The Robberies Solved by Clairvoyance

In previous posts here and here and here and here I have discussed evidence that there can exist extremely powerful clairvoyance that may arise when someone is in a trance or put in a hypnotic state.  Some very strong evidence of such a thing is presented in the 1851 book Somnolism and Psycheism by Joseph W. Haddock MD.

At the beginning of Chapter IV of the book, Haddock asserts that he almost daily for months has got proof of the reality of clairvoyance.  The rest of the chapter consists of a very long theoretical discussion which will tax the patience of the reader, making the reader ask: but where is your solid evidence?

Finally in Chapter V Haddock begins to discuss some good evidence.  He describes how he came to know a young lady named Emma, who started working for him as a domestic servant.  One day Emma said that she had been "mesmerized" by sucking ether. This was around the time when ether was being introduced as an anesthetic.  Dr. Haddock asked whether she objected if he tried an experiment gassing her with sulphuric ether. She did not object. It was actually very poor medical ethics for the doctor to have tried such an experiment, which might have killed poor Emma. The experiment was successful, and Haddock found that Emma felt no pain, even when pins were pricked under her finger nails. 

Haddock then tried to see what the effects would be if he gradually reduced the ether. The "absence of pain" continued, even though the ether was reduced to nothing but a mere scent. Haddock gives this account of how he first hypnotized Emma:

"Finding that with the bottle in this state I could produce the same results, I began to suspect that the ether had very litttle to do with the strange things witnessed, but that she was in a manner mesmerised, or rather hypnotised, as Dr. Braid would call it, by her steadfast attention in looking at the bottle, while inhaling through the tube. It was therefore resolved to try another experiment. One evening I told her to sit down; and taking a small pocket-comb desired her to look steadfastly at it. She did so; and in a few minutes, as with the bottle, fell into the simple mesmeric, or hypnotic sleep....A few days further on I laid aside all instruments and simply gazed steadfastly at her, desiring her to fix her eyes on mine, when she quickly passed into the somnolent state."

When we see hypnotism going on in movies or television, there is often a long repetition of words, or maybe a swinging of a pocket watch on a chain.  But in the literature of hypnotism, sometimes we hear that a person can be hypnotized by a single command such as "sleep!" or by a simple prolonged gaze into the eyes, with a strong exertion of will by the hypnotizer.  Such a thing can be more likely to occur if the subject has previously been hypnotized, or if the hypnotizer has experience in hypnotizing.  Referring to hypnotized patients, Haddock reports, "Emma gradually manifested all the phenomena, or nearly all, which have been recorded of mesmeric subjects by writers of credit."

Haddock then reports that he could exert a kind of telepathic mental influence on Emma, preventing her from doing something she was trying to do. In the passage below "drawing passes" refers to mere arm motions:

"She would also manifest the remarkable feature of magnetic attraction....For example, a piece of money would be placed on a table in a distant part of the room, and it was told her, she might have it for fetching it. She frequently essayed to do so, and would sometimes nearly reach the money; but invariably, my will, and the drawing passes I made towards myself, overcame her power, and, notwithstanding her determined efforts to the contrary, would draw her to myself, and render all her endeavours to secure the money ineffectual. On these occasions, she described the sensations she experienced, as being like cords wound round her, and drawing her in spite of her endeavours to resist."

Haddock then reports something very widely reported in the literature of hypnosis, that a person under hypnosis can be made to believe some arbitrary thing stated by the hypnotizer, even if the thing suggested is contrary to logic or contrary to what the hypnotized person knows or sees. For example, it may be reported that a hypnotizer told a hypnotized subject "you are a bird," and the hypnotized person will then start flapping his arms, imitating a flying bird.  Or it may be reported that a hypnotizer told a hypnotized subject "this water is boiling hot," and the hypnotized person will report great pain upon touching the water, even though the water is cool.  Such an effect is sometimes called "extreme suggestibility."  Very remarkably, Haddock describes such suggestions being implanted not by mere speech of the hypnotist, but by the "silent operation of the mesmeriser's will." This mesmerizer (also called "the operator") is the hypnotist, Haddock himself.  What he describes is the telepathic planting of hypnotic suggestions.  On page 90 Haddock states this:

"At this time Emma could easily be made to believe, that articles put into her hand, or on her lap, were widely different from their true nature. Sometimes by the silent operation of the mesmeriser's will, or thoughts, she could be led to imagine that a pocket handkerchief thrown into her lap, was a snake, or some other noxious animal, and she would throw it from her, and exhibit evident signs of fear and disgust. If she was told the snake, or whatever she had imagined it to be, should be removed, and the handkerchief was withdrawn, and then almost immediately replaced, the operator, at the same time, thinking of some harmless pleasing animal, such as a rabbit or the like, she would imagine the handkerchief to be the animal thought of by the operator; and by her language and actions, plainly evince that she fancied she had the animal on her lap."

On pages 94-95 Haddock reports that Emma had a toothache, and wished to be given ether, so the tooth could be removed. Haddock refused, and instead hypnotized her, telling her to feel no pain. Haddock then extracted the tooth, with Emma feeling no pain.  The same hypnotic procedure was later done to painlessly extract another tooth from Emma, without any anesthesia or chemical pain relief medicine. 

There are countless documented cases of such a thing. For example, in a 19th-century work, we read of a woman in 1829 who had her breast removed to treat cancer. The woman had no anaesthesia, but was merely hypnotized. The account says the woman "did not betray the least symptoms of pain...she talked tranquilly, during the whole time." Pages 65-67 of the same work describes another similar case of a younger hypnotized woman in 1854 who showed no signs of pain as her breast was surgically removed, as she smiled through the surgery.  In one nineteenth century text, we read the following statement by Dr. J. B. Parker, resident surgeon, who uses the term "Mesmerism" for hypnotism:  "I have performed over two hundred surgical operations without the patient's feeling the pain whilst under the influence of Mesmerism, including twenty most painful operations on the eye, tying the radial artery, more than one hundred bleedings, cutting off a very painful wart, and the extraction of upwards of forty teeth. "

In his book "The introduction of mesmerism, as an anaesthetic and curative agent, into the hospitals of India," Dr. James Esdaile tells how he started to use hypnotism to treat patients in India. In his first attempt, he tried for 30 minutes to hypnotize someone, without any apparent success. But persisent effort paid off, and he was able to put someone into a deep sleep in which he was insensible to pain. Eventually Esdaille found he could produce such a state very quickly, with a few movements of his hands (called "passes") above a body.  On pages 18-20 a witness describes how Esdaile performed major surgeries on patients who had received no anesthesia, but had only been hypnotized by Esdaille's subordinates, who had been trained to hypnotize people into unconsciousness. On page 27-28 of the book, Esdaile lists a host of dramatic surgeries he performed without using anesthesia, but only hypnosis on patients. The list includes about 20 amputations, and 200 removals of scrotal tumors ranging from 10 pounds in weight to more than 100 pounds in weight. Another book on this topic by Esdaile can be read here

But let us return to the story of Dr. Haddock and Emma.  On page 98 Haddock describes the first experiments he did testing clairvoyance in Emma. The results were impressive, with the poor-reading Emma describing the pictures in books, pictures she could not see. But the loose description of the experimental procedure does not yet provide good evidence for clairvoyance. But then we have a description of more impressive tests, produced in public by a blindfolded Emma, with her eyes covered with plaster (I'll replace the archaic "plaister" word used in the text with "plaster"):

"Similar experiments to those just related were successfully performed, in private, before a select company, and also before large public audiences, and this too, with her eyes covered with plasters, and a bandage tied over them. Not that the plasters or bandages made any difference, but they were used for the sake of convincing sceptical people. At this time, in ascertaining the subject of a picture, she first passed the tips of the fingers of the right hand gently over it .... and then placed it over that part of the head marked on phrenological busts, as the organ of imitation. If a book with prints on the pages was given her, she would pass her right fingers gently over the page, and if it was merely reading, or a blank, she would say, 'It is nothing.' But when she had thus found out the situation of the print, she would exclaim, ' Oh yes here it is,'' or, 'Tve got it.' But whether the print was a wood-cut or a copper-plate, did not seem to make any difference."

A similar phenomenon (sometimes called "transposition of the senses") was often reported by nineteenth century literature on hypnosis, which repeatedly stated that hypnotized subjects could do something like "read with the fingers" or "read with the stomach" even when blindfolded.  Remarkably, in the post here I discuss many late twentieth-century reports of a similar ability in some Chinese children, children who could reportedly perform such feats without being hypnotized. 

On page 100 we are told this: "As an experiment, small pictures, and various small objects, were placed singly, first in a card box and afterwards in a wooden box; these she at times, told as readily, as when out of the box and in her hands."  There then follows accounts of limited evidential value. But on page 112 Dr. Haddock starts to tell an account of great evidential value.  He tells us that on December 20, 1848, someone living not far from him, one Henry Wood, had the bad fortune to find his cash box missing. Wood came to Haddock and asked for help in finding the cash box.  On the next page Haddock describes using Emma to solve the crime:

"Having no clue to the thief, or anything to form a medium of connection, I thought it best to put Mr. Wood into mesmeric connection with her, and then to direct her attention to the cash-box, and see whether this chain would lead her to the thief or thieves. I did so; and then told her that Mr. Wood had lost his cash-box, and that I wished her to tell us, if she could, where the box was taken from, what was in it, and who took it ? She remained silent for a few minutes: evidently, mentally seeking what she had been requested to discover. Presently she began to talk with an imaginary personage, as if present in the room with us ; but, as it subsequently proved, she was mentally with him, and he was both real and visible to her. She had, in fact, discovered the thief, and was conversing with him on the impropriety of his conduct, and the great anxiety he had caused to Mr. Wood and his servants ; whom, she said, had not been able to sleep, on account of the robbery. In the course of this apparent conyersation, and afterwards to us, she described where the box was placed, what the general nature of its contents was, particularizing some documents it contained, Mr. Wood said, very accurately ; how he took it, and that he did not take it away at once, but hid it up an entry ; and she then pointed out the direction in which this person lived, and, also, where the box then was. Her descriptions were so vivid, that Mr. Wood recognized in them a person the last to be suspected. To be assured, many questions were now put to her ; among which, — Was there any name-plate on the door she saw ? She replied, yes ; and made the shape of the letters on her hand, but reversed. This was the name of the person to whom her description pointed. Mr. Wood said, that he now felt satisfied that he had discovered the delinquent."

Based on Emma's very exact identification, Henry Wood went to the man's house, and brought him to Emma, threatening to call the police if he did not come. The thief's hand was put in Emma's hand, and she recoiled, and said the man was a bad man who had taken the box. The thief denied the crime. Henry Wood contacted his parents, and told of what had happened, saying he would not press charges if the box was returned.  We are told, "They saw how strongly suspicious the case was, and urged him, if guilty, to confess, and save them from the exposure of a prosecution; but it was not until late in the afternoon that he did so, when he fully acknowledged the truth of all Emma's statements." Haddock says, "In this case, the delinquent was brought into my presence ; I both saw and heard Emma directly charge him with the theft; and sometime afterwards, I received a letter from the young man, acknowledging and regretting his offence, and stating that he trusted it would be a warning to him for his future life, at the same time begging that I would not divulge his name."

On pages 117-120 Haddock describes an equally impressive case of Emma's clairvoyance, which resulted in the recovery of notes worth 650 pounds which had been carelessly misplaced at a bank.  The case is very complicated, so I won't summarize it.  On pages 125-127 we have another description of Emma solving a robbery by clairvoyance. A woman came to Haddock after hearing of the recovery of the misplaced 650 pounds because of Emma's work.  She described some money of hers that had been stolen. Emma described very exactly a particular person who she said had taken the money, a person who the woman recognized; and Emma described very exactly the woman's home she had never seen. Later the woman confronted this person, and although he never confessed, soon the money was found returned back where it had been stolen, just as if the thief had returned it. 

On page 128 Haddock describes another "theft solution" case in which Emma "told the exact sum in pieces of gold in the missing purse, and said the party who took it had become alarmed, and had concealed the purse, but that one piece of money had been abstracted: and eventually the purse was discovered in such a place as she had described, and one piece short."

In a work by Frederic Myers, we have a similar account of a robbery solved by paranormal means. A Lady Mabel Howard wrote the following:

"Some time after my marriage (1885) there was a burglary at Netherby Hall, in Cumberland, a few valuable jewels being stolen. The robbers were caught three or four days later, but the jewels were not found. Next Sunday...I was asked by some friends to write where the jewels were. I wrote, ' In the river, under the bridge at Tebay.' This was very unlikely, and had never been suggested, so far as I know, by any one. Every one laughed at this ; but the jewels were found there."

On the same page as this account, Myers quotes the testimony of a witness corroborating this account. 

In one of his interesting books on the paranormal which can be read on, the writer Colin Wilson relates the following account concerning one of the Didier brothers (whose abilities you can read about here and here):

"‘Travelling clairvoyance’ was demonstrated most clearly in a case of theft. In 1849 a clerk named Dubois vanished from his place of work, the Mont-de-Piete, with two hundred thousand francs; a lawyer friend of the manager decided to go and consult Didier. Without prompting, Didier told his visitor the sum stolen and the name of the thief: Dubois. He added that Dubois was at present in Brussels, in the Hotel des Princes. The lawyer hurried there, only to find that the clerk had left a few hours earlier. Didier now stated that he saw the clerk in a casino at Spa and that he would have no money left by the time he was arrested. The lawyer rushed off to Spa (in Belgium), and again missed the clerk by hours. Back in Paris, Didier told him that the clerk had been to Aix-la-Chapelle but was now back in Spa gambling away the remaining money. This time the clerk was arrested but — as Didier had foretold — he was penniless."

A nineteenth century work describes at length clairvoyant abilities in a woman known to all in her town as the Widow Wade. In the town it was generally believed that you could find missing objects by simply going to the Widow Wade and asking her to use her powers. Another nineteenth century work gives this summary, using the word "magnetizer" to mean hypnotist, "somnambulist" to mean a hypnotized person, and "magnetized" to mean hypnotized:

"I have said that these persons, in their elevated state, are un- conscious of anything in the visible world, except their magnetizer ; but as soon as the latter places them in rapport with another person, by means of certain graspings of the hand, they immediately see this other person in like manner, not with the eyes, but from the region of the pit of the heart ; and in this same way, they perceive also, distinctly and correctly, what that person thinks and imagines at the time. In this state, the somnambulist has a most lively recollection of his whole life ; all the faculties of his soul are in a state of elevation, but as soon as he awakes again, he is totally unconscious of it. Persons who have long been magnetized, who have often been in a state of somnambulism, and have attained to a high degree of inward vision, read and recognise drawings and pictures which are held before the pit of their hearts. That there is no deception in this matter, which is incomprehensible according to our common mode of thinking, is evident from the repeated experiments that have been made ; so that there is no longer any doubt of the certainty and correctness of the fact. Gmelin, Wienholt, Bockmann, &c.,have made these experiments so frequently and so carefully, that the thing may be received as an infallible truth, founded in nature, and from which correct inferences may be drawn."

A nineteenth century work describes a demonstration of clairvoyance in a hypnotized person:

"He had been told that the patient could see through the darkest substance, and read writing and letters through walls. He asked if this were really the case, to which she replied in the affirmative. He therefore took a book, went into an adjoining room, held with one hand a leaf of this book against the wall, and with the other took hold of one of those that were present, who, joining hands, formed a chain which reached to the patient, on whose stomach the last person laid his hand. The patient read the leaves that were held to the wall, which were often turned over, and read them without making the smallest error."

This account was published in a newspaper in 1807. We literally have centuries of abundant eyewitness testimony in favor of the reality of clairvoyance, supplied by a vast collection of witnesses.   

In Volume 4, Number 13 of the journal The Zoist (April 1846), page 86, we have a description of a committee that tested a clairvoyant boy named Thomas Laycock, with a successful test that involved heavy blindfolding combined with a covering of the blindfolding with plaster:

"His eyes were fast closed, and the scrutineers, who were watching him closely, failed to detect any effort on his part to unclose the lids. He was also asked if he could see and describe the table-cover before him, which he did correctly. These trials were made by Mr. Fry to ascertain if the boy was in a right state to apply the tests, and he now stated that he was ready to apply the plasters, which he did, first placing the slips longitudinally and horizontally so as to form a complete casing over each eye; and as the plasters were warmed before applying them, they adhered closely to every part. When the scrutineers were satisfied that a sufficient number of slips had been applied, the square pieces were put on, fitting closely over the whole, and additional slips were then applied covering the edges of the square pieces. Wherever the scrutineers, or any of the committee, pointed to a spot to be covered, Mr. Fry immediately applied a plaster, until the scrutineers declared themselves perfectly satisfied that the eyes were effectually secured. The process of plastering occupied about twenty-five minutes. A few passes were made, and the depositor of the five pounds then produced a paper which no one in the room had previously seen. This was handed to the mesmeriser, who held it between his hands for a few seconds, and breathed upon it ; he then placed it in the boy's hands, desiring him to read it. Laycock placed it on the table before him, passed his hands over it, and almost immediately read, '11 Plymouth and South Devon Savings Bank,' which he said was printed in red ink, and then flung the paper from him. He was perfectly correct— the paper being a receipt form from the savings bank, and printed in red ink."

In the very interesting 1891 book Mental Suggestion by Julian Ochorowicz on page 188 we are told an account that helps to clarify why clairvoyance under hypnosis has not received the attention it deserves from scientists, despite abundant accounts of it.  It seems that in 1839 there was a skeptical Dr. Comet (an "editor of medical journals") who was a bitter opponent of the claim that people in altered mental states could be clairvoyant (despite a previous academic commission attesting to the reality of such a thing). But his wife fell ill, and entered a state in which she seemed to possess great powers of clairvoyance.  We are told, "To mention but two of Mrs. Comet's feats, she would describe every little object held in the closed hand and divined thoughts that related to her." Dr. Comet invited scientists in to investigate, but after viewing Mrs. Comet and noting the extraordinary situation, "they hesitated about going on." 

And so things continue today, with scientists so very reluctant to study books or persons or powers or effects that conflict with their cherished worldview.  When we hear such scientists write about the paranormal, we are usually hearing the ignorant judgments of people who never bothered to read the relevant literature. So it is like hearing an opinion about World War II from someone who never bothered to study World War II. 

academic taboos
"Entry forbidden" signs erected by senseless taboos of professors