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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – A test of mind reading with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

I will here relate an experience I had a year or two ago with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which aptly illustrates the point I want to make.  Sir Arthur had come to me to discuss the relation of spiritualism and hypnosis, and to help me conduct an experiment or two in the matter. I procured a particularly apt patient, whom I put to sleep in the usual way.

Our conversation had ultimately veered to thought-transference, and I could see that Sir Arthur was slightly puzzled.  Turning to the patient asleep in the chair, I said:

"What is Sir Arthur thinking about? "

The answer came promptly. Sir Arthur himself admitted it was true, and then he added : "But that is a trick of the stage."

"Good," I replied. "Set this man a test.  He is no clairvoyant. In his normal state he is as you or I.  But there is a power in the subconscious to bridge space and time which I cannot comprehend. Try him."

Sir Arthur was still wearing a great double-breasted overcoat buttoned up.

I told him to think of a test and to put his hand up when he had finished his thought command.

Doyle put his hand up, and before I could speak the patient said: "Sir Arthur wants you to see his watch-chain, but you can't for it is under his double-breasted coat. It looks like an old cable. He has a funny old watch on one end and a big locket on the other, with a lady's photograph in it. It-is of a very beautiful woman."

"Who is it?" I asked.

“Well," he replied, -"it ought to be Lady Doyle”

"Don't fool,"- I said sharply. "Find out who it is.”

He was silent a moment,-and then, turning to Doyle said “I beg your pardon , Sir Arthur, it is Lady Doyle”.

"He's right," was Sir Arthur's only comment.

Turning to Sir Arthur, I asked : " "Shall he find Lady Doyle for you? "

After a moment Sir Arthur replied : "yes."

“Find Lady Doyle," I told the sleeper.

"She is sitting in her room in her home…..”

"Describe the room," I said.

He did, and Sir Arthur nodded his confirmation.

“And now” I said, "shall we ask him what Lady Doyle is doing ? "

But Sir Arthur was convinced. "No,” he said, “I have seen and heard enough."

By no stretch of the imagination and by no sophistry can it be argued that this manifestation was made possible by one of the five senses, interpreted by the brain.

On such points as this the generally accepted theory of the co-relation of the mind and the senses breaks down.  And it is because my hypothesis of the power of the sub-conscious mind does indeed cover such points that I submit it is the true one.

The source of the experience

Sir Arthur and Lady Jean Conan Doyle

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps