Frederic William Henry Myers.

Human personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 89)
Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






Cessas in vota frecesque,

Tros, ait, Aenea, assets? Neque enim ante dehiscent
Adtonitct magna or a domus. VIRGIL.

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







All rights reserved.

First Edition, February, 1903
Reprinted, March and June, 1903
September, 1904



/A? I








X. EPILOGUE .... . 278




INDEX 62 9



700. From the actions and perceptions of spirits still in the flesh, and con-
cerned with one another, we must now pass on to inquiry into the actions of
spirits no longer in the flesh, and into the forms of perception with which men
still in the flesh respond to this unfamiliar agency.

701. There has been no clear consensus of opinion as to the kind of evi-
dence which ought to be demanded if human survival is to be proved. My
object is to make that evidence at once clear in itself and continuous with
knowledge already acquired.

702. Considering in the first place the vague term " ghost," we cannot
accept the popular notion of a ghost as " a deceased person permitted by Pro-
vidence to hold communication with survivors."

703. What we must rather look for is a " manifestation of persistent per-
sonal energy," continuing after the shock of death. Such manifestations are
not specially likely to correspond with the romances of popular fancy.

704. We ought rather to look for possible analogies to such cases as we
already know where communication has been effected between widely different
phases of personality as between wakers and somnambulists, &c.

705. And reviewing both our experiments in automatism and our spon-
taneous phenomena, we find in each group three main classes of messages
namely, sensory hallucinations, emotional and motor impulses, definite intellec-
tual messages.

706. The same three classes meet us again in our analysis of apparently
post-mortem communications also.

707. Yet, though with these analogies in our favour, we need a somewhat
close discussion of the conditions which a visual or auditory phantasm is bound
to fulfil before it can be regarded as indicating primA facie the influence of a
discarnate mind. Such a discussion, based mainly on the time-relation between
the death and the apparition, is here quoted from Edmund Gurney.

708. Further inquiry into the limits of possible latency in the percipient's
mind of an impression received from a still living agent.

709. Consideration of special cases in which a hallucination occurring
shortly after a death already known might possess evidential validity.

710. Cases of recurrence of a phantasm, first about the time of death (the
death being unknown to the percipient), and then decidedly after the death had



711. Cases where the phantasm first occurs some hours after death. Exa-
mination of the hypothesis of latency in these cases.

712. It will be seen that we have here no simple problem of time-relations
between death and apparition. The ghost is a function of two variables : the
incarnate spirit's sensitivity, and the discarnate spirit's capacity of self-mani-
festation. The latter of these two factors affords the easier method of
arrangement; and we may arrange our apparitional communications in a
descending series, from cases showing the fullest knowledge or purpose to
cases where the indication of intelligence becomes feeblest.

713. We may begin with a case, anomalous and non-evidential, which
claims to represent the subjective sensations accompanying the transition from
earthly to spiritual life. 713 A. Case of Dr. Wiltse.

714. Repeated apparitions indicating continuous knowledge of the affairs
of earth after the spirit's departure ; case of Mr. Mamtchitch. 714 A. Case
of Miss Adie.

715. Single apparitions indicating knowledge of some post-mortem fact,
such as place of burial, &c.

716. Similar apparitions implying knowledge of the affairs of surviving
friends. Cases of : 716 A. Mrs. P. 716 B. Mr. D. 716 C. Mrs. V.

717. Cases where a departed spirit seems to show knowledge of the im-
pending death of a survivor ; case of Mr. G. Cases of : 717 A. Miss
Pearson. 717 B. Mr. Kingsbury. 717 C. Captain Norton.

718. "Peak in Darien " cases ; where a dying man perceives as spirits
certain persons of whose previous death he was not aware. Cases of:
718 A. Colonel . 718 B. Colonel Hicks.

719. Cases where departed spirits manifest their knowledge that some
friend who survived them has passed into the spirit world; case of Miss
Dodson. Cases of : 719 A. Mrs. Smith. 719 B. Mrs. Palliser. 719 C. Miss

720. Case of Mrs. Bacchus, in which the apparition of a deceased person
is seen in the house where the dead body of his wife is lying.

721. Cases where the deceased person manifests knowledge of some fact
connected with his own earth-life, especially his death and events connected
therewith; case of Miss Conley.

722. Cases where the deceased person shows knowledge of his previous
relations with a survivor (case of Baron von Driesen) ; or of intentions not
fulfilled. Cases of : 722 A. Mrs. Nery. 722 B. Dr. Binns.

723. In the case of Mrs. Storie, previously given, there are indications of
an intelligence other than the decedent's as concerned in the presentation of
her complex dream.

724. Cases where a compact to appear, if possible, had been made before
death ; the compact thus forming a definite fact which the deceased person
remembers. Possible mode in which such a compact may tend to fulfil

725. Instances of such compacts more or less precisely fulfilled. 725 A.
Case of Captain Colt.

726. Case of Mr. Reeves, in which the deceased person's impulse seemed
to be the fulfilment of an immediate engagement.

727. Further cases of engagement or compact fulfilled, although in
a deflected fashion ; that is, by an appearance to some one other than the


special person to whom the promise was made ; case of Countess Kapnist.
Cases of: 727 A. Mr. Bellamy. 727 B. Miss Money.

728. Persistence of effort on the part of the deceased person (728 A.
Case of Mr. Cabral) ; and case where the apparition indicates knowledge of
the deceased person's funeral. 728 B. Case of Mrs. B.

729. Cases where a vision presents to a survivor the aspect of the chamber
of death.

730. Cases where the condition of the deceased person's body is thus
presented ; case of Mr. D.

731. Cases where there are successive phantasmal pictures of a death and
of the subsequent arrangement of the body. 731 A. Case of Miss Hall.

732. Discussion of a case previously given (Mrs. Green's) where there is
apparently a mingled telepathic agency, proceeding both from the departed
and from the living, and presenting the scene of death.

733. Cases where the departed spirit seems preoccupied with the spot
where his bones are laid. Cases of : 733 A. Miss Atkinson. 733 B. Mr. Tyre.

734. Case of Mr. Tandy, where the departed spirit seems to be aware of
the arrival at a friend's house of the news of his own death.

735. In some cases depression is felt by the percipient from the time of his
friend's death until the news thereof reaches him ; in others a happy vision
preludes the news. 735 A. Case of Mr. King.

736. Further cases indicating some knowledge of this kind on the part
of the departed spirit ; case of Miss Q. Cases of : 736 A. Mrs. Davies.
736 B. Mr. Cameron Grant. 736 C. Miss M.

737. Apparitions which communicate no definite message. These may be
subdivided into personal and local, according as they appear to be intended to
impress special survivors, or, on the other hand, seem mere recurrences to
accustomed haunts.

738. Cases where a spiritual presence appears to seek out a surviving

739. Similar cases where the deceased person's phantasm appears in
scenes unfamiliar to him while on earth. Cases of: 739 A. Mr. Elliott.
739 B. Mrs. Clark. 739 C. Mr. Keulemans.

740. Occasional appearance of phantasms of the dead (of all types) to
several persons collectively. 740 A. Case of Miss W.

741. Cases where the impulse prompting to appearance may have been at
once personal and local ; case of Mr. Letts. 741 A. Case of Mrs. Crans.

742. Further cases of appearances to friends in familiar surroundings ; case
of M. Gore Booth. 742 A. Case of Mrs. Judd.

743. A phantasmal voice giving the news of death. 743 A. Case of Sister

744. Cases where the phantasmal figure, although sometimes recognised
by acquaintances in a familiar scene, may be thought to have obeyed a local
rather than a personal attraction; case of Mr. Bard. Cases of : 744 A. Miss
Farquharson. 744 B. Mr. J.

745. Apparitions locally conditioned, or hauntings. Cases of: 745 A.
General Becher. 745 B. Mrs. M. 745 C. Mr. Husbands. 745 D. Mrs.

746. Such apparitions may possibly be due to the results of past mental


747. Phantasmal sounds, non-articulate, but intelligent, apparently ascrib-
able to the agency of deceased persons; case of Mr. L. 747 A. Case of
Mrs. Home.

748. These sounds, although apparently analogous to Poltergeist pheno-
mena, rarely appear in connection with them.

749. Apart, however, both from inarticulate sounds and from Poltergeist
phenomena, there is much evidence to haunting; to the fact, that is, that in
many houses several persons have independently seen phantasmal figures more
or less resembling each other. Hypotheses of interpretation, suggested by
Mrs. Sidgwick.

750. In my own view, the phantasm may imply a local modification, not
of the material, but of the metetherial world.

751. And the apparent influence of certain houses in generating apparitions
may form part of the problem of retrocognition ; of phenomena now occurring
which recall and in some unknown way depend upon long-past events ;
whether as their sequel or as their residue. Cases of: 751 A. Miss Morton.
751 B. Miss Scott.

752. We have reached a point where our study of sensory automatisms
their time coincidences and their significant details has taught us for the
present nearly all it can ; while we crave for some more potent method of
analysis, some wider field of induction, if we are to meet the novel problems
which arise on every side. Such wider field is offered to us by the study of
motor automatisms, to which we must proceed in the next chapter.

753. One lesson of high importance rises so manifestly from the evidence
already studied that it calls for mention here. That world-old conception of
Evil Spirits, of malevolent Powers, which has been the basis of so much
causeless fear, melts from the mind altogether as we study the actual facts.

754. Other ethical indications, of lofty and at the same time evolutionary
type, occur incidentally in the course of our independent demonstration of the
profoundest cosmical thesis which we can conceive as susceptible of scientific

755. Appeal for further collaboration in this absolutely necessary quest.



800. The lines of evidence followed in previous chapters, and here briefly
recapitulated, are in themselves sufficient to justify the reader in provisional
acceptance of my primary thesis namely, that the analysis of man's person-
ality reveals him as a spirit, surviving bodily death. This point has been
reached by the discussion of phenomena, such as dreams and ghosts, already
vaguely familiar to the popular mind.

801. There are still, however, phenomena less familiar to the ordinary
reader which await discussion, and which will add greatly to the evidence for


my central contention. Prominent among these are motor automatisms ; and
it is important to understand which of such automatisms (after dismissing
morbid varieties) I retain here for discussion as evolutive phenomena.

802. Before answering this question in detail, we must realise the pre-
liminary theorem that it may be expected that supernormal vital phenomena
will manifest themselves as far as possible through the same channels as
abnormal or morbid vital phenomena.

803. To distinguish between the developmental and the degenerative we
must study each psychical phenomenon in turn ; considering whether it indi-
cates mere inhibition, mere perturbation; or whether the inhibition involves
latent dynamogeny, and the perturbation masks evolution.

804. Automatic movements may be scientifically more important than
conscious movements ; in fact, they lead up to those trance-utterances which
form in my view our most advanced phenomena.

805. We may begin by pointing out certain main characters which unite
in a true class all the automatisms which we are here considering. They are
idiognomonic and nunciative.

806. Example of simple form of nunciative automatism in muscle-reading.
The unconscious tremor reveals both my thought and my memory.

807. Case of nunciative or message-bearing automatism in words written
in obedience to post-hypnotic suggestion.

808. Illustration from the dynamometer of automatic transformation of
will into motion.

809. Simple motor externalisation of subliminal thought in table-tilting.

810. The automatist no doubt unconsciously sets going and stops such
movements ; but the word which is thus spelt out is by no means always
what he wished or expected. Other indications that the tilts are subliminally

811. A more elaborate form of automatic gesture inspires what are called
" spirit-drawings." 811 A. Mr. Wilkinson on spirit-drawings.

812. Before entering on the impending subject of automatic writing, I inter-
rupt my exposition to introduce two historical cases of automatism, one of them
inhibitory, one dynamogenic, which add to my subject the dignity of the great
names of Socrates and Joan of Arc. The automatisms of Socrates are now
capable of coherent explanation.

813. The monitions of the Daemon of Socrates consisted mainly in saga-
cious inhibitions.

814. There is also some slight indication of Socratic telepathy, clairvoyance,

815. Joan of Arc an example of monitory impulse ; her voices (not always
clearly externalised) impel her irresistibly to the noblest doings. 815 A. Mr.
A. Lang on Joan of Arc.

816. These two great historical cases illustrate the furthest extent of the
claim that can be made for the agency of the subliminal self in similar auto-
matisms; apart from telepathy or possession.

817. They launch us on our subject with the consciousness of two diffi-
culties. We have to decide for each case first, whether we are to call it
sensory or motor ; then, whether we are to attribute its origination to the auto-
matist's or to some other mind. It is antecedently likely that the subliminal
self will sometimes express its messages in terms (so to say) of profound


organic modifications. Cases of : 817 A. Dr. N. 817 B and C. Mrs. Had-
selle. 817 D. Lady de Vesci.

818. The inhibitory impulses may sometimes relate to exceedingly trivial
matters. Cases of : 818 A. Mrs. Verrall. 818 B. Mrs. Elliott.

819. Or a sudden inhibition may be combined with a corresponding im-
pulse ; case of Dr. Hodgson finding five-leaved clover. 819 A. Case of Dr.
Guebhard finding bifid fern.

820. Sometimes the impulse may conceivably be explained by a subcon-
scious perception or interpretation. Case of Mr. Wyman.

821. A similar case where the sense of smell may have played a part.
Case of Mr. C. W. Moses. 821 A. Case of Mrs. Gray.

822. Another case, possibly due to smell or sense of varying resistance in
the air. Mr. Wait.

823. A similar case, perhaps attributable to excessive tactile sensibility.
Mr. W.

824. A case of inhibition which seems beyond explanation by hyperaes-
thesia, and suggests telaesthesia or spirit guardianship. Dr. Parsons.

825. We next come to cases involving massive motor impulses to various
actions. Case of Mr. Garrison. 825 A. Case of Mr. Skirving.

826. Innate predisposition to motor automatisms of various kinds. Scheme
of increasingly specialised motor phenomena. Rise of automatic writing.
Edmund Gurney and W. Stainton Moses. My own experience.

827. Automatic writing a mode of experiment harmless in itself.

828. Classification of contents of messages.

829. Most automatic script originates in the automatist's own brain. Mr.
H. A. Smith's cases.

830. Reference to anagrams in the " Clelia " case. 830 A. The " Clelia "

831. Case of Professor Sidgwick's friend.

832. Mr. Schiller's case (832 A) ; appearance of fictitious personalities,
although neither invited nor credited by the automatist. 832 B. Case of Sceur

833. Case of Madame X. An unusual combination of various motor

834. The cases just described lead up to Professor Flournoy's case of
" Helene Smith."

835. Mile. Smith an example of continuous and complex subliminal menta-
tion going on in a perfectly healthy and normal organism.

836. Her alleged reincarnations.

837. The Martian language.

838. Reversion to previous epochs of life.

839. Possible sport of spirits.

840. Mile. Smith's " teleological " automatisms.

841. Indications of supernormal faculty.

842. Possible telepathy from the dead. The Chessenaz case.

843. We now pass on to cases of phenomena much more clearly super-
normal. Telepathy obtained through table-tilting. Cases of: 843 A. Pro-
fessor Richet. 843 B. Mr. G. M. Smith.

844. I give next cases of automatic writing, the first of which (Mrs.
Moberley's) shows indications of telepathy.


845. Telepathic cases simulating prophecy ; e.g., that of Miss Summerbell.

846. Answers to questions written correctly, although not as the agent
supraliminally intended; case of Mr. Allbright.

847. Another telepathic case, involving the agent's subliminal thoughts.
Mr. Riddell.

848. Our most striking case is a long series of telepathic communications
between Mr. and Mrs. Newnham.

849. Mrs. Newnham writes automatically answers to unspoken questions
by Mr. Newnham. 849 A. Case of Mrs. Newnham.

850. A similar but shorter series is given in the next Appendix. 85O A.
Case of Mr. Buttemer.

851. The next case shows occasional telepathy, mingled with fragments of
apparent clairvoyance and premonition. 851 A. Case of Lady Mabel Howard.

852. A case of communication through table-tilting from a distant agent.
Mrs. Kirby. 852 A. Case of M. Auguez ; prediction of death. 852 B.
Signer Bonatti's automatic writing; telepathy from a distant living agent.

853. Transitional cases ; information purporting to come from deceased
persons, but more probably derived telepathically from the living ; case of Mr.

854. Message purporting to come from a deceased person who was found
to be living ; case of Mr. Long.

855. Case of automatic writing reproducing experimentally the thoughts of
the persons present.

856. Statement through table-tilting of incident occurring at the time in a
neighbouring house. Professor Alexander's case.

