Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Kuzmina, 15 experiments in telepathy
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev
In 1926, in one of the hospitals of Leningrad, these Joire experiments were repeated by a team composed of the medical hypnotist Dr. Finne, my colleague V. A. Podierny and myself. A chronic patient, Kuzmina, aged 29, was our experimental subject. She was undergoing hypnotherapy in respect of a long-standing hysterical paralysis of the left side.
Once under hypnosis the patient remained immobile and her musculature flaccid during the whole session, after which there were signs of neuromuscular hypertension, taking specific forms.
This phenomenon had already been noted by J. M. Charcot and his school, and also by V. M. Bekhterev. Our patient, when in the hypnotised state, displayed a lowered receptivity to verbal suggestion (this being characteristic of hypnotic states of this type). However, under the influence of very persistent repetition of verbal suggestion the hypnotised patient regained her capacity for voluntary movement of the paralysed extremities. A similar effect could be produced by mental suggestion.
It should be particularly noted that, although this patient under hypnosis showed lowered receptivity to verbal suggestion amounting at times to negativism, she gave every indication of being intensely receptive to mental suggestion of motor acts.
The experiments were carried out in the morning in a separate small ward from which all furniture was removed except a stool, and a bed for the patient which stood in the middle of the room. Dr. Finne would put the subject into a hypnotic state by means of verbal suggestion. One of the experimenters sat behind the patient's head, at a distance of about 2 m. Either the experimenter, or someone else who was present, wrote on a slip of paper the mental suggestion to be given (often this was not shown to the others present), and the experimenter proceeded with the experiment following the technique of Joire.
Especial care was taken both by the experimenter and all those Present to avoid unconscious whispering, thus giving verbal information concerning the nature of the assigned task such whispering may occur spontaneously and involuntarily and would, of course, vitiate the results.
Once the subject was in a state of deep hypnosis (with Posthypnotic amnesia but without the instruction of rapport confined to the hypnotist), her eyes being tightly closed or more frequently tightly bandaged, she would usually make the movement suggested to her without any unnecessary movements.
When asked by the hypnotist why she had made this particular movement she would often reply, "I was told to do so by so-and-so" (Finne, Vasiliev, etc.) nearly always correctly naming the agent or sender. Below are given without exception all the memoranda that were made concerning experiments conducted with this subject, positive as well as negative, in chronological order.
Experiment 1. 21/8/1926. Task to stretch both arms outward. The task was set by Dr. Finne who also acted as sender; he was sitting on a stool behind the subject’s head at a distance of 1 m. Within 1 .5-2 minutes after the beginning of suggestion, convulsive movements of the whole left arm (the affected one.) were noted, which movements gradually brought the arm into the suggested position. The right arm, after making several indefinite movements, remained in its previous position. The task was considered to have been only partly accomplished.
Experiment 2. 25/8/1926. Task to cause, by means of mental suggestion' in the subjects right arm the effects of neuro-muscular hyper-stimulation (after Charcot) in the following sequence: elbow (ulnar) nerve-median nerve-radial nerve. The task was set by Dr. Finne who was also the sender and sat behind the patient’s head at a distance of 1 m.
I (a). Suggestion: hyperstimulation of the (elbow) ulnar nerve (n. ulnaris)
I (b). Response: correct, on right arm, within 2 minutes, i.e. the hand taker up a position characteristic for stimulation of the ulnar nerve.
II (a). Suggestion: stimulation of the median nerve (n. medianus).
II (b). Response: the position of the right hand resembles the position characteristic for stimulation of the ulnar nerve. Position assumed within 1.5 minutes. Task not fulfilled.
III (a). Suggestion: hyperstimulation of the radial nerve (n. radialis).
III (b). Response: carried out correctly, but on the left arm, the right one remaining immobile (within 2 mins.).
Experiment 3. Same date as above. Task Cross the arms over the chest. Set by Vasiliev; the sender, Finne, in same position as in experiment 2. Within 1/2 minute after the beginning of suggestion the subject starts to make movements with the right arm in the following sequence:
(a) she places her right arm on her chest in the direction towards her left shoulder but then
(b) she brings her hand to her mouth and moves it as though wiping her lips with her fist;
(c) she rubs her fore-head and nose with the back part of the hand;
(d) puts her hand under her head.
Dr. Finne asks the subject: "What do you want to do?"
The subject replies: "To make the sign of the cross on my face."
Question by Dr. Finne: "Why do you want to do that?"
Reply: "Prof, Vasiliev made me do it."
Experiment 4 Same date. Task to sit up and open her eyes. Set by Dr. Finne; sender, L. L. Vasiliev, sitting behind the head of the subject at 1 m distance. Within half a minute from the onset of suggestion the subject begins to make restless movements of the head and then moves in the following sequence:
(a) turns head to one side;
(b) makes visible effort to raise head;
(c) raises head which falls back on cushion;
(d) raises head again which falls back once more;
(e) raises whole body and falls back inertly;
(f ) puts her right (healthy) hand behind her head, helping herself up by thus pushing herself up, sits up and remains sitting up with closed eyes.
Question by Dr. Finne: "What did Prof. Vasiliev tell you to do?"
Reply: "He told me to sit up, put my hand behind my head (not suggested) and see who is present." About five minutes had elapsed from the beginning of the suggestion to carry out this task.
I must add that in every case the task was written down on a piece of paper behind the subject's head immediately before the beginning of the experimentand shown in silence to four persons present at the sitting (Finne, Vasiliev, Podierny and to one of the persons invited to attend the experiment).
