THE SPIRITIST REVIEW - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1858

Allan Kardec

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Somnambulistic independence


There are many people now that accept magnetism and have for a long time contested the somnambulistic lucidity. Truly, that faculty knocked down every notion that we had with respect to the perception of the material world. However, for a long time we have had the example of the natural somnambulists who enjoyed similar faculties that, by a bizarre contradiction, had never being investigated. Today the somnambulistic clairvoyance is an established fact and if it is still contested by some people it is due to the fact that it takes long for the new ideas to ingrain, particularly when it proves necessary to abandon the old ones that we cherished for so long.

Many people believed, as some still do today with respect to the spiritist manifestations, that somnambulism could be experienced like one does with a machine, without taking into account the special conditions of the phenomenon. That is why they have concluded by the denial in the first opportunity since satisfactory results have not been achieved. Such delicate phenomena require a lengthy, frequent and perseverant observation so that the most subtle nuances can be captured. Also due to the incomplete observation of the facts certain people admit the clairvoyance of the somnambulists, but contest their independence. Their vision, they say, do not go beyond the thought of those who interrogate them. Some even say that there is no vision but simply intuition and transmission of thoughts, citing numerous examples to support these ideas.

No one doubts that the somnambulist may capture the thought, translate it and sometimes operate as its echo. No one contests the fact either that, in certain cases, thought may influence them. By only admitting that the phenomenon is limited to that, wouldn’t this alone be a curious fact, worthy of observation? Thus the problem is not to determine if a somnambulist is or can be influenced by an alien thought, what in itself is not questioned, but if she is always influenced and if that results from experimental investigations. If the somnambulist only says what you already know then it is unquestionable that she only translates your thoughts. But if in certain cases she says something that you don’t know; if what she says is contrary to your opinion and to the way you may see things, her independence and the fact that she follows her own impulses become evident.

For that kind of phenomenon a well characterized case would be enough to prove that the somnambulist is not absolutely subjected to someone else’s thought. Well, there are thousands of examples so that we will mention two among those that we are aware of, as follows:

Mr. Marillon, a Bercy resident, Rue Charenton 43, disappeared last January 13th. Every effort to find any trace of him proved useless. None of this friends and colleagues had seen him. None of his business could be associated to such a prolonged absence. His position, character and mental state ruled out any suicide attempt. The remaining hypothesis was that he could have been a victim of a crime or an accident. In the latter case, however, he could have been easily identified and taken back home or even to the morgue. All likelihoods then indicated a crime. That idea gained support particularly considering the fact that he left home to make a payment. But where and how such a crime would have taken place? That was the question. Then, his daughter resorted to a somnambulist, Mrs. Roger, who had given demonstration of a remarkable lucidity in many other circumstances that we ourselves had the opportunity to verify.

Mrs. Roger tracked Mr. Marillon since he left his house, around three pm, up until seven pm, when he was ready to return home; she saw him walking down the Seine banks due to an imperious biological need; according to her, he then had an episode of apoplexy and fell head first on a rock, breaking his head open, falling into the waters. There was no crime or suicide. She even saw money and keys in one pocket of his jacket. She indicated the place of the accident but said that the body was no longer there as it had been dragged by the currents and would be found in another given location.

Everything happened according to her description. The man had a wound on the head, the money and keys in his pocket and besides, his clothes left no doubt as for the reason that had taken him to the river bank.

Where could one find the transmission of any thought by analyzing so many details?

Another fact where the somnambulistic independence is not less evident is given below.

The Belhomme couple, ranch owners from Rueil at Rue Saint-Denis 19, had saved about 800-900 francs. For security reasons, Mrs. Belhomme hid the money in a closet which was used to keep new clothes on one side as well as worn out on the other. She placed the money where the new clothes were hanging. Someone suddenly showed up forcing Mrs. Belhomme to quickly shut the closet’s door. Since she needed the money later, Mrs. Belhomme went back to recover the cash, assured to have placed it among the old, worn clothes; this was her intention from the beginning, for being less tempting to an eventual thief. However she misplaced the money due to the unexpected arrival of the visitor the other day. She was so much convinced that she had the money among the shabby clothes that she did not even bother to look somewhere else. The place was empty, she had the unsolicited visit then, she thought, she had been seen hiding the money and consequently robbed; her suspicions then naturally fell onto the visitor.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Belhomme knew Ms Marillon, the daughter of the disappeared man that we mentioned above, telling her about her unfortunate loss. Ms Marillon in turn told her the story of her father and how he had been found, advising her to seek the somnambulist’s help, before taking any other action. The Belhoummes went to Mrs. Roger place, convinced that they had been robbed, hoping that they could have the thief’s name confirmed; it could not be that of anyone else but the unexpected visitor. It was their only thought.

Well, after a lengthy description of the place the somnambulist said: “You were not robbed; your money remains untouched in the closet; you thought that you had it among the worn clothes; it is among the new clothes. Go home to find it.” That is exactly what happened.

Reporting these two cases – and we could mention many others – our aim was to demonstrate that the somnambulistic clairvoyance is not always the reflection of a foreign thought. Hence the somnambulist can have her own lucidity, absolutely independent. This leads to consequences of paramount importance from the physiological view point. We have here the key to more than one problem that we shall examine in due course, when we will then analyze the relationships between somnambulism and Spiritism, shedding an entirely new light onto the issue.

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