Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/220

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

described and the phenomena produced, and to an endeavor to find out how they were produced, and, as is always important in an inquiry of the sort, in what sort of people they took place. As a result I was able briefly to affirm in the columns of the Times that I found the whole series of performances to be based upon fraud, and that I had succeeded in reproducing the phenomena without employing any occult means or invoking any new powers of mind or body. This statement was welcomed by persons whose opinion I value, and by many of whom the articles in question had been read, as Prof. Tyndall writes, with "disfavor and indeed dismay." I am urged to lose no time in sweeping away this mass of rubbish, and "the disgusting superstitions" which these letters and publications have tended to promote. This I will attempt to do by stating in some detail precisely what the performances at the Charité are, and removing from them the halo of false science which has rendered them attractive and credible, and has to some extent obscured their demoralizing character. The business of demonstrating the marvels of the new hypnotism has been going on now for upward of twenty years, with very mischievous effects. It has culminated in performances of the patients of Dr. Luys in the wards of one of the greatest and most historically celebrated of the Paris hospitals. The Hospital of La Charité is a hospital with great traditions, dignified by great names, and still the seat of sound and able clinical instruction by a staff who must, I am sure, feel humiliated at finding the name of the great institution to which they belong becoming thus notorious throughout Europe for its connection with proceedings which they can but view with extreme disfavor.

In the first place, two patients were presented (who must be among the patients referred to), for they are and have been for some time the main subjects for demonstration at La Charité. One of these is a man named Mervel, an unhappy being of whom Dr. Luys promised to give me the clinical history, and of whom, briefly, it may be said that he has been all his life a wretched hysteric, subject to fits, to sleep-walking, and to catalepsy. He has passed through all the phases of this form of extreme nerve disorder. If he had been let alone, as he would have been in this country, or treated to a sound course of tonics, cold water (internally and externally), and field labor, he might have lived a more healthy life. He is now a miserable object, trained to all the tricks and the pathological aptitudes for simulation of a highly trained hypnotic, and on him were demonstrated phenomena which might indeed be "marvels" if they were not almost wholly frauds. I will run rapidly over a series of this man's performances as they were shown to me in the wards by Dr. Luys in the presence of observers, and I will presently add some of the other