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I slid my right foot slowly over the carpet, the toe
pointing toward the subject's left foot. I noticed im-
mediately a slight movement, a sort of tremor, in his
foot. Again I slid my right foot, very slowly and
without noise; this time tfre subject's foot glided visibly
toward mine. Then the gliding — which responded
each time to that of my foot — became so marked that
my friend's attention was attracted to it. Until then
he had noticed nothing, but now he regarded with sur-
prise this foot which was advanced by jerks over the
carpet and ended by leaving the ground and raising
itself in the air, as if it were linked to mine — which
was raised at the same time — by an invisible thread.
When the subject was questioned, he declared that
he had felt in his foot a sort of attraction which had
forced him to move it.

I then placed my right hand at eight or ten centi-
meters from his left hand while it lay, relaxed and mo-
tionless, over the arm of the chair. After a few sec-
onds of presentation I drew my hand slowly away from
his, repeating this movement several times. I ob-
served, first, a slight tremor of the subject's hand, which
gradually left its original position, reproducing each
time the movements of my hand. I then made —
always at a distance — the reverse movements; his
hand returned slowly to its former position over the
arm of the chair. Quickly I transferred my action
from the left side to the right; the subject's right hand
responded to the silent appeals of my hand exactly
as his left hand had done.

In brief, this subject, suggestible and hypnotizable to
a very small degree only, behaved as if his nervous sys-


tern were, so far as voluntary movements are con-
cerned, in communication with my own.

It is evident that all these experiments should be
repeated in conditions which would permit of their
being rendered more precise and more varied. But
they do not depend always upon the desire of the experi-
menter, for he cannot dispose of persons as he may
dispose of material objects in experiments in physics
or chemistry, or even of animals in experiments in

It would be interesting, if the occasion should present
itself, to find if a subject sensitive to the biactinic action
of a certain operator is equally sensitive to that of all
other individuals; to ascertain the circumstances which
increase or diminish the efficacy of this action; to learn
if it can be exercised through intermediaries, etc.

All these researches have been undertaken by us; and
if we have not been able to continue them, as we should
have wished to do, others undoubtedly will succeed,
when scientists become thoroughly convinced that it is
a question of real facts, submitted, as all other facts of
nature are, to general and constant laws, and entirely
amenable to the experimental method.

Up to the present time, however, those among our
contemporaries who have had the courage to pursue
this study have been only too rare. Outside of the
school of the early mesmerists — who, however, ignore
or deny the disturbing and simulating Intervention of
suggestion in the greater part of the parapsychic phe-
nomena — we see few among the more recent observ-
ers, beyond Dr. Barety, who submitted biactinism to a
systematic investigation, the results of which were pub-


lished by him in 1887. But even though Dr. Pierre
Janet, speaking of Dr. Barety's book in the Revue
philosophiqtte (1888), commended it as a useful work
in " calling attention to important phenomena which
we have been too disposed to neglect," no scientist, to
our knowledge, has thought it worth while to undertake
the experiments, although their control was very easy;
and so these " important phenomena " have continued
to be neglected as before.

We must make an exception, however, of a Swedish
scientist, M. Sydney Alrutz, professor at the University
of Epsal, who published (1914) in his reports of the
Sixth Congress of Experimental Psychology, of Got-
tingen, an interesting article entitled " Contribution to
the Dynamism of the Nervous System," in which he
gave the results of his personal researches.

The problem which he proposed to solve experi-
mentally was the same as that which we announced at
the beginning of this chapter:

Does the human organism really possess the prop-
erty of radiating a magnetic influence capable of acting
at a distance upon another human organism?

" It is a question, above all else, of knowing," said
Professor Alrutz, " if one nervous system can exert
upon another nervous system a direct influence; and if
nervous systems are such that, even if isolated from
each other, there can be established between them, in
special conditions, any action at a distance."

To solve this problem, Professor Alrutz employed
the following method — which, it will be noticed, is
analogous to that we have employed. 10

10 Described in Our Hidden Forces, Chapter VI, " New Experimental
Method in Hypnology."


The operator assures himself that it is impossible
for the subject, placed in a light state of hypnosis, either
to see anything or to know what happens about him.
For this purpose a heavy cloth is thrown over the sub-
ject's head, and if judged necessary his ears are
stopped up. It is understood, of course, that no verbal
suggestion is made. There is then placed above the
subject's bare hand and forearm a glass plate of about
five millimeters thickness, supported a few inches above
the skin. The experimenter now makes with his right
hand, as silently as possible, slow and regular passes
(about twenty passes a minute) a short distance above
the glass plate and without contact. These " descend-
ing " passes are in a centrifugal direction — that is to
say, they go from the articulation of the subject's elbow
to the tips of his fingers.

In this experiment the following phenomena are ob-
served :

The cutaneous sensibility is completely abolished, 11
although prior to this experiment — the subject being,
however, in a state of hypnosis — his sensitiveness was
a little above normal (hyperalgesia and light hyperes-
thesia). As if by a sort of compensation, the sensi-
tiveness is distinctly augmented upon the parts corre-
sponding to that experimented upon.

The same effects are produced if the plate of glass be
replaced by a plate of zinc, of copper, of lead, and of
other metals, or by an alloy such as brass. On the
contrary, with a sheet of cardboard, or a piece of wool,
these substances have the effect of an isolator, the plate
acting more or less as a protector.

11 The author omits, unfortunately, to say for how long a time.


If, now, above the skin rendered insensible by de-
scending passes, ascending passes be made — that is, in
the centripetal direction — whether with a glass or
metal plate, the sensibility is reestablished, and its re-
turn is accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation: the
subject rubs the spot with his other hand and declares,
spontaneously or upon interrogation, that " it pricks,"
and also, although later, that it feels hot or cold.

These sensations correspond often to the excitations
made during the preceding period of analgesia. For
example, if during this period the anterior part of the
phalanges be pricked with a needle, the subject does not
feel the pricking sensation until later when his sensi-
bility is restored.

In a general way, the ascending passes have a posi-
tive action upon the sensibility: they reestablish the sen-
sibility when this has been abolished by a previous ac-
tion, or augment it to the point of hyperesthesia when
it was originally normal. The descending passes, on
the contrary, have a negative action: they abolish the
sensibility or bring it back to the normal state when it
has been rendered hyperesthetic by a previous action.

Certain substances, such as glass and different
metals, are good conductors of the influence emanating
from the passes; certain others, such as cardboard,
wool, etc., intercept its passage.

The presentation of the hand, motionless, above a
part of the subject's body, always through a glass plate,
produces, according to Professor Alrutz, different
effects, depending upon whether the subject is in a
state of superficial or deep hypnosis.

In superficial hypnosis, at the end of a few seconds


the subject will feel heat, pricking, he will " feel electri-
fied "; and if it is above the closed hand that the oper-
ator is holding his extended hand, the subject stretches
out his fingers, or at least shows strong tendency to
do so.

In deep hypnosis, the sensibility which was abolished
is awakened in the place aimed at, and reacts to differ-
ent cutaneous excitations; but in this place only, es-
pecially if the time of the presentation be exactly

Exploration in motricity gives results analogous to
those of researches in sensibility.

If the operator directs his finger, at a few centi-
meters' distance, toward the motor points — for ex-
ample, toward the palmar region of the forearm — it
determines an excitation of these points which cause
a flection in the articulation of the phalanges, precisely
as if they had been faintly excited by electric currents
of induction.

Finally, Professor Alrutz notes that other people
than the hypnotizer can provoke the same effects if
operating with the same subject, at least during the
continuance of the hypnotic state; for "about twenty
persons, psychologists, physiologists, physicians, physi-
cists, etc., who have reproduced these experiments have
completely succeeded and have obtained the same re-

I myself, in my personal experiments, have observed
that other operators can influence my subjects in vari-
ous degrees; but I have observed also that certain
operators did not possess this power, and succeeded in
exerting it only by conduction : that is to say, only after


being put in contact with myself. It seems that this
fact has escaped the Swedish experimenter, perhaps
because his attention has not been attracted in this

Besides, the details of the effects produced have not,
perhaps, the importance that the author attributes to
them; for, really, these effects vary to a great extent
with the individuality or the state of the operator. It
is necessary, therefore, to avoid the postulation into so
many laws of the particularities observed in these di-
verse experiments. It is only after long and patient
researches that it will be possible to generalize with any

But what is really important — since on this point
all the results obtained by the different observers and
experimenters coincide — is the fact that a human or-
ganism radiated upon another organism, at a distance,
and without the possible intervention of suggestion, an
influence susceptible of provoking in this organism sen-
sitive and motor reactions — and perhaps those of
some other order, the modalities and the conditions of
which remain to be determined by a series of later

And this fact itself is nothing more nor less than the
reality of biactinism, or animal magnetism.

It would, however, be premature to consider this
fact as definitely established for science, so long as the
experiments which prove it have not been verified and
repeated by a very great number of researches. Until
then biactinism will remain, not a fact, but an hypothe-


sis, partaking of the fate of a great many scientific
truths, which, before being universally accepted as such,
were first recognized by a small number of men only,
having undergone a somewhat prolonged period of
negation and doubt.

Yet a philosopher would undoubtedly have little
trouble in demonstrating to us that in what most lay-
men as well as scientists call a fact there enters an in-
evitable part of interpretation and hypothesis. It is a
fact, it will be said, that the earth turns round the sun,
that heat expands material bodies, that the magnet
attracts iron, etc. But if each of these facts be an-
alyzed, it will be seen that it may be resolved into two
very different kinds of elements : ( 1 ) phenomena di-
rectly perceived by our senses, or, to go deeper, sensa-
tions of which we are directly conscious; (2) concep-
tions of our mind, conceptions of time, of space, of
number, and especially of causality, by the aid of which
we make the synthesis of these phenomena and give
an objective signification and value to our sensations.

Strictly speaking, only our sensations are facts; all
the rest are interpretations, in which we believe because
they have succeeded for us; having been more or less
conjectural at the beginning, they have ended by becom-
ing certainties.

The distinction between the fact and the hypothesis
has, then, theoretically, nothing absolute, and it is often
by an indefinite series of imperceptible transitions that
the former hypothesis is finally transformed into a fact.
In any case, the partizans of biactinism may tem-
porarily make the following conclusions :

There exist a great number of facts in which a


human organism appears to exert upon another or-
ganism an influence where suggestion is certainly ex-
cluded and which strongly resembles a radiation at a
distance. These facts would become still more numer-
ous if researchers would take the trouble to experiment.
It is these facts of apparent biactinism which science
must not reject a priori with derision, but should sub-
mit to an impartial and methodical investigation.

In this investigation the hypothesis of " vital or
nervous radiation " will certainly play a considerable
part, as it is impossible to experiment usefully without
the aid of a directing hypothesis; but we do not claim
any privilege for it, and all other hypotheses can and
must be in concurrence with it. Of these adverse hy-
potheses, the one that is most in favor at the present
time is that of mental suggestion, or telepathy, which
would better be named communication of thought.

The English Society for Psychical Research has sys-
tematically opposed to this the hypothesis of animal
magnetism, of which it is, however, only a particular
form. 12

But it is very necessary to repeat that the compara-
tive discussion of the different hypotheses must be ex-
perimental and not simply dialectic. In other words,
it will be a question of combining experiments in such
way that all telepathic suggestion will be rigorously ex-
cluded, leaving place for biactinic action solely.

We shall return to this question in the following
chapter, regarding the rapports of the communication
of thought, or " diapsychism," with animal magnetism.

12 See Our Hidden Forces, Chapter X, "The Relation of Telepathy
to Human Magnetism."




When we come to designate the phenomenon to be
studied in this chapter, it is difficult to find a word that
is free from all objection. For want of a better term,
we shall for the moment employ the expression, " com-
munication of thought." It is called also, " transmis-
sion of thought," " thought-transference," " thought-
reading," " divination or penetration of thought."
But the term which the majority of our contemporaries
seem to favor is " mental suggestion " — even though
this has the disadvantage of implying an interpretation
preconceived, and consequently hypothetical, of the
phenomenon, thus comparing it without proof to or-
dinary suggestion.

At the risk of incurring the reproaches of all those
who do not approve of neologisms, I propose to coin a
word free from all connection with previous ideas : such
as the word diapsychism, which means, literally, " the
passage from soul to soul," and so will suffice to desig-
nate the transmission of a psychological state from one
consciousness to another.

The Marquis de Puysegur was one of the first to ob-
serve a phenomenon of this nature. Having for the
first time provoked artificial somnambulism in his sub-



ject, Victor Vielet, he noticed that in that state the
subject appeared to divine his thoughts even though
unexpressed. " I do not have to speak," he wrote; " I
think near him; he understands and answers." From
that time during all the period that followed, and which
may be called the period of the magnetizers or of ani-
mal magnetism, allusions and descriptions in support
of this fact are encountered very frequently.

In a book too little known, Letters to a Candid In-
quirer on Animal Magnetism, William Gregory speaks
explicitly of " thought-reading " and " sympathetic
clairvoyance," and enumerates the different forms, of
which he gives many interesting examples. He claims
that he can sometimes produce the phenomenon spon-
taneously, as in the case of the Swiss novelist, Zschokke,
" who possessed at moments, spontaneously, the power
to read in the minds of others the whole of their past

Diapsychism is an essentially diverse and multiform
phenomenon; and in order to gain a just idea of it, it
is indispensable that it be studied under all its different
aspects. Almost all those who have studied it have
wrongfully limited their consideration to only one of
its many forms, and have been satisfied in the mean-
time to give a general theory. This is true, in par-
ticular, of our contemporary savants, who, not being
able to consider diapsychism as a series of experiments
systematically and exclusively oriented by the hypothesis
of suggestion, obstinately refuse to see in it more than
that one particular form of suggestion called " mental

In reality, mental suggestion is but a particular form


of a much more general phenomenon — diapsychism.
Cuvier, in his Lecons d'anatomie, defined animal mag-
netism as " any communication whatsoever established
between two nervous systems." We might slightly
modify this to define diapsychism: " Any communica-
tion whatsoever established between two brains."


Perhaps the form of intercerebral communication
which is at the same time the most simple and the most
complex is that of sensorial sympathy. This, under
certain conditions yet unknown, reflects upon the sub-
ject in one of several ways the sensations experienced
by the hypnotizer.

Dr. Pierre Janet says:

Madame B. seems to feel the majority of sensations felt by
the person who put her to sleep. She believed she herself was
drinking and her throat went through the operation of swal-
lowing when the operator drank. She always recognized ex-
actly the substance I put in my mouth, and distinguished
perfectly if I tasted salt or sugar.

The phenomenon happened just the same if I was in another
room. If, while I was in the other room, I pinched my arm
or leg, she screamed and believed indignantly that the pinch was
inflicted upon her own arm or leg.

My brother, who assisted at these experiments and who
exerted a singular influence over her, even so much that she
thought he was I, tried something still more curious. While
Madam B. was in that phase of lethargic somnambulism where
she was susceptible to mental suggestion, he went into another
room and burnt his arm. Madame B. screamed frightfully.
She held her right arm just above the wrist, and complained
of suffering intensely. I did not know at all the place where


my brother meant to burn himself; but it was just there, above
the wrist.

