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Observations placeholder

Professor Alexander Erskine - A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Power over birds and removing warts



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

It is easy to be wise after the event, but I have long since come to the conclusion that the hypnotic power which I possess is in a large measure hereditary.- My mother, I believe, had the power, had she cared to use it in directions other than the exercise of charm, for which, in her day, she was famous.

Her brother, my uncle, a son of Judge Brodie, of Edinburgh, and an attache at the English Legation at Constantinople, undoubtedly possessed it in a marked degree, though he did not exercise, as I do now, therapeutically, over men. He confined himself to animals and birds, and I can remember as a boy watching him as he played with them. He would just look at them quietly, and they would ruffle their feathers, lie down on their backs, stick their legs up in the air, and remain there to all intents and purposes dead, till he gave them the word to get up.

It was, as he used it, a pretty parlour trick, and many a time have I seen him perform it for the benefit of friends. But it was not till long after-wards that the full significance of it dawned on me.

Looking back now, I can recall a number of incidents which at the time I looked upon as a good joke, but which I now realise had an immense bearing on my life.

One was concerned with a number of warts I had on my hands-thirteen, to be precise-which, despite all the burning with caustic and the other treatment the doctors ordered, refused to yield. Then one day my old nurse lost patience with doctors and treatment alike.

"Bring me a yard of cotton," she said.

Wondering, I collected some from my mother's work-basket.

"You're not-going to nip them off in nooses, are you ?”  I asked. But I need have had no fear.

Taking one end of the cotton, she lightly touched each wart with it, counting as she did so, like some old witch. Next, with uncanny deliberation, and looking hard at my warts, as though trying to cast a spell on them, she tied thirteen knots in the cotton-one for each. I began to feel a little scared. Last of all, she put the knotted thread in her mouth.

"You'll choke !" I shouted, now thoroughly roused.

''No," she replied with quiet calm. "No," I am going to bury this cotton in the ground. It will soon rot. By that time your last wart will have gone ; they will leave no marks, and you will never have them again."

With due ceremony she buried the cotton in the garden, and I, thoroughly scared, watched her.

I tried no more cures for my warts, but in ten days every one had gone. They left no marks ; nor has one ever returned.

The source of the experience

Erskine, Professor Alexander

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Psychosomatic medicine

Activities and commonsteps





Being an animal