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Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – 1923 First All-Russian congress of Psychoneurology article on V. M. Bekhterev’s experiments



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Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev

Appendix A - From an article on the First All-Russian congress of Psychoneurology which took place in Moscow in January, 1923 ("lzvestia," 1923, 16th January, no. 10) on direct thought transmission

A most interesting question was raised at the meeting of the Psychological Section on January 15th concerning the possibility of direct thought transmission at a distance, a natural scientific explanation of which now becomes possible in conjunction with a theory advanced by Academician P. P. Lazarev which explains nervous processes in terms of ionisation.

K. Sotonin, a contributor at the meeting, read a paper "Concerning alleged direct thought transmission in the experiments of Academician V M. Bekhtereu."  Sotonin considers direct thought transmission to be impossible and considers that the available facts concerning transmission can be explained by barely perceptible signals:  movements of the eyes or the body, possibly unconscious.

Academician Bekhterev, in reply, pointed out that there are a tremendous number of facts and observations concerning direct thought transmission, and that such a question cannot be dismissed simply because it seems impossible.

It once seemed impossible to fly in the air and the same applies, in the realm of mental phenomena, to hypnosis. Nevertheless, hypnosis is now applied in medicine and people do fly in the air. The solution of the problem of direct thought transmission is, according to V. M. Bekhterev, one of the most vital questions of the 20th century.

In experiments carried out by him thought transmission was tested, not only in people but also in dogs. The experiments were carried out in such a way that the possibility of concealed prompting was eliminated. For example, the experimenter was placed in a closed booth, or the objects which had to be found were put in another room. Similar experiments were carried out in Moscow on Durov’s dogs, also most successfully.

Later on  Prof. Kozhevnikov took part in the discussion, and he also affirmed the fact of direct transmission of thought. Prof. G. I. Chelpanov, while not denying the facts, disagreed with the explanation offered by P P. Lazarev. In view of the great importance of the question, Prof. G. I. Chelpanov proposed that a special report devoted to the subject should be presented at the next meeting.

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Vasiliev, Leonid

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