Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Kuzmina, more experiments in telepathy
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev
Here is an extract from the report of an experiment conducted on August 28th 1926:-
'At 10:30 Dr. Finne, in the presence of L. L. Vasiliev and V. A. Podierny, puts the patient (Kuzmina) into trance by means of eye gaze and verbal suggestion. The patient responds quickly, going into hypnotic trance, lying on a bed in a horizontal position, face upward, eyes closed.
The phenomena under investigation are those of neuromuscular hyper-stimulation (after Charcot) resulting from the approach of the hand of the experimenter to the right (healthy) and the left (partly hysterically paralysed) hand of the subject. Dr. Finne points with the tips of his fingers (which are stretched out and close together) to various points of the subject's bare arm etc., keeping his finger tips at a distance of 1/2 to 2 cm from the skin surface.
The following motor reactions are observed:
(a) the experimenter's hand approaches the elbow joint (n. ulnaris)-reaction: the hand takes up the position characteristic for pressure on this nerve;
(b) the experimenter's hand approaches the shoulder from the outside (n. radialis)-reaction: the hand takes up the position which is the characteristic response to pressure on this nerve;
(c) the experimenter's hand approaches the shoulder towards n. mediani-reaction: the hand takes up the position which is the characteristic response to pressure on this nerve.
The same sequence of events followed in the case of the right (healthy) arm. These reactions were perfectly reliable and regular: they could be elicited however many times one wanted, not only by the hypnotist but by any person present. The reaction appeared almost immediately after the approach of the fingers, became stabilised within 10 to 15 seconds, and disappeared almost instantaneously after the experimenter’s hand was withdrawn.
The eyes of the subject were closed but not bandaged. Direct visual cues were avoided by the fact that the subject’s head was turned in the opposite direction from that of the side on which experiments were being conducted."
It is a pity that we did not, in these experiments, place any screen (metal or glass) between the experimenter's fingers and the subject’s skin. We cannot therefore exclude the possibility that we were dealing with ordinary conditioned motor reflexes (possibly sub-threshold ones) in response to the warmth of the fingers of the experimenter, or to the air vibration at the approach of the hand: indeed this is not inconceivable, since during the days preceding the above described experiments Kuzmina had frequently manifested these reflexes of neuromuscular hyperstimulation in response to pressure on the relevant nerves; and in the course of these pressures on the nerves (unconditioned stimuli) these reflexes would frequently coincide in time with heat or air pressure conditioned stimuli or signals).
On the other hand the control observations made in this same experiment of August 28th 1926 militate against this supposition. We had first tested the effect of the approach of the hands of the hypnotist to the bare skin of the subject, and this had elicited distinct reactions of attraction of the skin towards, and repulsion away from, the hand. Such reactions appeared right away, in the very first test: and consequently it must be inferred that the experimenter’s hand acted as an unconditioned stimulus.