Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Experiments with former student C, who had the ability to produce automatic script
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev
I tried for many years, but in vain, to find a [suitable] percipient. Only in the middle of the thirties did I have such an opportunity, and then only for one sitting. Let us leave aside for the moment a description of the materials of the Commission, particularly since the experiment now to be described has a bearing on it.
My former student C., a young girl keen on sports, dropped in to see me one day; she had just graduated from the University where she had specialised in physiology. I asked her to let me test her suggestibility. We started with the pendulum test, as a result of which it emerged that she possessed unusually marked ideomotor reactions.
We then discovered that she had the ability to produce automatic script. Without interrupting a lively conversation, whilst holding a pencil in her hand, C. unconsciously wrote on a piece of paper placed under the pencil, separate words and phrases which were partly legible … Other writings followed which apparently expressed in symbolic manner her secret wishes.
These findings led me to carry out some experiments in mental suggestion. The subject was told: "I am going to suggest to you mentally whatever comes into my head - just keep holding the pencil on the sheet of paper."
Then, sitting opposite the percipient at a table covered with a tablecloth, I put a note-book on my knees, made my first pencil sketch, and began to suggest this mentally to her. I repeated this experiment four more times. The notebook, the pencil and my hands were securely concealed from the percipient by the table and the tablecloth. Control experiments carried out when the subject had left, showed that it would not have been possible for her to recognise the figures drawn, either directly by sight, or by inference from the movements of the sender’s shoulder: no one ever succeeded in doing so, whereas under just those conditions, the following results were obtained with C. as percipient:
Task l. The figure 8 is transmitted. The percipient draws overlapping trapezia and triangles; the lower one is crossed by a line which forms a figure, similar to an 8. On the whole one must consider the task as having been carried out, but very indifferently.
Task 2. Suggested: a circle with a small cross on the top (astronomical sign of the planet earth). The percipient drew an oval with two lines in it, crossing each other. The task may be considered carried out.
Task 3. Suggested: the letter "y''. Percipient accurately carries out task and writes "y''.
Task 4. The sender repeats the first assignment, which was not achieved - he again suggests the letter 8. The percipient writes a word which can be read as "one," then plainly the word "seven," then a crooked line and finally, distinctly, in the lower right hand corner, a capital "B." This is the end and there is no room for more.
The writings of the percipient could be interpreted as 1 + 7 = 8, but this would be an unjustified assumption. Nevertheless, the result of this experiment is more definite than task I.