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NEWSPAPER TESTS, ingenious experiments devised by seance-room communicators to exclude telepathy as an explanation. The Rev. Drayton Thomas in Some Recent Evidence for Survival publishes many remarkable instances as recorded in sittings with Mrs. Osborne Leonard. The method of the communicators was to give in the afternoon names and dates that were to be published in certain columns of next day's Times, or, if so requested, in coming issues of magazines. The information so obtained was immediately posted to the S.P.R. The results when verified were so much the more striking as neither the editor nor the compositor in the offices of The Times could tell at the hour when the communication was made what text would occupy the column mentioned in the next edition.
The following tests were given on February 13, 1920: 1. The first page of the paper, in column two and near the top the name of a minister with whom your father was friendly at Leek. (Perks was found, a name which was verified from an old diary).
2. Lower in this column, say one quarter down, appears his name, your own, your mother's and that of an aunt; all four within the space of two inches. (John and Charles were correctly found, then came the name Emile Souret which presumably suggested Emily and Sarah, his aunt and mother).
3. Near these the word "Grange." (It was not found.)
4. In column one, not quite half-way down, is a name which is your mother's maiden name or one very like it. (The maiden name was Dore, the name found Dorothea).
5. Somewhat above that is named a place where your mother passed some years of her girlhood. (Hants. Correct. Shirley, where she spent her girlhood, being in Hampshire).
6. Close to the foregoing is a name, which suggests an action one might make with the body in jumping. (Cummock, a bad pun: come knock).
7. Towards the bottom of the column one is named a place where you went to school. (Lincolnshire. Correct.)
9. There is a word close by which looks to your father like Cheadle. (Not found).
10. Higher in column one, say two-thirds down, is a name suggesting ammunition. (Found the ecclesiastical title Canon).
11. Between that and the teacher's name is a placename, French, looking like three words hyphened into one. (Braine-leChateau.)
12. About the middle of this page, the middle both down and across, is a mistake in print; it cannot be right. Some wrong letters inserted or something left out, some kind of mistake just there. (The word "page" printed imperfectly: "Paae").
Out of twelve items in this test two entirely failed, the others forecast at 3 p.m. the day previous to the publication of the paper were correct. At 6 p.m. a copy of this test was posted to the S.P.R. Inquiries at The Times revealed the fact that in some cases the particular notices referred to might have already been set up in type at the time of the sitting, in other cases they were probably not set up and in any case their ultimate position on the page could not be normally known until late in the afternoon. By the spirit of his father the following explanation was furnished to the Rev. Drayton Thomas: "These tests have been devised by others in a more advanced sphere than mine, and I have caught their ideas. I am not yet aware exactly how one obtains these tests, and have wondered whether the higher guides exert some influence whereby a suitable advertisement comes into position on the convenient date. I am able to sense what appear to me to be sheets and slips of paper with names and various information upon them. I notice suitable items and, afterwards, visualize a duplicate of the page with these items falling into their places. At first I was unable to do this. It seems to me that it is an ability which throws some light upon foretelling, a visualizing of what is to be, but based upon that which already is. Sometimes I see further detail upon visualizing which I had not sensed from the letters. I think there is an etheric foreshadowing of things about to be done. It would probably be impossible to get anything very far ahead, but only within a certain number of hours, and I cannot say how many. I scarcely think it would be possible to get a test for the day after the morrow, or, even if possible, that it could result in more than a jumble of the morrow's with a few of the day following. I think they should impress people more than book tests. It becomes clear that telepathy cannot explain; you find in the paper that for which you seek, but given in a form which you did not expect and about which you could, in the nature of the case, have known nothing. Two sets of memory are combined to produce them, my memories of long ago, and my memory of what I found this morning about preparations for the Press."
OBSESSION in psychiatry means that the mind of the patient is dominated by fixed ideas to which an abnormal mental condition corresponds. In psychical research, obsession is an invasion of the living by a discarnate spirit, tending to a complete displacement of normal personality for purposes of selfish gratification which is more or less permanent. The difference between mediumship and obsession is not in principle but in purpose, in duration and in effect. Mediumship, or to be more precise, trance possession, does not interfere with the ordinary course of life, does not bring about a demoralizing dissociation or disintegration, it shows consideration for the medium and its length is limited. After a certain time it ceases automatically and the medium's normal self, held in voluntary abeyance for the time being, resumes its sway.
Obsession is always abnormal, it is an accompaniment of a shock, organic lesion, or, in cases of psychics, of low morale and weakening will power, induced by an unstable character and debility of health. Once the existence of spirits is admitted the possibility of obsession cannot be disregarded. Perhaps, a lesser assumption is just as sufficient to point out the possibility.
"If we believe in telepathy" writes Dr. Hyslop in Contact with the Other World, "we believe in a process which makes possible the invasion of a personality by someone at a distance. "It is not at all likely," he says at another place, "that sane and intelligent spirits are the only ones to exert influence from a transcendental world. If they can act on the living there is no reason why others cannot do so as well. The process in either case would be the same; we should have to possess adequate proof that nature puts more restrictions upon ignorance and evil in the next life than in this in order to establish the certainty that mischievous personalities do not or cannot perform nefarious deeds. The objection that such a doctrine makes the world seem evil applies equally to the situation in the present life."
How are we to distinguish obsession from multiple personality? It was explained to Hyslop by the Imperator group of controls that even for the spirits it is sometimes difficult to state how far the subconscious self of the patient is acting under influence and suggestion from spirits or as a secondary personality. Nevertheless Hyslop found a highly satisfactory method to ferret out the truth in cross reference. He writes: "I take the patient to a psychic under conditions that exclude from the psychic all normal knowledge of the situation and see what happens. If the same phenomena that occur in the patient are repeated through the medium; if I am able to establish the identity of the personalities affecting the patient; or if I can obtain indubitably supernormal information connecting the patient with the statements made through the psychic, I have reason to regard the mental phenomena observed in the patient as of external origin. In a number of
cases, persons whose condition would ordinarily be described as due to hysteria, dual, or multiple personality dementia precox, paranoia, or some other form of mental disturbance, showed unmistakable indications of invasion by foreign and discarnate agencies."
This method is a revolutionary discovery. To reach the conviction of the reality of obsession which preceded it a long time was necessary. "Before accepting such a doctrine, says Hyslop in Life After Death, "I fought against it for ten years after I was convinced that survival after death was proved. But several cases forced upon me the consideration of the question. The chief interest in such cases is their revolutionary effect in the field of medicine. . . . It is high time for the medical world to wake up and learn something."
Prof. William James, shortly before his death, surrendered to the same belief. He wrote: "The refusal of modern enlightenment to treat obsession as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete experience in its favor, has always seemed to me a curious example of the power of fashion in things "scientific." That the demon theory (not necessarily a devil theory) will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain. One has to be 'scientific' indeed to be blind and ignorant enough not to suspect any such possibility."
It was the report of the Thompson-Gifford case in the American Proceedings which overcame his resistance to the idea of obsession. The short history of this famous case is this: Mr. F. L. Thompson, a Brooklyn goldsmith, was seized in 1905 with an irresistible impulse to sketch and paint. The style was plainly Robert Swain Gifford's style. This well-known American artist died six months previously but this fact was unknown to Thompson who hardly knew him and, except for a slight taste for sketching in his early years, never showed artistic talents. He had visions of scenes of the neighborhood of Gifford's country house and often had the hallucination that he was Gifford himself. He saw a notice of an exhibition of Gifford's paintings. He went in and heard a voice whisper: "You see what I have done. Can you take up and finish my work?" The desire to paint became stronger. Soon it was so overpowering that he was unable to follow his former occupation. He grew afraid that he was losing his sanity. Two physicians diagnosed the case as paranoia. One of them, without offering to cure it, expressed a desire to watch the progress of the malady. Thompson came to Prof. Hyslop for advice. He took him to three different mediums. They all sensed the influence of Gifford, described his character and life and confirmed the vague possibility which Dr. Hyslop wished to investigate that the case was not the result of mental disorder. As soon as the case was proved as spirit obsession, treatment was comparatively simple. Gifford was reasoned with and persuaded to desist.
The importance of this treatment is apparent. An obsessing spirit if driven out by strengthened willpower of the victim or by psychotherapeutic means, will seek and find another subject, but if it is convinced of the error of his ways the danger is eliminated. A systematic practice of curing obsession through such means was taken up by Dr. and Mrs. Carl Wickland in their Psychopathic Institute of Chicago. The patient was brought to Mrs. Wickland. She went into trance. Her controls influenced the obsessing spirit to step into Mrs. Wickland's body. If the obsessor was unwilling he was forced to do so by means known to the controls.
Dr. Wickland then began to parley with him, explained the position and usually ended in convincing the invader that he did a great wrong to himself by strengthening his ties to the earth. The invader promised to depart and the patient became normal.
Later Dr. Wickland moved to California and founded the National Psychological Institute for the treatment of obsession. His experiences are narrated in his book Thirty Years Among the Dead.
Similar work was done in The Temple of Light in Kansas City in 1910. Hyslop was so much impressed with the importance of this cure that he established a foundation in his will for the work. The headquarters of the James J. Hyslop Foundation for the Treatment of Obsession are in New York. Dr. Titus Bull is its director.
The obsessors are mostly earthbound spirits. They do not necessarily mean harm. All they wish is to enjoy earthly existence once again. But some of them may commit acts of revenge, or do other harm, owing to their ignorance. And if an evil personality gets into control, the obsessed may be driven to criminal, insane acts, just as the trance control will become perfect by practice the obsessor will feel more at home in the victim's organism after repeated possession and will settle as permanently as he can. Certain historic records suggest that obsession may attain an epidemic character. The case of the Ursuline Nuns of Loudon in 1632-34 appears to be such. Several of the nuns of the convent, including the Mother Superior, were seized with violent convulsions, symptoms of catalepsy and demoniac possession. Blasphemies and obscenities were pouring forth from their mouths, confessed to come from the devil. The cure, Urbain Grandier, was accused of grave immoralities, preceding the outbreak. The devils indicated him as the author of their troubles. He was burnt alive in April, 1634.
Obsessions by evil spirits were of frequent occurrence in Edward Irving's congregation in 1831. The bystanders rebuked the evil spirits and bade them to come forth. In one such case, recorded by Baxter, the possessed man when released by the "tongue" fell upon the ground crying for mercy, and lay there foaming and struggling like a bound demoniac.
In February, 1874, Franklin B. Evans was executed in Concord, N.H., for the murder of a twelve-years-old child. In his confession made just before his execution he said that "for some days before the murder I seemed to be attended continually by one who seemed to bear a human form, urging me on to the deed. At length it became fixed in my mind to take her life."
Hudson Tuttle, in Arcana of Spiritualism, describes a suicidal obsession as follows: "While sitting in a circle at the home of the venerable Dr. Underhill, I was for the time in an almost unconscious state, and recognized the presence of several Indian spirits. The roar of the Cayahoga River over the rapids could be heard in the still evening air, and to my sensitive ear was very distinct. Suddenly I was seized with a desire to rush away to the rapids, and throw myself into the river. As I started up someone caught hold of me, and aroused me out of the impressible state I was in, so that I gained control of myself. Had the state been more profound, and had I once started, the end might have been different. The desire remained all the evening."
Sometimes the obsession serves beneficial ends. An excellent instance is The Watseka Wonder, the case of Lurancy Vennum. Her malicious obsessors were forced out by the spirit of Mary Roff who departed from earth life eighteen years previously in the same city. Mary Roff lived in Lurancy Vennum's body, but in the house of her own parents for sixteen weeks and satisfied everybody of her identity. Her long inhabitation somehow made the body safe from malicious invasions and when she finally yielded its control to the returning ego of Lurancy Vennum the girl's health was mentally and physically re-established.
In the famous Beauchamp case, Sally, one of the four chief personalities, marked as B.III. showed evidence of obsession. The case was never treated as such. Sally, however, claimed to be a spirit, wrote automatically, had a will of her own by which she could hypnotize the other personalities, was always conscious and had no perception of time. She was the connecting link between the memories of the other personalities and was a mischievous entity.
She would go out in the country in the last car and leave the first self to walk home. She would put into a box spiders, toads or other animals to frighten the first self when she opened it, and she waged formal war on the fourth personality. An electric shock, like in the Wickland cases, had the effect of bringing about her eclipse but this fact was not sufficiently noted by Dr. Morton Prince.
In the Doris Fischer case Margaret, one of her five personalities, appeared to be a similarly mischievous entity. She would steal so that Doris would be blamed for the theft. She would hide her books at school so that she could not study her lessons. She would scratch the body of the real Doris until it bled, then go out and leave the normal personality to suffer the pain. She would eat the candy that Doris bought for herself. She would jump into a dirty river with clothes on that Doris should suffer from the filth which stuck to her. But she did not claim to be a spirit, she did not write automatically and showed no ignorance of time. It was with difficulty that her history was traced. Dr. Walter F. Prince succeeded in treating Doris Fischer sufficiently by suggestion to bring her from California to Boston. Hyslop took her to Mrs. Chenoweth. Dr. Hodgson came through when Mrs. Chenoweth went into trance and compared the case to that of Sally Beauchamp, remarking that it was "as important as any that Morton Prince ever had.." He knew the Beauchamp case from personal experience. He also communicated that a little Indian was connected with the case. Soon after, Doris developed automatic writing through the planchette. The little Indian personality manifested and gave her name as Minnehaha or Laughing Water. Later Mrs. Chenoweth's control, Starlight, found Minnehaha and in trying to give her name said: "I see, like a waterfall, just like water falling over and whether it is Water Fall or---something like that." Then she remarked: "She laughs after she shows me the water." Still later Minnehaha herself communicated and confessed a number of pranks she played upon the girl.
As a result of his 20 years' study of obsession at the head of the James Hyslop Institute Dr. Titus Bull published in 1932 some startling conclusions. He says:
"An obsessing personality is not composed of the soul, mind and will of one disembodied being, but is, in reality, a composite personality made up of many beings. The pivot obsessor, or the one who first impinges upon the sensorium of the mortal, is generally one with little resistance to the suggestions of others.
He or she, therefore, becomes an easy prey to those who desire to approach a mortal in this way.
". . . Some people, moreover, may be born with tendencies which make it easier for them to become victims of mental alterations later in life. . . There is an influence which can be exerted upon the minds of mortals by ideas embodied in thoughts from their departed ancestors. In other words, some departed ancestors, whenever possible, attempt to mould the lives of those incarnated who are akin... There is a type of mortal whose mind is easily influenced by the stronger minds of the family group. . . The more clannish the family group, the more likely is this to be true on both sides of the veil. It is, however, not to be considered as spirit obsession in the true sense.... The intervention of shock, however, or anything that could upset the nerve balance of a member of such family group, would place him in actual danger of becoming a victim of true spirit obsession. ... The primary obsessor, in this case, would likely be one who claimed the right by ties of blood, who had no desire to do anything but to keep the mortal in line with family ideals."
According to Dr. Bull obsessors "have three major points of impingement; namely, the base of the brain, the region of the solar plexus and at the center governing the reproductive organs. As there are three major points of impingement, it may be assumed that there can be three composite groups, each starting with a pivot entity. What satisfaction is to be gained this way includes the whole gamut of human emotions."
The pivot entities "upon which the mound of entity obsession is built" act as automatic channels for the others. Many of them were victims of obsession before their passing. Others may become obsessors "through the machinations or wiles of others." Not understanding what has happened to them they may be readily influenced to turn to obsession.
Another important point is "the possibility of obsessions passing on to the body of mortal pangs which were part of their own physical life." They retained in their memory the possibility of producing pain and as often they are unable to inhibit the production of it in the obsessed body, it must be beyond their control. "Therefore," states Dr. Bull, "it is a fair assumption to say that often the migratory pains of the living are caused by the memory pangs of the dead." The prime reason of why the production of pain should be beyond control is "the domination of another and more crafty entity who is using the pain-producer for his own purpose ... ."
Books on obsession: Dr. Justinus Kerner: Geschichten Besessener Neurer Zeit, Karlsruhe, 1834; Dr. C. H. Carson: Obsession; Dr. Peebles: Spirit Obsession: The Demonism of the Ages; Dr. Carl Wickland: Thirty Years Among the Dead, 1924; Godfrey Rauper: The Dangers of Spiritualism--The Supreme Problem; Dr. Titus Bull: Analysis of Unusual Experiences in Healing Relative to Diseased Minds and Results of Materialism Foreshadowed, 1932; Martin, Malachi: Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Americans, 1982.
PARAPSYCHIC PHENOMENA, a term coined by Boirac for "all phenomena produced in living beings or as a result of their action, which do not seem capable of being entirely explained by already known natural laws and forces." According to Boirac the term "psychical is not satisfactory because it is synonymous with mental." The prefix "para" denotes that it relates to exceptional, abnormal paradoxical phenomena. The term found general acceptance in Germany.
PERSONALITY means (1) the sum of the characteristics which make up physical and mental being, including appearance, manners, habits, tastes and moral character; (2) the characteristics that distinguish one person from another (this is equivalent to individuality); (3) the capacity for having mental states, i.e., possessing a stream of consciousness (Hyslop). For psychical researchers this last definition is of primary importance. The question of survival cannot be decided until the continuance of personality as a stream of consciousness is proved. A stream of consciousness is proof of the presence of a personality. The identity of this personality, however, is inseparably bound up with the faculty of remembrance. With a complete loss of memory a new personality will develop. If the former memory returns the new personality will disappear. It may be resuscitated by another attack of amnesia or under hypnosis, when it will act as an independent personality and tell his story. The case of Anselm Bourne, investigated by Professor William James and Dr, Richard Hodgson in 1890, is a good illustration. He suddenly lost his memory in 1887 in Providence, R.I., and eight weeks after awoke in Norristown, Pa., as a small shopkeeper. He knew nothing of Mr. Albert John Brown, the name under which he lived, neither of the shop nor of the business. In hypnosis the secondary personality came forward and his movements were satisfactorily traced from the moment of his disappearance.
This was a plainly degenerative case. Anselm Bourne suffered from a post-epileptic condition. He had fits of depression from childhood and in later life presented symptoms suggestive of epilepsy. Such degenerative instances are very numerous. A totally different group is presented by cases in which the secondary state is an improvement on the primary one. The case of Dr. Azam's patient, Felida X, is the best illustration. She was born at Bordeaux in 1843, exhibited symptoms of hysteria towards the age of 13, felt pains in her forehead and fell into a profound sleep from which she awoke in a secondary condition. Whereas in the primary case she was of melancholy disposition, constantly thought of her maladies and suffered acute pains in various parts of her body in the secondary state she appeared like an entirely different person, smiling and gay and feeling no pains. Such changes at first occurred every five or six days, they were very marked with a better, more complete development of her faculties. The memory in the secondary state was continuous. The state which she was in was her "raison" while the other was always her "crise." This secondary personality became ever more frequent and, relapses of short duration disregarded, slowly suppressed her "etat bete."
The various stages of hypnotic sleep to each of which a distinct train of memory may pertain, present the phenomenon of multiple personality in a simplified form. These personalities are of a shallow type. They are incomplete, transient and seldom able to carry on. Rarely, however, they exhibit a general superiority. The instance of Mrs. Anna Cora Mowatt, recorded by Epes Sargent in The Scientific Basis of Spiritualism is such. There is a case on record when the hypnotic personality actually suppressed the normal one. Marceline R., the patient of Dr. Jules Janet, was the subject of this curious medical experiment which saved untold miseries for an ailing girl who was doomed to die and made her happy.
An interesting series of changes of personality was observed by Col. Rochas in his experiments in regression of memory. By longitudinal passes he not only made the subjects trace back their past lives and assume the corresponding change in personality, but also took them back beyond birth into a former reincarnation which involved the manifestation of an entirely different and persistent personality.
A well-developed secondary personality is often followed by the appearance of other personalities. As many as eleven personalities were recorded in the case of Mary Barnes. They may come and go as in a tenement house. The best investigated case of multiple personality is discussed by Dr. Morton Prince in Dissociation of a Personality. It is the story of Miss Beauchamp who, under emotional shocks, developed four personalities. They were antithetic to the ordinary one. They not only differed markedly in health, in memories and knowledge of their own life, but they were formally at war. The third personality, Sally, was the most interesting. She had all the appearance of an invading, outside entity. She wrote her autobiography which claims conscious but suppressed existence for her right back to Miss Beauchamp's infancy. She had a will of her own, could hypnotize the other personalities, had no notion of time and exhibited complete tactile anaesthesia. She said persistently that she was a spirit. Dr. Prince attempted to weld the four personalities with hypnotic suggestion into one. Sally was bitterly resistant. After a long struggle and reasoning, however, she agreed to be "squeezed" out of existence and Miss Beauchamp was restored to one personality commanding the memories of her former selves with the exception of Sally.
The case of Sally suggests that the new personality may be an obsessing one, and not a cleavage of the medium's self. In the remarkable case of Doris Fischer five personalities had to be dealt with by her investigator, Dr. Walter F. Prince. They were called Real Doris, Margaret, Sleeping Margaret, Sick Doris and Sleeping Doris. Real Doris hardly had more than five minutes' conscious existence a day. The alternating personalities were veritably chasing each other for years. By admirable perseverance Dr. Prince finally effected a cure. When it was practically complete Professor Hyslop came on the scene and by taking the girl to Mrs. Chenoweth, he discovered, after several trance sittings, that Margaret was an obsessing entity. (See: Obsession).
In the October, 1931, issue of The Lancet a case of eight distinct personalities is recorded by Dr. Robert M. Riggall, clinical psychologist to the West End Hospital of Nervous Diseases, of London. They were: 1, Mabel, the patient herself, good, patient, moral and economical, without many faults, but usually unhappy. 2, Miss Dignity, who considered it her duty to do all in her power to hurt Mabel. 3, Biddy, bright, cheerful, laughing and helpful, 4, 5 and 6 Hope, Faith and Dame Trot, harmless, appearing seldom. 7, Miss Take, so named because she did not know when she first appeared what her name was, and added that she was just a mistake. 8, Another unnamed personality with an evil expression. Miss Dignity went so far in her hostility as to write a letter to Mabel, urging her to commit suicide and saying that she enclosed a packet of poison.
Slight causes, hunger, fatigue, slight poisoning by impure air, light fever, are sometimes sufficient to produce a transient perturbation of personality of the most violent kind. Robert Louis Stevenson, if ill or feverish, always felt possessed in part of his mind by another personality. According to Frank Podmore an over-indulgence in day-dreams is probably the first indication of a tendency to isolated and unregulated psychic activity which, in its more extreme form, may develop into a fixed idea or an obsession.
"As a crystal splits under the blow of a hammer when struck according to certain definite lines of cleavage, in the same way the human personality," writes Flournoy "under the shock of excessive emotions is sometimes broken along the lines of least resistance or the great structural lines of his temperament. A cleavage is produced between the opposite selves-whose harmonious equilibrium would constitute the normal condition-seriousness and gaiety; optimistic tendencies and pessimistic; goodness and egoism; instincts of prudery and lasciviousness; the taste for solitude and the love of Nature, and the attractions of civilisation, etc. The differences, in, which the spiritists see a striking proof of an absolute distinction between the spirits and their so-called instruments, awaken, on the contrary, in the mind of the psychologist the irresistible suspicion that these pretended spirits can be nothing but the products of the subconsciousness of the medium himself."
According to Myers the first symptom of disintegration of personality is an idee fixe, 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. In the second stage there is a confluence of these idees fixes overrunning the whole personality, often accompanied by something of a somnambulic change. This is the birth of the secondary personality from emotionally selected elements of the primary personality. It may attain a morbid intensity and it may lead to so-called demoniacal possession. In other cases an arbitrary development of a scrap of personality is responsible for the dissociation, its commonest mode of origin is from some access of sleep-walking, 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.
Sleep walkers may disclose a secondary personality as the acts in repeated spontaneous somnambulism form a chain of memory. Considering the wide power and infallible memory of the subconscious, Myers suggested that the conscious personality should be regarded a privileged case of personality, a special phase, easiest to study because it is accessible. Its powers of perception he similarly considered a special case of the subliminal faculties.
Myers believed that many phantasmal appearances may be explained by a peculiar dissociation of personality which he called "psychorrhagic diathesis." He thought that certain men may be born with an ability to dissociate elements of their personality which may affect certain parts of space and change it into a phantasmogenetic center in which then they appear to the percipients.
According to Geley (From the Unconscious to the Conscious) the root and original cause of multiple personality is the setting aside of the central direction of the self. This is brought about by a defect in the assimilation of the mental elements by the self. Without this defect of assimilative power there may be decentralisation but no personality worthy of the name will appear. But mediumistic personalities are in a distinct class. He thinks it probable that "there is in mediumship an action of intelligent entities, distinct from the medium."
PERSONATION, portrayal of alien personalities by a temporary assumption of their bodily and mental characteristics. It is a frequent psychical phenomenon and differs from trance possession in that it does not necessarily involve a loss of consciousness and personal identity. It is an impressive indication of the communicator's identity. Indication and not proof, in itself, as experiments in hypnotism suggest careful consideration in attributing the phenomena of personation to an outside intelligence. Under the effect of suggestion the subconscious displays surprising histrionic abilities. The hypnotized subject is not only capable of successfully imitating any suggested personality, but will even take on animal similitudes. Richet hypnotized a friend and suggested that he was a parrot. He asked him: "Why do you look preoccupied?" He answered: "How can I cat the seed in my cage?" Richet compares the phenomenon of personation to crystallisation from a saturated solution. Remembrances and emotions concentrate upon the personality invented like crystals form round a center.
Frank Podmore, in Modern Spiritualism, quotes a curious instance of personation verging on possession in which the subject of personation was alive. "Miss A. B. had a passionate love affair with a young man, C. D., and continued to cherish the belief, even after the young man's abrupt discontinuance of the acquaintance that he was still profoundly attached to her. A few weeks after the breach she felt one evening a curious feeling in the throat, as of choking, the prelude probably, under ordinary circumstances to an attack of hysteria. This feeling was succeeded by involuntary movements of the hands and a fit of long-continued and apparently causeless sobbing. Then, in the presence of a member of her family she became, in her own belief, possessed by the spirit of C. D., personating his words and gestures and speaking in his character. After this date she continually held conversation, as she believed, with C. D.'s spirit; "he" sometimes speaking aloud through her mouth, sometimes conversing with her in the inner voice. Occasionally "he" wrote messages through her hand, and I have the testimony of a member of her family that the writing so produced resembled that of C. D. Occasionally also, A. B. had visions in which she claimed to see C. D. and what he was doing at the moment. At other times she professed to hear him speaking or to understand by some inner sympathy his feelings and his thoughts." Podmore -believed the phenomena to be the dream of a hysterical girl.
Had C. D. been dead the case, as an after-death communication, would have looked very strong.
An excellent account of personation experiences is rendered by Mr. Charles Hill Tout, principal of Buckland College, Vancouver, in Proc. S.P.R. Vol. XI, pp. 309-16. On one occasion, during a seance, he was oppressed by a feeling of coldness and loneliness, as of a recently disembodied spirit. His wretchedness and misery were terrible, and he was only kept from falling to the floor by some of the other sitters. At this point one of the sitters "made the remark, which I remember to have overheard 'It is father controlling him,' and I then seemed to realize who I was and whom I was seeking. I began to be distressed in my lungs, and should have fallen if they had not held me by the hands and let me back gently upon the floor., As my head sunk back upon the carpet I experienced dreadful distress in my lungs and could not breathe. I made signs to them to put something under my head. They immediately put the sofa cushion under me, but this was not sufficient-I was not raised high enough yet to breathe easily-and they then added a pillow. I have the most distinct recollection of a sigh of relief I now gave as I sank back like a sick, weak person upon the cool pillow. I was in a measure still conscious of my actions, though not of my surroundings, and I have a clear memory of seeing myself in the character of my dying father lying in the bed and in the room in which he died. It was a most curious sensation. I saw his shrunken hands and face and lived again through his dying moments; only now I was both myself-in some distinct sort of way-and my father, with his feelings and appearance."
The flaw, from the viewpoint of the theory of an extraneous influence, is that Mr. Tout personated his own father with whose circumstances of death he must have been familiar. But many mediums re-enact the death-bed scenes of people they have never heard of and furnish, in the process, evidential details. This is a feature of the mediumship of Mrs. Newell of Lancashire. As a rule such re-enactments are accompanied with great suffering. The medium experiences the symptoms of illness and the agonies of the dying. The degree of verisimilitude is sometimes alarming.
Mrs. Conant was recorded once to have shown the signs of hydrophobia, she foamed at the mouth and snapped at the sitters. The man whom she personated died from the bite of a mad dog.
Psychometrists also exhibit this curious phenomenon. The object which they hold as a clue may establish a community of sensation with both men and beasts. Mrs. Denton, in describing her impressions from a fragment of mastodon teeth felt herself to be in the body of the monster, though of course she could not very well personate it.
Personation of a dying animal, through telepathic impact, is illustrated by Rider Haggard's vivid dream on the night when his dog, Bob, was struck and killed by a train. (See: Telepathy).
If the assumption of the bodily characteristics of the departed is effected by the adaptation of ectoplasm, as in materialization seances, the case is known as transfiguration.
PHONE-VOYANCE, psychic television, discovered as a special form of clairvoyance, by Vincent N. Turvey in 1905. It implies four things: Psychic vision, physical contact, the wires and instruments of a telephone company and simultaneity of clairvoyance with physical contact. The phenomenon is superior to physical television, as Turvey often described things which the listener at the other end of the telephone wire did not know, for instance, what his daughter was doing in the room above him, what a man behind his back was reading in a book. He not only saw things which actually were there, but also things habitually worn by his listener, although they may not have been on the listener at the particular time. Similarly, he could see spirits in the room of his listener. Once. he described the picture of a young lady known to the listener, but miles away, and told him that she was not dead and yet not actually in the room. Turvey possessed the faculty intermittently from 1905-1908. He found that it was a great strain on the brain and that its too frequent use would lead to very serious injury. In most cases he seemed to see "through a halo, or aura, of bright heliotrope, or pale violetcolored fire, the flashes or sparks of which do not appear to cover all the window, so to speak, but to leave the center clear and colorless, and in that center appears the person or object that is seen. Another extraordinary thing is that occasionally a part of my mentality seems to ooze out of me, and to run along the line fora little distance, say a yard or two; and as 'I' (his spirit) go, so little pieces of the copper wire which lay together, A-B, seem to turn over to B-A, i.e., reverse their position as if on a hinge. These pieces appear to be about four inches in length. At other times phone-voyance seems to be very like mental body-traveling, because 'I' appears to be in the room at the one end of the line, and by a sort of living cord to communicate with 'me' (his body) at the other end, and to make 'me ' speak about that which 'I' see."
W. T. Stead in his preface to Turvey's Beginnings of Seership, quotes the case of a professional music hall performer who trained the faculty of phone-voyance to such a perfection that it could be exercised at will under the most adverse conditions. The experiments were carried out by a committee of investigators between the Alhambra stage and the Daily Mirror office. Articles presented at random to Mr. Zomah (A. T. Giddings) by members of the committee in the Alhambra were immediately seen and described by his wife who was at the other end of the telephone in the newspaper office. The demonstration may have been simply long-distance telepathy but according to Stead-to judge from the reports that have been published, Mrs. Zomah actually saw the article which was held in her husband's hand at the other end of the telephone wire.
PLANETARY TRAVELS in trance form a romantic chapter in spiritualistic communications. Descriptions through inner vision or spirit enlightenment of conditions and life on the planets were first given by Swedenborg.
He said that the people of Mars are the best in the whole planetary system. Physiognomy, with them, is an expression of thought. They judge each other by it. They are God-fearing and the Lord sometimes appears among them.
Of the inhabitants of Venus Swedenborg said: They are of two kinds; some are gentle and benevolent others wild, cruel and of gigantic stature. The latter rob and plunder, and live by this means; the former have so great a degree of gentleness and kindness that they are always beloved by the good; thus they often see the Lord appear in their own form on their earth."
"The inhabitants of the Moon are small, like children of six or seven years old; at the same time they have the strength of men like ourselves. Their voices roll like thunder, and the sound proceeds from the belly, because the moon is in quite a different atmosphere from the other planets."
Planetary exploration in the, form of what appeared to be traveling clairvoyance was first recorded with Fraulein Romer, a German somnambule who at the age of 15 in November, 1813, was seized with convulsive attacks and developed mediumship. Dr. C. Romer describes, in his Ausführliche historische Darstellung einer höchst merkwürdigen Somnambule, Stuttgart, 1821, how the spirits of dead relatives but more often the spirit of a living companion, Louise, led the medium to the moon. She described its flora, fauna and inhabitants: spirits of the dead who spend there their first stage of existence in their progress to higher spheres. Dr. Romer claimed that the descriptions accord with the descriptions of Ennemoser's subjects.
The note of infantility which was struck in these first descriptions was successfully preserved in later adventures. Andrew Jackson Davis followed in the footsteps of Swedenborg. Victorien Sardou drew automatic sketches of houses and scenes on the planet Jupiter. Jacob, the Zouave, executed drawings of strange fruits and flowers which he said grew on the planet Venus.
Thomas Lake Harris, in Celestial Arcana, described the inhabitants on other planets of the solar system and also of some of the more remote fixed stars. He told of conversations he held with them. He further peopled space with aromal worlds which are 'generally associated with some material worlds, or suns, but do not form any part of them.
The rambling mind of loose statements and disclosures was replaced by an impressive revelation in the huge subconscious romance of Mlle. Helen Smith. Prof. Flournoy in From India to the Planet Mars, traced the birth of the Martian Cycle to chance remarks and the desire expressed by Prof. Lemaitre to know something of the mysterious planet. On November 25, 1894 "from the beginning Mlle. Smith perceived, in the distance and at a great height, a bright light. Then she felt a tremor which almost caused her heart to cease beating, after which it seemed to her as though her head were empty and as if she were no longer in the body. She found herself in a dense fog, which changed successively from blue to a vivid rose color, to gray, and then to black. She is floating, she says, and the table, supporting itself on one leg, seemed to express a very curious floating movement. Then she sees a star, growing larger, always larger, and becomes finally "as large as our house." Helen feels that she is ascending; then the table gives, by raps: "Lemaitre, that which you have so long desired" Mlle. Smith, who had been ill at case, finds herself feeling better, she distinguishes three enormous globes, one of them very beautiful. "On what am I walking?" she asks. And the table replies: "On a world-Mars." Helen then began a description of all strange things which presented themselves to her view, and caused her as much surprise as amusement. Carriages without horses or wheels, emitting sparks as they glided by; houses with fountains on the roof; a cradle having for curtains an angel made of iron with outstretched wings, etc. What seemed less strange, were people exactly like the inhabitants of our earth, save that both sexes wore the same costume formed of trousers, very ample, and a long blouse, drawn tight about the waist and decorated with various designs. The child in the cradle was exactly like our children, according to the sketch which Helen made from memory after the seance."
"We are struck by two points," says Prof. Flournoy in his analysis, "the complete identity of the Martian world, taken in its chief points, with the world in which we live, and its puerile originality in a host of minor details.... One would say that it was the work of a young scholar to whom had been given the task of trying to invent a world as different as Possible from ours, but real and who had conscientiously applied himself to it loosening the reins of his childish fancy in regard to a multitude of minor points in the limits of what appeared admissible according to his short and narrow experience. All the traits that I discover in the author of the Martian romance can be summed up in a single phrase, its profoundly infantile character."
Greater appreciation is shown by Prof. Flournoy for the Martian language which was not only revealed but also translated into French. He admits that it bears the stamp of a natural language. "I will add that in speaking fluently and somewhat quickly, as Helene sometimes does in somnambulism, it has an acoustic quality altogether its own due to the predominance of certain sounds, and has a peculiar intonation difficult to describe." On a closer investigation, however, it became clear that the inventor of the language had never known any other idiom than French and that the Martian phonetics was an incomplete reproduction of French phonetics. Yet it had features of its own, as a subliminal creation it was nothing short of marvelous. (For samples see: Xenoglossis.)
Owing to the critical remarks of Prof. Flournoy the subliminal romancer apparently resolved to eliminate the defects of the Martian revelations. An attempt was made to depict life in an undetermined planet still farther away than Mars seventeen days after the suggestion and strange visions were seen by the medium of a grotesque world, the language of which singularly differed from the Martian, the tallest people of which were three feet high, with heads twice as broad as high, living in low, long cabins without windows or doors but with a tunnel about ten feet long running from it into the earth. The language was absolutely new, with a very peculiar rhythm and with a construction totally different from French. But Prof. Flournoy saw no reason to change his opinion as to the earthly origin of both the Ultra-Martian and the Uranian language and writing. Of the still later Lunarian phase he obtained no first hand material.
In August, 1895, Helen Smith found a rival in America. Mrs. Smead made several revelations of the planets Mars and Jupiter, and after an incubation period of five years, burst forth in detailed descriptions which, however, according to Flournoy, presented "the same character of puerility and naive imagination as those of Mlle. Smith."
Fraudulent mediums also seized the thrilling subject. Isaac K. Funk, in The Widow's Mite, writes of a medium who impersonated "a lady eight feet tall from the planet Mars" by the use of a wire bust with rubber over it, and a false face. This was so arranged that it fitted snugly upon the shoulders of the medium and was inflated with air when in use. When not in use it could be made into a small package and easily concealed.
The number of mediums who, from time to time, have given descriptions of Martian life is very great. Eva Harrison's Wireless Messages from Other Worlds, London, 1916, even introduces us to planetary visitors from the constellation Orion. Perhaps - it is worth while to mention one prophetic communication of fairly recent date. Dr. Barnett, Valiantine's control, predicted that the Martians would get through to us before we get through to them. Before long, this will happen. In fact they are trying to communicate now.
Finally, for reasons of its curious features, the recent Martian romance of Dr. Mansfield Robinson should be mentioned. Through a Mrs. James he also obtained a Martian alphabet, claimed a Martian trance control, Oumaruru, for himself and poured forth a number of Martian revelations based on trance excursions to the red planet.
PLASTICS, supernormally obtained, divide into two groups: imprints and moulds. The first may be produced in any soft, yielding substance or on smoked or chemically treated surfaces; for the second, melted paraffin is employed.
Prof. Zöllner, in his experiments with Slade, placed a dish filled to the brim with flour under the table with the intention and hope that the hand which took hold of him might leave an impression in the flour, which indeed happened. The impression which Hellenbach testifies to have seen was that of a much larger hand than Slade's or others', while all their hands were without a trace of flour. Prof. Zöllner also obtained the imprint of a foot on two sheets of paper covered with lamp black between two closed slates.
The imprint of a hand with four fingers, the imprint of the two feet of a bird and of a materialized butterfly were obtained in the Valiantine- Bradley sittings in 1925 in England. Charles Sykes, the great English sculptor, was at a loss to give a normal explanation, Noel Jaquin, a fingerprint expert, was greatly puzzled. In 1931, however, the same experts claimed to have caught Valiantine in gross fraud. They smeared printing ink in secret on the modeling wax, stripped Valiantine after the seance and found a large stain on his left elbow with the lines of which the imprint corresponded. Other imprints were found identical with those of his toes.
Four different kinds of imprints of the same thumb were given by Walter Stinton, Mrs. Crandon's control, on August 9, 1931. One is normal negative, the second mirror-negative, the third positive, the fourth mirrorpositive. Humanly only negative imprints can be made. The rest are fourth dimensional.
Walter also gave his imprint on an enlarged scale, suggesting a giant's thumb and in October 1930 an independent imprint came through under strictly controlled conditions, from judge Charles Stanton Hill, a member of Margery's circle, who died on September 2, 1930. According to Captain Fife, the Boston fingerprint expert, the prints (three in number) resemble exactly a print made during his lifetime of Mr. Hill's right thumb. Another right thumb print came in July, 1931, and was also verified as that of Judge Hill.
Walter's ingenuity in devising these experiments is inexhaustible. Mr. Button, President of the A.S.P.R. got a Walter print within a sound-proof, padlocked box on marked plasticine. In July, 1931, and later in November, Walter produced thumb-prints which he declared explicitly to be those of Sir Oliver Lodge taken from the etheric body brought from 3,000 miles away. The prints were found identical with Sir Oliver's prints.
On March 9, 1932, Walter made a print "of an infant not yet born, but expected in a certain family." It was an imprint of a baby's foot. Walter even gave the names "Mary Jane" and "Mary and Jane." However, family reasons have made it impossible to obtain verification, and soon after an unexpected development put all of Walter's personal prints into a dubious light: they were found to be identical with those of Mr. "Kerwin," an early member of the Margery circle.
Eusapia Paladino produced hand and face imprints in putty and clay. They bore her own characteristics though she was held hand and foot at a distance from the tray while the impression was made. Numerous such plastics were obtained by Lombroso, Morselli, Chiaia and de Fontenay. She panted, groaned and writhed during the process. Flammarion was a witness of the phenomenon at Montfort-l'Amaury in 1897. He found it one of the most astonishing and impossible feats of Eusapia. The resemblance of the spirit head to Eusapia was undeniable. Yet she could not have imprinted her face in the putty. Besides having been controlled, Mme. Z. Blech kissed her upon both cheeks to find out whether her face has not the odor of the putty. The putty was on the other end of the table on a large and heavy tray and was invisibly transported and placed in the hands of M. Blech. Dr. Ochorowitz writes of his study of this curious phase of Eusapia's mediumship at Rome: "The imprint of this face was obtained in darkness, yet at a moment when I held two hands of Eusapia, while my arms were entirely around her. Or, rather, it was she who clung to me in such a way that I had accurate knowledge of the position of all her limbs. Her head rested against mine even with violence. At the moment of the production of the phenomena a convulsive trembling shook her whole body, and the pressure of her head on my temples was so intense that it hurt me." At another time "the medium was in a very good light: we were separated from her by a distance of from six to ten feet, and we perceived distinctly all the details. All of a sudden Eusapia stretched her hand out abruptly toward the clay, then sank down uttering a groan. We rushed precipitately towards the table and saw, side by side, with the imprint of the head, a new imprint, very marked, of a hand which had been thus produced under the very light of the lamp, and which resembled the hand of Eusapia."
The Chevalier Chiaia of Naples writes I have imprints in boxes of clay weighing anywhere between 55 and 65 Ibs. I mention the weight in order to let you see the impossibility of lifting and transporting with one hand so heavy a tray, even upon the supposition that Eusapia might, unknown to us, free one of her hands. In almost every case, in fact, this tray, placed upon a chair three feet behind the medium, was brought forward and placed very gently upon the table about which we were seated."
A curious feature of these imprints was that traces of texture were clearly visible in the outlines. This peculiarity agrees with Dr. Crawford's findings: the impression of psychic rods in soft clay nearly always showed marking identity with the fabric of the medium's stockings.
Haunting apparitions occasionally leave foot-prints behind. Capt. A. W. Monckton, F.R.G.S., saw them forming in brilliant illumination in the sand (Some Experiences of a New Guinea Resident Magistrate). A weird true story of the "Devil's hoof-marks" is told in Commander R. T. Gould's Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts, London, 1928. During the early morning of February 8, 1855, a series of strange imprints were found between Totnes-Topsham-Exmouth, a stretch of more than one hundred miles of the Devonshire Coast, England. They were seen by thousands of people everywhere: on the roofs of high buildings, outside the doors of dwelling houses, inside barns, on tops of haystacks. A clearly supernormal feature of the imprints was that they led into barns where the snow had drifted but had not returned, and apparently passing through the solid wall, continued on the other side of the obstruction. They were hoof-marks and formed a single track, exactly 81 inches between each impression, their size was four by four and three quarter inches and they could not be identified. The mystery was never cleared up. People in the rural district were afraid to go out after dusk for months.
The fiery imprints which, according to ancient chronicles, apparitions leave sometimes behind, also belong to this class. (See: Touches.)
The technical process of the production of paraffin casts is as follows: a bucket of hot and cold water are placed side by side. The hot water will melt the paraffin. If one dips a hand in and withdraws it, a thin shell of the liquid will settle and congeal on it. If the hand is dipped alternately into the hot paraffin and into the cold water the shell will thicken. When the hand is freed a glove is left behind. These gloves are very fragile. They must be filled with plaster of Paris for purposes of preservation. If then the paraffin is melted off the plaster discloses the fine texture of the skin. The hand which has been freed from the paraffin shell must be washed in soap and water before another experiment, else the second shell will stick to the fingernails. Altogether it takes about twenty minutes to deliver a finished shell. It stands to reason that the fingers of the hand must be held fairly straight, otherwise they will break the shell in the withdrawal. For the same reason no full cast, up to the wrist, can be obtained.
Now the peculiarity of the seance-room moulds is that they defy normal production. Fingers are bent, hands are joined, wrists show and the mould is fine and delicate, whereas those obtained from living hands are thick and solid. Their production is remarkably quick. ' With Kluski it did not take more than three minutes. Walter, in the Margery seances, took his time because he enjoyed the experiment but he dispensed with the cold water entirely. The impression which the process and the moulds leave in the mind is clearly as if the hands had evaporated, dematerialized and left the tell-tale casts behind.
The first paraffin casts were obtained by Prof. William Denton in 1875 in Boston with Mary M. Hardy. Mrs. Hardy produced the paraffin gloves in public halls. As means of control the dish of paraffin was weighed before the mould appeared and after. The difference corresponded to the weight of the mould. In later years another test was devised, locking up the liquid paraffin and cold water in a wire cage. After Prof. Denton, Epes Sargent made exhaustive investigation of this curious line of her psychic powers.
In England William Oxley produced the first psychic moulds in 1876 with Mme. dEsperance and later with Mrs. Firman and Monck. Similar success was registered with the Davenports, Eglinton and Miss Fairlamb at about the same period. T. P. Barkas of Newcastle had the ingenious idea of mixing magenta dye into the paraffin when making her experiments with Miss Fairlamb in 1876. On examination the gloves clearly showed the traces of the dye, proving thereby that they were not smuggled in ready-made.
Dr. Carter Blake, Mr. Desmond G. Fitzgerald and Mr. S. Tel published an attestation in The Spiritualist that on April 28, 1876, in ' London they obtained a mould in paraffin, reproducing exactly the right foot of Eglinton which had been kept in view the whole time by those present. On another occasion the mould furnished proof of spirit return. Owing to a slight characteristic deformity Dr. Nichols identified the cast of a child hand which he obtained with Eglinton.
"Bertie," a control of Dr. Monck, gave casts of his two hands. They were identical with those obtained through Mrs. Firman.
Aksakof observed that the plaster casts show a blend between the organism of the medium and the organizing force which produces the materialization. He said that Oxley made similar observations and quoted his letter: "It is a curious fact that one always recognizes in the casts the distinctive token of youth or age. This shows that the materialized limbs, whilst they preserve their juvenile form, evince peculiarities which betray the age of the medium. If you examine the veins of the hand you will find in them characteristic indications which indisputably are associated with the organism of the medium."
The Kluski gloves which are on view at the Institut Metapsychique in Paris, were obtained under stringent test conditions. Their thickness is less than a sixteenth of an inch, they show a tightness of the wrist and curiously bent position of the fingers. Charles Gabrielli, one of the best artistic moulders of Paris, gave a certificate that they could not be normally produced. Houdini and Sir Arthur Keith thought they knew better. But they failed when they tried to imitate them. In answer to the suggestion that they may have been prepared from inflated rubber gloves Geley produced some casts in this way. They also are on view. They are caricatures of hands. The charge that the gloves may have been- made previous to the seance could not be sustained as Geley secretly mixed cholesterin, a coloring substance, into the paraffin. The gloves, under chemical tests, show traces of this substance. Besides, in Warsaw Geley actually saw the hands dipping into the paraffin. "They were luminous, bearing points of light at the fingertips. They passed slowly before our eyes, dipped into the wax, moved in it for a few seconds, came out, still luminous, and deposited the glove against the hand of one of us. "
Strangely enough in one of the seances, when he was controlled, Kluski was discovered to have had direct supernormal contact with wax. His hand was smeared with -it after the light was turned up. Once, as he himself stated to Hewat McKenzie, he found pieces of congealed wax on his skin in the region of the abdomen.
A curious variety of plastics is the working of linen into the semblance of human features by psychic means. We find a well-detailed instance in the Stratford phenomena in Dr. Phelps' house of the appearance of eleven figures of "angelic beauty"; occasionally it is reported as a manifestation in haunted houses, cushions assuming the shape of human forms. There are also artistic efforts which fall under the heading of plastics, i.e., the precipitated direct paintings in which the paint appears in relief to give three-dimensional effects. Many such pictures are known. It is interesting to note that in one of the pastel pictures of John Alleyne (Capt. John Bartlett), the medium of the Glastonbury scripts, revealing the lost chapels, a fine detail is visible in the representation of the Gothic stonework of the interior of the, choir the normal rendering of which with chalk would be extremely difficult. Another noteworthy artistic effort in plastics is the bas-relief which Prof. Nell, the control of Frau Silbert, produced of his head on a plasticine plaque.
The varieties of plastic demonstrations are numerous. Mrs. Albert Blanchard, of Vermont, an American medium who died about 1873, in Minnesota, produced plastics by the deposit of sediment under water in a china dish. The facts are quoted by Bligh Bond in Psychic Research, October, .1930, as obtained from Dr. Horace Newhart, of Minneapolis, who had copies of the photographs taken. The system practiced by Mrs. Blanchard was to take a shallow china dish, into which a small amount of fine material, such as clay, was placed with sufficient water to cover it. She stirred the sediment with her fingers, and then let it settle. When the water evaporated it was found that the clay had assumed the outlines of a human face or head in low relief.
POSSESSION-a developed form of motor automatism in which the personality of the automatist is substituted by another, as a rule by a discarnate spirit. The possessing personality aims to establish communication through the organism of the entranced medium with this world by writing or speech.
The incipient stage of possession is personation during which the medium's own personality is still in the body but is assuming the characteristics of someone departed.
The next stage is partial possession, the excitation of the medium's motor or sensory centers by a discarnate agent either through the subconscious self or in some direct way. Myers suggested the word telergic as a correlative to telepathic for such action.
Full possession postulates the vacation of the organism by the medium to allow the entrance of another spirit. Alternating personalities offer the first suggestion of the possibility of possession. An arbitrary personality may possess the organism of the hypnotic subject at the hypnotizer's suggestion. Traveling clairvoyance in dreams points to the wandering of the spirit while the body is asleep. Cases of religious ecstasy in which an excursion is made into the spiritual world furnish another instance of the temporary separation of body and soul. Once we admit the possibility of the soul leaving the body, we have to admit the possibility of another spirit entering it.
Whether possession has actually taken place or whether it is a secondary personality which speaks through the organism this is a question of evidence. The evidence should be furnished by the nature and contents of the communications. The testimony of the medium is not available. As a rule he does not remember what has happened. Swedenborg remembered his excursions into the spiritual world but in his case there was no possession. The subjects of Cahagnet described heavenly visions in trance but there is not enough evidence to rule out the possibility that even when evidential communications from discarnate spirits were forthcoming they were not controlled by the subconscious self alone. Mrs. Piper never remembered her visions of the spiritual world and, the fragmentary utterances during her passing from trance to the waking life disregarded, she was the tool, for writing and utterances, of alien entities.
If no new knowledge is shown in the trance state there is no reason to ascribe the communication to an external intelligence. The character of the communicator alone does not furnish convincing proof. Secondary personalities are often hostile and antagonistic to the primary one, the cleavage might not be intellectual alone but also moral, therefore the difference between the normal self of the medium and the communicator does not necessarily clinch the case for possession. Supernormal knowledge which the medium could not have acquired, is an indispensable condition to prove the presence of an external spirit. Incoherence in the communicator does not militate against possession. It is rather in favor of it. If the spirit of the medium vacates the body his brain will be left behind in a dreamlike state. To control such a brain and to make it obey the will of the communicator may not only be an enervating process, but full of pitfalls and possibilities of confusion.
Taken as a phenomenon, possession presents to us the central mystery of human life. We are seeing a mind use a brain.
Possession is always temporary and implies a wilful surrender of his organism on the part of the medium.
If possession takes place against the will of the medium and endures in the waking state we witness the phenomenon of obsession.
The possibility of an instrumental test of possession was first suggested by Mr. Whately Smith. He advised the use of a galvanometer which measures the emotional reactions of the medium to a certain set of questions. The different controls, if they are different personalities, should exhibit different emotional reactions to the same questions. It was by such tests that the independence of Mrs. Garrett's controls was established at the John Hopkins University and at the New York Psychical Institute in 1933.
Is it possible that a materialized spirit should be possessed by another? Archdeacon Colley claims to have observed such a case in the mediumship of F. W. Monck. "Samuel," the guide of the medium, controlled the body of an Egyptian phantom, "the Mahedi," spoke through him in his own voice and wrote in English in his own characters (there were samples of direct writing available for comparison) in good idiomatic English of which the Mahedi himself could not utter a word.
For Possession by the living see: Control.
PSYCHIC FORCE. It was discovered by inquirers into spiritualism at an early stage that the human organism is in some mysterious way bound up with the seance room phenomena. A force was observed beyond the periphery of the body, with no physical contact. The researches of Reichenbach suggested Odic Force to Dr. E. C. Rogers of Boston in 1852. Professor Mahan, also in America, and Gasparin in France accepted it as such. Professor Thury called it ectenic force. Professor Mayo of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, postulated an exo-neural action of the brain. Serjeant Cox recommended the term "Psychic Force" and this euphemism is now in general use.
In a letter to Crookes, Serjeant Cox wrote in 1871:
I noticed that the force was exhibited in tremulous pulsations, and not in the form of steady, continuous pressure, the indicator rising and falling incessantly throughout the experiment. The fact seems to me of great significance as tending to conform the opinion that assigns its source to the nerve organization, and it goes far to establish Dr. Richardson's important discovery of a nerve atmosphere of various intensity enveloping the human structure. ... To avoid the appearance of any foregone conclusion, I would recommend the adoption for it of some appropriate name, and I venture to suggest that the force be termed Psychic Force; the persons to whom it is manifested in extraordinary power Psychics; and the science relating to it Psychism as being a branch of psychology."
"The theory of Psychic Force," he wrote at a later period, "is in itself merely the recognition of the fact that under certain conditions, as yet but imperfectly ascertained, and within limited, but as yet undefined, distance from the bodies of certain persons having a special nerve organization, a Force operates by which, without muscular contact or connection, action at a distance is caused, and visible motions and audible sounds are produced in solid substances."
The speculation of the existence of a nervous atmosphere to which Serjeant Cox alluded was expounded, by Dr. Benjamin W. Richardson, in the Medical Times, on May 6, 1871. As it came from a medical source, Crookes welcomed it; it agreed with his observations.
"I think I perceive," writes Crookes in his second report "what it is that this psychic force uses up for its development. In employing the terms vital force, or nervous energy, I am aware that I am employing words which convey very different significations to many investigators; but after witnessing the painful state of nervous and bodily prostration in which some of these experiments have left Mr. Home-after seeing him lying in an almost fainting condition on the floor, pale and speechless-1 could scarcely doubt that the evolution of psychic force is accompanied by a corresponding drain on vital force."
"A special sensation accompanies the emission of this nervous force, writes Maxwell, "and with custom the passage of the energy expanded in a seance can be felt, just as the interruption of the flow can be discerned."
Maxwell is inclined to discern four principal sensations in connection with the generation of the force:
1. The sensation of cool breezes, generally over the hands.
2. The sensation of a slight tingling in the palm of the hand, and at the tips of the fingers, near the mounts.
3. The sensation of a sort of current through the body.
4. The sensation of a spider's web in contact with the hands and face, and other parts of the body notably the back and the loins. The sensation of the passing of a current is feeble but the interruption is easily felt. It may even cause a sensation of sudden indisposition, if the interruption, by a sudden breaking of the chain, coincides with the phenomenon in the course of production.
Mrs. Leonard, in My Life in Two Worlds, writes of a visit to a materializing medium: "He (the control) instructed the sitter who sat at the extreme end of the left side of the horse-shoe, to release her left hand and throw it out towards him. She did sol and we could all see a stream of pale grey matter, like fog or steam from a kettle, oozing from her fingers. It was shaped like rods, about a foot long and an inch thick. The medium reached out his hands carefully towards the end of the rods, and seemed to try and coax the grey material to come farther away from the sitter, towards himself. The rods thinned slightly, as he induced them to extend, and after a couple of minutes the French control said, speaking through the medium again "No, not strong enough, link hands up, and close in the power again."
"I cannot help wondering," writes Harry Price in Rudi Schneider, "whether there is really anything in the curious stroking movements which Rudi (or Olga) makes during the height of the trance and when she is leaving us. She "gathers power" she says, by drawing his hands down my body and legs, or those of the second controller's. She 'released' it at the end of the seance by a similar movement, but in a reverse direction."
On the basis of his observations in the Goligher Circle Dr. Crawford elaborated a precise theory: "Operators are acting on the brain of the sitters and thence on their nervous systems. Small particles, it may even be molecules, are driven off the nervous system, out through the bodies of the sitters at wrists, hands, fingers, or elsewhere. These small particles, now free, have a considerable amount of latent energy inherent in them, an energy which can react on any human nervous system with which they come into contact. This stream of energised particles flows round the circle, probably partly on the periphery of their bodies. The stream, by gradual augmentation from the sitters, reaches the medium at high degree of c tension,' energizes her, receives increment from her, traverses the circle again, and so on. Finally, when the ' tension ' is sufficiently great, the circulating process ceases, and the energized particles collect on or are attached to the nervous system of the medium, who has henceforth a reservoir from which to draw. The operators having now a good supply of the right kind of energy at their disposal, viz., nerve energy, can act upon the body of the medium, who is so constituted that gross matter from her body can, by means of the nervous tension applied to it, be actually temporarily detached from its usual position and projected into the seance room." (Reality of Psychic Phenomena, p. 243.)
Walter, in the Margery sittings, always stated that he uses the brain of the sitters. His assertion was no novelty. The control of D. D. Home indicated the same source of power at an early period. The observations of Fere afford interesting speculations. He noticed that excitation of almost any kind tends to increase dynamometrical power. The average squeezing power, exhibited by educated students, was greater than that of robust laboring men. It is a tempting inference that it is not so much the developed muscle as the active brain which renders a sudden concentration of muscular power possible. The seat of psychic force should then be looked for in the brain and better and stronger phenomena should be obtained if the reasoning is quite correct, with intelligent and learned people than with mentally undeveloped ones.
Maxwell observed in his seances with Eusapia Paladino that there was a marked loss in dynamometric force not only on the part of the medium, but also on the part of the sitters at the end of the seance. Sometimes the loss amounted to six kilos on the right side and fourteen on the left. Crawford put both his sitters and his medium on the scale and found that the loss of weight of the sitters was, at the end of the seance greater than that of the medium. The sitters, lost, on an average, 5-10 ounces and were more exhausted than the medium. Admiral Moore complained of a drain on his vitality after his direct voice seances with Mrs. Wriedt. One of the reasons why Lord Adare retired from his researches with Home was that the seances physically exhausted him. Cromwell Varley, who assisted Crookes in his experiments with Florence Cook always felt depleted, while Crookes himself remained unaffected. Prof. Hyslop had to go to bed for two days after his first sitting with Mrs. Piper. Dr. Hodgson was markedly affected. Col. Rochas said, in describing the case of levitation with Eusapia Paladino in his home, "we ought to add that one of the persons who was quite close to the table (Maxwell, See: Mediums) almost completely fainted away, not from emotion, but through weakness, saying that he felt drained of' his strength as the result of Eusapia's efforts."
The method of the liberation of this vital force, the circumstances regulating the quantity of the supply, its use by the invisible operators of the seance room, its relation to ectoplasm, is little known. The force is subject to an ebb and flow. In some cases fasting or seclusion increase it, in some others a hearty meal. Psychological factors also enter to a great extent. In a calm, harmonious atmosphere it is more liberally generated. The operators speak of lines of force, of a vibratory synchronization. They often ask the sitters to change places and the results of such combination is frequently surprising. Fere stated that (' all our sensations are accompanied by a development of potential energy which passes into a kinetic state and externalizes itself in motor manifestations." This suggests why a skeptic whom the phenomena of the seance room leave cold and suspicious cannot witness strong manifestations. In the absence of sensations he may not contribute to the psychic power in the same proportion as other sitters do.
Certain bodies, as table, linen, wood, dresses, etc., appear to conduct the force. Perhaps this is why women's dresses so frequently bulge out and approach the table. It also appears that some of the nervous force or fluid settles in the seance room or in the objects in use. According to the statements of the controls once the seance room has become charged the manifestations are easier to produce at the next opportunity. They often protest against the use of the seance room for other purposes. Again, in other instances, for reasons of their own, they may not care to preserve the remains of the force.
Mrs. Spear, in an account given to F. H. Myers, described nocturnal disturbances in her house after a seance with Stainton Moses. "The servants heard so much pounding in the seance room that they felt frightened and went to bed as quickly as possible. We were told afterwards that so much power had been generated that the spirits had to make the noise to get rid of it." She also described a similar circumstance which occurred to her and Dr. Spear. Their bedroom door was violently shaken after they went to bed and they were afterwards told that a spirit had been attracted by the spiritual light over the house, and had used up power that had been left by shaking the doors.
Alexander, M. A., in his A Narrative with a Discussion, gives the evidence of a scientific friend and his wife in whose veracity he implicitly believed that physical phenomena transpired after Home had left their house. Chairs moved slowly across the carpet and set themselves beside his own. Dr. Down's wife was a witness to this astonishing phenomenon.
In the early mediumship of Mrs. Guppy, then Agnes Nichols, powerful phenomena were witnessed in the empty seance room afterwards. Displacement of furniture was recorded in the adjoining rooms in Foster's history. Robert Cooper writes, in Spiritual Experiences: "I have occasionally heard the furniture in the room where we had been holding a seance, in motion after retiring to bed ... On leaving a room in which I had been with Ira Davenport for the purpose of talking with the spirits a chair followed me into the passage, myself being the last to leave."
When a medium-visitor of Col. Rochas was shown into the room where Politi's seance-suit was lying folded up and where, unknown to her, the investigations with Politi were going on, she became almost immediately controlled by an adverse and highly disagreeable influence. Col. Rochas took up part of the suit and gave it to the medium. The effect was instantaneous, the controlling influence becoming violent and furious, and was thought to be the spirit of a deceased monk who sometimes got hold of Politi and damaged the conditions as much as he could.
In one of Dr. Crawford's photographs a vaporous substance seems to connect the medium with the various sitters. Whether it is ectoplasmic emanation or a nervous fluid he did not attempt to answer. Prof. Curie was pre-occupied with the idea of devising an instrument which could register and direct the liberated psychic power. His death cut his experiments short.
PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHS, furnish impressive proof of a variety of supernormal manifestations. Numerous experiments have been conducted to register on the sensitive plates emanations of the human body, a phenomenon on the borderline of the normal and S supernormal and to prove the existence of N rays, digital effluvium, ectoplasmic flow, aura, astral body and thought waves. On rarer occasions phantoms were photographed in haunted houses or, without light, in the darkness of the seance room; the objectivity of clairvoyant visions was proved and pictures in the crystal were said to have been caught by the camera. The majority of psychic photographs consist of flashlight records of psychic structures, psychic lights, materialized figures; and of spirit forms or representations invisible to the eye but obtained in daylight by so-called spirit photographers.
No group shows so many facets of mystery as this last. Spirit photography was accidentally discovered by William Mumler, an American engraver in 1861. To obtain the picture of a dead relative on an exposed plate is a strange experience in itself, but still more mysterious occurrences were witnessed and, paradoxical as it may sound, nothing caused greater bewilderment than the first spirit photograph which turned out to be the portrait of a living man. Those who suspected fraud from the first believed they had clinched their case. But no hue and cry stopped the fact from recurring.
Master Harrod, of N. Bridgwater, Mass, accompanied by his father, went to Mumler. Some months previously he was controlled in trance and a spirit told him that if he went to Mumler's studio three spirits would show themselves, representing Europe, Africa and America. After Mumler developed the plate which he had exposed, the face of a European, a Negro and an Indian confronted the sitter. "It then occurred to me, writes Mumler of a later sitting, "to take his picture while entranced, to see if I could get the controlling power; and to that end I asked if there was any spirit present would he please entrance the medium. In a few moments he threw his head back, apparently in a deep trance. I then adjusted the focus and exposed the plate, and took the picture as represented. The spirit seen here is undoubtedly his double as it is unmistakably a true likeness of himself."
Another American spirit photographer, Evans, was taking pictures in 1875 in the studio of Mr. A. C. Maxwell in New York. While he was busy with a customer, named Mr. Demarest, Mr. Maxwell was sitting asleep by the stove, some ten feet in the rear of where the camera stood. When the plate was developed Mr. Maxwell's face and full figure was discovered beside the sitter. The resemblance was unmistakable.
The success of the American medium photographers in taking pictures of the dead and of the living was quickly duplicated in England. Hudson, the first English spirit photographer appeared on the scene in 1872. Once he photographed the double of Frank Herne while the medium was in trance. His contemporaries, John Beattie and Thomas Slater were satisfied with psychic marks or with featuring the dead, while F. M. Parkes and Reeves obtained curious symbolic pictures on their plates. In France E. Buguet was ascending in fame. Comte de Bullet testified in Human Nature in a letter dated December 10, 1874, to have obtained on a plate in Paris the double of his sister who lived in Baltimore. Writing to Stainton Moses he said of the particulars:
"On New Year's Day I went to Buguet and said mentally: "You read my thoughts, my dear sister, and it would be a grand New Year's gift for me if you would come to me with all your children." When the operation was done she appeared on the plate with her three daughters. I sat a second time, and she came with her two boys, making in all her five children all perfect likenesses... On the plate with her daughters she appears holding a card on which is written: "Your desire is realized, receive the felicitations of my children," signed with her name. Here I would observe that M. Buguet did not know whether she had any children, nor how many, nor how they were divided -three girls and two boys."
At another sitting with Buguet the image of Comte de Bullet's sister appeared with her mother standing beside her. This was the fulfilment of a written promise on a previous plate by the sister to bring her mother. From a comparison of time it appeared likely that the ladies were asleep at the time the photograph was taken. Encouraged by these marvelous occurrences, Stainton Moses made arrangements that he would appear in spirit in Buguet's studio in Paris on January 31, 1875 while his body remained in London. On the first plate there was a faint image of Stainton Moses, on the second a perfect likeness. Writing in The Spiritualist (Vol. VI. 1875., p. 119) Stainton Moses says:
"There is no doubt whatever as to the fact that the
prit of a person whose body was lying asleep in London was photographed by M. Buguet in Paris. And there is no doubt that this is not a solitary instance. Nor do the communications which I have received respecting it from those who have never deceived me yet, leave any room for doubt that the spirit was actually present in the studio, and that the picture is not one of some image made up by the invisibles as is sometimes the case. "
When Buguet received a term of imprisonment on his own confession, the double was laid for a time. But interest in spirit photography was successfully sustained by Richard Boursnell and David Duguid till the advent of William Hope and Mrs. Emma Deane. Boursnell was brought to the attention of the public by William T. Stead. In an article in The Fortnightly Review on How I Know the Dead Return, he told the story of the spirit photograph of Piet Botha, the first Boer commandant killed at the siege of Kimberley. Boursnell described the presence of the spirit before the exposure of the plate and gave his name. Stead knew several Bothas, but none of the name of Piet. He kept the matter to himself. After the South African War he sent the photograph to General Botha. It was instantly recognized as a striking likeness of Pietrus Johannes Botha, a relative. Maskelyne in The Magic Mirror ridiculed the case and pointed out that Botha was killed on October 24, 1899. Four days later the news arrived in England and on October 28 his portrait was published in the Daily Graphic. According to Stead, however, this portrait bore not the least resemblance to the Piet
Botha of the Boursnell picture. It was not a reproduction from the Daily Graphic.
Boursnell and Duguid presented strange new problems. Mr. F. C. Barnes, a business man of Brisbane, Australia, visited Richard Boursnell in London in 1908. He was old, did not like to oblige his guest but with much difficulty he was persuaded. During the sitting he said: "There is a spirit of a beautiful lady here, who seems in a very bright light, and suffered greatly on earth." I concluded-writes F. C. Barnes - that it was my wife, and on receipt of the proofs was greatly disappointed to find it was not. I asked those present if they could recognize it." No, said a lady, "but it looks like royalty." Then Mr. Barnes suddenly remembered that in 1908 a friend lent him a book The Martyrdom of an Empress which made a deep impression on his mind and which contained a portrait in the frontispiece. He obtained a copy of the book for comparison. "The most surprising thing to myself, and which opens a large subject as to reflected thought-forms, is the absolute identity of the spirit photograph with the one in the book, even the cross worn there."
Mr. Brodie Innes, an Edinburgh solicitor, called on David Duguid and obtained a remarkable spirit photograph, a Cyprian Priestess of whom the impression was given to the medium that she was dedicated to the Temple of Venus in Cyprus. It was discovered by Mme. de Steiger, F.T.S., that the photograph was a copy of a German picture "Night" in Mr. Innes' possession.
It was always known that spirit photographs could be produced in many ways by fraudulent means. Experts say that there are at least 200 ways of producing "extras" by normal means. To mention one, bisulphate of quinine is invisible to the eye, but a skull painted on the forehead with this substance would appear afterwards on the plate. In 1908 the London Daily Mail decided to look into the matter and appointed a committee for the investigation of spirit photography. It consisted of six members: R. Child Bailey, F. J. Mortimer, E. Sanger- Shepherd, three skeptics and three believers: A. P. Sinnett, E. R. Serocold Skeels and Robert King. The result of the inquiry was negative, owing to-in the view of the latter three members-the unfortunate and impractical attitude adopted by those who had no previous knowledge of the subject.
In the meantime many supernormal claims have been put forward in spirit photography in America. Jay J. Hartman, of Cincinnati, obtained a certificate in 1876, signed by six professional photographers and other prominent people of his city as a result of a public investigation that his pictures could not be normally produced. The Seybert Commission planned to investigate spirit photography but it could not come to terms with W. M. Keeler.
Frank Foster, of Grand Rapids, Mich., took the sitter's portrait in the ordinary way and used the camera as a dark chamber afterwards for obtaining the spirit extra. According to judge Monck's testimony, quoted in James Coates' Photographing the Invisible: "I first sat for my picture and then went to the camera, and he placed his fingers on the same and I placed my fingers on his hand. He was in a quiver till a shock came, and he said: "That is sufficient." The case is, however, weak as the developed pictures were not handed to the judge until a few days later and he recognized none of the spirit extras.
Alexander Martin, of Denver, Colorado, produced groups of children and baby faces on his plates. They appeared in veritable clouds, often obliterating the face of the sitters, or in column-like formation like a tree. A personal investigation of Dr. Hyslop (Journal A.S.P.R., Vol. XIV, 1920), however, has led to no result.
The most convincing demonstrations were made by Edward Wyllie in California, and later in England. His powers were singular and showed a blending between psychometry and spirit photography, as he often found it possible to obtain a psychic extra by having an article of the departed sent to him and exposed to the camera. His extras were not restricted to human faces. Once he obtained the portrait of a large dog which was recognized by his sitter ... In a sitting in Manchester on March 22, 1910, the extra of a boy appeared on his plate beside the picture of Mr. A. W. Orr, who was for many years president of the Manchester Psychic Research Society. James Coates discovered that the boy was a child of a friend of his. He did not then know whether the boy had passed over, but found out in due time that he was very much alive. Wyllie, the medium, was unacquainted with his existence, never saw him and could not explain the occurrence.
"There are well-authenticated cases," writes Coates on the problem (Op. Cit.) "where the living subject could not be photographed. This has occurred with hypnotized subjects. Indeed, I have recently had the facts presented to me by Mr. Bailey, of Birmingham, where he failed to photograph Dr. Hooper when the latter was in a semi-trance state. The testimony in this case was most conclusive."
One of the most striking spirit photographs was produced by William Walker-the first man to obtain psychic extras in colors-in the Crewe Circle of William T. Stead on May 6th, 1912, twenty-two days after the latter's death in the Titanic. Walker visited Stead in September, 1911, to show him his album of psychic photographs. Stead desired that Walker should "keep him posted" in regard to future success. He did not get in touch with him afterwards and when the tragedy of the Titanic became known his wife told him: "You promised to keep Mr. Stead posted, but now it is too late." Walker replied: "Possibly he will comprehend why I did not write to him and send him copies as I promised but he will perhaps try to keep me posted." On May 6, 1912, Walker sat in Crewe for psychic photography. Strict test conditions were made, own plates used, one double dark slide. Surrounded by a white nebulous mass a very clear photograph of W. T. Stead was obtained with a circular inscription: "Dear Mr. Walker, I will try to keep you posted, W. T. Stead." The message was in Stead's handwriting which Miss Harper, Stead's secretary, found undoubtedly genuine.
The case introduces the problem of psychographs or psychical text printing on sensitive plates. One of its most curious instances as it occurred in Hope's mediumship is recorded in detail, with illustrations, in Prof. Henslow's The Proofs of the Truths of Spiritualism. To a member of the Crewe Circle the spirit offered to produce a Greek text on a chosen plate. The fifth plate was chosen and the packet was held unopened in the sitters' hands. The result was found, as indicated: a passage from St. Luke's Gospel as contained in a unique book, given by Cyril Lucar, of Constantinople, to Charles 1, and preserved in the British Museum. Comparison revealed that the psychograph was not a facsimile but a copy, inexact in the formation of the letters. The manuscript in the British Museum is inaccessible to near approach as the glass case is railed around.
To the question how all these miracles are done no satisfactory answer can be returned. Charges of trickery are often based on surmise and not on evidence. The Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures, which was largely composed of skeptical professional photographers, reported after hundreds of experiments (1919-1923) that they had received supernormal results but they have been unable to trace the, modus operandi. What is certain is that the modus operandi varies. The first thing which should be made clear is that the appearance of a portrait on the exposed plate is in itself no proof that a spirit was actually present. The portrait may not be more than an image to convey the message of continued existence. It may be the duplicate of an existing portrait or it may be one which was never taken, or it may be of people who have never been photographed. To furnish proof that the picture is meant as a representation only sometimes the invisible operators show the departed in various periods of his earth life.
So far everything is plain. But complications arise when evidence is furnished that the image is not independent of the subconscious influence of the sitter. The Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures has a case on record where the psychic picture of the deceased son of a sitter was found to be an exact but reversed duplicate of a photograph the sitter was wearing tucked away in her blouse in a locket. Even the rim of the locket could be seen.
A number of similar experiences have, from time to time, been recorded. From the spiritualistic viewpoint such pictures may be the result of planning and devising of ways by spirits to demonstrate multifarious power. But the acceptance of such views is a grave commitment in spite of the proofs that the power which produces these results is indeed remarkable. The lens and the camera appear to be of little importance. William Hope obtained psychic pictures on unexposed plates if he held them in a carrier, M. J. Vearncombe, of Bridgwater, impresses plates in sealed packets. In a similar manner Madge Donohoe produces a bewildering variety of "skotographs." The "radiographs" of Dr. Ochorowicz and the "chemicographs" of Guillaume de Fontenay mean the same thing: pictures produced without a camera. If several cameras are simultaneously focussed it often happens that only one registers the picture. As in nine cases out of ten the psychic extras are the same way up as the sitter it is legitimate to infer that the plate is only impressed after it has been put into the dark slide.
So little is known of the actual process that it would be too dangerous to generalize. There are many cases in which something extraneous appears to be presented to the camera: a materialized form, a simulacrum built on a psychic screen, or a text written in patches of ectoplasm. Again, the suggestion is often strong as if a psychic transparency were used to print a photograph, a painting, or quotation. Identical markings were found on spirit photographs from different parts of the world.
As a rule the spirit photographs are more animated and life-like than the original photographs. They differ in expression and are often accompanied by writing, sometimes very minute, or reversed, resembling mirror writing and often exhibiting the identical character which the departed used in this life. The draperies in which they are clothed remind one of the tradition of the "white sheeted ghost." A roll or arch of white substance appears over many psychic faces. It seems to form part of the building process, it may represent an enclosed space within which psychic forces are generated. A series of slides which Conan Doyle took with Hope give a glimpse of this process. The first photograph shows a sort of cocoon of thinly-veined, filmy material, tenuous as a soap bubble, nothing within. The second shows a face inside the cocoon and an opening down the center. The opening becomes larger and finally the face looks out with the cocoon festooned back and forming an arch over the face, and a hanging veil on either side of it.
Dr. Geley experimented with Mr. Stanley de Brath in supernormal photography. Shortly before he was killed in an aeroplane accident he intended to come to England to continue his studies. Mr. Stanley de Brath went to the sitting alone and on the fourth plate of a packet specially marked and kept in his possession, obtained a perfect portrait of Dr. Geley. On the evening of the following day to an inquiry through a medium, he received the following explanation: "He was at last calmed and put to sleep; his guide and helpers made the model and brought it. Conditions were so loving and desirous to help that the way was clear." It should be noted that this is a distinct statement that the picture was made from a model. Similarly we read in a message from Julia that the spirits prepare a mould which they impress upon the photographic plate. If they have a good mould they don't take the trouble to make another and reproduce the "copies" whenever they are wanted by dint of it. But this is contradicted in The Blue Island by the discarnate W. T. Stead, according to whom it is either the idea of a face in the control's mind, or the impression of the actual faces passed through a sheet of ectoplasm which gives the appearance of masks to many spirit photographs.
The "extras" seldom show relationship with the sitter. They are most often strange faces. Frequently the guide of the medium appears on the plate. His picture is usually clearer and more perfect. The origin of the unknown faces is uncertain. Sometimes they may be spirit entities en rapport with the place in question as it was reason to suppose in a curious period of Wyllie's mediumship. They may be trespassers nearer to the earth than the desired communicator and they may be produced by the strong emotional impressions left by a previous sitter. The state of the medium's health and the atmospheric conditions play an important part, also to some extent the mental atmosphere. In the case of Hope the average was one psychic image on every seven exposed plates. Hope preferred to use the plates the sitters brought. Mrs. Deane, an elderly working woman, on the other hand, insisted, for some time in her psychic career, on having them sent to her in advance for the purpose of "magnetizing" them. However, she produced psychic pictures on plates, which were substituted for the "magnetized" ones without her knowledge. The extras of John Myers are remarkably clear and well-defined, in which ' a reason for further suspicion was found when he was accused with fraud.
The spirit photographer often foretells success. He may be a clairvoyant and see and describe spirit faces, as Boursnell did and John Myers does, so that their identity can be compared afterwards. Or he may simply see lights about the sitter which is always considered a good sign. Laxity of mind on the part of the sitter is helpful. Tenseness, anxiety or antagonism makes success very doubtful. Some sitters, for reasons unknown, have an antagonistic influence. If Miss Wood, the materialization medium, sat for psychic photography, the collodion was always found scraped off the plate.
The actinic action of the spirit forms is peculiar. The extras appear at the moment the developing fluid touches them, while the figures of the sitters develop much later. With some mediums the exposure is supernormally long. Mrs. Deane sometimes takes 15 minutes to half an hour. Hope took less, Myers takes about seven minutes. No photographer has yet explained why such over exposed plates do not burn up. Nor does the mystery stop there. The plates may show the background and the extra but not a trace of the sitter. Sometimes even the background will be invisible or the background will show through the body of the sitter which had -been rendered transparent. The extra may have a different tone and color from the normal picture. In freakish cases it appears as positive or, in still more extraordinary instances, the sitter's picture is positive and the psychic extra negative.
In an experience of W. T. Stead a stereoscopic and an ordinary camera were simultaneously exposed. The stereoscopic camera showed a spirit form and the sitter in exact relationship, the ordinary camera only showed the sitter. Trail Taylor with David Duguid obtained extras which were not in stereoscopic relationship and showed no relief when viewed through a stereoscope. He concluded that the picture was not formed through the lens at all and was impressed within the camera.
Books on psychic photography: Personal Experiences of William H. Mumler in Spirit Photography; Miss Georgina Houghton: Chronicles of the Photographs of Spiritual Beings and Phenomena Invisible to the Material Eye, 1882; Andrew Glendinning: The Veil Lifted, 1894; Dr. H. A. Reid: Unseen Faces Photographed, 1901; T. S. Wilmot: Twenty Photographs of the Risen Dead, 1894; J. J. Morse: A Brief History of Spirit Photography; G. de Fontenay: La Photographie et l'étude des phénomènes Psychiques, 1912; Fernand Girod Pour Photographier les Rayons Humaines, 1912 James Coates: Photographing the Invisible, 1912 Conan Doyle: The Case for Spirit Photography, 1922 Budgets of the Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures; Dr. Foveau de Courmelles: La Photographie Transcendentale; Estelle W. Stead: Faces of the Living Dead, 1925; E. Imoda: Fotografie de Fantasmi; Prof. Lockwood: Scientific Analysis of Spirit Photography; T. Fukurai: Clairvoyance and Thoughtography.
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, a scientific inquiry into the facts and causes of mediumistic phenomena. Its first concern is to establish the occurrence of the claimed facts. If they are not due to fraud, observational error, the laws of chancel i.e., if they are found to occur, the next stage of the inquiry is to establish the reason of their occurrence, whether the known natural laws are sufficient to explain them or whether there is reason to suppose the action of unknown forces. The nature of this unknown force, the mode of its manifestation, has to be experimentally investigated. If it is not a blind force but operated by intelligence it has to be examined whether this intelligence is mundane. Not until every other explanation fails can the claim of a supermundane source be tested.
Psychical research performs the pioneering work for official silence. Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that it lays the foundations of the coming science. According to Geley it is the most complex of all sciences. Sir William Crookes considered it "a science which, though still in a purely nascent stage, seems to me at least as important as any other science whatever." The nascent stage has since been left far behind. The societies for psychical research and individual investigators have built up an impressive edifice of facts. Many of the first skeptical investigators, like Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor William Barrett, F. W. H. Myers and Professor Hyslop, have become firm believers in demonstrated survival. Many others remained hesitative, like Edmund Gurney, Prof. William James, Prof. Hans Driesch, Prof. E. C. S. Schiller, Prof. William MacDougall, Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, Camille Flammarion, Professor Richet, Dr. Gustave Geley, Hereward Carrington, Dr. Walter Franklin Prince, J. Malcolm Bird and Harry Price but very few could preserve the extreme skepticism which Frank Podmore evidenced. As a working theory the spirit hypothesis is now accepted by many psychical researchers. If the opposition of orthodox science is not yet yielding the reason is probably to be found in the observation of Mr. Stanley de Brath: "History shows that even in the case of normal and verifiable physical facts involving a departure from habitual modes of thought, a period of two generations usually elapses between the first verification and the general acceptance."
The history of psychical research officially dates from the establishment of the S.P.R. in 1882. But the foundations were laid much before by such pioneers as Prof. de Morgan, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace and William Crookes in England, Prof. Hare and Prof. Mapes in America. About twenty-five years before the S.P.R. was founded a few of the younger Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, started a Ghost Society very much on the lines of the S.P.R. The original document of the Cambridge Ghost Club is in the archives of the S.P.R. It is dated 1851, and the purpose is stated as "a serious and earnest inquiry into the nature of the phenomena vaguely called supernatural."
In 1875 Serjeant Cox founded the Psychological Society of Great Britain for the same purpose. A volume of Proceedings of the Society's work was published in 1878. Stainton Moses, C. C. Massey and Walter H. Coffin were among the members. When Serjeant Cox died in 1879 the society came to an end.
In 1878 the British National Association appointed a research council which carried on significant research work with well-known mediums of the day under strict test conditions.
It was after such a beginning that the Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882. The American S.P.R., founded in 1885, and the Boston S.P.R., founded in 1925, are representative bodies of the same standing. The National Laboratory of Psychical Research was established in 1925 and has been for some time, the European Headquarters of the A.S.P.R. Important work is carried on in the British College of Psychic Science and by the London Psychic Laboratory, the research council of the London Spiritualist Alliance. In France the Institut Metapsychique Internationale is the foremost center of scientific activity. An "Academia de Estudos psychicos 'Cesar Lombroso'" was founded in Sao Paolo in 1919.
Other research societies:
Ireland: Society for Psychical Research, Belfast.
Scotland: Glasgow Society for Psychical Research, Glasgow.
Austria: Osterreichische Gesellschaft fur Psychische Forschung (Austrian Society for Psychical Research), Vienna VIII. Josefstadterstr. 34, founded in 1927; Metaphysische Geselschaft, Vienna VIII. Alterstrasse 9.
Belgium: Societe Metapsichique Belge, 54 Ave. Hamoir a Uccle, Bruxelles.
Denmark: Danish Society for Psychical Research, Graabrodretoro 7, Copenhagen.
Germany: German Society for Psychic Research, Berlin-Helmsdorf, Albrechstrasse 33; Aerztliche Gesellschaft fur Parapsychologische Forschung.
Greece: Society for Psychical Research, Aristotelous St. 53, Athens.
Holland: Studievereeninging voor Psychical Research, Reggestraat 24, Utrecht.
Hungary: Parapszichologiai Tarsasag (Society for Psychical Research), II. Szasz Karoly u. 3, Budapest. Magyar Metapszichikai Tudomanyos Tarsasag (Hun
garian Society of Metapsychic Science (II. Csalogany u. 55 Budapest).
Italy: Societa di Studi Psichici, Via Carduci 4. Roma.
Poland: Metapsychical Society, Starowisina St. 21. Krakow.
Japan: Japanese Society for Psychic Science, Psychical Institute of Japan.
A department of psychical research has been established at Buenos Ayres University. There is a large foundation for the same purpose at the Californian Leland Stanford University -with a Fellowship in' Psychical Research. There is a Hodgson Fellowship in Psychical Research at Harvard University.