When Materialism Cannot Explain Medical and Bodily Effects in Adults

"The prejudices of science, however, are generally the most obstinate of all, just because they are conceived to be founded in reason ; and hence, even philosophers, who ought to be dispassionate and unbiased lovers of truth, are frequently disposed to make the most desperate struggles, before they can be brought to abate their pride, and to admit the reality of a natural fact, which they have once taught themselves to believe to be inconsistent with any of their preconceived opinions. Hence, too, the tardy reception of all new truths, which cannot be immediately and satisfactorily connected with our previous acquirements."

J. C. Colquhoun, Seven Lectures on Somnambulism

One of the biggest defects of materialism is that it cannot account for morphogenesis, the development of a human form from a mere speck-sized egg.  There is no truth to claims that morphogenesis occurs because the body reads some blueprint or recipe or algorithm in DNA specifying how to construct a human body. DNA contains only very low-level chemical information, and does not contrain any specification of human anatomy.  DNA does not even contain instructions for how build any of the 200 types of cells in a human body.  

Materialism also fails to explain various anomalous bodily effects and medical effects in full-grown adults. Such effects are documented in various books at www.archive.org, an invaluable site for finding important overlooked texts from previous decades and centuries, in a form where they can be easily read online.  Recently I was reading the very interesting 1891 book Mental Suggestion by Julian Ochorowicz.  The best way to use the book is to focus on its many discussions of anomalous cases, and not put too much stock in the opinions of the author, which sometimes are at odds with the cases he discusses. 

On page 109 the author begins to discuss evidence that certain people put under hypnosis could show astonishing diagnostic abilities after merely touching another person who was sick or in pain. Using the term "somnambules" to refer to hypnotized subjects, he quotes a Dr. Bertand as stating, "There is no one, I believe, who has made any little observation of a few somnambules, but that has often seen them by simple contact feel the pains of the patients with whom they have been put in rapport."

On page 110 the author quotes someone stating that certain hypnotized people have a "power whereby,  on touching a sick person presented to them, or on laying the hand upon him, even outside the clothes, they know what internal organ is affected, the part of the body that is ailing."  We are told that such people "give pretty correct advice as to the proper remedies." 

On page 111 we read more in the same vein:  "In August, 1825, Dr. Foissac addressed to the Paris Academy of Medicine a letter in which he announced in the following words the phenomenon of the transmission of aches : 'By placing the hand successively on the head, the chest, and the abdomen of an unknown patient, the somnambules discover instantly his complaints and aches, and the various symptoms these occasion.' " This academy did some experiments with a Celine Sauvage that are discussed on pages 113-115, which were moderately successful in corroborating such claims. 

Joseph W. Haddock M. D. stated the following about hypnotized subjects acting as a kind of "X-ray before X-rays were discovered": "The human body seems as if transparent to the truly lucid subject ; and I have frequently availed myself of this faculty of lucidity, to discover the nature of obscure disease, using my subject as a living stethescope, to assist my own judgment, just as the astronomer uses his telescope." Haddock cites in detail a case (published in 1844) of a hypnotized subject (Madame Lagrande) who exactly described the internal bodily problems of her mother, in a remote location, and who predicted that her mother would die in two days. The prediction was accurate, and an autopsy revealed that the description of her internal bodily problems was correct. 

Haddock reports the following about "clairvoyant diagnosis" using a person named Emma (and what he reports is only one of very many accounts he told of this person's paranormal powers):  "When patients apply personally for clairvoyant diagnosis, I generally desire them not to inform me of their complaints, until the clairvoyant has made an examination, and described the internal appearances and symptoms ; and, not unfrequently, they have expressed their surprise at hearing their symptoms so accurately described, and the locality of pains correctly pointed out, or the time of the day at which periodical pains set in, stated, without a word being said to either myself or Emma on the subject."

On page 120 of the Mental Suggestion book the author makes a very interesting claim regarding medicinal touch effects:

"I have relieved hundreds of persons of headache by simple imposition of hands....Two things are certain: 1, that by this method (which is as old as the world) I remove the headache in 60 cases out of 100 within a few minutes ; and 2, that very often I can tell the precise instant at which the pain grows less and disappears under my hand. And this is how I notice the change : The aching head may be hot or cool, and everybody knows that headache may be produced by several different causes. But independently of these differences, one character, perceptible only to him who holds his hand upon the head, and who is in the habit of observing, is almost constant, to wit, a sensation of increased warmth under the hands if the pain is disappearing, but a lack of this sensation if the ache continues." 

The possibility of helping headaches by the mere touch of someone on the head was investigaged by a  1986 scientific paper "Effects of Therapeutic Touch On Tension Headache Pain." The paper reported findings agreeing with what Ochorowicz reported, and even reported something better than the 60% effectiveness he reported: 

"Therapeutic touch (TT) is a modern derivative of the laying on of hands that involves touching with the intent to help or heal. This study investigated the effects of TT on tension headache pain in comparison with a placebo simulation of TT. Sixty volunteer subjects with tension headaches were randomly divided into treatment and placebo groups. The McGill-Melzack Pain Questionnaire was used to measure headache pain levels before each intervention, immediately afterward, and 4 hours later. A Wilcoxon signed rank test for differences indicated that 90% of the subjects exposed to TT experienced a sustained reduction in headache pain, p < .0001. An average 70% pain reduction was sustained over the 4 hours following TT, which was twice the average pain reduction following the placebo touch."

On pages 247-249 of the previously mentioned Mental Suggestion book, the author begins discussing something more remarkable than inexplicable medicinal effects arising from mere touch: cases in which medicinal effects seem to arise merely from the will or intention of a physician or hypnotist trying to produce a healing effect.  We read the following:

"Mr. Liebeault cites forty-five similar observations, and, like an honest man and one that knows how to observe, he concludes thus : 'In view of the curative effects we have just recounted, we are led to admit...a direct action transmitted from man to man, and possessing this essential, irreducible,  sui-generis character, that it can re-establish the physiological functionment of organs.' "

A large class of medical and bodily effects that are currently inexplicable are effects in which a person's mind seems to have an inexplicable influence on his body.  The most general effect of this type is what is commonly called the placebo effect.  It has been very well-documented that a person may tend to heal or improve unexpectedly when he is given a mere sugar pill, as long as the person believes that the pill is some effective medicine for his condition. 

In the first volume of his massive two-volume work Reincarnation and Biology by Ian Stevenson MD, we have a revealing chapter that does not specifically relate to the hypothesis of reincarnation, except in a tangential sense. The long chapter is entitled "Bodily Changes Corresponding to Mental Images in the Person Affected."  Below are some of the astonishing things discussed and documented, all suggesting some mysterious ability of the mind to inexplicably influence the body:

  • Very many reported cases of stigmata, in which people interested in reliving the crucifixion experience of Jesus got inexplicable marks and wounds corresponding to such crucifixion wounds. 
  • Wounds arising on someone's head after a hypnotic suggestion that a crown of thorns had been put on her head. 
  • A Russian civilian trapped in an alley where a Russian fought a Frenchman with swords was not wounded in the fight, but merely terrified; and upon returning home, he found inexplicable bleeding wounds similar to those he saw inflicted in the other person. 
  • A woman horrified to watch her child lose three fingers in an accident had to be treated on the same day for three inexplicable injuries to her own fingers.
  • When a hypnotized man was told his heart rate was increasing, it increased from 78 beats a minute to 135 beats a minute. 
  • "LeCron (1969) obtained breast growth in all but 3 of 20 women to whom he gave hypnotic suggestions that this would happen."
  • "Since the last quarter of the 19th century hypnotists have reported the production of blisters on the skin through hypnotic suggestions."
  • 14 patients with warts on both sides of the body were given hypnotic suggestions the warts would disappear on one side, and in 9 out of the 10 deeply hypnotized patients the warts disppeared on only the suggested side. 
  • "Beilis (1966) inadvertently produced a sunbumlike reaction in the skin of a woman to whom he gave the suggestion, during a procedure for hypnotic induction, that she imagine herself at a beach on a sunny day."
  • "Moody observed bodily changes on at least 30 occasions when this patient relived traumatic events of her earlier life. The remembrance of an accident when the patient had fractured her wrist was followed by swelling and hyperemia of the wrist."
  • After recalling under hypnosis a severe belt whipping his father inflicted on his buttocks, a patient inexplicably developed blue marks on his buttocks. 
Below is a photo from Stevenson's book illustrating one such effect:

mind over matter

Below is another photo from Stevenson's book illustrating another of these effects:

mind over matter

Regarding the creation of blisters by mere hypnotic suggestion, we read the following:

"One of the earliest experiments, that reported by Beaunis (1886), included excellent control of the subject, and there were also several competent witnesses to the events...Podiapolskii (1909) reported the production of a blister through suggestion in a subject who was kept continuously under observation between the time of receiving the suggestion and that of developing blisters at two sites on her back about 18 hours later....Smirnoff (1912) produced blisters with hypnotic suggestions in an unusually short time. In one experiment a blister developed within 30 minutes, and in a second one it developed after about 2 hours. Smirnoff was particularly pleased with his second experiment, when, he stated, the 'whole process took place under our eyes.'  He had two other persons present as witnesses....After two imperfectly controlled although successful experiments, Hadfield conducted another one during which he kept the patient under constant surveillance from the time of giving him the suggestion of developing a blister until the blister actually occurred, about 24 hours later."

A medical effect that is totally inexplicable under materialist explanations is the complete elimination of pain under mere hypnotism. 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.  On this page of another book, which uses the term "mesmeric sleep" for a hypnotized state, we have a description of a painless extraction of teeth from a hypnotized woman.  

Using the word "somnambulists" to refer to those hypnotized, an 1831 report by a committee of French medical authorities, under the auspices of the Royal Academy of Medicine, stated the following:

"The greater number of the somnambulists whom we have seen, were completely insensible. We might tickle their feet, their nostrils, and the angle of the eyes, with a feather—we might pinch their skin, so as to leave a mark, prick them with pins under the nails, &c. without producing any pain, without even their perceiving it. Finally, we saw one who was insensible to one of the most painful operations in surgery, and who did not manifest the slightest emotion in her countenance, her pulse, or her respiration."

A nineteenth century work says this about hypnotized patients, using the word "magnetizer" for a hypnotist and "somnambule"  for the hypnotized person:

"Sensitiveness is entirely abolished. The patient hears only the voice of the magnetizer and that of the person whom the latter places en rapport with him. His deafness is absolute for all noises that occur, of whatsoever intensity. In an experiment made at Paris, a sceptic fired a pistol near the ear of a somnambule. The latter heard nothing. The insensibility is not less complete in other parts of the body. We may bury needles in the flesh without the patient feeling the least pain. He suffers only when he awakes. The most painful surgical operations have been performed on magnetized subjects, and they had only learned what had happened after they had come out of their sleep."

The author of this work tells us of his personal observations on this topic, using "mesmeric" to mean "hypnotic":

"In the first experiment I ever tried to assure myself of the reality of mesmeric anathsesia, a young woman was put to sleep and eight bad teeth were extracted from her ulcerated gums without her having any consciousness of it. But her inner consciousness being at the same time aroused, she was able to tell me the time by a clock in a house eight miles away, as I verified the next day by comparison with my watch."

The report here combines two inexplicable aspects of a hypnotic trance, an insensitivity to pain, and also clairvoyance during a hypnotized state, which is abundantly attested to in other reports discussed here and here and here.  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 Esdaile 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 Esdaile's subordinates, who had been trained to hypnotize people into unconsciousness or a pain insensitivity. 

On pages 27-28 of the book, Esdaile lists a host of dramatic pain-free surgeries he performed without using chemical or physical 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

In the following quote from a nineteenth century work, we learn of a great irony: that physicians took up a chemical method of anesthesia, one which would often kill people, rather than using hypnotic methods of anesthesia that were proving very safe and effective:

"In Dr. Brown Sequard's lectures upon 'Nervous Force,' delivered in Boston in 1874, he speaks of this form of anaesthesia as follows : 

