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Observations placeholder

Mr Tout becomes possessed



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

F Podmore – Mediums of the 19th century

About 1892 Mr Tout took part with some neighbours in a series of spiritual seances. Subjective lights were occasionally seen by himself and one other member of the circle. The ladies present were affected with spasmodic twitchings and other movements, sometimes of a violent character, chiefly in the fingers and arms.

Mr Tout felt a strong impulse to imitate these motions, and occasionally gave way to the impulse, though never to such an extent as to lose complete control of his limbs. At later séances, he on several occasions yielded to similar impulses to assume a foreign personality. In this way he acted the part of a deceased woman, the mother of a friend then present. He put his arm round his friend and caressed him, as his mother might have done, and the personation was recognized by the spectators as a genuine case of 'spirit control'.

On another occasion Mr Tout, having under the influence of music given various impersonations, was finally oppressed by a feeling of coldness and loneliness, as of a recently disembodied spirit. His wretchedness and misery were terrible, and he was only kept from falling to the floor by some of the other sitters.

“At this point one of the sitters made the remark, which I remember to have overheard, 'It is father controlling him', and then seemed to realize who I was and whom I was seeking. I began to be distressed in my lungs, and should have fallen if they had not held me by the hands and let me back gently upon the floor. As my head sank back upon the carpet I experienced dreadful distress in my lungs and could not breathe. I made signs to them to put something under my head. They immediately put the sofa cushions under me, but this was not sufficient - I was not raised enough yet to breathe easily - and they then added a pillow. I have the most distinct recollection of a sigh of relief I now gave as I sank back like a sick, weak person upon the cool pillow. I was in a measure still conscious of my actions, though not of my surroundings, and I have a clear memory of seeing myself in the character of my dying father lying in the bed and in the room in which he died. It was a most curious sensation. I saw his shrunken hands and face, and lived again through his dying moments; only now I was both myself - in some indistinct sort of way - and my father, with his feelings and appearance.”

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps