Allan Kardec

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Illness by fear

Problem of Physiology, addressed to the spirit of St. Louis, in the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, session of September 14th, 1858.

The “Moniteur” published on November 26th, 1857:

“The following fact that confirms the influence of fear was communicated to us:”

“Yesterday Dr F... returned home after having visited some of his patients. In one of those visits he was given a bottle of excellent rum, directly imported from Jamaica. The doctor forgot the precious bottle in the car. Once he notice the fact a little bit later he went back to look for the present, telling the parking lot manager that he had left a bottle with a powerful poison in one of the carriages so that he should advise the coachmen that they should take extreme care and not make use of that mortal liquid.”

“As Dr F... returned to his apartment they sent for him since three coachmen of the neighboring parking lot were under severe pain in their guts. It was with great difficulty that he was able to convince them that all they had drunk was excellent rum and that his unkindness could not bring any further punishment other than the one they already had.”

1. – St. Louis could you give us a physiologic explanation about such a transformation of the properties of an otherwise harmless substance? We know that such transformation can take place by the magnetic action but in this case there was no emission of magnetic fluid: it was only the action of imagination, not the will.

- Your thought is fair with respect to imagination. But the malevolent spirits that inspired those men to commit that unkind act, have induced in their blood, in the matter, the shivers of fear that you could call magnetic fear that stretches the nerves and produces a cold feel in certain parts of the body. You know well that cold in the abdominal region may produce the cramps. It is then a means of punishment that amuses the spirits who provoked the theft, making them laugh at those who they led to misbehave. In any case it would not cause death. It was nothing more than a simple punishment to the guilty ones and enjoyment to the frivolous spirits. They act like that whenever there is an opportunity or that they even seek for their own satisfaction. I can assure you that we can avoid it by elevating ourselves to God through thoughts less material than the ones that occupied the minds of those men. The malevolent spirits like to have fun. Be careful with them! The one who judges to say something pleasant to a group of people and that entertains a society with jokes and actions is sometimes wrong and even many times wrong by thinking that it all comes from him. The frivolous spirits that surround him identify with him so much that they gradually trick him with respect to his thoughts, tricking also those who listen to him. In such a case you may think that you are dealing with a witty man when in fact he is nothing but an ignorant. Give some thought to that and you shall understand what I tell you. The superior spirits, however, are not enemies of joy. They sometimes like to laugh to become pleasant to you. But there is a time for everything.

OBSERVATION: By saying that there was no emission of magnetic fluid in the reported case, we perhaps were not precise. We venture a hypothesis. As we said, it is known that the properties of matter may alter under the influence of the magnetic fluid, led by thought. Well, wouldn’t it be possible to admit that, by the thought of the doctor, who wanted to lead to believe in the existence of a toxic substance, to give the thieves the anguish of poisoning, there could have been a kind of magnetization of the liquid, at a distance, changing its properties, fact reinforced by the moral state of the individuals, who were impressed by fear? Such a theory would not destroy St. Louis’ theory about the intervention of the frivolous spirits in similar situations. We know that the spirits act physically, by physical means; they can thus be served by those that they provoke, so as to achieve certain objectives that we inadvertently provide them.

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