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First public experiment demonstrating mental sending to sleep and awakening in the USSR by Professor K I Platonov, at the All-Russian Congress of Psychoneurologists, Psychologists and Teachers (1924)



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A description of the experience

From Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev

Appendix E – About telepathy, first public experiment demonstrating mental sending to sleep and awakening in the USSR by Professor K I Platonov

In connection with the debate on telepathy which took place in Kharkov [in February, 1961] some recollections have come to mind concerning an experiment which I conducted at the All-Russian Congress of Psychoneurologists, Psychologists and Teachers (in Leningrad in December, 1924).

At that Congress I confined myself to one demonstration without making any attempt to explain the essence of this mysterious phenomenon because this would have gone beyond our objectives at that time.

My experiment was carried out by a definite method, both before a large audience of the Hypnological Section of the Congress, and also at the laboratory at Leningrad University with the participation of the President of the Congress, V. M. Bekhterev, who became interested in the demonstration.'

Amongst those present were members of the Congress L. L. Vasiliev, E. S. Kotkov, V. A. Podierny and others.

The experiment was carried out in the lecture hall where the meetings of the Hypnological Section took place. Prof A. V Gerver sat at the presidential table facing the audience. The subject M. sat at the same table, half facing Prof G. who was talking to her, and sideways towards the audience. Behind her back at a distance of about 6 m there was a blackboard, edge-on in relation to the spectators. I stood behind the blackboard, in full view of the audience, but outside the range of sight of the subject.

It had been arranged with the audience, prior to the arrival of M., that when I silently covered my face with my hands, this would mean that I had begun the experiment of mentally sending her to sleep. Having covered my face I formed a mental image of the subject M falling asleep while talking to Prof. G. I strenuously concentrated my attention on this for about one minute. The result was perfect: M. fell asleep within a few seconds. Awakening was effected in the same way. This was repeated several times.

During the laboratory experiments I, as the sender, was in a closed cabin, with an electric signalling lamp (a pocket torch). The switch by which this lamp was switched off was outside the chamber under the top of a table which stood next to the cabin. V. M. Bekhterev, who was signalling to me by switching on the lamp, sat with his back turned to the switch on which his fingers were resting (behind his back).

The subject, M., who was supposed to perceive my mental suggestion, was sitting opposite to Bekhterev. The signals were given me by Bekhterev while he was talking to her, and such signals were not regular, i.e. they were given at irregular intervals of time.

When I had received a signal I closed my eyes and mentally represented to myself the image of the sleeping subject. According to the statement of those present she immediately stopped talking and fell asleep.

Awakening was effected in the same way, i.e. by my representing to myself an image of M. waking up from her sleep. This experiment was repeated three times with the same success. When questioned by those present, "What happened to you just now?" M. answered: "I don't know, I think I must have slept."

"Why did you fall asleep?"

I just did. I felt like going to sleep."

It is important to note that when I tried to influence the subject by means of a mental command, such as "go to sleep-" or "sleep!" such orders invariably remained without result. But when I visualized the image of the sleeping M. (or of M. awake as the case might be) the effect was always positive……………..

It should also be noted that M. fell asleep not only when she was quiet, but also when talking to someone. Once she was put to sleep in this way by me while she was waltzing to the tune of a piano. Furthermore, I did not have to be near her, but could be a considerable distance away from her, not even necessarily in the same house. All this surprised us tremendously as well as the other doctors in the resort.

It should be particularly stressed that M. was entirely unaware of the nature of the experiment. This was done without her knowledge and without any preliminary conversation on the subject. She had thus no idea of the meaning of the experiment, and she herself had no idea what caused her to fall asleep.

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