Madame D's dreams
Type of Spiritual Experience
It may have been memory recall as a function that was temporarily disrupted or the function of learning from perceptions
A description of the experience
Extract from Revue de Medicine February 1892
[from Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death – F W H Myers]
A certain Madame D, a healthy and sensible woman of 34, was subjected on August 28th 1891 to a terrible shock. Some scoundrel told her brusquely that her husband was dead and that his corpse was being brought home. This was absolutely false; but the news threw her into a state of profound agitation; and when some indiscreet friend, seeing the husband approach, cried out ‘le voila’! the poor woman supposing that the corpse was thus announced, fell into a prolonged hysterical attack.
After 2 days of raving she came to herself; but had lost the memory of all events since a date six weeks before the shock. This kind of retroactive amnesia – inexplicable as it is – is known to occur sometimes after physical concussion. In Madame D’s case the shock had been wholly a mental one; yet the forgetfulness continued. Madame D was possessed of full recollection of her life up to July 14th 1891; but she could recall no event whatever which had occurred since that date.
She endeavoured to continue her domestic duties; but if she wished to recollect anything she had to write it down instantly in a note book to which she constantly referred. For instance, she was bitten by a dog believed to be mad. She instantly made a written note of the fact; but except when actually referring to her notebook she retained no recollection whatever of the bite or of her subsequent treatment in M. Pasteur’s laboratory….
But one fact was observed which threw a decisive light upon this puzzling case. The patients in the two beds adjoining Madame D’s were told to observe her at night. They reported that she was in the habit of talking in her sleep; and that in the fragments of dreams thus revealed, she made frequent allusions to the mad dog’s bite, and to other events which had occurred during her ecmnesic period. This hint, of course, was enough for M. Charcot.
Classing her ecmnesia as a kind of prolongation of a hystero-epileptic attack, he hypnotised the patient and found that in the hypnotic trance her memory [perceptions] for the ecmnesic period was absolutely intact. Post hypnotic suggestions to remember the lost days slowly restored the poor woman to the possession of her whole past.