Experiment 5. 1/9/1926. Prof. Vasiliev, without prior notice to those present, suddenly raises his right leg, mentally ordering the subject to do likewise.
The subject, almost instantly after the beginning of the suggestion bends her right leg, then raises the lower part of her leg.
Question by Finne: "Who told you to do that?"
Subject: "It was Prof. Vasiliev’s order."
Experiment 6. 8/9/1926. Task: "Show your tongue." Dr. Finne is sending the mental suggestion, sitting on a stool on the left hand side of the subject, looking straight into her face. Half a minute after the onset of suggestion the subject makes facial movements mimicking a smile. She then raises her right arm, attempts to open her mouth with the fingers of her right hand.
Question by Dr. Finne: "What are you supposed to do?"
Subject’s reply: "Blow a kiss!"
Experiment 7. 11/9/1926. Dr. Finne sitting behind the patient, sends out the mental suggestion that he is stimulating the ulnar nerve of her left arm, then the median and finally the radial nerve of the same side. The behaviour sequence is as follows:
(a) the patient raises her left arm. The hand assumes a position similar to that which results from mechanical stimulation (after Charcot) of this nerve. Then the arm falls back:
(b) the patient again raises her left arm to her face, the hand being in a position characteristic for the effects of stimulation of the median nerve (after Charcot);
(c) nervous movements of the right arm. The right hand assumes the position characteristic of stimulation of the radial nerve (after Charcot). The left remains immobile.
Experiment 8. 15/9/1926.Task: "Place both hands under your head." Her left (partially paralysed) hand twitches. She grasps her left hand with her right (sound) one, places both hands behind her head with a sigh of relief and remains in that position.
Question by Finne: "What did you do?"
Reply: "I placed my hands behind my head. Prof Vasiliev said I should." Time taken: 4 minutes.
Experiment 9. Same date. Task "Sit up and open your eyes." Set by Dr. Panov, invited to attend the experiment. Hypnotic sender: Dr. Finne. For five minutes a number of chaotic movements of right and left arms. After a lapse of six minutes from the beginning of the experiment Dr. Finne, the sender, asks: "What were you asked to do?" Subject answers: "I didn’t feel anything."
Experiment 10. 25/9/l925.Task set by Vasiliev: "Bend the right leg at the knee." Sender Vasiliev, standing 2 m behind the subject's head. The task is carried out by the subject without superfluous movements, after a lapse of 3.5 minutes. Head, arm and upper portion of body remain in state of complete relaxation.
Experiment 11. Same date. Vasiliev, without any preliminary preparation and without notice to those present, stands behind the subject’s head at a distance of 2 m. He raises his right arm, mentally instructing the subject to do likewise. After 2.5 minutes the subject complies in the following sequence:
(a) raises both arms a little; raises left arm by taking her left hand in her right hand;
(b) lets both arms drop down to her side;
(c) with an impulsive quick movement raises her right arm upward; the left remaining at her side.
To the question by Dr. Finne "Why did you raise your hand?" the subject replies "Prof, Vasiliev spoke to me about it."
Experiment 12. 6/10/1926.5 Task set by Prof. A. A. Kuliabko, invited to watch the experiment: "scratch your left cheek and the bridge of your nose." Sender: Prof. Kuliabko, sitting behind the subject’s head. During the experiment the sender raises his right arm and rubs his left cheek. The subject bends her right leg. Raises her right arm to her left cheek and her lips. Scratches right cheek with the same hand.
Question by Dr. Finne: "What are you doing?"
Subject's answer: "The right side of my face is itching."-"Who spoke to you?"
"Who was it then?"
"Prof. Kulbashov." (The subject had on that occasion met Prof. Kuliabko for the first time; there were 12 people in all present at the experiment.)-
"What did he ask you to do"
"He made the right side of my face itch most horribly."
Experiment 13. Same date. Task "Open your eyes." Task set by Dr. Finne who also acts as sender, sitting behind the subject's head. After a lapse of 2.5 minutes from the beginning of suggestion the subject several times touches her cheeks, temple and forehead with her left hand and then fully opens her eyes.
Question by Finne: "What am I telling you to do?"-reply: "To open my eyes."
Experiment 14. Same date. Task set by Dr. G. V Reitz, invited to watch the experiment: to make the sign of the cross with her right hand. During the experiment the sender frequently raises his right hand to his forehead, trying to force the subject to do likewise. After 25 seconds the right hand, previously immobile on the bed, assumes the position which the sender is trying to induce. The subject then makes a number of different movements with her right and left arms. She sighs. After 4 mins. 45 secs she raises her right hand with a visible effort, the fingers bent in accordance with the suggested assignment; convulsive movements of the upper part of the body.
Question by Dr. Finne: "What are you doing?"
"My arm is very tired."
"What did you want to do)"-
"To straighten the fingers of my right hand, but it was stiff and painful in all the joints."
Experiment 15. Same date. Task set by Dr. Schreiber, invited to the experiment: "Sit up." He acts as sender, sitting on a stool behind the subject’s head.
Subject shrugs her shoulders. Slightly raises both arms, puts them out, pulls herself up and sits up without opening her eyes (carried out in 2.5 minutes).
An analysis of the above records shows that out of 19 tasks in 15 experiments 10 were carried out quite correctly, 6 may be considered as only partially correct and only 3 yielded either no results or a false response. It is of interest that the subject not only carried out the suggestion of those who usually experimented with her (Finne, Vasiliev) but also those of casual visitors whom she had met for the first time (Kuliabko, Schreiber, Reitz, Panov).