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Observations placeholder

Tyrrell, G N M - Trance-Personalities – On possession or telepathy [by the living] as an explanation for trance communication



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Trance-Personalities -  - G. N. M. Tyrrell

…. we find that, when trance-material of good quality is carefully analyzed, the psychological organizations in the medium turn out to be by no means dominating the situation; their inherent tendencies and trains of association are being utilized by intelligent effort, which is acting on them from without.

'It must then be admitted that some communicators are not genuine, while other communicators offer evidence of identity which, if it does not necessarily come from the spirits they claim to be, at least shows knowledge of those spirits which cannot have reached [the medium’s] mind by normal means.

This being so, is it possible to find a formula which will express the relation to the control of all communicators-both successful and unsuccessful?

Are they or are they not essentially different? Is the unsuccessful communicator a figment of the control's imagination, while the successful communicator is an independent entity? If so, can we draw a definite line between them?

Are we to judge a communicator representing himself as the same, to be on some days a figment and on others an independent centre of consciousness, according as he is unsuccessful or successful in producing a plausible semblance of the figure he professes to be?

And if the communicator is a figment, is the control conscious of it, or is he himself deceived? In other words, what is the degree of independence of control from communicator? Are two more or less independent centres of consciousness involved; whether consciousnesses of separate individuals or different centres of consciousness of [the medium]?

Or is the -communicator a dream or hallucination of the control? Or is the dramatic presentation of him pure play-acting by the control?'


Three cases of a very extraordinary kind are reported by Mr. S. G. Soal ('A Report on some Communications received through Mrs. Blanche Cooper,' Proc. S.P.R., vol. xxxv. p. 471.).

  1.  in one, the case of James Miles, the information supplied by the communicator at the sittings seems to have been derived in some way or other almost wholly from newspaper reports.
  2. In another, the case of Gordon Davis, the communicator, purporting to be deceased, was afterwards found to be alive;
  3. while in a third, the communicator, John Ferguson, was entirely fictitious.

This remarkable trio of spurious cases lacks, however, customary corroboration.

'In my own records there is a case that shows similarity to the one just described. A trance-personality purported to communicate in an experiment with Mrs. Soule, when I was present.

The points from this trance-personality were sufficiently applicable to establish the impression that he was presented as the father of E. L. T. So far as I knew, the father of E. L. T. was living at the time, but his physical condition was such that his death would not have been unexpected.

I thought that possibly he was deceased without my knowledge, and I telegraphed a daughter as to the time of his death. He proved, however, to be still living, and he survived until about a year and a half after the date of the "communication."' (pp. 206-7.)

The source of the experience

Tyrrell, G N M

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps