a part of the dream, for I
     felt as if I were dozing off again to sleep; but it was unlike any
     dream I ever had. I felt also at the same time a strong feeling of
     superstitious dread, as if something strange and fearful were about
     to happen. I was soon asleep again, or unconscious, at any rate, to
     my surroundings. Then I saw two men engaged in a slight scuffle:
     one fell fatally wounded--the other immediately disappeared. I did
     not see the gash in the wounded man's throat, but knew that his
     throat was cut. I did not recognise him, either, as my
     brother-in-law. I saw him lying with his hands under him, his head
     turned slightly to the left, his feet close together. I could, from
     the position in which I stood, see but a small portion of his face;
     his coat, collar, hair, or something partly obscured it. I looked
     at him the second time a little closer to see it I could make out
     who it was. I was aware it was some one I knew, but still could not
     recognise him. I turned, and then saw my wife sitting not far from
     him. She told me she could not leave until he was attended to. (I
     had got a letter a few days previously from my wife, telling me she
     would leave in a day or two, and was expecting every day a letter
     or telegram telling me when to meet her at the depôt.) My attention
     was struck by the surroundings of the dead man. He appeared to be
     lying on an elevated platform of some kind, surrounded by chairs,
     benches, and desks, reminding me somewhat of a schoolroom. Outside
     of the room in which he was lying was a crowd of people, mostly
     females, some of whom I thought I knew. Here my dream terminated. I
     awoke again about midnight; got up and went to the door to see if
     there were any prospect of rain; returned to my bed again, and lay
     there until nearly daylight before falling asleep again. I thought
     of my dream, and was strongly impressed by it. All strange,
     superstitious feelings had passed off.

     It was not until a week or ten days after this that I got a letter
     from my wife, giving me an account of her brother's death. Her
     letter, which was written the day after his death, was mis-sent.
     The account she gave me of his death tallies most remarkably with
     my dream. Her brother was with a wedding party at the depôt at
     Markham station, Fauquier Co., Va. He went into a store near by to
     see a young man who kept a bar-room near the depôt, and with whom
     he had some words. He turned and left the man, and walked out of
     the store. The bar-room keeper followed him out, and without
     further words deliberately cut his throat. It was a most brutal and
     unprovoked murder. My brother-in-law had on his overcoat, with the
     collar turned up. The knife went through the collar and clear to
     the bone. He was carried into the store and laid on the counter,
     near a desk and show case. He swooned from loss of blood soon after
     being cut. The cutting occurred early Thursday night, December
     27th. He did not die, however, until almost daylight, Saturday

     I have not had a complete account of my sister-in-law's dream. She
     was visiting a young lady, a cousin, in Kentucky. They slept
     together Friday night, I think, the night of her brother's death.
     She dreamed of seeing a man with his throat cut, and awoke very
     much alarmed. She awoke her cousin, and they got up and lighted the
     lamp and sat up until daylight. That day she received a telegram
     announcing her brother's death.

     I cannot give you any certain explanation of these dreams. I do not
     believe that they are due to ordinary causes, but to causes of
     which science does not at present take cognisance.


In reply to inquiries, Dr. Bruce says:--

_July 9th, 1884._

     I have never had another dream similar to the one related in the
     letter. I have at times had dreams that were vivid, or from some
     cause impressed themselves upon my mind for a time, such as any one
     would be likely to have. I cannot call to mind, though, any of
     special importance, or with any bearing upon the dream in question.

     I did not mention the dream to any one before receiving the letter
     confirming it. I live in rather a retired place in the country, and
     if I saw any one during that time to whom I would care to relate
     the dream, it did not occur to me to do so.

     You ask me how my wife knew of the circumstances of her brother's
     death. She was visiting her relatives in Va. at the time, and was
     present when her brother died.

The following account is from Dr. Bruce's sister-in-law, Mrs.

_March 28th, 1885._

     Whilst in Kentucky on a visit in the year 1883, I had a dream, in
     which I saw two persons--one with his throat cut. I could not tell
     who it was, though I knew it was somebody that I knew, and as soon
     as I heard of my brother's death, I said at once that I knew it was
     he that I had seen murdered in my dream; and though I did not hear
     how my brother died, I told my cousin, whom I was staying with,
     that I knew he had been murdered. This dream took place on Thursday
     or Friday night, I do not remember which. I saw the exact spot
     where he was murdered, and just as it happened.


     The Thursday and Friday night mentioned in this account are
     December 26th and 27th [27th and 28th], 1883. It was upon the
     Thursday night my dream occurred.


In reply to questions, Mrs. Stubbing says:--

     Yes, I saw one man cut the other. The wound was told to me to be
     just like what I had seen in my dream. I received a telegram
     announcing the death of my brother on Saturday morning. No, I never
     had any such dream as that before.

IV. E. I quote the following case from _Phantasms of the Living_, vol.
i. p. 425. The account was written by Mrs. T---- in 1883.

     On November 18th, 1863, I was living near Adelaide, and not long
     recovered from a severe illness at the birth of an infant, who was
     then five months old. My husband had also suffered from neuralgia,
     and had gone to stay with friends at the seaside for the benefit of
     bathing. One night during his absence the child woke me about
     midnight; having hushed him off to sleep, I said, "Now, sir, I hope
     you will let me rest!" I lay down, and instantly became conscious
     of two figures standing at the door of my room. One, M. N. (these
     are not the real initials), whom I recognised at once, was that of
     a former lover, whose misconduct and neglect had compelled me to
     renounce him. Of this I am sure, that if ever I saw him in my life,
     it was then. I was not in the least frightened; but said to myself,
     as it were, "You never used to wear that kind of waistcoat." The
     door close to which he stood was in a deep recess close to the
     fireplace, for there was no grate; we burnt logs only. In that
     recess stood a man in a tweed suit. I saw the whole figure
     distinctly, but not the face, and for this reason: on the edge of
     the mantelshelf always stood a morocco leather medicine chest,
     which concealed the face from me. (On this being stated to our
     friends, the Singletons, they asked to go into the room and judge
     for themselves. They expressed themselves satisfied that would be
     the case to any one on the bed where I was.) I had an impression
     that this other was a cousin of M. N.'s, who had been the means of
     leading him astray while in the North of England. I never saw him
     in my life; he died in India.

     M. N. was in deep mourning; he had a look of unutterable sorrow
     upon his face, and was deadly pale. He never opened his lips, but I
     read his heart as if it were an open book, and it said, "My father
     is dead, and I have come into his property." I answered, "How much
     you have grown like your father!" Then in a moment, _without
     appearing to walk_, he stood at the foot of the child's cot, and I
     saw _distinctly_ the blueness of his eyes as he gazed on my boy,
     and then raised them to Heaven as if in prayer.

     All vanished. I looked round and remarked a trivial circumstance,
     viz., that the brass handles of my chest of drawers had been rubbed
     very bright. Not till then was I conscious of having seen a spirit,
     but a feeling of awe (not fear) came over me, and I prayed to be
     kept from harm, although there was no reason to dread it. I slept
     tranquilly, and in the morning I went across to the parsonage and
     told the clergyman's wife what I had seen. She, of course, thought
     it was merely a dream. But no--if it were a dream should I not have
     seen him _as I had known him_, a young man of twenty-two, without
     beard or whiskers? But there was all the difference that sixteen
     years would make in a man's aspect.

     On Saturday my husband returned, and my brother having ridden out
     to see us on Sunday afternoon, I told them both my vision as we sat
     together on the verandah. They treated it so lightly that I
     determined to write it down in my diary and see if the news were
     verified. And from that diary I am now quoting. Also I mentioned it
     to at least twelve or fourteen other people, and bid them await the

     And surely enough, at the end of several weeks, my sister-in-law
     wrote that M. N.'s father died at C---- Common on November 18th,
     1863, which exactly tallied with the date of the vision. He left
     £45,000 to be divided between his son and daughter, but the son has
     never been found.

     Many people in Adelaide heard the story before the confirmation
     came, and I wrote and told M. N.'s mother. She was much distressed
     about it, fearing he was unhappy. She is now dead. My husband was
     profoundly struck when he saw my diary corresponding _exactly_ to
     the news in the letter I had that moment received in his presence.

Gurney adds the following note:--

     Mr. T. has confirmed to us the accuracy of this narrative, and Mrs.
     T. has shown to one of us a memorandum of the appearance of two
     figures, under date November 18th, in her diary of the year 1863,
     and a newspaper obituary confirms this as the date of the death. We
     learn from a gentleman who is a near relative of M. N.'s, that M.
     N., though long lost sight of, was afterwards heard of, and
     outlived his father.

I should not now take it for granted (as we did at the time when
_Phantasms of the Living_ was compiled) that the agent here "can
apparently only have been the dying man." I think it possible, in the
light of our now somewhat fuller knowledge, that M. N.'s spirit was
aware of his father's death,--even though possibly M. N.'s supraliminal
self may not have heard of it;--so that the invading presence in this
case may have been the discarded lover himself,--dreaming on his own
account at a distance from Mrs. T. The second figure I regard as having
been an object in M. N.'s dream;--symbolical of his own alienation from
Mrs. T. All this sounds fanciful; but I may remark here (as often
elsewhere), that I think that we gain little by attempting to enforce
our own ideas of simplicity upon narratives of this bizarre type.

IV. F. From _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. vi. p. 341.

Communicated by Fräulein Schneller, sister-in-law of the percipient, and
known to F. W. H. M., January 1890.

DOBER UND PAUSE, SCHLESIEN, _December 12th, 1889_.

     About a year ago there died in a neighbouring village a brewer
     called Wünscher, with whom I stood in friendly relations. His death
     ensued after a short illness, and as I seldom had an opportunity of
     visiting him, I knew nothing of his illness nor of his death. On
     the day of his death I went to bed at nine o'clock, tired with the
     labours which my calling as a farmer demands of me. Here I must
     observe that my diet is of a frugal kind; beer and wine are rare
     things in my house, and water, as usual, had been my drink that
     night. Being of a very healthy constitution, I fell asleep as soon
     as I lay down. In my dream I heard the deceased call out with a
     loud voice, "Boy, make haste and give me my boots." This awoke me,
     and I noticed that, for the sake of our child, my wife had left the
     light burning. I pondered with pleasure over my dream, thinking in
     my mind how Wünscher, who was a good-natured, humorous man, would
     laugh when I told him of this dream. Still thinking on it, I hear
     Wünscher's voice scolding outside, just under my window. I sit up
     in my bed at once and listen, but cannot understand his words. What
     can the brewer want? I thought, and I know for certain that I was
     much vexed with him, that he should make a disturbance in the
     night, as I felt convinced that his affairs might surely have
     waited till the morrow. Suddenly he comes into the room from behind
     the linen press, steps with long strides past the bed of my wife
     and the child's bed; wildly gesticulating with his arms all the
     time, as his habit was, he called out, "What do you say to this,
     Herr Oberamtmann? This afternoon at five o'clock I have died."
     Startled by this information, I exclaim, "Oh, that is not true!" He
     replied: "Truly, as I tell you; and, what do you think? They want
     to bury me already on Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock,"
     accentuating his assertions all the while by his gesticulations.
     During this long speech of my visitor I examined myself as to
     whether I was really awake and not dreaming.

     I asked myself: Is this a hallucination? Is my mind in full
     possession of its faculties? Yes, there is the light, there the
     jug, this is the mirror, and this the brewer; and I came to the
     conclusion: I am awake. Then the thought occurred to me, What will
     my wife think if she awakes and sees the brewer in our bedroom? In
     this fear of her waking up I turn round to my wife, and to my great
     relief I see from her face, which is turned towards me, that she is
     still asleep; but she looks very pale. I say to the brewer, "Herr
     Wünscher, we will speak softly, so that my wife may not wake up, it
     would be very disagreeable to her to find you here." To which
     Wünscher answered in a lower and calmer tone: "Don't be afraid, I
     will do no harm to your wife." Things do happen indeed for which we
     find no explanation--I thought to myself, and said to Wünscher: "If
     this be true, that you have died, I am sincerely sorry for it; I
     will look after your children." Wünscher stepped towards me,
     stretched out his arms and moved his lips as though he would
     embrace me; therefore I said in a threatening tone, and looking
     steadfastly at him with a frowning brow: "Don't come so near, it is
     disagreeable to me," and lifted my right arm to ward him off, but
     before my arm reached him the apparition had vanished. My first
     look was to my wife to see if she were still asleep. She was. I got
     up and looked at my watch, it was seven minutes past twelve. My
     wife woke up and asked me: "To whom did you speak so loud just
     now?" "Have you understood anything?" I said. "No," she answered,
     and went to sleep again.

     I impart this experience to the Society for Psychical Research, in
     the belief that it may serve as a new proof for the real existence
     of telepathy. I must further remark that the brewer _had_ died that
     afternoon at five o'clock, and was buried on the following Tuesday
     at two.--With great respect,

(Landed Proprietor).

The usual time for burial in Germany, adds Fräulein Schneller, is three
days after death. This time may be prolonged, however, on application.
There are no special _hours_ fixed.

In conversation Fräulein S. described her brother-in-law as a man of
strong practical sense and of extremely active habits.

We have received the "Sterbeurkunde" from the "Standesbeamte"
Siegismund, Kreis Sagan, certifying that Karl Wünscher died Saturday,
September 15th, 1888, at 4.30 P.M., and was buried Tuesday, September
18th, 1888, at 2 P.M.

       *       *       *       *       *

Herr Dignowity writes again, January 18th, 1890:--

     Frau Wünscher told me that the time of the burial was settled in
     the death-room immediately after Wünscher's death, because
     relations at a distance had to be summoned by telegram. Wünscher
     had suffered from inflammation of the lungs, which ended in spasm
     of the heart. During his illness his thoughts had been much
     occupied with me, and he often wondered what I should say if I knew
     how ill he was.

Finally, Frau Dignowity (born Schneller) writes from Pause, January
18th, 1890:--

     I confirm that my husband told me on the morning of September 16th,
     1888, that the brewer Wünscher had given him intimation of his




V.A.[219] The principal inorganic objects alleged to have elicited novel
sensations are running water, metals, crystals and magnets;--including
under this last heading the magnetism of the earth, as claimed to be
felt differently by sleepers according as they lie in the north-south or
in the east-west positions.

(1) The faculty of finding _running water_ has the interest of being the
first subliminal faculty which has been so habitually utilised for
public ends as to form for its possessors a recognised and lucrative

An exhaustive and impartial survey of the existing evidence for the
faculty of "dowsing" is given in Professor W. F. Barrett's two articles
"On the so-called Divining Rod" in the _Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. xiii.
pp. 2-282, and vol. xv. pp. 130-383.

From this it seems clear that this power of discovery is genuine, and is
not dependent on the dowser's conscious knowledge or observation. It
forms a subliminal uprush; but whether it is akin to _genius_, as being
a subconscious manipulation of facts accessible through normal sensory
channels, or to _heteræsthesia_ (as resting on a specific sensibility to
the proximity of running water), is a question which will be variously
decided in each special case. The dowser, I should add, is not
hypnotised before he finds the water. But (as Professor Barrett has
shown) he is often thrown, presumably by self-suggestion, into a state
much resembling light hypnotic trance. The perceptivity (we may say) of
central organs, in an unfamiliar direction, is stimulated by
concentrated attention, involving a certain disturbance or abeyance of
perceptivity in other directions.

(2) I next take the case of metallæsthesia,--that alleged reaction to
special metals which has often been asserted both in hypnotic and in
hysterical cases. As a definite instance I will take the statement made
by certain physicians attending Louis Vivé,[220] that while they
supported him during a hysterical attack a gold ring on the finger of
one of them touched him for some time and left a red mark, as of a burn,
of whose origin the patient knew nothing. It is further alleged--and
this is a quite separate point, although often confused with the
first--that gold is distinguished by some subjects under conditions
where no degree of sensitiveness to weight or temperature could have
shown them that gold was near.

Now, as to the first point, _e.g._ the Louis Vivé incident, I can
readily believe that the touch of gold, unknown to the subject's
supraliminal consciousness, may produce a redness, subsequent pain, etc.
All that is needed for this is a capricious self-suggestion, like any
other hysterical idea. This self-suggestion might remain completely
unknown to the waking self, which might be puzzled as to the cause of
the redness and pain. The second claim, however, involves much more than
this. If gold is recognised through a covering, for instance, or heated
to the same point as other metals, so that no sensation of weight or
temperature can help observation, this might possibly be by virtue of
some sensibility more resembling the attraction of low organisms to
specific substances whose chemical action on them we cannot determine,
or to particular rays in the spectrum. I am not convinced that this has
yet been proved; but I should not regard it as _a priori_ impossible.

Medicamentous substances have also been claimed by many different
hypnotists as exerting from a little distance, or when in sealed tubes,
specific influences on patients. The phenomenon is of the same nature as
the alleged specific influences of metals,--all being very possibly
explicable as the mere freak of self-suggestion.

(3) Considering in the next place the alleged sensibility of certain
persons to crystals and magnets,--known to be absolutely inert in
relation to ordinary men,--we should note the alleged connection between
the perception of magnets and that of running water.

Some experiments intended to test the reality of the "magnetic sense,"
and especially of the so-called "magnetic light"--luminous appearances
described by Baron Reichenbach as being seen by his sensitives in the
neighbourhood of magnets--were carried out by a Committee of the S.P.R.,
in 1883. After careful and repeated trials with forty-five "subjects" of
both sexes and of ages between sixteen and sixty, only three of these
professed to see luminous appearances.

The value of these experiments as evidence of a magnetic sense of
course depends primarily on whether the subjects had any means, direct
or indirect, of knowing when the current was made or broken. The
precautions taken to avoid this and the other conditions of the
experiments are described in detail in the report of them in the
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. i. pp. 230-37. See also a further note by the
Chairman of the Committee, Professor W. F. Barrett, vol. ii. pp. 56-60.

(4) And next as to the heteræsthesiæ alleged to be evoked by dead
organic substances, or by living organisms. We may begin by observing
that some of our senses, at any rate, form the subjective expression of
certain chemical reactions. But many kinds of chemical reactions go on
in us besides those which, for example, form the basis of our sense of
taste. And some persons are much more affected than others by certain
special reactions, which from a purely chemical point of view may or may
not be precisely the same for all. Some persons have a specific
sensibility to certain foods, or to certain drugs;--the presence of
which their stomach detects, and to which it responds with extraordinary
delicacy. Now, if it were an important object to discover the presence
of a certain drug, such a sensibility would be regarded as a precious
gift, and the discovery might be quite as valuable when made by the
stomach as it would have been if made by the nose. These are nascent
heteræsthesiæ, which, however, are not fostered either by natural
selection or by human care.

Of similar type are the specific sensibilities to the presence of
certain plants or animals,--familiar in certain cases of "rose-asthma,"
"horse-asthma," and discomfort felt if a cat is in the room. These
feelings have many causes. At one end there is ordinary mechanical
irritation by solid particles. At the other end of the scale there is,
of course, mere self-suggestion. But between the two there seems to be a
kind of sensibility which is not purely self-suggestive, and not exactly
olfactory, but resembles rather the instincts by which insects or other
animals discern each other's neighbourhood.

(5) It is perhaps through some such power of discrimination that effects
are produced on sensitive subjects by "mesmerised objects,"--assuming,
of course, that sufficient care has been taken to avoid their
discovering by ordinary means that the objects have been specially
manipulated in any way. See some experiments recorded in the
_Proceedings_ S.P.R., vol. i. pp. 260-262, and a description of
Esdaile's experiments with mesmerised water in vol. iii. p. 409; also
cases in the _Zoist_, _e.g._ vol. v. p. 129, and vol. v. p. 99.

(6) And now I pass on to medical clairvoyance, or the power of
diagnosing the present or past state of a living organism either from
actual contact or even in the absence of the invalid, and from contact
with some object which he has himself touched.

The early mesmerists, _e.g._ Puységur, Pététin, Despine, and Teste, all
had the utmost faith in the faculty of their subjects to see their own
disease and prescribe the right remedy. The same attitude of mind can be
traced all through the _Zoist_. Fahnestock was perhaps the first to
point out the ambiguity of this alleged introvision. "It is well known
to me," he says, "that when a resolution is taken, a belief cherished,
or a determination formed by persons while in the somnambulic state,
that, when they awake, although they may know nothing about it or
relative to it, they always do what has been so resolved or determined
upon at the time appointed or specified" (_Statuvolism_, p. 203), and he
quotes experiments to prove his point. With the knowledge we now possess
of the extraordinary power of self-suggestion in producing all kinds of
bodily symptoms, it is obvious that these cases cannot be adduced as
evidence of anything more. A typical instance of one of these early
observations is to be found in the _Zoist_, vol. x. p. 347. See also
Puységur, _Recherches sur l'Homme dans le Somnambulisme_ (Paris, 1811),
pp. 140 _et seq._ and 214 _et seq._; Pététin, _Electricité Animale_
(Paris, 1808); Despine, _Observations de Médecine Pratique_
(1838)--"Estelle nous a indiqué tous les soirs, dans sa crise, ce qu'il
y avait à faire pour le lendemain, tant pour le régime alimentaire que
pour les moyens médicamentaires" (p. 38).

V. B. Some of the most striking cases of moral reforms produced by
hypnotic suggestion are those recorded by Dr. Auguste Voisin. For

     In the summer of 1884, there was at the Salpêtrière a young woman
     of a deplorable type.[221] Jeanne Sch---- was a criminal lunatic,
     filthy in habits, violent in demeanour, and with a lifelong
     history, of impurity and theft. M. Voisin, who was one of the
     physicians on the staff, undertook to hypnotise her on May 31st, at
     a time when she could only be kept quiet by the strait jacket and
     _bonnet d'irrigation_, or perpetual cold douche to the head. She
     would not--indeed, she could not--look steadily at the operator,
     but raved and spat at him. M. Voisin kept his face close to hers,
     and followed her eyes wherever she moved them. In about ten minutes
     a stertorous sleep ensued, and in five minutes more she passed into
     a sleep-waking state, and began to talk incoherently. The process
     was repeated on many days, and gradually she became sane when in
     the trance, though she still raved when awake. Gradually, too, she
     became able to obey in waking hours commands impressed on her in
     the tra