857. Telepathy may produce erroneous statements through the agent's
thoughts being reproduced as matters of fact. 857 A. Case of Professor H.

858. Dr. Ermacora's experiments with a sensitive, Maria Manzini. 858 A.
Her automatic writing gives the contents of a letter which reached her next

859. The information may be derived from discarnate spirits though not
necessarily from those alleged in the communications. The communicators
may deliberately veil their identity, and may also have access to sources of
knowledge remote even to themselves. 859 A. These problems are exemplified
in the automatic writings of Miss A.

860. In these and other retrocognitive cases, it is difficult to decide
between the hypotheses of " cryptomnesia " and spirit-control.

861. Mr. Wedgwood's experiments with Mrs. R. ; case of communications
purporting to come from Colonel Gurwood (who died in 1845).

862. Another retrocognitive case of the same kind through Mrs. R.,
namely : 862 A. The " David Brainerd " case.

863. But retrocognitive messages referring to matters easily accessible in
print (e.g. Mr. Moses' case of musical composers, giving dates of their lives),
even if genuine, may be attributed to clairvoyance on the part of the automatisL

864. A resemblance of the handwriting to that of the deceased person is
sometimes alleged, but must be received with caution. 864 A. Professor Rossi-
Pagnoni's experiments at Pesaro.

865. Another case of alleged resemblances of handwriting, which also
illustrates the spontaneous recurrence of the same problems with automatists
of many different types, namely : 865 A. Case of Mrs. Underwood.


866. Cases where the writing announces a death unknown to the persons
present ; instance reported by Dr. Lidbeault.

867. In another case, partially correct details about the death are added.
867 A. Case of Mdlle. Stramm.

868. Sometimes telekinetic phenomena seem to be associated with the
announcement of a death. 868 A. The Pe're'liguine case. 868 B. Case of
Mr. F. Hodgson. 868 C. Ref. to " Woodd knockings."

869. Cases where correct details unknown to the automatist are given
regarding a death which is known to him. 869 A. Case of Mrs. Fitzgerald.
869 B. The Skrytnikoff case.

870. A communication corresponding, not to the knowledge of the sitters,
but to what was known to the alleged communicator before death. 870 A.
Case of Signer Cavalli.

871. Automatic writing by a child, showing faculties superior to those she
normally possessed, with some writing in languages unknown to her. 871 A.
Mr. Junor Browne's case.

872. Writing by a young child who had no knowledge of her letters.
872 A. Mr. Hempstead's case.

873. A series of writings by Mr. W., with indications of subliminal telaes-
thesia, and telepathy both from the living and from the dead. 873 A. Another
experience of Mr. W.'s.

874. A prediction given through table-tilting of the precise date of a death.
874 A. Dr. Suddick's case.

875. Example pointing to continued terrene knowledge on the part of a
deceased person ; case of Mrs. von Wieseler.

876. A test message planned before death and communicated afterwards;
case of Mrs. Finney. 876 A. Case of Prince Emile Wittgenstein ; message
about missing will. 876 B. Dr. Knorr's case : message about missing note.

877. Desirability of planning beforehand communications to be made after
death as a test of personal identity. 877 A. Note on posthumous letters.

878. The evidence as to motor phenomena here set forth confirms and
extends the conceptions to which the cognate sensory phenomena pointed ;
the expansion of normal leading on to the development of supernormal
faculties. The motor phenomena suggest more strongly than the sensory the
hypothesis of " psychical invasion," which, if sufficiently prolonged, becomes
a persistent " control " or " possession."

879. When the subliminal self is affected by a telepathic impact which
works itself out by automatic movements, it becomes a question whether the
movements are executed by the subliminal self or by the external agent.

880. This leads us on to the problem to be discussed in the next chapter;
in what ways may two spirits co-operate in the possession and control of the
same organism?



900. Possession may be defined as a development of Motor Automatism,
resulting at last in a substitution of personality; there has recently been a great
advance in the evidence for this theory.


901. Further, it coheres with modern notions of personality, of the control
of organism by spirit. It implies that the spirit of the entranced automatist
partially quits his organism, and allows an invading spirit to occupy and use it.

902. The conception similar as it is to primitive beliefs will be found to
co-ordinate and explain many of our earlier groups of phenomena.

903. First, the alternating use of brain-centres by alternate personalities

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 89)