Allan Kardec

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(Spiritist Society of Paris, 1860)

Charles de Saint-G—— was a mentally disabled thirteen year old child. His intellectual nullity was such that he did not even know his parents and could hardly take his food. In his case, the development of the bodily organism seemed to have been entirely arrested.

1. (To Saint Louis.) – Q. Will you have the kindness to tell us whether we can evoke the spirit of the idiot-boy of whom we are thinking?

A. You can evoke him as though you were evoking the spirit of one deceased.

2. Your answer would lead us to suppose that we could evoke him at any moment?

A. Yes; his soul is held to his body by physical links, but not by spiritual links; it can therefore disengage itself from the body at any time.

3. (Evocation of Charles de Saint-G——.)
– A. I am an unhappy spirit bound to the Earth, like a bird tied by the leg.

4. In your present place, are you, as a spirit, conscious of your nullity as a human being?

A. Certainly, I clearly feel my captivity.

5. While your body is asleep and your spirit is disengaged from it, are your thoughts as lucid as though you were in a normal state?

A. When my wretched body is asleep, I am somewhat freer to raise my thought towards the Heaven to which I aspire.

6. Does your physical state cause you, as a spirit, any painful feeling?
A. Y es, for it is a punishment.

7. Do you remember your preceding existence?

A. Oh yes, it is the cause of my present exile.

8. What were you in that existence?

A. A young libertine, in the reign of Henri III.

9. You say that your present condition is a punishment; it was then, chosen by you?

A. No.

10. How can your present existence be useful to your advancement in the state of nullity in which you are?

A. My state is not a nullity in the sight of God who imposed it upon me.

11. Do you foresee the end of your present life?

A. No; I only know that sooner or later, I shall return to my native country.

12. What were you doing as a spirit, between your previous incarnation and your present life?

A. It was on account of my frivolity, as a spirit, that I was sentenced by God to my present imprisonment.

13. In your daily life, are you aware of what goes on around you, notwithstanding the imperfection of your organs?

A. I see, I hear; but my body neither understands nor sees anything.

14. Can we do anything that would be of use to you?

A. Nothing.

(To Saint Louis) – Q. Are prayers of the same use to a reincarnated spirit as to a discarnate one?
A. Prayers are always agreeable to God; they could not be of any immediate use to this unhappy spirit in his present state; but they will be taken note of and will be useful to him by and by.

This evocation confirms the statements so often made by our spirit-friends about mentally disabled people. Their mental nullity does not result from any nullity of their spirit, who, apart from his bodily organs, is in possession of all his faculties. A defective organization is only an obstacle to the free manifestation of those faculties; it does not annihilate them. A mentally disabled person is like a strong man bound.


Mentally disabled people are spirits, who are being punished, upon the Earth, for their misuse of splendid faculties, by the imprisonment of their soul in a body whose organs are unable to express their thoughts. This mental and physical dumbness is one of the severest of terrestrial chastisements; nevertheless, it is often chosen by repentant spirits who desire to pay, quickly, the debt of their past. This trial is not useless to the spirit thus incarnated, for he does not remain stationary in his fleshly prison; the vacant eyes see, the depressed brain conceives, although the mentally disabled is unable to express himself either by word or by look. Except that he has the faculty of motion, he is in the state of the cataleptic that sees and hears what is taking place around him, without being able to express himself in regard to it.

When, in nightmare, you try to flee from danger and to cry out for help, while your tongue cleaves to your palate and your feet are riveted to the ground, you feel, for a moment, what the mentally disabled feels always; a paralysis of the body weighing upon the life of the soul.

All infirmities are consequences of moral delinquencies; nothing occurs without a cause; and what you call “the injustice of fate” is the application of the highest justice. Madness, also, is a punishment of the abuse of eminent faculties in a prior life. The madman has two personalities; one that commits all manners of extravagances, and another that is conscious of his action but without the power to direct it. As for the mentally disabled, the isolated and contemplative existence of their soul, though severed from the interests of ordinary life, may be as agitated as the existences that are most fertile in external events; some of them rebel against the torture they have chosen, regret having chosen it, and feel a furious desire to return to another life; a desire which causes them to forget both the resignation with which they should bear their present trial and the remorse they should feel for their past, of which they are conscious; for the mentally disabled know more than you do, and possess, hidden under their physical incapacity, a mental power of which you have no idea. The acts of fury or imbecility to which they are impelled by their body are condemned by their inner being, which is pained and mortified by them. Consequently, to mock at them, to insult them, to maltreat them, as is so often done, increases their suffering, for it makes them feel more bitterly their weakness and abjectness; and, if they could, they would hurl the charge of cowardice against those who only treat them thus because they know them to be unable to defend themselves.