These identical facts already had been observed by
the early mesmerists. W. Gregory, in his Letters on
Animal Magnetism shows that " communication of the
sensations " can be produced by the senses of taste,
smell, and touch. He says:

If the operator, or another person en rapport with the subject,
puts into his mouth any food or drink whatsoever, the subject —
in most cases — instantly goes through the pantomime of eating
or drinking whatever the substance may be. If he is ques-
tioned he declares that he is eating bread, or an orange, or
candy, or that he is drinking water, or wine, or milk, or beer,
or syrup, or lemonade, or an infusion of absynthe, or eau-de-vie
— according to the substance which the operator at that mo-
ment is tasting. When the thing tasted is bitter or disagree-
able, the physiognomy of the subject shows it immediately.
His eyes are closed, and as the mesmerist is behind him, he
cannot see what is being tasted. I have seen and verified this
fact in cases so numerous that I regard it as solidly es-
tablished. . . .

If a person en rapport with the subject smells a rose, the
subject at once begins to inhale the delicious perfume; if he
smells assafoetida, the subject expresses displeasure. . . .

Whoever touches the person en rapport with the subject, is
felt by the subject at exactly the same place. If the operator
shakes the hand of any one, the subject instantly clasps an
imaginary hand. If a pin-prick is inflicted upon the back of
the mesmerist's hand, the subject withdraws his hand hastily,
rubs the place, and complains vigorously of the pain he feels.

Permit me to say that I myself have many times
observed, under absolutely satisfactory conditions of


control, that singular sympathy of the subject for the
sensations of his hypnotizer, principally the tactile sen-
sations, in the course of experiments made with my
subject, Ludovig S., whether in a hypnotic condition or
in the waking state.

It does not seem that this sympathy extends to the
senses of sight and hearing. At least, we are not
aware of the existence of any case thus far.

It is well known that certain psychologists admit,
independently of the five senses — which may be called
the exterior senses — the existence of a sixth sense, the
interior sense, or vital sense, which informs us of the
state of our organism. It is by this sense, they say,
that we are conscious of our body and are able to locate
our various sensations; it is by this sense that we are
more or less conscious of the action of our lungs, the
circulation of our blood, the beating of our heart, the
digestion in our stomach, etc. The sensations of hun-
ger and thirst, the muscular sensations, those associated
with the genital sense, those which accompany differ-
ent maladies, and still many others belong to this sixth
sense. One can see how extensive are its domains.
But it matters little whether it be considered a special
sense or a simple dependence of touch, as an inner
touch; for these questions of denomination and classi-
fication are of small importance. It is sufficient that
the existence of this special group of sensations be

But now we ask whether the sensations of this group
admit also of diapsychism — that is to say, their com-
munication from one consciousness to another. One
cannot doubt the answer.


" Sympathy," says Gregory, who means by that word
sensorial diapsychism, " extends often to the corporal
state of the operator or of another person en rapport
with the subject. The subject will feel and describe
all pain or other ill experienced by the operator; and
in some cases he will even feel or perceive intuitively
a diseased state of certain organs in the operator's body
— such as a headache, or a pain in his side, or difficult
breathing; he will assert that the brain, or the kidneys,
or the liver, or the stomach, or the heart, is deranged
in a certain way — and only too often he is right."

Gregory remarks that he is not speaking here of a
view of the state of these organs, which is a phenom-
enon of another order — clairvoyance — but of an in-
tuitive perception of the state of health or disease.

The facts of this category, of which there are many
examples, do not appear to have been studied except
very incidentally. They should be subjected to me-
thodical investigation.

If it be asked by what mechanism sensorial diapsy-
chism — the communication of sensations — is pro-
duced, it seems that we must hesitate between two
different conceptions or interpretations. Those who
see in suggestion the essential type of all the parapsy-
chic facts confuse, undoubtedly, the communication of
sensation with the communication of thought; or,
rather, it is by the former that they are forced to ex-

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