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