SUSPENDED ANIMATION AND PREMATURE BURIAL

There is another psychic phenomenon which deserves a passing notice at
our hands, not only because it is governed by the same laws which have
been discussed, but because it is a matter of transcendent practical
interest and importance. I refer to the subject of suspended animation,
and consequent premature burial.

I know of but one physician in this country who has given serious
attention to this subject. Nothing in authoritative form has yet
appeared from his pen, but I am credibly informed that he has collected
an array of facts of veritable significance. One assertion of startling
import is that in the United States an average of not less than one
case a week is discovered and reported. This statement alone attests
the importance of the subject, although due allowance must be made for
possible exaggeration. Be that as it may, the appalling possibility of
premature burial as a result of a condition so common as catalepsy,
the psychic aspects of which are so little understood in this country,
invests the subject with more than ordinary interest.

The following cases have been personally investigated by the writer,
and serve to illustrate the dangers which menace the cataleptic
subject. Names are omitted, at the request of the parties interested.

The first case is that of a young lady, near Indianapolis, who came
to life after fourteen days of suspended animation. Six doctors had
applied the usual tests, and pronounced her dead. Her little brother
clung to her, against the opinion of the doctors and the will of
the parents, and frantically declared that she was not dead. In the
excitement the bandage which held her jaw in place was accidentally
pushed aside. The jaw fell, and the brother fancied that he saw his
sister’s tongue moving slowly.

“What do you want, sister?” cried the little fellow.

“Water,” was the faint answer from the supposed corpse.

Water was administered, the patient revived, and is yet living.

A lady who is now at the head of one of the largest orphan asylums
of a Western city has been twice pronounced dead by the attending
physicians, twice prepared for the grave, and twice resuscitated by her
friends. On the last occasion extraordinary precautions were taken, in
view of her former experience. All the tests known to her physicians
were applied, and all doubts were set at rest. She was a second time
professionally declared to be dead, and the physicians left the house.
In preparing the body for burial it was accidentally pricked by a pin.
Soon afterwards it was discovered that a small drop of blood marked
the spot where the pin entered. This once more roused the hope of the
family, and vigorous treatment soon restored her to consciousness. She
is living to-day, a vigorous, useful woman. It is proper to note here
that upon being restored, the lady declared that she had never for a
moment lost consciousness, that she knew all that went on around her,
perfectly comprehended the significance of all the tests which were
applied, but felt the utmost indifference as to the result, and was
neither surprised nor alarmed when it was decided that she was dead.

A few years ago, a gentleman of Harrisburg, Pa., apparently died after
a long period of suffering from inflammatory rheumatism, complicated
with heart trouble. Preparations were made for the funeral; but his
wife refused to allow the body to be packed in ice, fearing the
possibility of a premature burial, and announced her determination
to keep it for at least a week. The next day her hopes were realized
by finding her husband with his eyes wide open, and one of his arms
out of the position in which it had been placed. She called loudly
for him to arise, and with assistance he did so, and was placed in a
chair. Physicians were summoned, but before their arrival he was so
far recovered that their aid was unnecessary, and he soon recovered
from his illness. He states that during the time of suspended animation
he was perfectly cognizant of all that occurred around him, heard the
lamentations of the stricken family and the preparations for burial,
but was unable to move a muscle or utter a sound.

The reading public has not forgotten the death of Washington Irving
Bishop, the celebrated mind-reader, which occurred under circumstances
that called forth the declaration on the part of his friends and
relatives that he was not dead before the surgeon’s knife penetrated
his brain; that on several previous occasions he had been in a
cataleptic state, resembling death, for many hours at a time; and that
on one of these occasions his attending physicians had pronounced
him dead. The public will not soon forget the thrill of horror which
was felt when it was learned with what unseemly haste an autopsy was
performed upon that unfortunate man.

These are not exceptional cases, nor is the phenomenon of modern
origin. It can be traced back through all the ages of which there are
records preserved, until it is lost in the twilight of tradition and
fable.

In all human probability the ancient belief in vampirism had its origin
in discovered cases of suspended animation. It will be remembered
that whenever a corpse was suspected of being a vampire, the grave
was opened and the body was examined. If it showed no signs of
decomposition, the fact was held to be indubitable evidence of guilt.
The punishment was summary, and fully as effective as a modern autopsy;
it consisted in driving a stake through the heart. This simple process
effectually laid the “vampire ghost,” and it no longer possessed the
power to “suck the blood of the living,” and thus “continue to live
on in the grave,” to use the language of an ancient official document
defining the characteristics of a vampire.

Revolting and gross as was the superstition relating to vampirism,
is it not possible that, like most legendary tales, it had a basis
of truth, and that an essential part of that truth consisted, as
before remarked, of the fact that the cases referred to were cases of
suspended animation? Many cases are reported which appear to be well
authenticated, and they all seem to sustain this theory. One case
(which was officially attested) is related, where the body of a man
suspected of vampirism was exhumed after it had lain in the grave three
weeks. No signs of decomposition being visible, a stake was driven
through the heart, “upon which,” says the report, “fresh blood gushed
from the mouth and ears.”

Another case is mentioned of one Arnold Paul, a Hungarian, whose body
was exhumed after it had been buried forty days. “His body,” says the
narrator, “was red; his hair, nails, and beard had grown again, and
his veins were replete with fluid blood.” The stake was brought into
requisition, and as it pierced his heart, he “uttered a frightful
shriek, as if he had been alive.”

Two erroneous impressions very generally prevail regarding catalepsy,
or suspended animation. One is that depriving the subject of air will
cause death in a few hours. Another is that catalepsy is a disease, or
is always the result of disease. Both of these hypotheses are clearly
disproved by the well-known experiments of the East Indian fakirs.

One of the most clearly attested instances of the kind alluded to is
the experiment of the Fakir of Lahore, who, at the instance of Runjeet
Singh, suffered himself to be buried alive in an air-tight vault for
a period of six weeks. This case was thoroughly authenticated by Sir
Claude Wade, the then British Resident at the court of Loodhiana.
The fakir’s nostrils and ears were first filled with wax; he was
then placed in a linen bag, then deposited in a wooden box which was
securely locked, and the box was deposited in a brick vault which was
carefully plastered up with mortar and sealed with the Rajah’s seal. A
guard of British soldiers was then detailed to watch the vault day and
night. At the end of the prescribed time the vault was opened in the
presence of Sir Claude and Runjeet Singh, and the fakir was restored to
consciousness.

Lieutenant Boileau relates another instance where a man suffered
himself to be buried for a period of ten days in a grave lined with
masonry and covered with a large slab of stone, the whole strictly
guarded day and night. On being restored to consciousness, the man
offered to submit to burial for a year, if the lieutenant so desired.

Many other well-authenticated instances are related by British
residents in India, but these must suffice. In all these cases the
subjects were in perfect health when the experiments were made, and in
each instance the body, when disinterred, was found to present all the
characteristics indicating death, except decomposition.

Volumes might be filled with well-authenticated cases of suspended
animation, varying in duration from a few hours to many months; but it
would be foreign to the purpose of this chapter to cite any. Sufficient
instances have been given to illustrate the points which I shall
attempt to make, as well as to show the intrinsic importance of the
subject and the danger to be apprehended from ignorance of the psychic
principles involved.

The fundamental error into which many physicians have fallen consists
in the assumption that catalepsy is, _per se_, a disease. It must be
said, however, to the credit of the profession, that no one pretends to
understand it. Most medical writers confess that if it is a disease,
it is one of which the pathology is but little understood by the
profession, and they aver that morbid anatomy throws no light upon it
whatever. In fact, some well-known writers have doubted its existence,
and have attributed the recorded cases to gross imposture. It is,
however, generally held to be a functional nervous disorder; but the
tendency of modern investigation is in the direction of its psychic
aspects, and moral means are now largely employed in its treatment by
the best physicians.

The truth appears to be that catalepsy is not a disease in any proper
sense of the word. The most that can be said is that it may be
considered a symptom of certain diseases. That is to say, inasmuch
as it commonly attacks those who are suffering from certain nervous
disorders, it might be said to be a symptom indicating the presence of
such disorders. But, I repeat, it is not a disease _per se_; and one
prominent medical authority goes so far as to admit that “in itself
catalepsy is never fatal.” He might have gone further, and said that
other diseases are rarely fatal when catalepsy supervenes.

Catalepsy belongs exclusively to the domain of hypnotism. I employ this
term in the broadest significance of its Greek radix; for no matter how
the condition is induced, it is purely a sleep of the objective senses,
a suspension of the vital functions, a rest of all the vital organs. It
can be induced in perfectly healthy persons by the hypnotic processes
on the one hand, or, on the other, it may supervene after a long period
of illness or nervous exhaustion. In both cases the phenomenon is
the same; and when the patient is intelligently treated, the effect
is always salutary. It is, in the highest sense of the phrase, a
manifestation of the _vis conservatrix naturæ_; it is, of a truth,
“tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep.”

Catalepsy is always easily induced in a hypnotic subject by the
ordinary processes known to hypnotists, and the normal condition is as
easily restored. It is always refreshing to the subject, especially
when he is exhausted by mental or physical labor,–far more so than
is ordinary sleep of the same duration. The same is true of the
catalepsy which supervenes after a long period of illness or of nervous
exhaustion. That this statement is true of the first class, we have
the testimony of all who have been subjects of intelligent experiment.
That it is true of the second class also, is attested by the fact that
suspended animation is nearly always followed by the recovery of the
patient from illness. The cataleptic condition marks the crisis in many
diseases, especially those of the nerves. If the patient is properly
managed during that crisis, his convalescence is assured.

Catalepsy may properly be divided into four classes, differing from
one another only in the causes which induce the condition. The first
is catalepsy from hypnotic suggestion; the second, epidemic catalepsy;
the third, self-induced catalepsy; the fourth, catalepsy arising from
disease or nervous exhaustion. Suggestion is the all-potent factor in
the production of the catalepsy of the first three classes, as it is
in the production of all other hypnotic phenomena. The suggestion may
come, first, from an operator who purposely induces the condition as
an experiment. Secondly, it may arise from the patient seeing other
cataleptic subjects. In such cases, catalepsy may run through a whole
school or a neighborhood, precisely as does epidemic insanity, St.
Vitus’s dance, and many other nervous troubles. “Imitation,” or the
disposition to imitate, has generally been assigned as the cause of
such manifestations becoming epidemic among children. But this is a
palpable error. It arises rather from the fear that each one feels–the
mental suggestion that each one makes–that he or she may be the
next victim. Thirdly, self-induced catalepsy is illustrated in the
experiments of the East Indian fakirs, and arises from auto-suggestion.
In these cases the condition is purely hypnotic, and is self-induced by
simple processes, well known to all who have made an intelligent study
of hypnotism as practised in the Orient.

It is not, however, with these classes that we have to deal in this
chapter, but rather with cases which arise from disease or nervous
exhaustion. In such cases, suggestion can hardly be considered as an
initial cause, although, as we shall see further on, it is a potent
factor in deepening, prolonging, and terminating the condition.

I have said that catalepsy marks the crisis in certain diseases.
It is, in fact, the supreme effort of nature to give the exhausted
nerves their needed rest. When this fact is once appreciated, and the
patient is intelligently treated on its basis, much needless alarm
will be saved, and many fatal errors will be avoided. The patient in
that condition is enjoying absolute rest. All the vital processes are
practically suspended. He is free from all pain, and is enjoying a
refreshing sleep,–a sleep so profound that it may be truly likened
to its “twin-brother, death.” The depth and duration of the trance
will depend upon the necessities of the case. That is to say, it will
be proportioned to the severity of the patient’s illness, and his
consequent need of rest and recuperation.

The primary mistake which many physicians make in managing cataleptic
patients consists in seeking, by heroic treatment, to hasten
restoration to consciousness. No greater mistake is possible. If the
attempt is successful, it causes a fearful shock to the nerves, and
the effort is thwarted which nature is making to relieve the patient
and give rest to his already overstrained nervous system. If it is
unsuccessful, the patient is threatened with the danger of being buried
alive, or of an autopsy. These dangers are ever present; and as long as
physicians fail to recognize the pregnant fact that an advanced stage
of decomposition is the only infallible test of death, just so long
will the human race be menaced with the horrors of premature burial.

The most important branch, however, of the subject of catalepsy is that
pertaining to its psychological features. I have said that catalepsy
belongs to the domain of hypnotism. I mean by this, not only that the
phenomenon is identical with the condition which can be produced by
the ordinary hypnotic processes, but that the cataleptic patient is
amenable to precisely the same psychological laws which govern the
ordinary hypnotic subject.

The two fundamental propositions which bear upon this subject are the
following:–

First, a patient in a case of suspended animation or catalepsy, induced
by disease or nervous exhaustion, is amenable to control by suggestion
precisely as he is in the ordinary hypnotic state.

Second, a patient in that condition is always conscious, subjectively,
of all that happens around him. That is to say, no matter how
profoundly the objective senses are locked in slumber, the subjective
faculties are ever alert, and the subject recognizes, often with great
acuteness, everything that goes on around him. This fact is not always
recognized by hypnotists, and it is safe to say that ignorance of this
one truth has been the source of more erroneous conclusions regarding
the significance of hypnotic phenomena than all other causes combined.
Hundreds of cases are reported where the patients noted all the
preparations for burial and all that was said and done, and yet were
unable to move or make the fact known that they were alive. This seems
to be the universal testimony, although it is possible that the patient
might not, in all cases, remember what he had experienced. In fact,
it is common for hypnotic subjects to forget their experiences during
the sleep; but that does not militate against the fact that they were
subjectively conscious at that time.

The conclusions derivable from these premises are as important as
they are obvious. The first and most vital is that when a patient is
suffering from a disease which will induce catalepsy, and begins to
enter that state, the usual remarks and conversation of those at the
bedside must inevitably tend to deepen and prolong the lethargy. The
patient appears to be dying. The friends, by word and action, are
conveying the impression that death is at hand. The physician feels
the pulse, which grows fainter and fainter, until it is no longer
perceptible. He examines the heart until its pulsations cease. Finally,
he turns to the stricken friends, and in a solemn voice announces that
all is over,–the patient is dead. Now, if it happens that it is merely
a case of catalepsy, or suspended animation, the announcement by the
physician that the patient is dead is an all-potent suggestion which
is, and must inevitably be, seized upon by the subject and carried to
its legitimate conclusion. A case of prolonged suspension of animation
is the inevitable result, as the laws of hypnotism teach, if they teach
anything. The patient actually believes that he is dead. The statement
of this proposition seems almost ridiculous; but when it is remembered
that no suggestion seems absurd or incongruous to the hypnotic subject,
the proposition is seen at once to be an absolute verity. Who has not
dreamed of being dead? Few, if any, have not had this experience; and
yet the incongruity of the two ideas–of being dead and of calmly
reflecting on the subject–never strikes the dreamer’s subjective
intelligence. Subjective impressions never seem absurd or incongruous
to the subject. This principle runs through all subjective mental
action, from the dreams of the healthy sleeper to the hallucinations of
the monomaniac. Subjective intelligence, be it remembered, is capable
of exercising but one form of reasoning,–the deductive. But it will
reason deductively from any premise imparted to it, by any form of
suggestion, with great acumen; and it never arrives at a conclusion
inconsistent with the premise,–that is, the suggestion. All the facts
known to the individual’s objective experience which are inconsistent
with that premise stand for nought in presence of the one ever-present
idea. That idea is the major premise, unquestioned and indisputable, of
a syllogism which he will inevitably complete with logical accuracy.

It is easy to see from what has been said what an appalling,
ever-present danger menaces the patient who, from any cause, becomes
cataleptic, especially the one who has reached the crisis of a
lingering illness, and is surrounded by physicians and friends who are
ignorant of the psychological principles involved. The natural language
of the emotions of the surviving friends, the wail of hopeless grief,
the administration of the sacraments of the Church, and, finally, the
authoritative announcement of the doctor that “He is dead!” all tend to
the one result. When to these are added the ice-pack or the embalmer’s
fluid, it remains only for the performance of an autopsy to give the
_coup de grâce_.

I shall not attempt to apply the principles here laid down to
particular cases. Those who are cognizant of the circumstances of any
case, either recorded or within their own private experience, will
easily recognize their significance. Nor shall I attempt to prescribe
the specific course to be pursued where suspended animation is
suspected, as that is the province of the physician in attendance on
each particular case. My object will have been accomplished if what I
have said shall be the means of directing the attention of the medical
profession to the psychic aspects of catalepsy, and to a more careful
study of the psychology of that science which has suffered so much
at the hands of charlatanism on the one hand, and prejudice on the
other,–hypnotism.

Nevertheless, a few general observations regarding the proper course to
be pursued may not seem impertinent. It is obvious that when catalepsy
is suspected, or is possible, all allusion to or suggestion of death
should be avoided, especially by the physician in attendance. It should
not for a moment be forgotten that, however profoundly the objective
senses may be locked in insensibility, subjectively the patient is
awake and is taking cognizance of all that occurs, and appreciates with
wonderful, acuteness the significance of every word that is uttered. It
should be remembered that since suggestion can induce catalepsy, it can
also deepen and prolong the period of its duration. Conversely, it is
the most potent means of restoration. Other restoratives should rarely,
if ever, be resorted to. Violent means should never be employed. The
essential thing is a cheerful, confident demeanor in all present at the
bedside. Time should always be given for the conservative forces and
recuperative powers of nature to do their legitimate work, and in due
season the patient, who “is not dead, but sleepeth,” will awake; or, in
obedience to suggestion, will “arise and come forth,” saved from the
jaws of death,–rescued from the horrors of a living grave.

I have now presented the propositions of my hypothesis, together with
a brief outline showing its applicability to the leading psychic
phenomena; and it remains only to draw a few practical conclusions
which apply to every-day life. The first, and the most obviously
important one, relates to the exercise of subjective power, and the
normal relations of the objective and subjective faculties. In order to
do so clearly and concisely, it will be necessary to recall the terms
of the hypothesis.

The first proposition is that the mind of man is dual in character.
This proposition, as we have already stated, has been more or less
dimly recognized by many philosophers in all ages; and during the
present century it has been gradually assuming a more definite status
in mental philosophy. Assuming, therefore, this proposition to be
true, it necessarily follows that the two minds must, normally, bear a
harmonious relation to each other. It follows that one of the two minds
must, normally, be subordinated to the other. Otherwise there would be
a conflict. Just here Liébault’s discovery of the law of suggestion
comes in, and shows that the subjective mind is constantly controlled
by that power. It is true that Liébault and his followers have applied
the law only to the elucidation of hypnotic phenomena; and in that
have not always carried it to its legitimate conclusion. But it has
seemed to me that if the law is applicable to one class of psychic
phenomena, it must be equally applicable to all, as nature’s laws admit
of no exceptions. I have therefore declared, as the second proposition
of my hypothesis, that the subjective mind is always controllable by
suggestion.

Assuming, therefore, that these two propositions are true, it follows
as a necessary consequence that there must be some distinctive line
of difference between the methods of operation of the two minds. It
is obvious that there is a limitation of power in the subjective
mind, otherwise it could not be subordinated to the objective. Just
where this line of distinction could be drawn, and how it could
be formulated, was at first a perplexing question. There were no
authorities on the subject who ever hinted at a possible limitation of
reasoning power in either branch of the dual mind. On the contrary,
those who have observed the phenomena of subjective mental activity,
as seen in hypnotic subjects, in trance-speakers, and cognate
exhibitions, have been so profoundly impressed with its transcendent
powers that it has seemed impossible that it could be hedged about by
limitations. Philosophers from time immemorial have recognized its
tremendous powers of memory, and millions have sat entranced by the
eloquence of subjective speakers, and noted with profound admiration
their accuracy of logical deduction. So impressed has the world been
by such exhibitions that the soul has been held up as the infallible
guide to all that is pure and noble and good in humanity. It has
been called the Ego (which it truly is), and as such it has been
recognized as the inward monitor, whose monitions are always entitled
to reverential consideration. It was difficult, therefore, to imagine
any line of distinction between the two branches of the dual mind
which would place the subjective in a subordinate position. But for
the discovery of Liébault’s law of suggestion that line would never
have been recognized. It now becomes evident, however, that the point
of its limitation of reasoning power is the starting-point. It has not
the power to formulate its own premises. The subsidiary proposition
of our general hypothesis is, therefore, that _the subjective mind is
incapable of inductive reasoning_. It will readily be seen that it is a
corollary of the law of suggestion; but the three propositions together
furnish the key to the whole science of psychology.




I am aware that those who have hitherto regarded the soul as possessing
all the intellectual powers, as well as all the moral attributes, will
be shocked when they realize that the object of their admiration is
hedged about with any limitations whatever. The first question they
will ask is, “Why is it that God has given to man a soul possessing
such transcendent powers in certain directions, and yet under the
absolute control, in all its ideas and intellectual functions, of a
finite, perishable intelligence?” The broad and comprehensive answer
is, _To constitute man a free moral agent_. It needs no argument to
show that if the soul were not so limited in its initiative power of
reasoning, the finite, mortal man could not be held responsible for
the moral status of his soul. God gave to objective man the powers of
reason, inductive as well as deductive, for the purpose of enabling him
successfully to struggle with his physical environment. He gave him the
power to know the right from the wrong. He gave him supreme control
of the initial processes of reasoning, and thus made him responsible
for the moral status of his soul. The soul, in the mean time, so long
as it inhabits the body, is charged with limited responsibilities. It
is the life-principle of the body, and its normal functions pertain
solely to the preservation of human life and the perpetuation of the
human race. It possesses wonderful powers in other directions, under
certain abnormal conditions of the body, it is true. But their exercise
outside of those limits is always abnormal, and productive of untoward
results. Those powers of which we catch occasional glimpses, and which
so excite our admiration, are powers which pertain to its existence in
a future world. They are powers which proclaim it as a part of God, as
partaking of the nature and attributes of the Divine Mind. Its powers
of perception of the fixed laws of nature demonstrate its kinship
to Omniscience. It is independent of the feeble powers of inductive
reasoning when it is freed from its earthly trammels; and there is not
one power or attribute peculiar to the finite, objective mind that
could be of any service to the soul in its eternal home. We boast of
our powers of inductive reason, forgetting how little we have learned,
or ever can know, compared with what there is to learn. We forget that
they are the outgrowth of our physical wants and necessities, and
simply enable us to grope in the dark for the means of subsistence, and
to render our physical existence tolerable. The powers of the objective
mind, compared with those of the subjective mind, may be likened to a
man born in a cave, in which the light of the sun never entered, and
supplied only with a rushlight with which to grope his way and find
the means of subsistence. The light, feeble as it is, is invaluable to
him; for by its means he is enabled gradually to learn his bearings,
to take note of his environment, to make occasional discoveries of the
necessities of life, and finally to achieve some of the comforts of
existence. The more he discovers, the more he appreciates the value
of his rushlight and the more he boasts of its transcendent powers of
illumination. He hears vague reports of an outside world where the
comforts and luxuries of life are comparatively easy to obtain, and he
resolves to grope his way out. He is told that the outside world is
lighted by a great luminary which will render his rushlight of no value
to him except as a reminder of the limitations of his cave-life. But
he is sceptical, and points with pride to his accumulations and the
discoveries he has made with the aid of his “God-given illuminant,” and
refuses to believe that there is a possible state of existence which
would be tolerable without rushlights. At length a cataclysm of nature
throws him upon the outside world in the full blaze of the light of a
midday sun. He then finds that he is in a world of light; that he can
perceive things as they are, and observe their bearings and relations
to each other, and he finds that the rays of his rushlight are no
longer visible. It is obvious that this is but a feeble illustration of
the difference between the powers of inductive inquiry into the laws
of nature, and the powers of perception possessed by the subjective
entity. When the soul is freed from its physical trammels it ascends
to its native realm of truth, and, untrammelled by false suggestions
arising from the imperfect knowledge of the objective mind, it “sees
God as he is;” that is, it apprehends all his laws, and imbibes truth
from its Eternal Source.

It must not be forgotten in this connection that the subjective mind
is the soul, or spirit, and is itself an organized entity, possessing
independent powers and functions; while the objective mind is merely
the function of the physical brain, and possesses no powers whatever
independently of the physical organization. The one possesses dynamic
force independently of the body; the other does not. The one is capable
of sustaining an existence independently of the body; the other dies
with it. It is just here that the ancient philosophers made their
greatest error; and that error has been transmitted down through
all the ages. They recognized the dual character of the mind, but
saw no fundamental difference in the functions of the two minds. It
never occurred to them that there was, or could be, any limitation of
power in either that was not common to both. They recognized man as
a trinity, the three elements of which are “body, soul, and spirit.”
The soul, in their system of philosophy, corresponds to the objective
mind, and the spirit to the subjective mind. They considered only the
functions of the two minds as minds, and constantly regarded the
two as possessing only co-ordinate powers. Or, if they regarded them
as entities, they considered that while each was an entity, it was,
somehow, inseparably joined to the other in function and destiny.
Hence, according to their philosophy, if one survived the death of
the body, both must survive it. This fundamental error shows itself,
in various forms, in every system of philosophy, from Plato down; and
it will continue to breed confusion and uncertainty in the human mind
until the fact is recognized that the subjective mind, or spirit, as
Plato designates it, is a distinct entity, possessing independent
powers and functions; whereas the objective mind, or the “soul,” of
the ancient philosopher, is merely the function of the physical brain.
This latter proposition is demonstrated by every consideration of its
powers, functions, and limitations. Its powers wholly depend upon the
physical condition of the brain. They decline as the body weakens.
They become deranged and useless as the brain becomes disorganized
from physical causes. Its distinctive functions pertain solely to
physical existence. It has the power of independent inductive reasoning
to compensate for its total want of power to perceive by intuition.
But, as I have already pointed out, inductive reasoning is merely
a laborious method of inquiry, and pertains wholly to our physical
existence. It would be as useless to the spirit in an existence where
all truth is perceived by intuition, as a tallow-dip in the full blaze
of a noonday sun. It may be set down as a maxim in spiritual philosophy
that there is not one power or function of the objective mind which
distinguishes it from those of the subjective entity, that could be of
any service to the latter when it is freed from its earthly environment.

The peculiar functions of the physical brain are therefore no more
entitled to be considered as an immortal entity, or as any necessary
part or function of an immortal entity, than are the physical functions
of deglutition or digestion, or the physical power of pedal locomotion.

It is not for man to question the wisdom of God in so ordaining the
relations of the soul to the body as to subordinate the eternal to the
perishable. But it is man’s duty so to exercise his powers of induction
as to ascertain those relations; and, having done so according to
his best lights, so to order his conduct as to do his whole duty to
himself and his Creator. As we find those relations exist, the whole
responsibility rests upon the objective man. He is a free moral agent,
and has it in his power to train his soul for weal or woe, for this
life and for eternity.

It is of the relations which exist between objective and subjective
man in this life that I propose to offer a few practical suggestions
at this time. I have already shown that the normal functions of the
subjective mind are apparently limited to the preservation of human
life and the perpetuation of the human race. These functions are
manifested in what are known as instincts. The first is the instinct
of self-preservation; the second is the instinct of reproduction;
and the third pertains to the preservation of the offspring. In the
last may be included the instinctive desire to preserve human life
generally. Outside of these limits all phenomenal subjective mental
activity appears to be abnormal. I say _appears_ to be abnormal, for
the reason that we have no means of judging, except from a consensus
of facts. The facts which pertain to the subject can be found in the
greatest abundance in spiritistic circles, for the reason that it is
there that subjective activity is greatest in modern times. I venture
to say that no one of the better class of spiritists will deny the fact
that most professional mediums eventually become physical wrecks; many
are overtaken by mental derangement, and some by a moral degradation
too loathsome to be described. Few, if any, escape serious physical
trouble. This, of itself, is sufficient evidence of abnormality,
and should serve as a warning against the too frequent exercise of
subjective power. The majority of spiritistic mediums are more or less
afflicted with nervous disorders, and many of them are hysterical to
the last degree. Most of them complain of extreme nervous exhaustion
after a séance, and many require days to recover from the effects of a
prolonged exercise of subjective power. It may be said that I mistake
the cause for the effect; that is, that it may be only weak and nervous
physical organisms that are capable of exercising subjective power. I
am aware that the question is not free from difficulty, and that one
is liable to fall into error in discussing a subject that is so little
understood. The fact remains, nevertheless, that nervous disorders and
mediumship are generally associated, and that fact alone is indicative
of abnormality. Whether we are to regard the exercise of subjective
power as productive of abnormal physical conditions, or are to suppose
that it requires an abnormal physical organism to produce subjective
phenomena, matters little. The conclusion must be the same,–that the
exercise of subjective power is abnormal, and should be avoided until
more is known of the proper conditions of its exercise than has yet
been discovered.

There is a further difficulty attending the consideration of this
subject which must not be lost sight of, and that is the question how
far suggestion may enter as a factor in the case. It is well known
that some mesmeric healers fancy that “they take on the conditions of
the patient,” as they phrase it. That is, they feel the symptoms which
afflict the patient. There is no question of the fact that those who
enter upon the treatment of a case with that idea firmly fixed in their
minds will experience the anticipated sensations, often to a marked
degree. But late scientific experiments disclose the fact that such
phenomena are always the effect of suggestion. The physical exhaustion
which some healers feel after the treatment of a case is also
largely due to suggestion. These effects may always be counteracted
by a vigorous auto-suggestion; and, moreover, the same means may be
effectively employed to produce exactly the opposite effects upon
the operator. That is to say, the mental healer, by whatever method
he does his work, may always cause his treatment of a patient to
redound to his own benefit, as well as to that of the patient, by the
exercise of the power of auto-suggestion. It is therefore impossible
to say just how far suggestion enters as a factor in the production of
untoward physical results from the exercise of mediumistic power. It
is certainly traditional among the fraternity that nervous exhaustion
ensues from its exercise, and the results are appalling. How far the
effects may be counteracted by intelligent auto-suggestion, remains
to be settled by the process of evolution. There is, however, little
hope of any change for the better so long as the spiritistic medium
believes himself to be under the domination of an extraneous force
which is beyond his control, and the effects of which he is powerless
to mitigate.

This phase of the subject is, however, of little importance compared
with the mental effects produced by the too persistent exercise of the
subjective faculties in the production of phenomena. Again we must draw
our illustrations from spiritistic circles. It is undeniable that the
tendency of mediumship is to unhinge the mind, to destroy the mental
balance, and often to produce the worst forms of insanity. And it is
noticeable that the more thoroughly sincere the medium is in his belief
in the genuineness of his power to evoke the spirits of the dead, the
greater is the tendency to insanity. The reason is obvious. If he
sincerely believes himself to be under the control of an extraneous
power, he yields implicit obedience to that power; especially if it
assumes to be a superior mentality, as it generally does. Instead of
assuming control of the power, he allows it to control him. As a matter
of course, he is ignorant of the laws pertaining to it. He is ignorant
of the fact that the force which controls him resides within himself,
and is not a superior being commissioned from Heaven to convey a
message from the Source of all knowledge. He is dazed by its wonderful
exhibitions of superior intelligence, is captivated by its eloquence,
and awed by its assumption of authority. In short, he knows nothing of
its source, or the limitations of its powers of reasoning. The result
is that he yields implicit obedience to its guidance in all things. His
reason has abdicated its throne and abandoned its functions, and he is
at the mercy of his subjective mind, which, in turn, is controlled by
the false suggestions of his own disorganized and subjugated objective
intelligence. His physical degeneracy keeps pace with his mental
decline, his whole nervous system is prostrated by excessive exercise
of subjective power, and too frequently the end is acute mania or
drivelling imbecility.

One of the most fascinating and seductive forms of subjective mental
activity is exhibited in trance, or inspirational, speaking. A medium
of fair intelligence and some education, obtained, perhaps, by
desultory reading of spiritistic and miscellaneous literature, develops
himself into an inspirational speaker. As a sincere spiritist, he
believes himself to be controlled by some great spirit who in life
was celebrated for his eloquence. He ascends the rostrum and amazes
his audience by his wonderful oratory, his marvellous command of the
resources of his mind, and, above all, by the clearness and cogency of
his reasoning. Those who have known him before and are aware of the
limits of his education are the most surprised of all, and no argument
can convince them that he is not inspired by some almost superhuman
intelligence from another world. They know nothing of the wonders of
subjective mental power; they have no knowledge of the perfection of
subjective memory, which gives the speaker perfect command of all he
has ever read, or of the logical exactitude of the deductive reasoning
of the subjective intelligence. The speaker, on his part, finds himself
in possession of such wonderful powers and resources, emanating, as
he believes, from an extraneous source, abandons his old pursuits,
and devotes himself to the work of his inspiration. It is an easy
and pleasurable existence for the time being. He finds that there is
no need of taking thought of what he is to say, for ideas, and words
with which to clothe them, flow from him like a mountain torrent. He
finds himself in possession of knowledge which he has no objective
recollection of ever having acquired, and of ideas which were foreign
to his objective intelligence. He believes, and, from his standpoint,
has every reason to believe, that he is inspired by some lofty spirit
whose knowledge is unlimited and whose resources are unfailing. He
feels that he has no need of further reading or study, and the work of
objective intellectual labor soon becomes a drudgery. The result is
that his objective intellectual growth soon comes to a stand-still,
and at length his objective intellect begins to deteriorate. In the
mean time his subjective powers may continue to grow in brilliancy
for a time, or at least they shine with a new lustre, as they are
compared with the deepening dulness of his objective intellect.
At length he becomes fitful, erratic, eccentric. As his objective
powers deteriorate, they no longer have any semblance of control
over his subjective mind. The suggestions which reason, in its best
estate, may have given to his subjective mind, as a starting-point
for his discourses, are no longer available, for his power to reason
is failing. His friends, who follow him from place to place, begin
to notice that he talks one thing at one place, and the opposite at
another. They attribute the fact to the control of different spirits at
different times, and for a time they are consoled. Eventually the fact
is forced upon them that in his normal, or objective, condition he is
growing more and more erratic, and that at times his conversation is
the merest drivel. As in all the other forms of subjective development
mentioned, his physical deterioration keeps pace with his mental
decline. In the mean time his subjective powers appear to deteriorate.
It is not true, in fact, that his subject mind, _per se_, deteriorates,
for that is impossible. But as it is always controlled by suggestion,
it necessarily takes its cue from the suggestions conveyed to it by
the objective mind. When that ceases to develop, the subjective mind
keeps on in its old rut, for the obvious reason that no new ideas
are imparted to it. When the objective mind begins to deteriorate,
its suggestions are no longer coherent, and the subjective mind is
necessarily incoherent in exact proportion. Its deductions from a false
or imbecile suggestion will be logically correct; but, as a matter
of course, a false, extravagant, or imbecile premise, followed to
its legitimate, logical conclusion, necessarily leads the mind into a
corresponding maze of extravagance and imbecility. It is therefore no
indication of a decline of subjective powers, but it is a demonstration
of the universality of the law of suggestion. It goes without saying
that if an inspirational speaker were aware of the source of his power,
and of the laws which govern it, and would constantly keep it under the
control of his reason, he could utilize it to the very best advantage.
A cultured man of well-balanced intellect would then formulate his own
premises according to the best lights obtainable through the processes
of inductive reasoning, and “inspiration would do the rest.” If his
premises were correct, the subjective mind could always be depended
upon to deduce the correct conclusions, and to illustrate them by
drawing upon the resources of its perfect memory of all that the
individual has ever seen, heard, or read bearing upon the subject.
Such a man would be known as a man of “genius,” in whatever direction
he exercised his powers. And just in proportion to the natural powers
and cultivation of his objective mind and the extent of his objective
information would his subjective manifestations be brilliant and
powerful.

I do not say that such an exercise of subjective power would not be
abnormal and productive of untoward physical consequences. Men of
genius in all ages of the world have unconsciously exercised this
power. But men of genius the world over have been too often noted for
abnormalities of character and conduct. Profane history furnishes but
one example where a man of genius appears to have been in possession of
objective and subjective powers perfectly balanced, and who was able to
utilize his enormous objective advantages, resulting from constant and
intimate association with the greatest minds of his generation, in the
subjective production of works which must always stand pre-eminent. It
is unnecessary to say that I allude to Shakspeare. So little is known
of his private life that it is impossible to judge whether abnormal
physical effects resulted from his labors. But his works are full of
internal evidence that his subjective powers were under the constant
control of a well-trained and perfectly balanced objective intellect.

It is of course impossible to say just how far subjective power might,
normally, be employed in the direction indicated, in the absolute
dearth of examples where it has been employed with a full knowledge
of the laws which govern it. But certain it is that so long as it is
exercised under the delusion that it is an extraneous and superior
power, over which the objective man possesses no control, just so
long will the victim of the delusion be subject to the caprice of an
irresponsible power, which will eventually drive him to the horrors of
insanity or leave him in the darkness of imbecility.

Of greater importance than either the physical or mental deterioration
of the one who habitually exercises subjective power in the production
of phenomena, is the moral aspect of the question. One may escape
serious physical consequences of mediumship, or he may succeed in
maintaining a sufficient outward semblance of mental equilibrium to
keep out of the insane asylum; but no well-informed spiritist of the
better class will attempt to deny or weaken the force of the statement
that a mephitic moral atmosphere surrounds the average spiritistic
medium. I do not assert by any means that all mediums are immoral. On
the contrary, there are many noble men and pure women who habitually
exercise mediumistic power. Otherwise, the tendency to looseness of
morals which characterizes so many of them would be difficult to
account for on other than physiological grounds. Books have been
written to account for this tendency, on the hypothesis that immorality
is a consequence of the nervous derangement which follows the practice
of mediumship. This hypothesis necessarily presupposes the invariable
connection of immorality with a nervous disorder, and the latter with
mediumship. The common experience of mankind may be invoked to prove
that there is no invariable connection of the kind existing. Another
cause must therefore be sought for the too-frequent association of
immorality with mediumship.

Those who have followed me in my brief analysis of the causes which
conspire to bring about the mental deterioration of the spiritistic
medium will anticipate me in what I have to say concerning the causes
of the moral degradation of the same class. The medium, if he is
sincere in his professions of belief in the alleged communication of
spirits of the dead through him, believes himself to be under the
care and control of a higher and purer mentality than his own. He
believes in its lofty assumptions of mental and moral superiority, and
he becomes accustomed to ask its advice in all things pertaining to
his personal well-being. He frequently finds its advice to be of the
best, and he gradually accustoms himself to submit to its guidance in
all things. He assumes and believes that in the clearer light of the
world of spirits many of the artificialities of mundane civilization
are held in pitying contempt, and he frequently comes to believe
that many of the restraints of human society are purely artificial,
and have no foundation in true morality or religion. He generally
regards himself as a reformer, having broken away from the orthodox
creed, and becomes the advocate of a new religion. Like most radical
reformers who find the world all wrong in one respect, he immediately
assumes that it is wrong in everything; and nothing will satisfy his
ambition short of destroying the whole fabric of civilized society, and
instituting a new order of things more suited to his ideas of human
progress and felicity. It all too frequently happens that one of the
first “artificial” institutions of society which becomes the object of
private attack by the spiritual medium is the marriage relation. He
sees much domestic infelicity surrounding him, and is perhaps tired
of the restraints which it imposes upon himself, and he consults his
spirit guide as to the propriety of setting at defiance the laws of
human society in that regard. Now, if his “spirit guide” were what he
believed it to be, or what it assumed to be,–a pure and lofty spirit,
disenthralled from the temptations and weaknesses of the flesh, and
drawing inspiration from the society of just men made perfect,–there
could be no doubt of the character of the advice it would give him.
But, being the medium’s own subjective entity, bound by the laws of its
being to control by the power of suggestion, it necessarily follows the
line of thought which is uppermost in the medium’s objective mind, and
it gives the advice most desired. Moreover, from the premises suggested
by the unhallowed lusts of the medium, it will frame an argument so
plausible and convincing to his willing mind that he will fancy that,
in following the advice of his “control,” he is obeying the holiest
impulses implanted in his nature by a God of love.

I do not charge spiritists as a class with being advocates of the
doctrines of free love. On the contrary, I am aware that, as a class,
they hold the marriage relation in sacred regard. I cannot forget,
however, that but a few years ago some of their leading advocates
and mediums proclaimed the doctrine of free love in all its hideous
deformity from every platform in the land. Nor do I fail to remember
that the better class of spiritists everywhere repudiated the doctrine
and denounced its advocates and exemplars. Nevertheless, the moral
virus took effect here and there all over the country, and it is doing
its deadly work in secret in many an otherwise happy home. And I charge
a large and constantly growing class of professional mediums with being
the leading propagandists of the doctrine of free love. They infest
every community in the land, and it is well known to all men and women
who are dissatisfied or unhappy in their marriage relations that they
can always find sympathy by consulting the average medium, and can,
moreover, find justification for illicit love by invoking the spirits
of the dead through such mediums.

As before remarked, I do not charge mediums as a class with immoral
practices, nor do I say that the exercise of subjective power, _per
se_, has a tendency to induce immoral practices. What I do say is, that
through a want of knowledge of the laws which pertain to subjective
mental activity, the one who exercises that power in the form of
mediumship is in constant danger of being led astray. He invokes a
power that he knows nothing of,–a power which may, at any time, turn
and rend him.

The man or woman whose heart is pure, in whom the principles of
virtue and morality are innate, is in no danger of being corrupted by
the exercise of mediumistic power. The auto-suggestions of such are
constantly on the side of virtue, and a corrupt communication could not
emanate from such a source. But to the young, whose characters are not
formed, and to those whose notions of morality are loose, the dangers
of mediumship are appalling.

I have felt obliged to draw my illustrations from spirit mediums for
the reason that mediumship is the form which subjective activity takes
in the Western world. Other forms, however, are being introduced from
the Orient, and may soon become common in this country. The Western
world is threatened with a revival of the arts of the magician, the
conjurer, and the wizard. It may be true, and doubtless is, that the
Eastern adepts know more of the practice of subjective arts than is
dreamed of by spiritists. The fact that they denounce as dangerous to
health, morals, and sanity the practice of mediumship, is a hopeful
sign. That they are aware that the power which controls the medium
emanates from himself, is demonstrative of their advancement in
practical knowledge of the subject. But that they are reliable guides
to the safe exercise of subjective power has not been demonstrated. It
is certain that they are yet ignorant of the fundamental principles
which underlie the science of the soul, for they have yet to learn the
law of suggestion, and to appreciate the subtle _rôle_ which that power
plays in every psychic phenomenon. Their whole system of spiritual
philosophy has been built up in ignorance of that law, and hence they
are necessarily subject to the same delusions, arising from the same
sources of error, that have misguided all mankind, in all the ages of
the world, prior to the discovery of that law. They believe in their
power to communicate with the spirits of another world, precisely the
same as do the modern spiritists. The foundation of their belief is the
same; namely, psychic phenomena produced by themselves, in ignorance
of the fundamental laws which govern it. The only difference resides
in the fact that the Orientalists have the power to produce a greater
variety of startling phenomena, and hence are in possession of greater
facilities for deceiving themselves. No advantage, therefore, can be
gained by studying their philosophy or practising their arts, except as
a means of gaining general information or for purposes of scientific
experiment; and the warning against indulging in the indiscriminate
practice of mediumship holds good against the too frequent exercise
of subjective power in any direction, or for any purpose save that of
scientific investigation or healing the sick.

It should be remembered always that the power of the subjective entity
is the most potential force in nature, and when intelligently directed
the most beneficent. But, like every other power in nature misdirected,
its destructive force is equally potent.

In conclusion, I desire again to impress upon the reader the absolute
necessity of always holding the subjective entity under the positive
domination of objective reason; and I here repeat, what I have
again and again sought to enforce, that insanity consists in the
usurpation by the subjective mind of the throne of reason. The terrible
potentialities of the subjective entity are as much to be feared as
admired, and no faculty that it possesses is more to be dreaded and
guarded against than its awful power and inexorable exactitude of
logical deduction, when reasoning from premises that have not been
demonstrated by the processes of induction.