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Observations placeholder

Hack Tuke, Daniel – Sickness - Inducing paralysis, blindness and an inability to speak as a consequence of suggestion only



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,

SECTION III.— Loss of Muscular Power : Paralysis.

The simple belief or conviction that a muscle cannot be contracted or relaxed is sufficient in a sensitive person, or in one in whom this sensitiveness is induced, to cause temporary loss of power. It is referred to the Imagination ; in other words, the effort to carry out the desire or will is paralyzed by the absorbing conviction that it will be ineffectual. The principle is the same (although the result differs) as that which we have already considered when speaking of the effect of a conviction in inducing muscular action.

Dr. Carpenter gives two reasons why an action which can be ordinarily performed with ease may become absolutely impossible — " first, if a man's mind be entirely possessed with the idea of its impossibility ; or, secondly, if while his judgment entertains doubts of success his attention be distracted by a variety of objects, so that he cannot bring it to bear upon the one effort which may alone be needed " (Human Physiology. By Dr. Carpenter. 4th Edit. 1853, p. 793).

In the following curious case, the influence of expectation, the conviction of inability to use the muscles engaged in articulation, is well exhibited :

"In Kleische, a small village in Germany, belonging to Mr. V. S — , a maid servant of that gentleman's family was sent a short league from home to buy some meat. She executed her orders correctly, and as she was returning in the evening, she thought she suddenly heard a great noise behind her, like the noise of many wagons.

Upon turning round she observed a little gray man, not bigger than a child, who commanded her to go along with him. She did not, however, return any answer, but continued to walk on. The little figure accompanied her, and frequently urged her to go along with him. Upon reaching the outer court of her master's residence, she was met by the coachman, who asked her where she had been, to which she returned a very distinct answer. He did not remark the little man, but she still continued to do so. As she was passing the bridge, he summoned her for the last time, and upon her refusing to answer him, he told her with a menacing look, that she should be four days blind and dumb, and having said so he disappeared. The girl hastened to her apartment, and threw herself on the bed, unable to open her eyes, or to "pronounce a word. She appeared to understand all that was said, but could not make any answer to the questions which were proposed to her, except by signs. Everything was tried for her recovery by the family with whom she lived, but all was in vain. She was incapable of swallowing the medicines which were ordered for her. At last, on the expiration of the fourth day, she arose in tolerably good health, and narrated what had happened to her"

(An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement, comprehending a Concise System of the Physiology and Pathology of the Human Mind. By Alexander Crichton, M.D. 1798, II, p. 15).

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps