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Observations placeholder

Marquis de Puysegur, Madeleine and blind-sight



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Mysteries - Colin Wilson

It was Armand Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, the Marquis de Puysegur, who discovered that hypnosis had the power of releasing the subject's telepathic abilities. A girl called Madeleine was so susceptible to 'mental suggestion' that Puysegur was able to use her for public demonstrations.

Madeleine was hypnotised and stood with her eyes firmly closed. Then Puysegur would point at some object in the room, or simply stare at it. With tightly closed eyes, Madeleine would
walk over to it and touch it.

In itself, this experiment is hardly conclusive; Madeleine might have been peeping through half-closed eyelids; or she and the Marquis might have arranged the whole thing in advance.

The Marquis would allay these suspicions by offering to allow anyone in the audience to direct Madeleine. All that was necessary, he said, was to concentrate unwaveringly on the object she was to find. The results were highly convincing. If someone fixed her firmly with his eyes, she would
make her way to some object and touch it with her hand; if the person were timid or uncertain, Madeleine would waver and hesitate as she made her way towards it.

One sceptic, whom Puysegur calls 'the Baron de B.', suggested changing the locale of the experiments from Puysegur's house to that of another sceptic, M. Mitonard. Mitonard was told to 'control' Madeleine, and for several minutes he made her walk around the room, sit down and take up various objects.

Then Mitonard stood in front of her and simply stared hard at her.

After a few moments, Madeleine reached into his pocket, took out three small screws, and handed them to him. Both Mitonard and Baron de B. were convinced. As we have already seen, the same phenomenon was demonstrated under laboratory conditions by Dr Paul Joire in the 1890s.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Sensory deprivation