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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Blinded by shell shock



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

It all happened through my being in a hurry. If I had not run out of the house I should not have seen the man sitting on my doorstep ; I should not have fallen over him and knocked him down too, and then this story would never have been told. But all those things did, ii fact, happen.

I picked myself up quickly and was about to give the man a few salutary hints as to proper public resting-places, when something in the way he was attempting to regain his feet stopped me short. He was blind.

Taking him by the hand, I lifted him up, and, seeing that he was badly shaken, took him into the house.

His story was soon told. He had been a mechanic, I think, before the war, but during the war he had been shell-shocked, with the result that he had lost his sight. All sorts of operations had been performed, without results.

Whether or not he had a pension I do not know, but so far as my recollection goes, he had lost it for some reason or other, and his only means of living was begging.

"I wonder if I can help you?" I asked him. "I am not a medical man, but I have a sort of practice ; in fact, I've treated many men suffering from shell-shock, and have even cured people who were blind from birth. But all my medical work is done through the mind of the patient."

He was keen for me to try what I could do, but was rather taken aback when I told him all I wanted him to do was to go to sleep.  However, he was soon off, and when I woke him up, half an hour or so later, he could see, though imperfectly.

I rang up a hospital, and soon he was fitted with a pair of glasses.

There, so far as I was concerned, the matter ended, but ten days or so later he turned up at my house. I expected to see a jubilant man, rejoicing in an ever-increasing power of sight, and perhaps a job. Imagine my surprise, then, when, on seeing me, he burst out :

"Here's a damn' fine thing you've done; you've ruined me."

"Ruined you?" I asked. "How?"

"Nearly got me run in as an impostor," he replied;  and then he went on to give me details.

It seems that he had at once set about finding a job, and of course had failed. He was not entitled to the dole, and was starving. So, at last, in desperation, he went back to his old pitch. He had only been there a short time when a man came up who, once a week, used to give him half a crown. But to-day his benefactor discovered that he could see, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that he had caught him unawares, and that the "blind" man had been deceiving him all this time. Even the recital of the story left him only half convinced - as, indeed, well it might.

A policeman who knew him was the next source of trouble. He soon recognized that something different was afoot, and even when he heard the man's tale, flatly refused to believe a word of it.

"And so," said my victim, "here I am, and what can you do ?"

I settled the matter then and there, so far as the police were concerned, but the man was a different proposition.  As I pointed out to him, either I could try to get him a job, or, as I had restored his sight, so I could now take it away again.

And, believe me or not, as you like, the man hesitated!

I could scarcely believe my ears.

"You mean,'' he said, 'that you could make me blind again, so that I could go back to my old life ?"

"Yes," I told him. "But if you ask me to make you blind, don't ever come to me again and ask me to restore your sight. Don't be a fool. You will win through if you have spunk. There are thousands like you out of work, and, after all, if you are blind, you can never get a job; always you will only have charity to live on. While you have sight you at least have hope."

Common sense gained the day, and then I gave him my last help. I again put him to sleep, and restored to him all his old craftsmanship, which he had not practised for so many years, and suggested a happy, confident outlook on life. He left a different man. Soon after, I heard that he had got a job in a garage and was doing well. Since then I have not heard of him.

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

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