Clairvoyance Outside of Hypnosis

In the posts here, here, here, here, here, here and here, I cited very many accounts of clairvoyance in those who were hypnotized,  accounts often written by physicians. Reports of clairvoyance in people in hypnotic trances (sometimes called somnambules) seem to be more common than reports of clairvoyance in those who are not hypnotized. But in the literature of the paranormal, there are reports of people with a "second sight" who seemed to have remarkable clairvoyance, even when they were not hypnotized. 

In a nineteenth century work, we read this quote from the influential scholar and theorist Allan Kardec:

"We know in Paris a lady who possesses permanent second sight, and with whom it is as natural as normal vision. She sees without effort and without concentration, the character, the habits, and the antecedents of those who approach her; she describes disease and prescribes efficacious treatment with greater facility than that of many ordinary somnambulists; it suffices to think of an absent person—she at once sees him and describes him. On one occasion we were with her and we saw someone pass in the street who was connected with us, but whom she had never seen. Without the preliminary of any question being put to her she very exactly depicted his moral character and gave us very sound advice about him.  This lady is not a somnambulist; she speaks of what she sees as she would speak of other things, without interrupting her occupation. Is she a medium ? She does not herself know, for until recently she did not even know the name of spiritualism."

The author of the work (Gabrielle Delanne) cites two similar cases that the author witnessed:

"We can add our testimony to that of Allan Kardec. About twenty years ago we were associated with a Madame Bardeau, who possessed this faculty. She was able to describe exactly people who lived far away in the southern provinces, and whom she had never seen, and was able to give details concerning their characters and circumstances. She made certain predictions which were fulfilled. Nevertheless she was in a normal state, her eyes wide open, and she carried on conversation on other subjects, interrupting herself occasionally to add some trait concerning the face or character of the absent person which rendered the description more complete. At the present time we know a woman, Mme. Renardat, who can see at a distance without being entranced. We have had incontestible proof of this, for she correctly described one of our uncles who lived at Gray, she specified the disease he had (unknown to his medical attendants), and predicted his death, and this without ever having known him."

A nineteenth century work describes the following cases of clairvoyance during "natural somnambulism" that was not brought on by a hypnotist:

  • A girl of twelve was inflicted with convulsions, catalepsy, paroxysms and syncope (fainting).  During such paroxysms, she was able to distinguish all colors presented to her, and recognize the numbers on cards, even though her eyes were firmly closed, and a bandage placed over her eyes. 
  • A rope maker would often fall into some kind of sleep or trance, during which he would move about with great agility, avoiding obstructions and obstacles in front of him, even though his eyes were firmly closed. 
  • A girl aged sixteen would often suffer paroxysms that would involve a "profound sleep." In such a state she would often run around all over the place outdoors, never injuring herself. We are told "During all these hazardous operations her eyes were fast closed and she appeared to be deprived of all her other senses." 
  • A girl aged fifteen would often fall into catalepsy and trances. We read this: "If, as she lay upon the sofa, her eyes firmly closed, I opened a book having pictures in it and sat behind her in a position where it was physically impossible that she could see what I was doing, and I looked at one of the pictures, she forthwith exhibited, in pantomimic action, the posture of each person there depicted."  In such an altered state of consciousness she could also apparently tell what people were doing in other rooms, with such an ability being confirmed in tests run many times. 

In the account below it is hard to tell whether hypnosis was involved. Some school boys completely unfamiliar with hypnosis said that one boy "only seemed to go to sleep when we told him to do so."  We read the following:

"But his eyes alone were shut, for he walked about, and talked, and said he could see things in our boxes. One of our games with him was to place a book upon the floor, throw the blanket over it and then tell him to read any page we named. He always did so quite rightly. But none of as knew what was on that page. We tried this so many times, with so many different books, that it was impossible he could have known beforehand what the page contained. We tested him with pocket-books and letters, and he did the same."

In the nineteenth century, there was once a habit of making walnut-shaped candies containing small strips of paper called mottoes, with there being innumerable variations of such mottoes (which might have between one and four lines of text). These confections were kind of "fortune cookies before there were fortune cookies," since fortune cookies only appeared in the early twentieth century.  In an edition of the journal The Zoist (the 20th Number of the Zoist for April, 1848, 6th vol., p. 96 and thereafter) a Dr. Ashburner records about seven pages of tests of two subjects who could read the paper strips inside walnut-shaped candies before the candies were broken open to reveal what was on the strips inside the candies. He states on page 101 that "both the girls were wide awake," indicating they were not in a hypnotic trance.  

Sometimes clairvoyance seems to occur as a one-shot thing. In the case reported here, a little girl claimed to see her father (stationed far away in India) with "blood running from a big wound."  Her companions denied seeing any such thing. It was later found that her father had been shot and died from the wound, at about the same time the strange vision occurred. 

Some people have demonstrated a dramatic second sight outside of hypnosis, by means of what is called psychometry.  Psychometry occurs when a person seems to display an inexplicable knowledge of someone living or dead, after touching some object associated with that person  Below is a dramatic account of such a thing from the nineteenth century:

"At one time while in Chicago, after I had delivered a discourse on the subject of psychology, a lady by the name of Mrs. Wilson Porter, who lived at Peoria, III., taking hold of my cane (which had been placed upon the piano, with several other canes, hats and umbrellas) without knowing whose it was, and had never seen me before, commenced to read my history, and spoke of some of the leading events in my life, at the same time telling the dates on which the events occurred, also my age at the time these events happened, as well as my age at the time of reading. She then took up the cane of another man, and read his history as accurately as she had done mine, and spoke of what was likely to happen when he would reach the age of forty-two years. And on appealing to the man for testimony, the man said: 'A part of it was true, but he could not vouch for the truth of all that had been said.' When the lady replied : ' I am aware that you cannot vouch for all that has been said, because you have not reached the age of forty-two years ; but in one week from next Tuesday, you will be forty-two years old, and on that day you will be able to testify.' The gentleman arose and stated that on that day he would reach the age of forty-two years, and that, although he had never seen the lady before and (being a travelling man) was a stranger to everyone present, still what she had told him was true. I might give you many more instances of similar experiences, but what I have said is sufficient to give you an idea of what is meant by psychometry."

According to a newspaper account in the Duluth Herald, a young girl named Ethel Gilliam suffered an illness that left her body cold, clammy and apparently dead.  Her body was placed in a coffin. An hour before her funeral was to begin, she awoke, complaining that she wished she had not been brought back. This is a common complaint of those having near-death experiences, who often say they had visited some place where they very much wanted to stay.  The girl said she had visited heaven. 

The girl was now blind. But she seemed to be gifted with "a wonderful power that enabled her to read and see by the sense of touch alone." Such a power has been been reported after 1970 in very many children in China, as you can read about here. We read the following from the newspaper account:

"Although blind, this girl can read by passing her fingers over the printed or written page, and can describe persons whose pictures were handed to her. The latter power was first discovered by ]. B. Cawthorn, a photographer, whose mother lives in Walla Walla. He told the marvellous story to a Sunday-school in Palouse city, and Mr. Gray and wife, hearing it, drove out to the home of the girl to see for themselves. Mr. Gray first handed the sick girl his watch, and she told him it was a gold watch, and the time of day by passing her fingers over the glass.To make sure that her power was genuine a paper was held between her face and a photograph that Mr. Gray handed to her, and she described the picture perfectly as that of an old gentleman with gray whiskers, wearing a dark suit and a cravat. She read from books and papers handed to her, by the use of her fingers. Mr. and Mrs. Gray tell many other wonderful things in relation to this child."

In a nineteenth century work we read the following:

"The Pacific Hotel, in St. Louis, was destroyed by fire, February, 1858. A little brother of Mr. Henry Rochester, living at home with his parents near Avon, N. Y., woke screaming from sleep the night of the fire, and declared that his brother Henry was burning to death in an hotel. Such was the boy's horror and alarm that it was with difficulty he could be pacified. This was about midnight. Twelve hours afterwards the parents received a telegram from St. Louis, confirming the boy's vision in every particular."

The case of Mollie Fancher of Brooklyn is a very-well documented case of clairvoyance outside of hypnotism (although there was often a kind of trance not produced by hypnotism). Mollie's case is probably the most interesting medical case history in the history of New York City. Mollie suffered terrible injuries such as falling from a horse, and being dragged for a block after her skirt got caught in a street car she was trying to exit. She was left bed-bound for decades, suffering from a complex variety of severe physical problems and severe mental afflictions which  included blindness,  nine years in a state rather like a coma (characterized by spasms, trances and catalepsy), and eventually something like split personality.  Her observers claimed to have observed six different personalities appearing from Mollie.  She often claimed to see spirits. In the midst of all of this physical and mental turmoil, she repeatedly displayed dramatic powers of clairvoyance, according to very many reliable witnesses.  She also seemed to survive for incredible lengths of time without eating.  Her story is told in a 300-page 1894 book by Abram Dailey. 


Below is testimony from a Miss Crosby who long observed Mollie:

"Some of the remarkable things which she, Miss Fancher, has done during her sickness are as follows : She could tell the exact time by simply passing her hand over the crystal of the watch ; also tell the exact time across the room ; she could tell the approach of a thunder storm some hours before it came ; she could also tell the fire bells were going to ring sometimes as much as five- minutes before they really did ring. She has very often told what parties were doing over in New York, and even further away, and has always been correct in her statements. Persons ringing the door bell at the house, she could recognize before they entered the house."

The author of a book describing in great detail the case of Mollie Flancher writes the following (using the word "visited" to describe a kind of "traveling clairvoyance"):

"In this way she has visited the homes of friends, and, as will be related by Mr. Sargent, she has been to him when he has been nearly a thousand miles away, and described his surroundings and the persons present so minutely, in advance of any statement from him, that to doubt her powers would be absurd. Many and severe tests have been made to determine the fact of her clairvoyance, and I am not aware that any person who has made the test, has any doubt that she possesses that very interesting and remarkable gift."

The author describes a test he made, using a double blindfold that was superfluous because of Mollie's blindness or near-blindness:

"I immediately arose, and securely covered her eyes by placing a double handkerchief over them and covering the lower part of her face, as she lay upon her bed. There was not a movement that any of us could make, or a thing which we could do, which she could not distinctly describe to us, with as much readiness as either of us could have done, had the same been done before our eyes. So many rigid tests have been made of Miss Fancher's powers in this direction, that human testimony fails in its purpose, if it is not believed that Miss Fancher is at times more or less clairvoyant. She is much more clairvoyant at some times than at others. When the day is gloomy and dark, or great storms are about approaching, the atmospheric conditions appear to affect her very sensibly, and then her clairvoyant sight is very much impaired. She sees best, and reads the most readily, when the room is so dark that others can scarcely see the print. The most hardened skeptics in these matters have been compelled to succumb when in the presence of Miss Fancher."

The account below is very interesting, and the mention of Mollie  being "strangely transfigured" and with "illuminated" features matches many accounts of people reporting such an illumination in faces just before death:

"I have seen her at times when she was strangely transfigured ; her features were illuminated. She seemed on the very border-land between the seen and the unseen universe. When I have questioned her upon the subject, she has told me that she was conscious of the presence of friends and relations who have died, and particularly of her mother and aunt, whom she sees clairvoyantly."

 A newspaper called the Brooklyn Eagle published an account of Mollie Fancher which stated this: 

"When in the quiet condition of rigidity, the patient is in a trance. Her eyes closed, the ears are dead to sound, the muscles cease to act, respiration is hardly perceptible, and once or twice a state of ecstacy indicative of mental unsteadiness has resulted. These seasons last for four days, or two hours each. When in this condition, she is powerfully clairvoyant in her faculties. She can tell the time by several watches variously set to deceive her, read unopened letters, decipher the contents of a slate, and repeat what 'Mrs. Grundy says,' by serving up the gossip of the neighborhood. She appears to possess the faculty of second sight to a remarkable degree."

A Dr. West testified this about the bed-bound Mollie Fancher after long observing her:

"Her power of clairvoyance, or second sight, is marvelously developed. All places in which she takes any interest are open to her mental vision. Distance interposes no barriers. No retirement, however secluded, but yields to her penetrating gaze. She dictates the contents of sealed letters, which have never been in her hands, without the slightest error. She visits the family circles of her relations and acquaintances in remote places and describes their attire and their occupations. She points out any disorder of dress, however slight, as the basting thread in the sleeve of a sack which to ordinary sight was concealed by the arm. Any article which has been mislaid she sees and tells where it may be found. She discriminates in darkness the most delicate shades of color with an accuracy that never errs. She works in embroidery and wax without patterns. She conceives the most beautiful forms and combinations of forms."

An astronomy professor named Henry M. Parkhurst wrote that he had tried a test of clairvoyance on Mollie that she had passed, correctly identifying words (including "jurisdiction") and numbers in a slip that had been surrounded with papers and put in a sealed envelope.  

The New York Sun reported the following about Mollie Fancher:

"No sooner had Miss Fancher emerged from her first trance, soon after the accident, than she astonished her relatives by an extraordinary description of what she had seen while in that condition. It was unmistakable second sight. As the trances continued the manifestations increased. She watched and related in detail the movements of the family's friends in different parts of the city, and ultimately narrated what was happening to those who were many miles away. She read letters that were enclosed in envelopes and kept in the pockets of those about her. She recognized persons who rang the door bell, while they were still outside the house, and, of course, not visible to her. She read books whose covers were closed, and newspapers that were folded. Every day brought some new and astonishing development of this power."

The same newspaper also describes the following, suggesting an ability of Mollie to see without eyes:

"While Miss Fancher's eyes were absolutely sightless, the eyelids being closed and the eyeballs fixed as though in death, she was able with facility and without seeming effort, to make marvels of fancy work. For her gentlemen friends she embroidered suspenders and worked slippers and watch pockets, and for companions of her girlhood she made needlework of all kinds, pin cushions and wax flowers. Every stitch was in proper place, every shade of colored thread and worsted was correctly drawn. Her handiwork was as near perfection as could be. Some of it was sent to fairs, where its maker being unknown it was pronounced superior to all others of its kind exhibited."

Later we read this astonishing account of the powers of Mollie  Fancher:

"She does all sorts of little things that fill you with astonishment. Sometimes I have carried to her a photograph of some one whom she knew before the accident. She always saw and recognized it before it was taken from my pocket. I know of many instances in which she has read letters while they were in an envelope in the pockets of gentlemen. As for books and newspapers, she reads them readily, no matter what part of the room they are in. When first taken she seemed to read by sense of touch, which, by the way, was for many months the only sense she possessed. Drawing her thumb over the printed lines with great rapidity, she was able to tell for a long time thereafter just what the text was. Her memory of things that happened while she was in that rigid condition was astonishingly accurate. I took her a book one day, and she drew her thumb rapidly over the title page and began to laugh. Of course I asked the cause of her merriment, and she answered that — , mentioning the name of a very dear friend, had two years before given her the same book ; and with that she gave me a running sketch of its contents in a highly intelligent and surprisingly accurate manner. She soon ascertained, however, that it was not necessary to touch the words to understand their meaning, but absorbed the contents of printed or written matter. She knows whenever the newspapers print anything about her before it is read to her."

We have in the case of the blind or nearly-blind and bed-bound Mollie Fancher a subject who was so severerly injured and handicapped and restricted in so many ways that no can explain the reported clairvoyant effects without suggesting some utterly unbelievable conspiracy theory.  The standard device of trying to explain away such reports by appealing to "wily trickery" is unthinkable in this case. 

A declassified document from the files of the CIA makes the following claims about a Chinese person:

"One of the more spectacular examples is Mr. Chao Chey Zboun - previously an ordinary worker at one of Beijing factories. After qigong training he developed mental telepathy and clairvoyance skills as well as ability to diagnose and cure some diseases. He is known to see people's interior 'like on an X-ray picture' and can distinguish in this way malfunctioning body organs from the healthy ones."

The document notes some credible figures involved in research on such topics, stating that, "among the world class scientists who were the first ones to show the courage to attach their reputation to the research of paranormal abilities and phenomena are Dr. Qian Xuesen (graduate of MIT and Caltech, the founder of. China's space and missile technology), Dr. C.Y. Chao (discovery of external e + e- pair production and annihilation processes) , and Dr. G. C. Wang." 

A nineteenth century writer tells how he knew a person who reviewed very skeptically a book on the paranormal, but who confessed that he had a servant in the habit of sleepwaking during the night and in such a state doing all kinds of complex chores, avoiding obstacles, with her eyes closed, as if she were clairvoyant.  The man  was convinced this behavior was no simulation or trick.