Frederic William Henry Myers.

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abroad ? The access of one man to another, the power of one man over
another is limited, so to say, by international laws so ancient that no one
dreams of infringing them. Then suddenly to take the best-known case
of hypnotisation at a distance Dr. Gibert throws the absent Le'onie into
a trance, and impels her to hasten through Havre to his house. This is
an invasion of an independent kingdom, against all rules of war. And yet
it finds, as Napoleon's invasions often found, a party in the invaded realm
itself which supports the invader ; the impulse given from a distance to
Leonie's subliminal self finds something in that self not only competent
to discern it but willing to obey.

Mere metaphor, however, cannot satisfy us here. We have reached
a point where it is indispensable that we should form at least some
provisional working conception not only of what telepathy is not but
of what it possibly may be. Its laws, we have concluded, are not cognate
to the known laws of the material world. It is a transference, not of a
pattern of vibrations, but of a knowledge, an impulse, which seems to
implant itself in the percipient's mind like a living thing. The " telepathic
impact," as we have sometimes called it, is no blunt shock. It may be
sudden ; but it may also be persistent ; it may sometimes be overwhelming,
but it can be insinuating too. It is not a bolt discharged and done with ;
it is a vital influence at work on the percipient's subliminal self.

No argument has been as yet urged in this discussion to show that
man possesses a spirit which preceded birth or which survives death.
The question of individual pre-existence, individual survival, belongs to
a later stage of our review of vital faculty. But, nevertheless, I think
that those who have been willing to go even thus far with the general
scheme here set forth will feel that the subliminal self whose influence
over the organism seems to be at once so latent and so profound must be
regarded as something other than a mere coenesthetic focus. It must (so
to express it) be at least an earthly soul, a provisional spirit.

We have, then, to imagine this spirit or quasi-spirit as acting first
normally upon its own organism and then telepathically upon the
organisms of others. How are we to conceive it at work? In its own

5 22 APPENDICES [926 A

organism, to begin with, it acts, I suppose, especially upon the nervous
system ; primarily on the brain. To act on the brain to direct its
thought and volition the spirit must, I again suppose, be able to modify
in countless ways each individual cell. And must not such a selective or
directive influence be intimate enough to affect severally each molecule
of which each cell is composed ? Something must so affect them ; and to
stop short of this power for the spirit would simply be to postulate some
other intelligence engaged in preparing the spirit's work. Assuredly
neither the molecule nor the atom is the last word of analysis, as even the
ordinary physicist would now agree. The whole process may be some-
thing far subtler than an action on molecules ; but thus much of subtlety
there needs must be. Selective guidance of each individual molecule ;
let us at least, then, use this formula as a compendious expression for the
entirely interpenetrating control which we must assume that a man's own
spirit exercises over his brain.

And next, in a case of telepathy, the agent is somehow the cause that
the percipient's brain shall be influenced in this same delicate, penetrating
way. How shall we imagine the mechanism of such influence? Shall
we say that the spirit of the agent affects the spirit of the percipient, and
thus the spirit of the percipient influences his own brain ? Or shall we
say that the agent's spirit directly influences the percipient's brain in like
manner as it influences his own ? There may seem little to choose between
two such unprovable conceptions. Yet, looking forward to evidence
which we shall presently have to meet, I think that the second alternative
should provisionally not be excluded. For we shall have cases where
inanimate matter outside an organism is, as I believe, directly affected by
some spirit ; and the question will arise whether the spirit so acting must
necessarily be a spirit discarnate, and outside the medium, or may also
possibly be the medium's own. I do not wish to prejudge this question,
as against the possibility that the medium's own spirit may be the agency
which, in such a case, directly affects the external world ; but if such is
ever to be our explanation, it is certainly simpler to suppose that here also
the agent's spirit is directly affecting the percipient's brain, not needing,
so to say, to invite the percipient's own spirit to accomplish that task.

On this view we shall have an intelligible series though a series
advancing by leaps and bounds to represent the achievements of Will,
as it shakes itself free from the limitations which are but shadows as
contrasted with its own reality. In the first place we have hyperboulia ;
the extension of the Will's power over tissues in the organism which its
mandates have ordinarily failed to reach. In the second place, we have
telergy ; the extension of its power over the brain molecules of an
organism other than that with which it is primarily in connection. And
in the third place we shall have " telekinesis " and the like ; a group of
phenomena involving control over inorganic matter, and over organic
matter both within and without its own organism.


This last extension, however, will lead to our third category, the
category of phenomena claimed as controlled by spirits external to the
agent or medium himself. Before passing on to such matters we must
briefly review the phases of personality which subliminal influence creates
or reveals in the living or dying man. We must thus lead up to some
comprehension of the nature of Death, before we deal with spirits whom
we assume to have passed through that crisis undestroyed.


(a) Birth; as Spiritual Individuation. With the profounder con-
ception of the Self which our inclusion of its subliminal elements implies,
we find associated profounder severances and re-arrangements in its
constituent elements ; more significant changes, so to say, in its internal
configuration. I desire to compare these with the modifications of per-
sonality which occur in ordinary life ; to compare them, of course, with
the purpose of ultimately showing that here also we are making a forward
step in precisely that path of which spirit-control is in some sense the
goal. The first modification of personality of which we have cognisance,
the first on our former list of supraliminal changes, was the crisis of
birth. From our former point of view that crisis was one of physiological
individuation only. Regarding the organism now as in truth an organon
as an instrument through which a spirit essentially distinct therefrom
exercises the faculties which subserve its self-expression we shall ask
ourselves what else has occurred at birth, besides the separation of a new
bud from the genealogical tree which is rooted in earth's prehistoric past.
At present we have seen reason for conjecturing that this at least has
occurred ; the individuation, in connection with the organism, of some
form of spiritual faculty, of faculty, that is to say, which must have been
called into being in some other environment, since the struggle for
existence in this material world could not have originated or developed
it. Such, as I have elsewhere urged, are the faculties concerned in tele-
pathy and clairvoyance; they are modes of perception which the cor-
poreal organism may restrict but can hardly in any conceivable way have
evolved. Yet although we may trace this one side of our lineage to
a spiritual or metetherial world, it does not follow that we can therefore
claim that our personalities now incarnated in these bodies are the
continued manifestation of personalities which have already lived as
distinctive entities elsewhere, or which can survive as personalities that
other crisis of bodily death to which the fact of incarnation necessarily
exposes them. Let us see whether other phases of terrene personality
throw any light upon this problem.

(6) Sleep and Trance ; Self-suggested or Telepathically-suggested ; with
Clairvoyant Visions. Parallel with our heading of " sleep " in the column
of supraliminal faculties we have the heading of " trance " in the sub-


liminal. And in its first and simplest aspect trance is suggested sleep,
sleep imitated by the subliminal self from the familial spontaneous
pattern, but often improved in the imitation, both in restorative efficacy
and in fitness for ends other than physical recuperation. From the
thought-transference experiment with lightly hypnotised subjects to the
sommeil a distance inspired by Dr. Gibert or Dr. Janet in " Iconic " ;
from the hyperaesthesia of some of M. Binet's subjects to the " travelling
clairvoyance" of "Jane" (573 B) we find each supernormal faculty in
turn facilitated by the abeyance of man's habitual attention to the stimuli
of the material world. The degree to which this protection from intrusive
thought, or intrusive pain, may be carried is hardly yet explored ; but the
same abstraction which is enough to induce in many subjects a complete
indifference to severe surgical operations, may perhaps hereafter be
utilised to assist in securing undisturbed intensity of thought.

And in the meantime most of these states of sleep or trance present
an unsolicited crop of ideas and pictures of their own. All dreams,
indeed, according to my definition, are properly subliminal ; they do not
belong to the superficial memory, although they lie so close to it that
they may get included in it by a sort of accident. They are bubbles
breaking upon that surface from the deep below. It is natural, therefore,
that this easiest method of communication should be taken advantage of
by the subliminal self to send upward messages of deeper import. All
the newly-noted forms of faculty which we have already touched upon
find expression either in dreams or in the sleep-waking intervals which are
a kind of transitory emergences into a condition on the other side of
sleep. Hypermnesia is oftenest shown in dreams, and clairvoyance in
the sleep-waking or somnambulic stage of hypnotic trance. In dreams
also retrocognition and precognition are manifested ; faculties which,
since their origin is obscure, I am now claiming solely for the unaided
subliminal self.

(*) Ecstasy. Under this heading I include experiences where the
subliminal self in trance changes its environment and passes for a time
into the spiritual world, retaining such relations to the organism as enable
it to return to its ordinary condition.

(d) Death ; as Irrevocable Self-projection of the Spirit. Then when the
last change comes, and we ask ourselves with what added ground for
speculation we now strain our gaze beyond that obscurest crisis, we find,
I think, two considerations which the study of subliminal powers has
suggested ; one of them in harmony with the highest thought of philo-
sopher and poet; the other, not indeed positively inconsistent there-
with, but still recalling us to the psychology of the Stone Age, and the
crude animism of hardly human men.

For first we shall say that in estimating what there is in our being
which may conceivably survive the tomb, we can now claim to have dis-
cerned something within us which belongs to an environment which is


exempt from earthly conditions, and which may antecede at once and
interpenetrate our material scheme of things. Those ancient views, there-
fore, which represent the soul's immortality as determined by its very
nature and origin find themselves now as never before supported and rein-

I refer especially to such cases as those described in Chapter VI. of
" projection of thought," or as I there called it " psychical invasion,"
which show some kind of energy or perception exercised by the spirit at
a distance from its physical base of operation, telepathically upon other
minds, telaesthetically in other parts of space. In " telepathic clairvoyance,"
the percipient seems to himself to be present in the scene where the so-
called agent actually is at the time. And in reciprocal cases, not only is
the percipient conscious of invading the agent's presence, but the latter is
in some way aware of the invasion. Further, the descriptions of several
cases of experimental self-projection concur in the impression felt of
spiritual transportation, of tethering connection with the body, of return
thereinto with a shock. 1 And two narratives of animation suspended to
the verge of death (Dr. Wiltse and M. Bertrand, see 713 A), have dwelt
on that crisis as an apparent escape of the spirit from the body, to which
it is ultimately retracted by a remaining psychical link of attachment.
These cases begin like some of the cases which we class as " hallucinations
experimentally produced " ; they remind us, as they proceed, of narratives
of " travelling clairvoyance " ; and they reach a point where the new
centre of perception seems within an ace of altogether superseding the

These singular and possibly purely subjective cases are no actual proof
of anything whatever. But they deserve notice here, where we are taking
stock of any such indications of the true nature of death as can be
gathered from evidence which does not even pretend to come from
departed spirits, or to rest on anything beyond the personal experience
of living men.

"Eo-crvr' cTreiyo/moTT " with a rush it hurried forth " says Homer of the
issuing spirit, whose significance for him still hung between breath and
souL Homer may be too old a witness, and Dr. Wiltse too new ; but,
indeed, what other intelligible conception can we find in the ages between
them ? What, save the ghastly monkish dream ghastly though enshrined,
this also, in world-shaking verse of the sleep in the charnel-house, and
the trump that echoes per sepulcra regionum and summons into a new
concretion the dust of the dead ?

At least we have done with that ; and, pausing here before we review
such evidence as may seem to have come to us from behind the veil, we
may at least feel that it is a spiritual entity and not a re-integrated
skeleton, which we now follow with dim anticipation upon its unknown
solitary way.

