Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/33

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23
MESMERISM, ODYLISM, TABLE-TURNING, ETC.

in the ordinary way, and "hypnotized" by Mr. Braid's process, that there was no other difference between the two states than that arising from the special rapport between the mesmerizer and his subject; and that this was clearly explicable by the "expectancy" under which the "subject" passed into the state of second consciousness. For Mr. Braid found himself able, by assuring his "subjects" during the induction of the coma, that they would hear the voice of one particular person and no other, to establish this rapport with any person he might choose; the case being strictly analogous to the awaking of the telegraph-clerk by the clicking of his needles, of the doctor by his night-bell, or of the mother by her infant's cry, though all would sleep soundly through far louder noises to which they felt no call to attend. And thus, as was pointed out long since by Dr. Noble and myself, not only may the general reality of the mesmeric somnambulism be fully admitted, but a scientific rationale may be found for its supposed distinctive peculiarities, without the assumption of any special "magnetic" or "mesmeric" agency.

It is affirmed, however, that proof of this agency is furnished by the power of the "silent will" of the mesmerizer to induce the sleep in "subjects" who are not in the least aware that it is being exerted; and, further, to direct from a distance the actions of the somnambule. Doubtless, if satisfactory proof of this assertion could be furnished, it would go far to establish the claim. But nothing is more difficult than to eliminate all sources of fallacy in this matter. For while it is admitted by mesmerizers that the belief that the influence is being exerted is quite sufficient in habitual somnambules to induce the result, it is equally certain that such "sensitives" are marvelously quick at guessing from slight intimations what is expected to happen. And it has been repeatedly found that mesmerizers who had no hesitation in asserting that they could send particular "subjects" to sleep, or could affect them in other ways, by an effort of silent will, have utterly failed to do so when these subjects were carefully kept from any suspicion that such will was being exerted. Thus, Dr. Noble has recorded the case of a friend of his own, who, believing himself able thus to influence a female servant whom he had repeatedly mesmerized, accepted with the full assurance of confident faith a proposal to make this experiment in Dr. Noble's house instead of his own. The girl, having been sent thither with a note, was told to sit down in Dr. Noble's consulting-room while the answer was being written; her chair being close to a partially-open door, on the other side of which her master, whom she supposed to be elsewhere, had previously taken up his position. Although this gentleman had usually found two or three minutes sufficient to send the girl to sleep when he was in his own drawing-room and she was in the kitchen, the two being separated by intervening walls and flooring, yet when he put forth his whole force for a quarter of an hour within two feet of her, with only a partially-closed door