Tyrrell, G N M - Sense-Imagery – The hallucination of a St Bernard dog created in the mind of the medium Mrs Brittain, via the mind of the sitter
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Sense-Imagery - G. N. M. Tyrrell - Perception with and without the Imagery of Sense
The following extract from a sitting held on February 24, 1922, with Mrs. Brittain by Mrs. and Miss Dawson-Smith is worth quoting (Proc. S.P.R., vol. xxxvi. pp. 307-8). The communicator was ostensibly Mrs. Dawson-Smith's son, Frank, who had been killed in the War. As the medium was beginning to come out of trance, she suddenly interjected: 'Have you a St. Bernard dog? There's a big one standing by you. It died of distemper. It is with Frank, he found it waiting for him.' The sitter's note on this is as follows:
That is a brief paragraph and not written entire because we thought the sitting was over and Belle had gone. We had put our pencils and notebooks away and sat quietly waiting for the medium to wake. What followed was this: Mrs. Brittain opened her eyes and suddenly stared over my shoulder, looking startled and alarmed. I was sitting in a low chair facing her. She said with a gasp, "Oh ! don't growl like that - oh, how dreadful!"
Then she grew calmer and said, "Have you a St. Bernard dog? It is a big one. He died of distemper." My daughter at once said, "No, we haven't a St. Bernard. Our dog is an Airedale."
Mrs. Brittain instantly said, "You never saw him; it was long before you were born. The dog is standing by your mother-he loves her and is very jealous of everybody who goes near her."
'This was all perfectly correct. We had a St. Bernard, and he died of distemper when my boy was four months old. The dog was devoted to me and to my baby (Frank) but would not allow anybody to come near us.
Here information must have been telepathically acquired, either from the sitters or from the communicator, about the existence of the St. Bernard, about his having died of distemper before Miss Dawson-Smith was born, and about his fondness for her mother and his jealousy.
But some element in Mrs. Brittain's personality embodies these facts, or most of them, in the form of a sense-image of the dog - one might almost call it a cinematograph 'talkie' of the dog-growling in so vivid and life-like a way, that the awakening Mrs. Brittain is for a moment almost terrified by it. The idea suggested by incidents such as these is that somewhere below the conscious level of the personality, there is a mechanism which is capable of producing all kinds of sense-imagery with such pervasiveness and completeness as to persuade the experient of the literal reality of the persons or objects which it represents.