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OUR HIDDEN FORCE S



EMILE BOIRAC

TRANSLATED BY

W. deKERLOR



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Our Hidden Forces

("LA PSYCHOLOGIE INCONNUE")

AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF THE
PSYCHIC SCIENCES

BY

EMILE BOIRAC

RECTOR OF THE ACADEMY AT DIJON



TRANSLATED AND EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

W. DE KERLOR

ILLUSTRATED




NEW YORK

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



* > « « «



• • » <

• • I • • •



eii



Copyright, 1917, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company



All rights reserved




.IBRARl

EDUC.

UBRARV



TO

THE MEMORY OF THE MUCH REGRETTED

DR. DUMONTPALLIER

MEMBER OF THE ACADEMY OF MEDICINE
PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY OF HYPNOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

AS A TOKEN OF GRATEFULNESS AND RESPECT



C'15803



TKA:tTSLATOIl'S NOTE

While making a series of investigations into the
psychological libraries attached to the psychological de-
partments of various universities in the United States,
I was able to realize how fully German mechanical
efficiency has gained a footing on this side of the water.
Out of an average of 500 books, one third of those I
examined were written in German, one third were
translated from the German, and the remaining third
were from the pen of German- Americans or were writ-
ten by Americans trained in the German schools of
thought. Only a very small — infinitely small — propor-
tion were French, English, or Italian works (translated
or in the original).

Why have not Erance, England, and Italy as sys-
tematically introduced their philosophical and psycho-
logical productions ? Why have not the Bergsons, the
William Crookes, Gustave Le Bon, Pierre Janet, Eichet,
Eibot, Payot, Grasset, Le Dantec, Bernard, Binet,
Eouillee, Einot, Sir Oliver Lodge, Lombroso, Schia-
parelli, Morselli, Varisco, Salvadori, etc., etc., found
their way to the shelves of psychological laboratory
libraries in the United States ?

Why is it that in spite of the friendly attitude of the
majority of American university professors toward
Erance and Erench learning, German concepts and Ger-

• •

Vll



viii TKANSLATOK'S XOTE

man teachings have gained such a hold on the intel-
lectual life of American youth? What of the finer,
subtler, more refined, life- and happiness-giving French
psycholog^^ ? Hardly anything of it is known in Amer-
ica or taught to the students here in medicine, applied
psychology, or art.

It is, therefore, time that the more advanced strides
taken by French psychologists be brought to the knowl-
edge of the virile-thinking youth of America.

Already there have been held in Paris, in the years
1910 and 1913, two International Congresses of Ex-
perimental Psychology, over each of which presided
M. £mile Boirac, the author of this remarkable book.

Professor Boirac, Rector of the Academy of Dijon,
had already, years before the appearance of this volume,
achieved fame and fortune as a professor of philosophy
and psychology. And when the Academie des Sciences
of Paris decided to award him the prize endovnnent
^Tanny Emden" it was but the crowning of a career
spent in devotion to the quest of more knowledge regard-
ing the problems of Life and Death, and the Hidden
Forces in Man.

These problems, of mighty import at all times, are
particularly so now.

''What has become of the soids of the millions of men
hilled on the battlefields of Europe since lOlJff said
Professor Morselli, of the University of Genoa, Italy,
when I was on a visit to him in March, 1915.

This problem should be solved now !

Psychical research as contrasted with psycho-physio-
logical experimentation has languished in America not-



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE ix

witlistandiug the efforts of William James, Royce, and
Hyslop to give it a hearing, in an endeavor to keep pace
with the researchers of England, France, and Italy in
their laudable attempt to give humankind a scientific
basis for religion and spiritual life.

For it is undeniable that as psychology enables us to
solve the problems concerning the mechanism of mind,
so psychical research will lead us to the discovery of
the functions of the soul in its relation to mind and

matter.

When Science shall have solved these vital questions
she will then turn to transcendental metaphysics for the
purpose of giving mankind a solution to the problems
concerning the knowledge of God — God in all His mani-
festations: spiritual, psychic, mental, and physical, in
and without man.

To-day the science concerning the knowledge of man
is in its infancy only. It has just been born. Hitherto
it has been kept relegated to medieval and ancient
authors or to the non-scientific. But to-day scientists
the world over are slowly waking to its importance in
human affairs. They recognize that society, and youth
and industry, demand a different treatment from that
which they have received hitherto ; and that this treat-
ment must depend upon the soul-understanding of the

individual unit: Man.

At the very source of America's life and efficiency
lie her psychological laboratories and libraries pertain-
ing to the study of man's mind and soul. These li-
braries are filled with books of German origin or Ger-
man influence. Yet German thought has been bent



X TEANSLATOR'S NOTE

solely upon problems of mechanical and material ef-
ficiency, while France has devoted herself to the study
of soul-understanding.

When the Academie des Sciences decided to award
two thousand francs as encouragement to Professor
fimile Boirac it did so in the full consciousness of what
that meant to the outside world and in particular to the
general public.

It gave psychical research its passport to travel freely
on the road to Scientific Progress.

The moral shock I received when first landing on
these shores — a shock caused by the attitude of a scoff-
ing press, the indifferent attitude of prejudiced college
professors, and the hysterical, non-scientific attitude of
a public always preyed upon by charlatans and hum-
bugs — led me to the translation of this important work,
La Psychologic Inconnue,

For having made the translation possible, T tender
my sincerest thanks to the publishers for the kind and
sympathetic hearing they gave me in August, 1916.

From the many signs of interest which I already have
seen in the American public, during various public
activities in the presentation of this new method of
experimental psychology, I do not hesitate a moment
to predict for Our Hidden Forces a most hearty and
welcome reception.

In anticipation of this, I extend my heartfelt thanks
to the American public, the press, and the academical
bodies; for I know that only through their cooperation
and through perfect harmony can success be achieved
and the progress of human knowledge be advanced.



TEANSLATOR'S NOTE xi

In the process of translation I have thought it ad-
visable to condense certain portions of the work which
contain repetitions due to the exact reproduction in the
French version of material that had been independently
published in several French periodicals.

This translation is offered in the hope that we may
see in America a new impetus to the scientific study and
solution of such important problems as those offered by
the presence of Hidden Forces in man, around man,
above and helow man.

W. DE KeELOE.

681 Fifth Avenue,
New York City,
April, 1917.



PEEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITIO:^'

The report presented to the Academie des Sciences de
Paris by the Commission Board of the prize endowment
''Fanny Emden" is given here in full. This biennial
prize of three thousand francs was founded by Mademoi-
selle Juliette de Reinaeh in memory of her mother, nee
Fanny Emden, its object being to reward ''the best work
on suggestion, hypnotism, and physiological actions
likely to be exerted from a distance upon the human
organism in general."

The Commission Board, composed of MM. Bouchard,
Guyon, Perrier, d'Arsonval, Lannelongue, Laveran,
Dastre, and Delage acting as secretary, reported as
follows :

"From among the numerous contributions presented
to the examining commission board for competition,
two only were selected as meeting the requirements and
therefore elected to receive the reward.

"The commission allots the sum of two thousand
francs to M. Emile Boirac and one thousand francs, as
consolation prize, ''a litre d' encouragement," to M.
Ochorowicz.

"In his work, La Suggestion Mentale,^ M. Ochorowicz

* La Suggestion mentale, Dr. Ochorowicz : Paris, 1887.

• « •



xiv PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

explains that after having absolutely denied this form
of suggestion, on account of the insufficiency of the argu-
ments and of the experiments conducted to demonstrate
its existence, he finally reached the stage, following a
series of personal observations and experiments of a
most demonstrative order, when disbelief was no longer

possible.

^' These numerous experiments are often replete with
interest ; but it has not appeared to us that the control
was of a sufiiciently rigorous order thoroughly to con-
vince, in spite of the evident sincerity and worthy ef-
forts of the author to eliminate all sources of error.
However, although his theories are not free from con-
fusion and other defects, his work remains une oeuvre
magistrale, a masterpiece, which coming generations en-
gaged on similar lines of study will do well to consult.

*'M. fimile Boirac,in his La Psychologie inconnue, has
made a laudable attempt, in the greater part crowned
with success, to classify systematically and in their re-
spective order the phenomena of the unknown in
psychology, which he divides into hypnoidal, magne-
toidal and spiritoidal phenomena. Unfortunately, in
that part of his work are to be felt the habits of thought
of the professional philosopher, who is inclined to solve
these problems by purely logical arguments rather than
by experimental control.

"In the expcrimontal portion of his work, the author
displays a couiicieiitious desire to employ only those
jiniliods that are above reproach. He does his very best



PKEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xv

to prevent the dictation to his subjects of replies which
may be conveyed to him by involuntary suggestion.
But, to our thinking, that is not sufficient. It is not
enough to have experimented successfully, alone, with
one's usual entourage, or even in the presence of people
who are only too willing to be convinced of the reality
of phenomena whose physical and physiological condi-
tions are contrary to the natural scientific order of
things. It is absolutely necessary, if it be desired that
these be definitely accepted by Science, to have the ex-
periments controlled by scientists, savants (physiolo-
gists, medical men), who, by profession, are acquainted
with the exacting conditions under which such experi-
ments should be conducted ; that any conditions which
it pleases them to impose upon the experimenters should
be accepted ; and that all their objections should in some

way be met.

"We will give two examples of M. Boirac's experi-
ments :

''First experiment. From a distance of eight or ten
yards: If the finger-tips of the outstretched hand are
placed before the subject, whose eyes are blindfolded
and around whom reigns the most complete silence, it
will be found that, in the case of the right hand, move^
ments of attraction toward the hand will be obtained;
in the case of the left hand, a tingling or pricking sensa-
tion will be produced.

''Second experiment: Operator and subject have each
held a glass filled with water. The two glasses are



xvi PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

placed side by side, but the operator and the subject are
separated, standing at the opposite extremities of the
same room. The subject, it is imderstood, is blind-
folded, and the most rigorous silence is imposed upon
the assistants. If, now, the operator is pricked, pinched,
or hit, the subject will remain unconscious of such action
upon the operator. If, however, the two glasses are
made to communicate with each other by means of a
metallic wire having an end plunged into each glass,
the blindfolded subject will at once resent the various
pains inflicted upon the operator.

^'The natural conclusion drawn from this is that each
of the two glasses retained the exteriorized or dissociated
sensitiveness, or nerve force, derived from operator and
subject alike while being held in their hands.

^'Had M. Boirac succeeded in rendering such experi-
ments incontestable to the most skeptical of scientists,
he would have, deserved much greater things than the
prize itself, part of which we award him by way of en-
couragement.

^'The Academie adopts the conclusions of this re-
port."

The fact that the Academie des Sciences accepted a
prize endowment to reward — and thereby encourage —
research pertaining to hypnotism, suggestion, and
'^physiological actions likely to be exerted from a dis-
tance upon the human organism" is extremely important
for the future of Psychical Research. Too well known




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PKEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xvii

indeed is the professed skepticism of the great majority
of scientists in regard to psychical phenomena. At
most, they consent to recognize the reality of hypnotism,
the importance of which seems to them singularly ex-
aggerated hy those who first of all studied its phe-
nomena. The Academie des Sciences^ therefore, has
shown real courage and broadmindedness in accepting
the Fanny Emden prize endowment and thus giving its
consent^ — if indirectly so — to the study of a certain or-
der of facts which, side by side with hypnotism and sug-
gestion, may be recognized under a new formula as the
ancient theories of Mesmer and Puysegur. This is all
the more remarkable in view of the fact that the savants
of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries believed
they had irretrievably buried it, conjointly with the
"fourth dimension" and "perpetual motion."

In any case^ the author is deeply grateful to the
Academie and to the secretary of the Commission Board
for the favorable judgment which they have been willing
to pass upon his work. La Psychologie inconnue.

The author wishes to take this opportunity, also, to
express his gratitude to the founder of the prize, whose
enlightened initiative, let us hope, may conduce to
higher achievements and contribute to the progress of
the New Science.

It may be regretted that the Commission was not bold
enough to take a more decisive position. It seems as if
it feared that if it were to bestow the full prize, it



xviii PKEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

might be suspected of admitting the reality of psychic
phenomena, while at the same time appearing to give a
premature official sanction to the research having these
phenomena as its objective.

It could not be expected that such savants, who had
not been acquainted with the phenomena except by hear-
say, and whose competence in such matters is on a par
with that of the ordinary layman, could scatter at a blow
the traditional skepticism concerning them. It is no
doubt for this reason that the Academie remained pru-
dently content to choose from the thirteen competitive
works ^ those in which were to be traced something of
the spirit and methods of the positive sciences.

I will admit frankly that I do not believe that I de-
served the reproach made by the secretary of the Com-
mission when he stated that in my work were ^^to be
felt the habits of thought of the professional philosopher,

' Herewith is a list,of the contributions sent by competitors for
the Fanny Emden prize. Judging by their titles and scope, they
should not remain without interest and value.

Le role des infiniment petits dans Vunivers, Charnay; La sug-
gestion mentale et V action a distance des substances and La sug-
gestion mentale et Ics variations de la personalite, Bourru and
Burot; Hypnose et hypnotisme and La machine humaine, Vial;
Eypnotisme et magnetisme, Filiatre; La psychologie inconnue,
Boirac; La genese des miracles, F. Regnault; Hypnotisme et
mesmerisme (dans le dictionnaire de Ch. Richel) and La sugges-
tion mentale, Ochorowicz; De V autosuggestion, Croue; Essai sur
Vetiologie de I'hypnose, Gaston Durville; Contribution a I'etude
des sciences psychiques, Th. Darel; L*electricite dans les actes
physiologiques, Mme. M. Bertrand de Yrondeau; Des actions
physiologiques qui pourraient etre exercees a distance sur I'or-
ganisme animal, J. Gaubert; El Ktab, Desjardins de Regla.



PEEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xix
who is inclined to solve these prohlems by purely logical
argnments rather than by experimental control.

This criticism appears to have been directed o the
first part of my book, the theoretical portion m wh.ch I
treat of the principles, method, and classification o the
psychical sciences-in a word, of that which treats o
the philosophy of these sciences; for he recognizes that
"in the experimental portion of his work the author dis-
plays a conscientious desire to employ only those
methods that are above reproach."

lu view of this, is it, after all, justifiable to condemn
the use of the pMosopUcal spirit in a philosophical
discussion, provided that the scientific spirit preside
over the experimental investigation? . ,, v^^t

Neither in the first nor in the second part of the book
do I pretend to have solved any problem. My sole aim
has been to show that : There are many problems await-
ing solution ; these problems consist of irrefutable facts ,
these facts cannot be evaded by "a priori" arguments;
the problems should be solved by having recourse con-
stantly to the facts themselves.

On the contrary, it would seem that the thought re-
curring on almost every page is that, in this order of
research-as in every other field of natural and physica
science-theories, hypotheses, and other Purely logical
inferences are of no value. They owe their validity to
a twofold condition: first, of being suggested by the
facts themselves ; second and more important, of ren-
dering experiments possible and of serving to discover



XX PREFACE TO THE SEC0:N'D EDITION

new facts whicli control them. Even in this latter case
their value is always conditional ; in other words, it is
subject to being modified or nullified by the appearance
of new facts.

It would, then, be very difficult to see in such a doc-
trine ^'habits of thought of the professional philosopher,
who is inclined to solve problems by purely logical argu-
ments rather than by experimental control.''

As to the second objection, I can but plead attenuat-
ing circumstances. It is true that I have not taken the
precaution to have my experiments controlled by a com-
mission formed of professional scientists especially as-
sembled for that purpose, and that I have experimented
mostly either alone or in the company of three or four
assistants, or else in the presence of a limited number
of persons ; but it would have been impossible to say
of what these persons expected to be persuaded, for
none of our experimental sittings was ever preceded or
followed by any explanation of the phenomena.

A few of the sittings were certainly conducted in the
presence of a professor of physics in a preparatory col-
lego of Paris and of a Bachelor of Science. But this,
of course, is not sufficient to give experimental sittings
the indubitable scientific character. However, one must
take into consideration the fact that it is not easy to
find savants willing to trouble themselves to come to our
sittings for the purpose of controlling certain phe-
nomena, the very nature of which they do not under-
stand. This has been our experience: A certain man



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION xxi

who was a great master in the science of hypnotism, a
professor and a medical practitioner, when implored
to come and control our experiments bearing upon the
action of the hand at a distance, replied : "... abso-
lutely refuse to experiment in any place but a laboratory
or a clinic . . . any other way cannot be of scientific
value. ..." ! ! ! (Our experiments were being con-
ducted in a private house.)

To our mind, it seems that as long as such a strange
and unwarrantable attitude of mind persists, progress
in the realms of psychic science will be seriously handi-
capped.

If, as stated by the Commission reporter, Psychical
Science be " . . . strewn with an enormous amount of
experiments which would be of capital value were they
demonstrated but which, failing this, lend themselves
to the most serious objections ..." the principal cause
rests, without a doubt, in this lack of organization, which
permits those scientists to hold themselves aloof from
every effective attempt at research. They systematically
refuse to enter into relation with extra-scientific re-
searchers; or, when they do consent, they oppose them
with objections often conceived a priori, therefore sterile
because without rapport with the crucial experiments.
Furthermore, if the experiment happens to be negative,
they remain firmly skeptical ; when it is positive, it dis-
concerts and astonishes them, without, however, either
convincing them or triumphing over their prejudiced
attitude of abstention.



xxii PEEFACE TO THE SECOND EDITIO]Sr

/ It should be understood, once and for all, that if
the psychic phenomena be real, they are neither miracles
nor accidents. They form an integral part of the en-
semble of nature and constitute a coherent whole, subject
to their own proper laws while at the same time being
subject to the general laws regulating every other natu-
ral phenomenon. They should, therefore, be considered
as belonging to one or more series in which each of
them finds its owti place and its own signification. And
all the efforts of the scientist who studies them should
bear upon the analysis of the series, so that he may be
in a position to discover the various terms and the vari-
ous rapports which unite them, one to the other.

Instead of proclaiming upon the housetops of preju-
diced ignorance : "Never have psychic phenomena been
capable of scientific verification !" ^ the true solution
could be found in the establishment of numerous centers
of research throughout the civilized world — institutes
and laboratories where researchers who are specially
trained into scientific and philosophical discipline, and
accorded the same respect by other scientists as is given
to physicians, chemists, and physiologists, could devote
themselves exclusively to the exploration of the psychical
field in its widest sense, and where they could check each
other constantly.

Nevertheless, if one may consider the report of the
Academie des Sciences as constituting a tacit agree-

' From Dr. Ilusson 's report of the experiments of control of
William Crookes in the case of D. D. Home 's phenomena, etc., et


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