Mental disability is not one of the laws of God, and science will succeed in getting rid of them; for they are the result of ignorance, poverty, and dirt. The progress and generalization of physiological science and the improvement of hygienic conditions will gradually extirpate them. Progress being the inevitable destiny of mankind, the trials imposed on the human race will be modified and will follow the ascensional movement of coming ages, becoming, in time, altogether mental and moral; and, when your Earth – still in its early youth – shall have accomplished the initial phases of its career, it will cease to be a place of expiation, and will become a sojourn of felicity, like the planets that have reached a more advanced stage of development. PIERRE J—— (The Medium’ s Father)

There was a time when men doubted whether the mentally disabled had a soul and whether they belonged to the human race. Is not the spiritist explanation of their state at once eminently moral and instructive? Is there not matter for serious reflection in the thought that these degraded bodies contain souls which have formerly played a brilliant part in the world, which are as lucid and as active as our own, beneath the thick envelope that stifles the manifestation of their faculties, and that the same doom may overtake ourselves, if we make an evil use of the faculties we now possess?

How, on any other hypothesis than that of the plurality of existences, can mental disability be reconciled with the justice and goodness of God? If the soul has not already lived, it must have been created at the same time as the body; but how, in that case, can we justify the creation of souls so cruelly frustrated of their birthright, as are those of the mentally disabled, by a just and benevolent God? For we are not now discussing the results of accident or of illness, such as attacks of insanity, that may be prevented or cured; the beings we are considering are born, and die, in the same state. If they are what they appear to be, having no notion of good or evil, what will be their fate throughout eternity? If they are to be as happy as men of intelligence and who have been laborious and useful, why should they be thus favored with the gift of happiness that they have done nothing to deserve? If they are to be in what theologians call “Limbo” – a mixed state that is neither happiness nor misery – why are they condemned to that eternal inferiority? Is it their fault if God has created them mentally disabled? We defy those who reject the doctrine of reincarnation to escape from this dilemma. With the admission of reincarnation, on the contrary, what seemed to be an injustice is seen to be admirably just, what is otherwise inexplicable is explained in the most simple and rational manner.

But we have never known the opponents of this doctrine to bring against it any other argument than their personal reluctance to come back to the Earth; to which objection we reply that God no more asks our permission for the execution of His laws, than an earthly judge consults the good pleasure of the criminal whom he sends to prison. Each of us would prefer, no doubt, to enter at once into a higher sphere, on quitting this life; but, as nothing evil is admitted into those happier spheres, it is evident that we must have completely cured ourselves of our defects before we can enter them.

It is to be remarked that, in some countries, the mentally disabled, far from being objects of contempt, are treated with the utmost kindness. Is this kindness due to an intuitive sense of the true state of these hapless creatures, as being all the more worthy of pity because their spirit, understanding his position, necessarily suffers excruciatingly at seeing himself regarded as the off scouring of the human race?

However this may be, there are regions in which people consider as a favor, as a benediction from above, the presence of a mentally disabled person in the family. Is this a result of superstition? It may be so, because, among the ignorant, there is often an unconscious mixture of superstition with their best and healthiest ideas. At all events, the presence of a mentally disabled child is always an occasion for the exercise of a charity that is all the more meritorious, because mental disability occurs mostly among the poor, and such a child is a charge for which they have no compensation. There is evidently more generosity in bestowing care and affection on an ill-favored, helpless, and useless child, than on one whose beauty, liveliness, and good qualities repay the care of its parents; and generosity, being one of the virtues most pleasing in the sight of God, necessarily attracts His blessing on those who practice it. The innate sentiment of those who thus cherish a mentally disabled child is the unconscious application of this though: – “We thank Thee, O God! for having given us, as a test of our charity, a helpless and afflicted creature to sustain and to console!”

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