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the same subject in the normal state.

It does not matter, this scientist affirms, that the
attentive somnambulist has a special aptitude to seize
upon and understand the signs of the hypnotist, viz.,
" the very faint muscular sounds of the interior words,
and the visible movements of the extremely weak artic-
ulation provoked by the motor images of the words."
In this latter case, however, it would be necessary to
suppose in the subject the exercise of the sense of sight.
If his eyes are closed, and if the hypnotist turns his
back to him, he must then content himself with the
sounds which inevitably accompany the muscular move-
ments necessary for interior words.

How can the facts be explained?

Dr. Ruault first disposes of all the cases where the
subject is in contact, however slight this may be, with
the hypnotist, in declaring that " they have already been
rejected, as not being mental suggestion," and even of
those cases where the hypnotist is in the presence of the
subject, for " they are not considered fully proved."
Now remains " the supreme argument, mental sug-
gestion at a great distance."

But first " it is by no means demonstrated that facts
of this kind may be safe from all criticism," since the
author does not find them in absolute contradiction to
the interpretation that he proposed; " so long as they
remain isolated, exceptional, and more or less doubt-
ful, one must be confined to registering them with the


utmost possible detail until the state of science per-
mits the explanation to be found."

It is evident that with similar processes of dialectic
one would be able to demonstrate or to refute anything
that one wished. The reader has only to review all
the facts that we have enumerated, in order to see that
the proposed interpretation falls short for the greater
part of them. It does not seem applicable even to the
experiments made by Dr. Ruault. He recognizes that
his two subjects " sometimes felt the influence strongly
from one room to another of the same apartment,"
and that he had been able to put them to sleep thus,
even though really they did not suspect his presence.
He says :

One of these persons felt me, sometimes very forcibly, when
I willed it strongly, although I was in the street and he in the
mezzanine of the Rue Cujas. One evening when, accompanied
by a friend, I left the house of one of these subjects, a medical
student, upon whom I had made some experiments in hypno-
tism, I tried, from the staircase of the lower floor, to suggest
to him mentally complete paraplegia; and it seemed to me
that my mental suggestion had reached him. I had not in any
way thought of attempting the experiment when I was near
him ; the idea did not come to me until the very moment I put
it into execution. Immediately after my attempt was made, I
went up to my somnambulist to see if the suggestion had suc-
ceeded. I found him seated in an arm-chair, complaining that
his legs were numb and he could not raise them.

Undoubtedly, Dr. Ruault himself was persuaded that
his subject had understood, through the doors of his
apartment and from one floor to another, " the very


faint muscular sounds of the interior word " which
accompanied this thought, "/ will that you present
the symptoms of complete paraplegia." But it would
be difficult to persuade others of this.

For those who, as the members of the Society for
Psychical Research, consider the facts of mental sug-
gestion as being of the same order as the facts of telep-
athy, it is not possible to explain them by the sole
hyperacuteness of the ordinary instruments of sensible
perception. We are here in the presence of an orig-
inal phenomenon, a sort of wireless telegraphy or
telephony which puts two brains into communication,
in conditions still unknown. Even these comparisons,
these expressions borrowed from physics and physiol-
ogy, are repugnant to the partizans of the telepathic
interpretation : the phenomenon, as we know it, belongs
to pure psychology.

A certain thought is in the mind of one person, A.
A thought identical to that, and certainly provoked by
it, is born at the same moment in the mind of another
person, B, even though these two persons had not been
able to exchange their thoughts by ordinary means.
All of this has many times been established, and all of
it we must admit.

What is it that happens in the brains of the two peo-
ple, and in the space which separates them?

We do not know, say the partizans of the telepathic
interpretation, and furthermore we need not trouble
about it. We must consider the fact of the communi-
cation of thought a primary fact, certain although in-
explicable, and use it boldly as a principle of explanation
for all the facts it is possible to ally with it.


Any such position appears to us to be scientifically un-
tenable. If it is the soul, as such, which, independently
of the brain and nervous system, independently of all
physiological and physical mechanism, can thus make
its action felt at a distance, we can easily establish the
fact; but this fact, without analogy to the rest of nature,
escapes all scientific explanation, all experimental re-
search. For explanation and experimentation are pos-
sible, according to Claude Bernard, only where the
phenomena are absolutely determined in their natural
conditions. To attribute to thought and will the mys-
tic property of communication from one mind to an-
other without any physical connection between the
brains where they have their natural conditions, is to
place ourselves definitely beyond the realm of science.

But any such conception is no more defendable philo-
sophically. In fact, if we regard it from the philosoph-
ical point of view, there is absolutely nothing in the
nature of the soul which can justify it.

From the fact that a certain thought is in me — for
instance, the principle of a reasoning — it can be con-
ceived that another thought must follow — for in-
stance, the conclusion of this reasoning; for there is
here no interval, no space. But from the fact that a
certain thought is produced in my brain, how does it
follow that another thought (identical or not in nature)
is produced in some other brain, separated from mine
by all sorts of intermediaries? Since it is a question
of space, we leave the immaterial sphere of conscious-
ness to fall into the realm of matter and movement; the
mechanical explanation of the phenomena, and their


experimental determination, become immediately pos-
sible and necessary.

It is, in fact, a postulate of the scientific method uni-
versally admitted by all modern scientists and philos-
ophers, since Descartes, that if we wish to study
scientifically any phenomenon whatsoever — physical
or mental — we must endeavor to connect it with
physical conditions : that is to say, to its physical ante-
cedents or concomitants. This postulate, purely scien-
tific, does not imply any hypothesis, any metaphysical
system, materialism, monism, or other. It is possible,
however, that our effort to connect certain phenomena
with physical conditions may be condemned never to
end practically; but it is experimentation which will
prove this to us, and we must not suppose it a priori,
for this would be to shut out from ourselves in advance
all possibility of scientific investigation.

Therefore, we cannot stop at the mere affirmation of
the communication of two minds, in the phenomenon of
the transmission of thought. Willingly or unwillingly,
it is necessary to admit also the intercommunication of
two brains. But, once entering upon this path, is it
possible for us not to keep on to the end : to the inter-
communication of two nervous systems — in other
words, to animal magnetism?

A characteristic of all the diapsychic phenomena is
that they imply the possibility for a brain to radiate at
a distance, not, unquestionably, the will or the thought,
but an influence capable of transmitting or reproducing
the will and the thought, as electric currents sent along
the telegraphic wires transmit — or, rather, reproduce


— the despatch at the other end. If the brain of the
operator sends nothing to the brain of the subject, and
if the intermediary space contains nothing which puts
them into relation with each other, this communication
of two consciousnesses is a supernatural, superscientific
phenomenon, which is not connected with any other in
our entire experience, and of which it would be neces-
sary to abandon all efforts to find an explanation.

But when the members of the Society for Psychical
Research oppose among themselves the two hypotheses
of effluence and thought-transference — that is to say,
animal magnetism and telepathy — are they not
blinded by an illusion produced by the words? Is it
not evident that thought-transference is only a partic-
ular form of effluence — a cerebral and mental efflu-
ence, necessarily more complicated and obscure than
the simple nervous and vital effluence?

There is no serious reason for believing that the
power to influence at a distance appertains exclusively,
in the organism, to the brain considered in its functional
unity as the organ of will and thought. Undoubtedly,
the brain has, in man, a preponderating and unique role.
It is the organ of conscious life, of intellectual and
moral life. However, its psychological functions (if
they may be called this) have evidently for their basis
and their condition the physiological properties of the
elements which compose it.

Neither will nor sensations could exist if the nerve
fibers did not possess the property of conducting move-
ment, if the nerve centers did not possess that of re-
ceiving it and of reflecting it by transforming it.

These properties, however, are not peculiar to a few


elements of the brain ; they are common to all the ele-
ments of the brain; they are the general properties of
the neurons.

Therefore, if the will and the thought can be com-
municated from one brain to another, all the analogies
not only authorize us but even oblige us to see in this
phenomenon only a particular consequence of some
general property of the cerebral and nervous cells ante-
cedent, so to speak, to the will and the thought. And
in what could this property consist, if not in a sort of
radiation or expansion of the nervous force, which the
phenomena of heat, light, and electricity render it com-
paratively easy for us to conceive?

The hypothesis which links diapsychism to animal
magnetism appears to us, therefore, to be more favor-
able than the hypothesis contrary to the investigations
of science, and to be more in conformity with the
scientific method.

But when it is a question to know, in each particular
case, whether we have to deal with a fact of animal
magnetism {nervous biactinism) or of diapsychism
{cerebralh\\sm), we should not theorize, however
ingenious and seductively easy this may be; it is ex-
perimentation alone which can lead us to the truth.




Under the denomination of clairvoyance a large
number of facts may be brought together. They might
be different in nature, but all would be extremely ob-
scure, not to say incomprehensible, and of an appear-
ance even more marvelous than those which we studied
in the preceding chapter and with which they have so
great an affinity that it is sometimes very difficult to
distinguish one from the other.

These facts, which were known long ago, especially
by the early adepts in animal magnetism, are to-day
attracting the world-wide attention of the savants.
They have been too long denied a hearing, owing to
their unscrupulous exploitation by charlatans at the
expense of the credulous public.

Perhaps the name clairvoyance (as also the term
double sight or second sight) is not very aptly chosen,
to apply equally well to all the forms of the phenome-
non ; for it is not always a question of vision. In some
cases it would appear to be analogous to a perception
of hearing (from which we have the name clair audience
to designate one of its forms) ; in others, to that of

To overcome this difficulty we should have a word
that would signify, in a general way: "Knowledge



obtained by certain individuals, in certain particular
states, which does not seem to be explicable by the exer-
cise of our normal senses and intellectual faculties."

If I did not fear to incur once more the double re-
proach of barbarism and pedantism, to which every
inventor of technical words drawn from the Greek ex-
poses himself, I should propose, in order to designate
the phenomenon in the most general way, the word
metagnomy (from beyond, and knowledge"). This
word, therefore, signifies approximately: "Knowl-
edge of things situated beyond those we can normally
know; supernormal knowledge."

The first question to arise in the study of clairvoy-
ance, or "metagnomy," is this:

Does a supernormal knowledge of this kind really

That is a question of fact, which can be answered
only by enumerating the facts. But as these facts are
so numerous and, in appearance at least, so diverse,
so different from one another, our first question must
be changed into another question :

What are the different forms of this supernormal


Our normal knowledge may bear (1) upon facts or
objects actually existing (perception) ; (2) upon past
events (memory) ; (3) upon future events (previ-
sion) ; or (4) upon the rapports, the general truths,
independent of time, such as, for example, scientific
laws (generalization, reasoning, reason proper).

If we apply this classification to supernormal knowl-


edge, it seems that we can, at least temporarily, well
omit the last of these categories, because the facts that
could be classified under this fourth heading are exceed-
ingly rare, and especially because it is very difficult to
distinguish them from normal facts of the same kind.
On the one hand, mediums, even those with exceptional
powers of clairvoyance, have never or seldom revealed
to humanity any scientific truths of importance. On
the other hand, who can say where the normal and
the supernormal begin and where they end, in the intui-
tions of men of genius? In studying the metagnomic
phenomena, therefore, we can limit ourselves to the
first three kinds of knowledge : perception, memory,
and prevision.

With regard to perception, it seems that a special
sense — which might be called a sixth sense — would
appear to be developed in certain individuals, in certain
particular circumstances, in order to put them en rap-
port with the radiations or emanations of things in-
accessible to our ordinary senses, and to permit the
intelligence of these subjects or mediums thus to have
information sui generis, the origin of which is entirely
unknown to us.

Is there not something analogous to this in the
extraordinary acuteness of the dog's sense of smell,
or in its sense of locality or orientation? We are
forced to believe the existence of this sense in a large
number of animals, without in any way being able to
understand its nature.

It is exceedingly difficult to classify the many and
varied forms of metagnomic perception; for the differ-
ences between them are often imperceptible, and we are


not unaware of the strongly arbitrary and artificial
divisions which we are obliged to introduce in the midst
of facts really indivisible, in order to facilitate their

All psychological treatises teach the distinction be-
tween perception by consciousness (inner perception or
intimate sense, having for its object the psychological
life of the "self") and perception by the senses (ex-
terior perception, having for its object the world of
material things) ; in other words, subjective perception
and objective perception.

Similarly, although not so precisely, we could distin-
guish two varieties of clairvoyant or metagnomic per-
ception, the first being exercised especially in the inner
world of consciousness, the second belonging rather to
the exterior world of objects and physical events.

It is undoubtedly necessary to attribute to the former
that strange faculty which certain subjects possess of
being able to perceive the condition of their internal
organs, with such distinctness as to enable them to de-
scribe this condition precisely. This faculty was recog-
nized by the early mesmerists, and afterward admitted
and studied by Dr. Sollier under the name of autoscopy.
It was demonstrated in the case of a patient who, hav-
ing swallowed a pin two months previously, was able,
in a state of hypnosis, to follow it in all the stages of
its voyage through the intestines.

The field of vision of this faculty is not necessarily
limited to the organism of the one who possesses it; it
can be exercised also upon the organism of another
person. Many somnambulists, according to the early
mesmerists, perceived the condition of the organs of


persons who were put en rapport with them, and ex-
perienced, by a sort of inexplicable sympathy, the same
internal organic sensations. There was a co-penetra-
tion of two sensibilities and of two consciousnesses.
We studied it in the preceding chapter under the name
of diapsychism. It could better be said that diapsy-
chism is a particular form of metagnomy, since it also
is " a knowledge obtained by certain individuals, in cer-
tain particular states, which is not explicable by the
exercise of our normal senses and intellectual faculties."

It is a fact of the same kind which must really con-
stitute what has been called the magnetic rapport.
The hypnotized subject, who is insensible to all other
persons, is particularly sensible to the influence of his
hypnotizer. When any one else speaks to him, he
does not understand nor answer. He understands and
answers when the hypnotizer speaks to him; and he
understands and answers equally well all other persons
who are put en rapport with the hypnotizer by contact.
He perceives, then, in some way unknown to us, the
contacts felt by the hypnotizer.

It is not only the inner sensations which may thus be
perceived: one may perceive also phenomena of a more
purely psychological or subjective nature — ideas, in-
tellectual operations, acts of will, of taste, of habits,
the disposition, innate or acquired, the temperament,
the character. The medium reads the thought, the
soul, of some one else, as he would read himself.
Sometimes it is at the request or with the permission
of the other person that he penetrates into the inner self
thus opened to his gaze. But sometimes, also, it is
spontaneously, and unknown to the other persons, that


his gaze penetrates them and discovers secrets hidden
in the very depths of their consciousness. It is then a
true divination of thought.

Those beings who are gifted with such powers of
divination are, in the eyes of Dr. Osty, prodigies in
whom " the brain has reached a higher degree of sen-
sibility, when it becomes the reactive capable of disclos-
ing what is in the brains of other men. They are the
interpreters that nature has created between our whole
mind and our consciousness. They are the mirrors be-
fore which our otherwise unconscious thoughts are seen
and comprehended."


The objective or physical form of metagnomic per-
ception, whose affinities with diapsychism (thought-
transference) are less visible, also presents a large num-
ber of varieties.

First, let us set aside those which correspond to the
phenomena we have brought together under the name
of hyloscopy, the most common of which are the influ-
ences exercised by springs, currents of water, metals,
etc., upon the special sensibility of pendulum- and rod-

If we consider rather the perceptions relevant to the
general sensibility common to the entire human race,
the first fact to note is that of the exteriorization of the
sensitiveness, discovered by Colonel de Rochas, but the
interpretation of which is still generally contested.
Instead of perceiving upon his own body the contacts,
pricks, pinches, etc., that are made, the subject feels
them at various distances, or even in objects which


have been for a certain length of time in contact with

Related to this fact is that of reading through the
tips of the fingers. We have analyzed in detail an
example of this kind in Our Hidden Forces. 1 The
series of experiments related there was, unfortunately,
interrupted by the departure of the subject, Ludovig S.,
for the north of France, where he remained from 1907
until 19 14. It was only in 19 14 that he returned to
Dijon, where the mobilization had called him, and
where he remained but a very short time. During his
stay, however, I managed to conduct some interesting

On December 9, 19 14, Ludovig S. came to my clinic at about
6 :45 in the evening, and was very quickly put to sleep by verbal
suggestion. I then blindfolded him, and turned on the electric
light in a room near my clinic (my secretary's office). I closed
the door of this room, and left half open that leading from my
clinic into a small passage which separated the two rooms. The
only illumination that I had, then, was the light which came
through the glass door of my secretary's office into the clinic.
The subject, blindfolded, was seated in the farthest and darkest
corner of the room.

I put into his hands a folded copy of a newspaper, " I'lnde-
pendant, de VAuxois et du Morvan," the first line of the title,
I'Independant, being printed in very large characters.

He passed his fingers over the title; but it seemed that his
special sensibility had disappeared, or perhaps was singularly
dulled during the very long interruption of our experiments, for
he declared that he could " see " nothing.

I gave him then a volume bound in red morocco, which had,

1 Chapter XI, " Apparent Transposition of the Senses."


printed in relief, in the center of its cover the arms of the second
empire, and around this the words: " Concours general des
departements." I urged the subject to persist, and to have con-
fidence in himself, telling him that this time the letters were

I heard him murmur the syllable " Con " ; and then he

" That is right," I encouraged him.

" Cornell," said he.

" No! Pay attention! " I commanded.

" Conference'' he said.

I told him that there were two words, one following the
other ; and he then deciphered the second, " general'' syllable by
syllable. Next came the inscription below : " des departe-
ments." He then returned to " Concours " and read it at last,
but not without hesitation and much effort.

The title of a novel by Frometin, Dominique, was then read
very easily ; and the subject himself recognized that there was
something above the title : " Eugene Fromentin," he read.

Similarly, he read upon another volume: " L'hysterie et
la neurasthenie chez le paysan."

Then followed : " Serotherapie antitetanique." For the last
word there was hesitation upon the " antite" the subject saying
at many attempts, " antitera" before he read it correctly.

The newspaper was again put into his hands. This time he
read without difficulty: " I'Independant" ; but he went no
farther, declaring that there was nothing more there. I saw
then that, the paper being folded, the second line of the title,
" de I'Auxois et du Morvan" was under the fold. But, al-
though printed in very small characters, he read it as easily as
the rest when it was put under his fingers.

An old photograph, of somewhat large size, was then given
to him ; and he asked me if it was necessary for him to " see "
it. When I answered in the affirmative, he told me that it


was my portrait, and I was shown in profile — which was quite

A second photograph, smaller in size, and in medallion form,
was given to him. Once more he asked if it was necessary for
him to see it ; and when I answered as before, he said : " It is
you, but in another pose: turned almost full-face, and taken
from the other side." This equally was true.

Proceeding always in the same direction, we find the
fact of sight through opaque bodies, many times de-

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