'As regards the power of producing anaesthesia, it seems to me unfortunate that the discovery of ether was made just when it was. It was, as you well know, in 1846 or 1847 that the use of ether as an anaesthetic was begun. It started from this city (Boston). At that time in England, Dr. Forbes was trying to show from facts observed in England, and especially in India, from the practice of Dr. Esdaile, that something which was called Mesmerism, but which, after all, was nothing but a peculiar state of somnambulism induced in patients, gave to them the idea that they were deprived of feeling ; so that they were in reality under the influence of their imagination, and operations were performed that were quite painless. I say that it was a pity that ether was introduced just then, as it prevented the progress of our knowledge as to this method of producing anaesthesia. My friend Dr. Broca took it up in 1857-8 and pushed it very far; and for a time it was the fashion in Paris to have amputations performed after having been anaesthetized by the influence of Braidism or Hypnotism. A great many operations were performed in that way that were quite painless. But it was a process that was long and tedious, and surgeons were in a hurry and gave it up. I regret it very much, as there has never been a case of death from that method of producing anesthesia, while you well know that a great many cases of death have been produced by other methods.' "

A modern paper reports a similar result: hypnosis producing dramatic reduction in headache pains (as measured when the patient is out of the hypnotic state). We read this:

"Symptoms of headache and vertigo were treated using direct hypnotic suggestions of symptom relief in 155 consecutive skull injured patients. Posttraumatic headache and vertigo were completely relieved after an average observation period of 1 year 10 months in 50% and 58% of the patients, and partially relieved in 20% and 16% respectively."

A psychology paper reports that after a brain-damaged woman was hypnotized and told that she could fix her cognitive problems, she "had major improvements in the cognitive tests," and "her Working Memory Index improved from the 0.17 % percentile to the 10% percentile." Another paper testing 49 brain-damaged subjects reports a dramatic improvement in working memory for the subjects.  Group 1 with 27 subjects improved from an average score of 81.74 (well below average) to an average score of 107.44 (well above average).  Group 2 with 22 subjects improved from an average score of 80.36 (well below average) to an average score of 103.95 (substantially above average). 

The writer Colin Wilson tells us the following, mentioning in part evidence presented in this book:

"A German doctor named Justinus Kerner spent three years studying a ‘psychic’ lady called Friederike Hauffe and had no doubt whatever that she could read a book that was placed, face downwards, against her bare stomach....It was observed many times by nineteenth-century investigators. Professor Cesare Lombroso, a confirmed scientific ‘materialist’, studied a girl who could see through her ear and smell through her chin. The possibility that she was cheating vanished entirely when her sense of smell transferred itself to the back of her foot: if pleasant smells were brought close to her heel, she smiled, while unpleasant ones made her react with disgust. Lombroso also came across the case of a girl who developed X-ray vision and asserted that she could see worms in her intestines — she counted thirty-three. Under treatment she excreted exactly thirty-three worms."

In a remarkable 1967 book entitled Breakthrough to Creativity that you can read online here, Shafica Karagulla MD discusses some conversations she had with other doctors who seemed to use paranormal methods in additional to traditional medical techniques. Describing one doctor, she says, "On many occasions he has been able to relieve acutely ill patients sufficiently to bring them through a crisis, by bringing his hands close to the body in the areas affected." Describing another doctor, she says, "Through the years when routine tests and methods had failed to give him a clue about obscure difficulties he was able to gain accurate information about a patient by using this sensitivity in his hands."  Corroborating statements earlier in this post, she says of the same doctor, "He told me he found out quite accidentally when his children were young that he could relieve colic or headache by putting his hand on the painful area." She mentions that the same doctor "told me that on occasion he could see an energy field interpenetrating and surrounding the human body."   She says another doctor "knew when any of his patients were ill or in need of help before they got in touch with him." Corroborating accounts earlier in this post of clairvoyants who could see inside the body, we read this about a doctor:

"Dr. Philip could see any organ in the patient’s body and observe its function and any pathology that might be present. He knew the complete condition of his patient in the first few minutes as the person sat before him in his office."

During much of my life, Life Magazine was one of the principal mainstream sources of information, along with magazines such as Time and Newsweek. An average person in my teenage years  thought that if you read something in Life Magazine, it was as trustworthy as reading it in the New York Times. On page 102 of the June 12, 1964 edition of Life Magazine, there was a long story entitled "Seeing Colors with the Fingers." You can read the story by using the link here, and scrolling down to page 102. The story discussed at great length the scientific investigation of clairvoyants such as Rosa Kuleshova. We read at great length quite a few scientific authorities attesting that Rosa could read while blindfolded, and we read at length about similar paranormal abilities in other people.  The fact that discussions of such important evidence is now rather taboo in the mainstream makes zero scientific sense, and is purely a sociological conformist effect.