Bouissou, Madame Michael - The hypnotised concierge who declared she was a young dancer giving a gala performance at the Monte Carlo Casino
Type of Spiritual Experience
The doctor started some experiments with a concierge, a robust lady, who although initially appearing an unlikely candidate, proved very succeptible to hypnosis. In these sessions Mme Bouissou acted as a witness and helper
A description of the experience
The Life of a Sensitive – Madame Michael Bouissou
Bewildered and puzzled by the mediumistic possibilities of this woman, the doctor decided to continue his experiments - and then something crazy began.
To have better facilities he invited her home after dinner, at an hour when she could leave her room. This good woman was very grateful to him and was flattered by these evenings spent with us where we spoke of nothing but her little daily affairs. "It's impossible," said E-, with discouragement, "to tell her that she is a medium. She would think she was suffering from some shameful disease."
To achieve our ends, this is how we dealt with her as soon as she arrived. We installed her in a large, comfortable armchair in which she could lie almost flat. Making some excuse, we dimmed the lights and a friendly conversation started.
After about a quarter of an hour the doctor stood up, went behind her and with two or three very slight passes above her forehead put her to sleep. I have never seen such docility to hypnotic suggestion. This was even more remarkable since she was a tall, powerful woman of considerable weight, as we found to our cost one evening.
She had been endowed with generous physical charms which she enclosed in a knitted cardigan typical of the concierge. Add to this a voluminous black gleaming chignon, on top of her head, and it will give some idea of our subject.
I have given this description at some length so that the reader may imagine our astonishment one evening when this sleeping woman declared that she was a young dancer giving a gala performance at . . . the Monte Carlo Casino.
Jumping up lightly, and with extraordinary grace, she began to give a charming display of feminine coquetry before an imaginary mirror: she spoke vivaciously, asked a phantom dresser to hand her her make -up, perfumes and costumes and then went onto the stage and danced.
Although it is twenty years ago, I shall never forget the transformation of this woman : pointes, entrechats, fouettees, arm movements in the grand ballerina tradition. On this coarse, already withered face a smile appeared turning her, in fact, into the young, pretty and graceful girl she incarnated.
We were flabbergasted. After some moments, fearing that she would grow tired, the doctor quietly suggested that the performance was over and that she should come and sit down quietly in an armchair.
She left the stage, blowing kisses in the most professional manner, and sat down once more in the big armchair, where with equal ease the doctor woke her up. She found Marianne and myself in animated conversation, handing her with a smile the coffee and cakes which were her particular weakness.
It was essential that she should not think anything abnormal had happened. Not once during the course of these experiments did she realise that she had fallen asleep; we pushed our precautions so far as to note the last word of our conversation and our exact pose in order to resume them when she awoke.
As soon as she had drunk her coffee and rested, the doctor drove her home in his car, and each time, on seeing the time by the town hall clock, she expressed with the same naivete her surprise that the evening had gone so quickly. We even made the study clock an accomplice of our little mise-en-scene, stopping it while she was asleep.
In the experience I have recounted here it is not the subject inspiring the medium which is strange. The adventures and triumphs of a young dancer form the plot of many novels which our concierge might have read with interest.
It was far less strange than her spontaneous revelations about the life of Tristan Corbiere and her word-perfect quotations from Les Amours Jaunes.
But the really extraordinary feature was her perfect portrayal. She showed herself to be a "medium for transfigurations", the most delicate subject of all to handle and to regroup into the true personality which is often repelled by one of the fortuitously liberated personalities.
There were other seances which were less interesting, but I must recall one of them.
One evening when she was lying peacefully asleep we saw this coarse but definitely honest face suddenly become the incarnation of vice. She stood up, went over to what must have seemed to her a bar and began to drink. She spoke in a raucous, masculine voice, using the most obscene expressions. The person she was incarnating - obviously a man of the lowest type - was abusing somebody. Suddenly the second person replied. The medium was no longer incarnating one person but two.
Although the vocabulary remained the same, the voices, the gestures and even the expressions were clearly different.
Before our eyes two men were swearing at each other over a whore. The medium continued to make her gestures of drinking and suddenly a quarrel broke out. I know that it seems hardly credible but now the two men in front of us were fighting, yelling, rolling on the ground, and suddenly, after a threat and a gesture of incredible violence, a terrible death rattle came from the mass writhing on the carpet: it suddenly went limp. One of the men had killed the other. We were all pale and at our wit's end except the doctor, who very calmly felt the woman's pulse and, after a brief examination, told us that, as he had expected, there was absolutely nothing the matter with her but that it was impossible for the good soul to find herself lying there crumpled on the carpet. With a great deal of difficulty, for she was very heavy, we hoisted her back into her armchair. We had to tidy her chignon, adjust her cardigan and as soon as everything was in order the doctor woke her up.
The woman's first words, with a deprecating smile, were: "How hungry I am this evening." "So much the better," said Marianne with relief, handing her a plate of cakes. This was the only time I ever saw a simultaneous double incarnation by the same medium.