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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Out of body and remote mind reading



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

The question naturally arose: If it is possible for a subject in an hypnotic sleep to read the mind of a person in whose presence he is, and if, as other experiences have shown, it was possible for the subconscious to function apart from the body and to see and report things that occurred in some other place, why should not a person in a hypnotic trance be able to read the mind of a person at a distance?

My first experiments were on a very small scale. I would try them on anyone who would lend himself to the purpose. It became almost a parlour trick for the entertainment of my friends, to put one of them asleep and get him (or her) to read the minds of all the others in the room.

I would put all sorts of questions at random to the sleeper with the object of starting some train of thought or other in the mind of the person being "read", trying to bring back to memory some long-forgotten incident ; and the experiment was often successful to an unexpected degree.

But it was always necessary, at first, for the two persons concerned to be in the same room.

We would start in the same room, and then I would get the one who was awake to go farther and farther away, till he was in the far corner, it might be, or even in the passage.  So long-as the door was open, all would be well; but once the door was closed the sleeper would be unable to continue.

One day, I happened to have the subject in a deeper sleep than usual, and found that the closing of the door made no difference. At my direction the other person slowly moved downstairs, and all the time the sleeper upstairs read her thoughts.

At last she reached the kitchen, the farthest part of the house and there remained, with doors and windows closed. And still her thoughts were read.

 Here, at last, was an advance. What is more, I have been able on every occasion since on which I have tried it, to reproduce the phenomena. And soon I was to get an opportunity of putting this new power to the test, which was far in advance of anything I had yet tried.

News of this achievement reached a young man who, on his expectations from an uncle, had been having the time of his life.  He had a good allowance, but it was entirely inadequate  for his then style of living.  One can hardly blame him, perhaps. He was a favourite nephew.  He had always been under the impression that he would be almost the sole beneficiary under his uncle's will, and as the old man was a millionaire and in not too good health, it was not difficult to secure sufficient advances from moneylenders and others for his rather indulgent fancies.

Unfortunately for him, an unexpected love of life on the part of his uncle coincided with - or possibly inspired – an  unexpected concern on the part of his creditors about  their money.

He came to me.  Could I really read minds at a distance, and, if -I could, would I please tell him his uncle’s intentions, for he had written to him on the matter and had been told off in the best avuncular fashion ?

I used F- as the subject, and put him into a deep trance. We knew where the uncle was at the time, and I asked F- to read his mind and discover what amount had been left to this young man in his will.

It was some minutes before F- replied. In fact, I was beginning to think the task beyond him, when he began to speak very slowly and haltingly.

"He will get hardly anything at all," he said.

"Don't be a damn' fool !" broke in the young man. "I know my uncle will leave me nearly all he has. Erskine, you've failed."

- F- again spoke. "He has not left you even a third ; much less, in fact, and even that includes a useless farm in the wilds of Africa."

Despite the closest questioning, we could not shake F- in his statements, and my young friend went away satisfied that in this, at least, I was pretty hopeless.

It was nearly a year before I heard from him again, and then he came round to apologize.

His uncle had died a few days before. He had seen the will. The old man had left to him nothing like a third, and it included a useless farm in the wilds of Africa.

Now that test was not exactly similar to that of reading what a person may be thinking at the moment of reading.

We had no proofs that the uncle was thinking of the will at the moment when F- was asked to find out what had been left to the young man.

What F- did was to evoke from the past a specific operation of the uncle's mind. The uncle, no doubt, would have remembered what provisions he had made for the nephew in the will, but, as I said, so far as we knew, he was not consciously thinking of it at that moment.

[note that Erskine came to the conclusion that F was not accessing memory, but what we now know as perceptions]

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps