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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Curing the blind 9 year old Gertie Yates



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

One of my early cases is that of Gertie Yates of Catford.  She was nine years old at the time she was brought to me by Miss B. Gardner, whom I had the year before saved from a bad nervous breakdown, and who held an important public position at Camberwell.

Gertie Yates was born blind. Her father testified to the fact in various newspapers at the time, when some attempt was made in certain quarters to cast a doubt on the fact, after the news of the cure was made public. The case appeared to me hopeless. The girl had been turned away from several hospitals as incurable. She had been accepted at the L.C.C. School for the Blind, where she had been taught to read Braille.

I thought long over the case before I at last undertook to essay a cure. I adopted no heroic methods.  Indeed, I know of none to adopt. I have the one thing to do - induce sleep, and leave the patient to do the rest.

I put Gertie Yates to sleep, and suggested to her that she could see. To my great surprise she said she could.

I could scarcely believe it. Indeed, I often tremble to-day when I think of that case, to think how great a risk I ran in doubting my own powers in the matter. For I have found that not only must the patient be willing to be cured and be willing for the cure, but that I myself must also believe. How that belief is necessary I cannot understand, unless there is some telepathic power in the sub-conscious mind by which my belief is communicated to the patient. But if that is so, how comes it that I can cure a person who does not go to sleep, or cannot cure some persons who are willing to believe and to be cured, despite the fact that I believe I can do it ?

These things, though, I did not know then. I have learned them by experience. Gertie Yates in her trance told me she could see. She could. When, after a short time, I awakened her, she proved to me, by describing things in the room, that she could see as well as I.

I don't think I shall ever forget those moments of her waking, and I suppose that those who have never had the experience can ever appreciate what I then suffered.

For a moment she sat still. Then she turned round in her chair, as though looking round the room. She turned to me, but sat silent.

At length, "Is that you?' she asked. Then, pointing  to my face, "Is that a face ?"

"Yes," I said.

"Let me touch it."

I did.

Then she touched her own, feeling it all over just as she had felt mine.

"Oh, yes, so it is," she said. "It's like mine. And is that your hair ? But it's not like mine! Mine's long. And what's that?"-pointing to a picture. And so on all through the room. The sun and the grass in the garden were a particular source of wonderment to her, and the mirror on the wall was perhaps the most wonderful thing of all.

I do not think I shall ever have a more pathetic memory than that of that young girl, with dawning realization coming to her that at last she was as other young girls, and that her time of darkness was past. When the full knowledge came to her, she ceased talking and burst into a torrent of tears.

At the time, the cure attracted an enormous amount of attention in the Press ; and I must repeat here what I had to emphasize repeatedly at the time, that this cure was nothing remarkable. It was just an ordinary manifestation of the normal principles of hypnosis, as anyone who has followed the simple facts so far set out in this book may see for himself. Miss Yates' eye, so far as the exquisite machinery of it was concerned, was intact. The retina was there ; the optic nerve was there. All that was lacking was the will to cause these two to act in concert : to cause the subconscious mind to come up to interpret the objects reflected on the retina, and the will to transmit those objects from the retina to the brain.

Note the word "will". It is important. . No doubt Miss Yates wished to see. To the best of her ability, she no doubt willed to see. The cause of her blindness was that she could not communicate with her subconscious mind, and command it to do her bidding.

"But," someone may say, "how many of us do that ? We do not know anything about the subconscious, particularly in our infancy. We do these things instinctively." True. But Nature is very diverse. If we could understand all her ways we could ward off even death itself, it might be. My point is that Miss Yates' optical machinery was intact when I saw her. It was as intact as a system of household electricity is when the electrician leaves it, with only the main switch to be pulled down to connect the household wiring with the current at the main. All I did was to pull down the switch. I restored her subconscious mind to its proper sphere in her life.

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

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Psychosomatic medicine

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