The Academic Committee That Found in Favor of Clairvoyance

During the nineteenth century very many experiments and observations seemed to show that a person who is put in a hypnotic trance can show abilities of the mind beyond what he could show in a normal state of consciousness. As Jay Thompson Hudson said in his book The Law of Psychic Phenomena, "The London Society for Psychical Research has demonstrated beyond all question the fact that telepathy is a power possessed by many; and the early mesmerists have shown conclusively that the hypnotic condition is the one of all others the most favorable for the development and exhibition of that power." 

The discovery of hypnotism stemmed from the late eighteenth century teachings of Anton Mesmer. Mesmer advanced a theory of “animal magnetism” used as a system of healing, obtaining remarkable successes that were hard-to-explain. According to an article in the Psi Encyclopedia, “A disciple of Mesmer, Marquis de Puységur, discovered a particular condition he termed ‘artificial somnambulism,’ a special mental state between waking and sleeping, in which a person might show ‘lucidity’ regarding matters beyond the limits of normal perception, remembering nothing of what had occurred on returning to normal consciousness.” According to another work, this discovery of "artificial somnambulism" by Chastenet de 
Puységur occurred in 1784. Today this unusual state of consciousness is commonly referred to as a hypnotic trance, although old literature may refer to it as a state of somnambulism or “being magnetized," a reference that comes from the term "animal magnetism."

Mainstream discussion of official investigations into this topic provide us with a glaring example of how materialists cherry-pick information they report to us. A mainstream discussion of Mesmerism and hypnotism will typically include a discussion of a 1784 French scientific committee investigating Mesmerism, one that produced a negative report. Such a mainstream discussion will typically make no mention at all of the French scientific committee created in 1825 to study Mesmerism and hypnotism. Of the two, the 1825 committee was a much more thorough affair. Instead of rushing out a report in a few months, as did the 1784 committee, the committee formed in 1825 took six years to reach its result. No doubt the reason we almost never hear about this 1825-1831 committee in the mainstream literature is that after very carefully investigating the topic, the committee found in favor of clairvoyance. 

Let us look at some of what is contained in the 1831 report of the 1825-1831 committee of the Royal Academy of Medicine, which can be read in full here. The committe consisted of 11 distinguished figures from the Royal Academy of Medicine, mainly doctors and professors (or those with equivalent training). 

Using the term “somnambulism” for hypnotism, the report states the following:In the midst of the experiments...other attempts were made upon him with the view of observing the lucidity (clairvoyance), that is, the power of seeing through the closed eyelids, which he was said to possess during somnambulism.After mentioning some initials experiments that were not very successful in showing clairvoyance,  the report describes an encounter which it says let them “verify the phenomena of vision with the eyes closed”:

We proceeded to ascertain the lucidity (clairvoyance) of the somnambulist. He having declared that he could not see with the bandage, it was taken off; but then we determined to assure ourselves that the eyelids were exactly closed. For this purpose, a candle was almost constantly held, during the experiments, before the eyes of M. Petit, at a distance of one or two inches; and several persons had their eyes continually fixed upon his. None of us could perceive the slightest separation of the eyelids. M. Ribes, indeed, remarked that their edges were superimposed so that the eye-lashes crossed each other....We proceeded to verify the phenomena of vision with the eyes closed. M. Ribes, member of the Academy, presented a catalogue which he took from his pocket. The somnambulist, after some efforts which seemed to fatigue him, read very distinctly the words, 'Lavater. Il est bien difficile de connaitre les hommes.' The last words were printed in very small characters. A passport was placed under his eyes; he recognised it, and called it a passe-homme. Some moments afterwards, a port d’armes was substituted, which we all know to be in almost all respects similar to a passport, and the blank side of it was presented to him. M. Petit, at first, could only recognise that it was of a particular figure, and very like the former. A few moments afterwards, he told us what it was, and read distinctly the words, 'De par le roi,' and on the left, 'port d’armes.' Again, he was shewn an open letter; he declared that he could not read it, as he did not understand English. In fact it was an English letter. M. Bourdois took from his pocket a snuff-box, upon which there was a cameo set in gold. At first the somnambulist could not see it distinctly; he said that the gold setting dazzled him. When the setting was covered with the fingers, he said that he saw the emblem of fidelity. When pressed to tell what this emblem was, he added, 'I see a dog, he is as if on his hind legs before an altar.' This, in fact, was what was represented.”

The investigator then tell us that this M. Petit was able to play cards while his eyes were closed:

One of the gentlemen present, M. Raynal, formerly inspector of the university, played a game at piquet with M. Petit and lost it. The latter handled his cards with the greatest dexterity, and without making any mistake.....During all this time, we never ceased to examine the eyes, and to hold a candle near them; and we always found them exactly closed.... Finally, M. Bourdois declared, that, according to all human probability, and as far as it was possible to judge by the senses, the eyelids were exactly closed.”

Using the word "somnambulist" for someone hypnotized, the royal committe report then states that three other hypnotized people showed the same clairvoyance: “The wish expressed upon this subject by our president was not long of being gratified by three somnambulists, who, besides this clairvoyance, observed in the preceding case, presented proofs of an intuition, and of a prevision very remarkable, whether for themselves or for others.

We then get details of a more stringent test: one in which a hypnotized person was able to see with clairvoyance even though his eyes were closed and the finger tips of experimenters were placed upon his eyes:

M. Foissac told us that he was going to set Paul asleep, that in this state of somnambulism, a finger should be applied to each of his closed eyes, and that, in spite of this complete occlusion of the eyelids, he should distinguish the colour of cards, that he should read the title of a work, and even some words or lines pointed out at random in the body of the work. At the end of two minutes of magnetic manipulations, Paul fell asleep. The eyelids being kept closed, constantly and alternately by MM. Fouquier, Itard, Marc, and the Reporter, there was presented to him a pack of new cards, from which the paper covering bearing the government stamp was torn off. The cards were shuffled, and Paul easily and successively recognised the King of Spades, the Ace of Clubs, the Queen of Spades, the Nine of Clubs, the Seven of Diamonds, and Queen of Diamonds, and the Eight of Diamonds.”

We then read about a hypnotized person reading information from a book while “his eyelids were kept closed by M. Segalas.”

We are told of an experiment on another day:

At another sitting, which took place upon the 13th of March following, Paul attempted in vain to distinguish different cards which were applied to the pit of the stomach; but he read, with his eyes still closed, in a book opened at random, and, at this time, it was M. Jules Cloquet who kept his eyes shut. The Reporter also wrote upon a slip of paper the words, Maximilien Robespierre, which he read equally well.”

Referring to this person, the report states, “He gave us the most undoubted proofs that he read with his eyes closed.” The royal committee reached 30 conclusions at the end of their report. Conclusion #11 was this: “However, we may conclude with certainty that this state exists, when it gives rise to the development of new faculties, which have been designated by the names of clairvoyance; intuition; internal prevision; or when it produces great changes in the physical economy, such as insensibility; a sudden and considerable increase of strength; and when these effects cannot be referred to any other cause.”  The 1784 commission does nothing to invalidate such a conclusion, as the very phenomenon of hypnotic trances explored by the 1824-1831 committee was only discovered in 1784 by de Puységur, possibly after the 1784 commission's report was written.  

The ability of hypnotized people to show heightened success in ESP experiments was abundantly corroborated by numerous subsequent experiments by other investigators.  A Dr. Texte cited by Flammarion (in his book The Unknown on page 246) reported  that a woman put it into a hypnotic trance “followed a conversation during which I expressed myself only mentally,” and that she “answered the questions which I addressed to her in this manner.” In the pages preceding and following this, Flammarion describes quite a few cases of people who seemed to show dramatic ESP while under hypnosis.  On page 158 of Death and Its Mystery: Before Death by Camille Flammarion, we have an account by Dr. G. de Messimy of a patient who was put under hypnosis:

"My subject's lucidity went so far as even to read the thoughts of those present. . . . Having placed twelve members of the society before the subject ... we asked each one of them to think freely of a chosen flower, without telling its name to any one. . . . Then turning toward the subject, we asked him to name out loud the flower each of these persons had thought about, and he named them all, without the least hesitation and without making a single mistake, as if he were reading from a book of human thought."

In many nineteenth experiments subjects placed under hypnosis seem to display dramatically better telepathic abilities. An example is described on pages 73-74 of Sir William Barrett's book Psychical Research:

"One of the most interesting experiments was made when in 
answer to my request that she would mentally visit London and go to Regent Street, she correctly described the optician's shop of which I was thinking. As a matter of fact, I found, upon subsequent inquiry, that the girl had never gone fifty miles away from her remote Irish village. Nevertheless, not only did she correctly describe the position of this shop, but told me of some large crystals of Iceland spar ('that made things look double') which I knew were in the shop, and that a big clock hung outside over the entrance, as was the case. It was impossible for the subject to gain any information of these facts through the ordinary channels of sense, as there was no conversation about the matter. My friend, the late Mr. W. E. Wilson, F.R.S., was present when these experiments were made in his father's house, and in answer to my request he subsequently wrote to me confirming them, 
saying, 'We proved beyond all doubt that the subject was able to read the thoughts of the mesmerizer.' "    

On pages 278-279 of the 1906 book Enigmas of Psychical Research by the distinguished researcher James Hyslop, we read an account of clairvoyance, told by a Professor Gregory, who recalls speaking to a hypnotized female who he asked to do some "remote viewing" of a distant location.  The woman described a great number of details of a place she had never seen, showing uncanny accuracy. 

Although hypnotism has been senselessly neglected by academic researchers in the past hundred years, there have been many experiments showing that a rather altered state of consciousness somewhat similar to hypnotism can cause scores in ESP tests to become higher.  ESP researchers developed what is called the ganzfeld protocol, in which subjects are placed in a state of sensory deprivation. Under very many ESP experiments in which the expected chance result was 25%, ganzfeld experiments produced results of between 32% and 37%, as shown below, inexplicable without some kind of ESP occurring. 

Ganzfeld results reported here (page 135), expected hit rate of 25%

On page 106 of his 1901 book, Hudson makes the following interesting comments:

"It is well known that the early mesmerists constantly and 
habitually developed telepathic powers in their subjects. 
Causing their subjects to obey mental orders was a common 
platform experiment half a century ago. These experi¬ 
ments were often made, under test conditions, by the most 
careful and conscientious scientists, and the results are re¬ 
corded in the many volumes on the subject written at the 
time. Many of these works were written by scientists whose 
methods of investigation were painstaking and accurate to 
the last degree. In the light of the developments of mod¬ 
ern science, in the light of the demonstrations, by the 
members of the London Society for the Promotion of 
Psychical Research, of the existence of telepathic power, 
we cannot read the works of the old mesmerists without 
having the conviction forced upon us that telepathy was 
developed by their experiments to a degree almost un¬ 
known at the present day. Why it is that the power to de¬ 
velop that phenomenon by mesmerists has been lost or has 
fallen into desuetude, is a question of the gravest scientific 
interest and importance. The hostility and ridicule of the 
academicians undoubtedly had its effect on many minds, 
and caused many scientific investigators to shrink from 
publicly avowing their convictions or the results of their 

I previously said that a person who is put in a hypnotic trance can show dramatic new abilities that he did not possess in a normal state of consciousness, using the plural. Besides clairvoyance, a hypnotized person might display powers of memory recollection far beyond anything he possesses in a waking state. Such a reality is discussed on page 36 of a history of hypnotism:

"It is a very characteristic and constant fact that the deeply- 
hypnotized, upon waking, remember nothing of all that has taken place during the sleep, whereas, if again put to sleep, they then very clearly remember what they have thought or experienced during previous hypnoses. It seems as if there were two separate forms of life, the normal, wakeful life and the somnambulistic life, each with its experience, its memory; that the two spheres are rather independent of each other ; that the personality is doubled, as it were. These spheres are not entirely without connection, for it is a second characteristic quality of the somnambulistic memory, that it holds not only remembrances from previous somnambulic states, but also from the wakeful state, and these much more lively than the normal. As long-forgotten things can return during natural sleep in dreams, so the memory during hypnosis can show an incredible acuteness as to past events and impressions received long ago, which otherwise in the wakeful state cannot be brought to consciousness even with the greatest effort."

Another book on hypnotism says the same thing:

"The memory of the hypnotized subject is greater 
than in the waking state, and its exaltation sometimes 
seems to be imbued with a miraculous lucidity. 
Somnambulists, Monsieur Richet tells us, describe 
with an extraordinary amount of detail the places 
they have formerly seen, the things they have witnessed."

Referring to the same person (Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet), the book gives this interesting account:

"Monsieur Ch. Richet has invented an experiment which illustrates this phenomenon.  'I send V to sleep, I recite some verses to her, and then I awake her. She remembers nothing. I again send her to sleep, and she remembers perfectly the verses I recited. I awake her, and she has again forgotten everything.' ” 

On page 115 of the book Thirty Years of Psychical Reseearch by Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet we have a long 17-page section entitled "Experiments on Hypnotized Subjects."  It contains many reports of showing clairvoyance under hypnotism. For example, on page 116 we read the following:

"William Gregory, professor of chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, verified that Major Buckley was able to develop lucidity in several hypnotizable subjects sufficiently to enable them to read correctly mottoes, letters, addresses, and postmarks, enclosed in envelopes or in shut boxes of wood or cardboard. In one case Sir T. Wiltshire had written 'concert' intending to write 'correct.' The seer read it as 'concert.' Sir T. Wiltshire said this was an error, but on opening the box the word was seen to be 'concert.' " 

Later in the section we read the following (using the term "somnambulic state" for a hypnotic state):

"Dr. Ferroul, the mayor of Narbonne and deputy for the Aube, made some noteworthy experiments on the lucidity of Anna B., a young woman whom he put into the somnambulic state....Some further interesting experiments were made with Anna, which at first seemed to establish the fact of her vision through opaque paper. A line was written, 'Your party is certainly killing itself by subservience.' This was folded, put into an outer green envelope, enclosing another envelope, and the whole wrapped in two pieces of squared paper. The writing was read by Anna. Grasset, the eminent professor of the Medical Faculty of Montpellier, subsequently gave Dr. Ferroul another opaque envelope containing two verses that were immediately read by Anna."

The Encyclopedia Brittanica tells us this: "Enhancement of memory function (hypermnesia) under hypnosis and in some pathological states was frequently described by 19th-century medical writers."  In his relatively recent paper Hypnotic Hypermnesia: A Critical Review, Bellinger stated the following:

"The scientific literature on hypnotic hypermnesia is reviewed. The results suggest that hypnosis consistently enhances recall of meaningful material when recall is measured in a free narrative format. Recall of nonsense material is generally not improved by hypnosis." 

According to page 8 of the Master's Thesis here, four different experimental studies between 1932 and 1954 showed hypermnesia (an unusual improved memory recall) when testing subjects who were asked to recall meaningful material when the subjects were hypnotized.