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Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – On early experiments by French doctors in hypnotising and awakening at a distance – case study on Leonie B; witness F W A Myers



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Described in Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev

“The correlation between separate observations is for us the best criterion of truth" wrote the well-known psychologist A. Binet in his article "Experimental Psychology at the London Congress of 1892." In accordance with this wise remark, I quote a second observation of the very same experiment written by another participant: F. Myers.

"B.,  well-known subject of Prof, Pierre Janet, was the subject in these experiments in telepathic hypnosis. The experiments were carried out in Le Havre by Prof. Janet and by Dr. Gibert who conducted the experiment.

I quote below extracts from my own experiments of April 20 to 24, 1886, carried out jointly with Dr. A. T. Myers which were written in the form of reports, and which form the basis of an article in the journal of the Society for Physiological Psychology, dated May 24th, also published in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. IV pp. 131-137.

On the evening of April 22nd we all had dinner at Dr. Gibert's. After dinner he made his standard attempt to put B. to sleep at a distance from his house in Serie Street and to call her to him by an effort of the will. The subject was at that time in her cottage in La Ferme Street. At 8:55 Gibert went to his study and Ochorowicz, Marillie, Janet and Myers went towards the cottage and waited in the street by the house.

 At 9:22 Dr. Myers spotted B. who appeared at the garden gate and then disappeared again. Those who observed her close by saw that she was obviously in a somnambulistic state. She wandered about the garden, murmuring something.

 At 9:25 she emerged (her eyes were closed all the time as far as one could see); she quickly passed Janet and Marillie without noticing them, and went to Gibert's house, not by the usual and shortest route.

 (It emerged later that the cook saw how she entered the sitting room at 8:45,left it at 9:15 and did not return again.)

She avoided street lamps and the traffic, and crossed the street many times. Nobody went up to her and started a conversation. Within 8 or 10 minutes her walk grew less steady, she stopped and seemed about to fall. Myers noted the time on his watch: it was 9:35.

At about 9:40 she grew bolder, and at 9:45 she reached the street where Dr. Gibert lives. There she met him but paid no heed to him and entered the house, where she began to run from room to room on the first floor. Gibert did not touch her hand until she recognised him. Then she quieted down.

Gibert said that from 8:55 to 9:20 he had thought about her intensively, and from 9:20 to 9:35 he thought about her less strenuously. At 9:35 he stopped the experiment and started to play billiards, but after a few moments he started again to call the subject. It was later established that his presence in the billiard room coincided with the time when the subject had displayed uncertainty in the street, but this coincidence might have been fortuitous.

Out of a series of 25 similar experiments 19 were successful. Experiments were carried out at various times of day and at different intervals in order to avoid the possibility of the subject expecting the beginning of an experiment."

A juxtaposition of the reports made by Ochorovicz and by Myers shows that these notes coincide as regards the main points and supplement each other with respect to detail. However, the times in minutes noted in the reports do not always correspond exactly; sometimes the discrepancy amounts to as much as five minutes. It is not mentioned whether the watches of Ochorovicz and Myers were synchronised before the experiments.

The source of the experience

Janet, Pierre

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps