Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/560

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544
PsYcHicAL RESEARCH

she lets fall a drop of burning oil upon the face of Cupid, who awakes and disappears. Wandering over the earth in search of him, Psyche falls into the hands of Venus, who forces her to undertake the most difficult tasks. The last and most dangerous of these is to fetch from the world below the box containing the ointment of beauty. She secures the box, but on her way back opens it and is stupefied by the vapour. She is only restored to her senses by contact with the arrow of Cupid, at whose entreaty Jupiter makes her immortal and bestows her in marriage upon her lover. The meaning of the allegory is obvious. Psyche, as the personification of the soul, is only permitted to enjoy her happiness so long as she abstains from ill-advised curiosity. The desire to pry into its nature brings suffering upon her; but in the end, purified by what she has undergone, she is restored to her former condition of bliss by the mighty power of love.

On this story see L. Friedländer, "Ueber das Märchen von Amor and Psyche" (in Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms, 1888, vol. i.; for a treatment of the Greek conception, see E. Rohde, Psyche, 1894). For Psyche in art see A. Conze, De Psyches imaginibus quibusdam (1855); Max Collignon, Essai sur les monuments grecs et romains relatifs au mythe de Psyché (1877).


PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, a term which may be defined, partially, as an examination into the amount of truth contained in world-wide superstitious. Thus when Saul disguised himself before his séance with the witch of Endor, and when Croesus scientifically tested the oracles of Greece (finding clairvoyance or lucidité in the Delphic Pythoness), Saul and Croesus were psychical researchers. A more systematic student was the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry. In his letter to Anebo, answered in Ilepl /avarnpiwv by Iamblichus (P) we find Porphyry concerned with the usual alleged phenomena-prophecy; the power of walking through fire unharmed; the movements of inanimate objects, untouched; the “levitation” of “mediums”; apparitions of spirits, their replies to questions, the falsehood of those replies; and so forth. Similar phenomena fill the lives of the saints and the records of witch trials. ' Apparitions, especially of the dying or the dead; the stereotyped disturbances in haunted houses; and the miraculous healing of diseases, are current in classical and medieval records. The exhibition of remote or even future events, to gazers in mirrors, crystals, vessels full of water, or drops of ink or blood, is equally notorious in classical, Oriental, medieval and modern literature; while the whole range of these phenomena is found in Chinese, japanese, Hindu, ancient American, Red Indian and savage belief.

At various periods, and in proportion to the scientific methods of the ages. attempts have been made to examine these things scientincally. St Augustine wrote on the whole topic with remarkable acuteness and considerable scepticism; his treatment of miracles of healing is especially noteworthy. After Petrus Thyraeus (1546-1601), S. ]. Wierus, Ludwig Lavater (1527-1586), and other authors of the 16th century, came the labours of Glanvill, Henry More, Richard Baxter, Boyle, Cotton Mather, and others in England and America, during and after the Restoration. Attempts were made to get first-hand evidences and Glanvill investigated the knocking drummer of Tedworth in situ (1663). The disturbances in the house of the Wesleys at Epworth (1716 and later) were famous, and have copious contemporary record. David Hume believed himself to have settled questions which, when revived by the case of Swedenborg and the experiments of Mesmer and his pupils, puzzled and interested Kant. The influence of Mesmer has never died out; the fact of “ animal magnetism” (with such examples as the “ divining rod, " and the phenomena in general) was accepted in his manner, and explained, by Hegel. The researches of Braid (c. 1840-1850) gave a new name, “ hypnotism, ” to what had been called “mesmerism” or “animal magnetism ”; a name conveying no theory of “ magnetic ” or other “ fluids.” “ Mesmerism ” implies a theory of “ emanations ” from the operator to the patient; “hypnotism” implies no such hypothesis. In the middle of the 19th century Dr Gregory and Dr Mayo published their entertaining but uns systematic works, Animal Magnetism and The Truths

respectively. Esdaile and Elliotson

in the medical use of induced sleep

in Popular Superstitions

were practical pioneers

or somnambulism. For

their ideas and experiments The Zoist may be consulted. The “turning tables” then

epidemic of “spiritualism” and of

invaded Europe from America, and was discussed by Dr Carpenter, Faraday, Gasparin, De Morgan and many others. The adventures of Daniel Dunglas Home excited all Europe, and his effects were studied by Sir William Crookes with especial attention. Home disappeared after a lawsuit; his successes remain an unsolved enigma. Believers explained them by the agency of the spirits of the dead, the old savage theory. He had many followers, most of whom, if not all, were detected in vulgar impostures. Of the books of this period those of Mr Richard Dale Owen (ISIC-1890) are the most curious, but exact method was still to seek.

In 1882 the Society for Psychical Research, under the presidency of Henry Sidgwick, professor of moral philosophy in the university of Cambridge, was founded expressly for the purpose of introducing scientific method into the study of the “ debate able phenomena.” Other early members were Edmund Gurney, F. W. H. Myers, Andrew Lang, Professor Barrett, Mrs Sidgwick, F. Podmore, Lord Tennyson, Lord Rayleigh and Professor Adams; while among presidents were Professor Balfour Stewart, A. ]. Balfour, Professor William James of Harvard and Sir William Crookes. The society has published many volumes of Proceedings. In France and in Germany and Italy many men of distinguished scientific position have examined the Italian “ medium ” Eusapia Palladino, and have contributed experiments, chiefly in the field of hypnotism and “ telepathy.” Hypnotism has been introduced into official experimental psychology and medicine with some success. It is plain that the range of psychical research is almost unlimited. It impinges on anthropology (with its study of the savage theory of spirits-animism-and of diabolical possession), and on the usual province of psychology, in the problems of the hallucinations both of morbid patients and of people in normal mental health. The whole topic of the unconscious or subconscious self is made matter not of mere metaphysical speculation (as by Kant and Hamilton), but of exact observation, and, by aid of hypnotism and automatisrn, of direct experiment. The six original committees of the society undertook the following themes:-

1. An examination of the nature and extent of any influence which may be exerted by one mind upon another, apart from any generally recognized mode of perception. 2. The study of hypnotism and the forms of so-called mesmeric trance, clairvoyance and other allied phenomena. 3. A critical revision of Reichenbach's researches into certain organizations called “ sensitive.”

4. A careful investigation of any reports, resting on strong testimony, regarding apparitions at the moment of death or otherwise, or regarding disturbances in houses reputed to be haunted.

5. An inquiry into the various physical phenomena commonly called spiritualistic, with an attempt to discover their causes and general laws.

6. The collection and collation of existing materials bearing on the history of these subjects.

To these themes we might now add the study of “crystal gazing,” and of the hallucinatory visions which a fair percentage of people observe when staring into any clear deep, usually a glass ball; but ink (with some experimenters) does as well, or a glass water-jug. Of these themes, the third has practically led to nothing. The experiments of Reichenbach on the perception of flames issuing from magnets have not been verified. The collection of historical examples, again (6), has not been much pursued by the society, except in Mr Gurney's studies of witchcraft in Phaiitasms of the Living, by himself, Mr Podmore and Mr Myers. On the other hand, a vast number of experiments were made in “thought transference.” (1) Diagrams drawn by A were reproduced by B; cards thought of, numbers