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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Louis V. and His Two Souls.

The subject was a girl of nineteen, called Lucie, who was highly hysterical, having daily attacks of several hours' duration. She was also devoid of the sense of pain or the sense of contact, so that she "lost her legs in bed," as she put it.

On her fifth hypnotisation, however, Lucie underwent a kind of catalepsy, after which she returned to the somnambulic state; but that state was deeper than before. She no longer made any sign whether of assent or refusal when she received the hypnotic commands, but she executed them infallibly, whether they were to take effect immediately, or after waking.

In Lucie's case this went further, and the suggested actions became absolutely a portion of the trance-life. She executed them without apparently knowing what she was doing. If, for instance, in her waking state she was told (in the tone which in her hypnotic state signified command) to get up and walk about, she walked about, but to judge from her conversation she supposed herself to be still sitting quiet. She would weep violently when commanded, but while she wept she continued to talk as gaily and unconcernedly as if the tears had been turned on by a stop-cock.

Any suggestion uttered by M. Janet in a brusque tone of command reached the Unconscious Self alone; and other remarks reached the subject--awake or somnambulic--in the ordinary way. The next step was to test the intelligence of this hidden "slave of the lamp," if I may so term it--this sub-conscious and indifferent executor of all that was bidden. How far was its attention alert? How far was it capable of reasoning and judgment? M. Janet began with a simple experiment. "When I shall have clapped my hands together twelve times," he said to the entranced subject before awakening her, "you will go to sleep again." There was no sign that the sleeper understood or heard; and when she was awakened the events of the trance were a blank to her as usual. She began talking to other persons. M. Janet, at some little distance, clapped his hands feebly together five times. Seeing that she did not seem to be attending to him, he went up to her and said, "Did you hear what I did just now?" "No; what?" "Do you hear this?" and he clapped his hands once more. "Yes, you clapped your hands." "How often?" "Once." M. Janet again withdrew and clapped his hands six times gently, with pauses between the claps. Lucie paid no apparent attention, but when the sixth clap of this second series--making the twelfth altogether--was reached, she fell instantly into the trance again. It seemed, then, that the "slave of the lamp" had counted the claps through all, and had obeyed the order much as a clock strikes after a certain number of swings of the pendulum, however often you stop it between hour and hour.

Thus far, the knowledge gained as to the unconscious element in Lucie was not direct, but inferential. The nature of the command which it could execute showed it to be capable of attention and memory; but there was no way of learning its own conception of itself, if such existed, or of determining its relation to other phenomena of Lucie's trance. And here it was that automatic writing was successfully invoked; here we have, as I may say, the first fruits in France of the new attention directed to this seldom-trodden field. M. Janet began by the following simple command: "When I clap my hands you will write Bonjour." This was done in the usual scrawling script of automatism, and Lucie, though fully awake, was not aware that she had written anything at all.