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Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Experiments of the second series conducted by one sender, one percipient and two assistants



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev

The experiments of the second series were conducted by one sender, one percipient and two assistants (one to help the sender, the other the percipient).

Before the experiment the sender's assistant, without the knowledge of any of the other participants, chose three objects which bore no resemblance to one another as regards shape, material, colour, or purpose. The sender and the percipient went into separate rooms, each accompanied by his assistant, and the doors were closed. A piece of well illuminated white paper was placed on a table in front of the sender. His assistant placed on the paper the object which was to be fixated, and mentally suggested to the percipient.

Each bout of suggestion lasted for about three minutes. The sender informed his assistant of the thoughts and images that came to him by way of association with the suggested object. The assistant timed the onset and termination of fixation and suggestion by means of a stop watch, and made notes of the position of the object and the verbal report of the sender.

The percipient, meanwhile, remained with his eyes closed during the entire time of the experiment and, like the sender, informed his assistant of all the thoughts and images that occurred to him, and these were similarly noted down by his assistant who also used a stop watch.

The watches of both assistants were synchronised to within an accuracy of 5 seconds. After the end of each experiment the notes were compared. The additional observations made by sender and percipient after the end of the actual experiment were then added to the record. These observations proved to be useful in the course of subsequent similar investigations as regards the interpretation of the experimental material.

"That to which the voluntary and deliberate attention of the sender was not directed was more easily transmitted to the percipient: this would somehow or another attract the undirected (reflected) attention of the percipient and subsequently elicit in him a more or less pronounced conscious reaction - a spontaneous thought, a detail of the fixated object unexpectedly noticed, a desire to conceal something, etc." This is exactly why "more frequently it was not the actual image suggested that was transmitted but images that have some fortuitous association with it.

This explains a fact frequently noted by other experimenters and confirmed by us, that successful transmission very often does not depend on the sender's will: one can gaze at the detail of an object, even a picturesque and prominent detail, as long and as attentively and concentratedly as one likes, full of eager desire to transmit it to the percipient, and this may produce no effect whatever.

Conversely it frequently happens that details and associated images are transmitted to which the sender paid no attention while fixating the object, and which were only noticed by him after the experiment when he learned of the percipient's reactions by reading the experimental report."

This conclusion is supported in the report of the Commission by the following experiments

Experiment 1. Object of fixation: a small oval portrait of a woman in a glazed, dark red, square leather frame. During fixation the sender noticed on the glass the reflection of the filaments of an electric light bulb, reminiscent of the contours of the Roman letter "N," and he said to his assistant:

"Napoleon-the letter 'N' flashed by. " Within 25 seconds of this remark of the sender's, the percipient said (and this was recorded by his assistant): "A palm tree, a wreath, the word 'consul"'; after another 25 seconds: "I see either Napoleon or Vespasian." (Experiment 18/l/1923)

Experiment 2. Object of fixation: a white folding bone knife (for cleaning nails). Almost immediately after the beginning of "transmission" the percipient said: "The figure of a lion made out of ivory-as a paper knife the handle of which-a lion's head." The sender said that the object of fixation reminded him of an object he possessed - a round powder box made out of ivory, on the lid of which there is a plain picture of a lion's head. (Experiment22/l2/922)

In these experiments perception followed transmission almost instantaneously. Such cases are called "synchronous (simultaneous) intercerebral (brain-to-brain) transmission and perception" by the members of the Commission in their report. However, cases of asynchronous (delayed, not simultaneous) perceptions were likewise observed. Such a delay in eliciting the image seemed a chance happening with some percipients, but with others such a delay was a permanent feature.


The source of the experience

Vasiliev, Leonid

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps