Excerpts from “On Mystic Perfections and Long-Distance Hypnosis”
It was 9:00 p.m., April 22, 1886. The four researchers—Ochorowicz,
Marillier, Janet, and A. T. Myers—crept quietly through the deserted streets
of Le Havre and took up their stations outside the cottage of Madame B.
They waited expectantly. Then it happened. “At 9:25,” Ochorowicz later
wrote, “I saw a shadow appearing at the garden gate: it was she. I hid
behind the corner in order to be able to hear without being seen.”1
At first the woman paused at the gate and went back into the garden. Then at 9:30 she hurried out into the street and began to make her way unsteadily toward the house of Dr. Gibert. The four researchers followed as unobtrusively as possible. They could see she was obviously in a somnambulistic state. Finally she reached Gibert’s house, entered, and hurried from room to room until she found him.
This was an experiment in long-distance hypnotic influence. Madame B., a person easily hypnotized, was the subject of many experiments arranged by Professor Pierre Janet and Dr. Gibert, a prominent physician of Le Havre. In these probes they were joined by F. W. H. Myers of the Society for Psychical Research, the physician A. T. Myers, Professor Ochorowicz of the University of Lvov, and M. Marillier of the French Psychological Society.
On this occasion the plan was that Dr. Gibert remain in his study and try to mentally summon Madame B. to leave her cottage and come see him. The cottage was about a kilometer from his house, and neither Madame B. nor any of the people living with her had been told that the experiment would take place. Gibert began issuing his mental commands at 8:55 p.m., and within half an hour she began her journey to his house. F. W. H. Myers wrote that out of twenty-five similar tests, nineteen were equally successful.2 This strange story tells of a kind of venture that meets with dis- approval both from modern science and from the Vedic literature. The reasons tell us something interesting about both.
Let me begin by discussing how Dr. Gibert’s experiment is seen by scientists.
We rarely hear much about people being able to influence others at a distance by mental commands. But many similar experiments have been performed. Here is another example from the late nineteenth century.
One Dr. Dufay was using hypnosis to treat Madame C. for periodic headaches and sickness that the usual medical treatments had failed to relieve. He found he was able to put her to sleep and awaken her by mental commands, sometimes at a distance.
On one occasion when called out of town, he arranged that Madame C.’s husband telegraph him when one of her headaches began and then report any later developments by a second telegram.
One morning at ten o’clock he received a telegram announcing that a headache had begun. So he mentally ordered the woman to sleep, and at four o’clock he ordered her to awaken. The husband telegraphed that she had gone to sleep at ten a.m. and awakened at four. The distance between Dr. Dufay and Madame C. was about 112 kilometers.3
Experiments of this kind fall within a field of study that early in the twentieth century was called psychical research and today is more often called parapsychology. This field deals with apparent powers of the human mind that are “paranormal,” or hard to explain using accepted physical theories. Distant mental influence is a classic example of such a power. . . .
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|1.||Vasiliev, L. L., 1963, Experiments in Distant Influence, London: Wildwood House, p. 211.|
|2.||Vasiliev, p. 213.|
|3.||Myers, F. W. H., 1961, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death, New York: University Books, Inc., p. 145.|
Copyright © 2004 by Richard L. Thompson