1 See Proceedings S.P.R., vol. x. p. 29, and pp. 270 sqq.



(i) Subliminal Consciousness, Discerning and Influenced by Disem-
bodied Spirits in a Spiritual World ; who Co-operate in Producing Objective
Phenomena. And here at last we have reached the point where we should
begin to reap the benefit of this long introduction. In entering on the
third of our parallel series that to which the other two have been intended
to lead up, our scheme, that is to say, of vital faculty as observed under
the control of some spiritual agency, we are not now plunging into a chaos
of entirely new problems. Most of those problems, although of course not
solved, have at least been already stated, in some similar form ; and at
each point we shall be taking up a line of thought on which we have made
some beginning.

We have, then, to deal with the human spirit under new conditions ;
as brought into immediate relations with the spiritual world. We shall be
concerned primarily with the subliminal consciousness ; for it is in that
region that the link of union lies ; and many of the phenomena are dis-
cernible to the "purged eye" of so-called clairvoyance alone. But
nevertheless this commerce with disembodied spirits, like commerce
with embodied spirits, affects man's whole being ; and we shall have to
discuss many phenomena of an absolutely objective kind.

In one way, indeed, to get on to direct spirit- intercourse from the
obscure subliminal phenomena which we have till now been discussing is
a sort of emergence into a clearer air. What we have dimly inferred is
now plainly asserted ; what we have conjectured among contending possi-
bilities is now set plainly before us. We are in the position in which a
tadpole would be who had learned theoretically that what he was breath-
ing in his pond was not the water but the oxygen dissolved therein ; and
who then should have it granted to him to raise his head above water, and
to perceive frogs and other animals respiring the translucid air. So, for
us too, the metetherial element has thus far been dissolved amid material
things ; we are now to come in contact with beings for whom that hypo-
thetical environment is the natural and predestined home.

Before we go into detail, let us reflect for a moment on the fact that
such intercourse should be possible. Given the fact of telepathy, need
this be a surprise ? We have seen that the existence of such a form of
metetherial energy involved in human life, though it cannot actually prove
the spirit's survival, yet suggests it so strongly that evidence to survival
from other quarters need no longer seem hard to reconcile with the known
scheme of things. And if survival there be, then the fact that spirits
should influence men will certainly not in itself be surprising. It will
seem now no isolated or unique phenomenon, but the inevitable deduction
from a universal law. That law is the direct transmission of thought and
emotion from mind to mind, and the telergy to use here a word more
active in its connotation than telepathy the telergy by which this trans-


mission is effected may be as universally diffused in the metetherial world
as heat in the material.


(a) Spirit- suggestion ; Psycho- therapeutics. To the limiting conditions
under which this energy reaches the chosen sensitive among the mass of
men, we shall have to return hereafter. It will be well to proceed first to
trace some of the effects of that " control," or intercourse, under the same
series of headings which we have now twice already pursued.

First, then, as to the effects of spirit-control on bodily nutrition.
Obviously if we are agreed in thinking that the suggestion of a living
hypnotiser is virtually nothing more than a hint somehow conveyed to the
.^"-suggestive powers of the patient, it will not be easy to be sure that a
spirifs alleged command or benediction, or promise of cure, is really
operating otherwise than as a similar stimulus to something which is really
done by the patient himself. In Mr. Moses' case there were assurances
given that his physical condition was often benefited by spirit-power ; but
in the few definite instances which he records of a healing effect, it is to
actual touches and strokings like mesmeric passes that the benefit is
ascribed. Similar experiences are attributed to D. D. Home. We shall
have something more to say of this mesmerisation later on ; and also of
that form of psycho-therapeutic which consists in a clairvoyant diagnosis
alleged to be given by a spirit, and followed perhaps by advice avowedly
based upon a recollection of earthly learning.

(V) Stigmatisation. The agency of spirits in the production of stigma-
tisation is open to the same kind of doubt. Religious stigmata, indeed, as
following upon more intense feeling than mere experimental stigmata (such
as suggested blisters resembling some letter of the alphabet) seem even
more manifestly connected with the workings of the addolorata? s own
spirit. Mr. Moses has three curious cases. In one of them the mere
written suggestion of a spirit is followed by the appearance of letters on
his arm, resembling, apparently, the linear wheals which follow a line
drawn with the finger-nail in some cases of nettlerash, and which depend
on a slight diffusion of serum beneath the skin. In another case an
erythematous patch on the forehead follows on a perhaps imaginary touch
during a dream or vision. In a third case what seems to have been a
real touch at a stance breaks the skin, and leaves an inflamed wound.

It is noticeable, with regard to what will follow later, that something
like actual material contact should sometimes be insisted upon, as appears
from Mr. Moses' records, in the production by spirits of a phenomenon
which we have seen the subliminal self produce with no material inter-

(c~) Novel and Purposive Metastasis of Secretion. Except, however,
for this insistence on actual touch, the stigmatic phenomena have thus
far followed the now well-known type. Yet it may |occur to us to ask


whether spirits acting thus on the organism, and endowed with the more
intimate insight into the molecular constitution of things with which
I have credited them, could not go further still, and split up the proteids
of the body in some unfamiliar way. These are, of course, complex
enough to be split up, not only into the various proximate elements,
normal or pathological, which have already been detected in the body,
but into an indefinite number of other compounds as well. It may be
said, indeed, that novel products of proteid decomposition, even if they
could be produced, would escape recognition save by the accomplished
chemist. There is, however, one of our senses which in certain directions
can even outmatch in delicacy the chemist's skill. And there is in
animal bodies an unexhausted reservoir of potential odours capable
of stimulating this sense to the full. Where the skunk is possible, all
is possible ; and it need not be a hopeless task to draw from the human
organism fragrances which may bear to skunk or musk-rat the relation
which the most delicate tint of mauve bears to the original tar. On one
secretion in particular Professor Ramsay, F.R.S., has favoured me with
the following remarks : " Perspiration consists of caproate of glyceryl,
mixed with the free acid, I believe. It does not smell nice ; but pure
caproates are very fragrant if the right alcoholic base is combined. I fancy
that woodruffe and verbena are of the nature of turpentine, and have
probably the same percentage composition. However, so far as I know,
they have not been investigated."

Bearing all this in mind, let us return to certain passages which have
perhaps hitherto seemed among the most grotesque and incredible which
the records of Mr. Moses' stances contain. I refer to the frequently
attested welling or stillation of various " liquid scents," mainly verbena
and woodruffe, and on one occasion at least altering on request, from
a circumscribed patch on the top of Mr. Moses' head. The guides
affirm that this secretion is restorative ; and on one occasion especially,
when Mr. Moses is tried and depressed by sitting long amidst a rough
crowd, it is stated that the scent is produced and evaporated in un-
usual quantities in order to protect him from the exhausting influence of
his surroundings. 1

i I may give here another instance of this phenomenon, contributed by Mr. J. F.
Collingwood to Light of November 2nd, 1892. " I was one evening sitting with him,"
says Mr. Collingwood, " when he complained of not feeling well. I perceived a very
sweet perfume, and remarked, as it increased, ' What a delicious scent ! Where does
it come from ? ' ' From me, the top of my head,' he replied. I felt the crown, which
was wet with a pleasant odorous substance. I dipped the corner of my handkerchief
in it, and kept it for months hardly diminished in potency. Mr. Stainton Moses told
me that the development of these perfumes was intended as a healing process, and he
was often relieved in that way." It may be observed that circumscribed patches of
hyperidrosis occasionally occur on the scalp ; so that we have here, in my view, an
evolutive phenomenon taking the same form as a morbid or dissolutive one. It should
be added that in bromidrosis the odour has been in various cases compared to that of
various flowers and fruits. (Hyde's Diseases of the Skin, p. 102.)


The reader will readily see the interpretation which, in my view,
these facts must receive. I regard the disembodied spirit's influence
on the organism as more instructed, so to say, than the influence of
the subliminal self; just as the influence of the subliminal self is
more instructed than that of the supraliminal. Where the one can
adapt, the other can originate ; where the subliminal self can reproduce
by a novel method the secretion which the organism has already learnt

Online LibraryFrederic William Henry MyersHuman personality : and its survival of bodily death (Volume 2) → online text (page 70 of 89)