Thought Transference or Mind Reading
Theosophist, Supplement to November, 1884
A writer in The Saturday Review, in 1882, said: “We had thought we had heard the last of thought reading.” It seems, however, that he was mistaken, albeit he was then expressing the current scientific opinion, as more definitely expressed by the senior physician of Westminster Hospital, who said he was amazed that any one with the slightest pretensions to scientific knowledge would have the hardihood to put forth any evidence in favor of thought reading. The cycle moves on however, and dogmatic scientists are powerless to arrest it or to prevent its bringing to light what have been called “exploded fallacies.” There are many ways of transferring thought and of reading minds. The clairvoyant can see and thus read your thoughts; but we cannot all be clairvoyants. The adept can read any one’s thought, and with ease transfer what thought he desires to another brain; but “the adept is the efflorescence of his age.” The mesmeriser can transfer a thought to his subject’s mind, but just now we are not treating of mesmerism.
In 1882, Professor Barrett, of the Royal College of Science for Ireland, and others, presented to the Psychical Research Society, a report on this subject, from which we quote—”Is there or is there not any existing or attainable evidence, that can stand fair physiological criticism, to support a belief that a vivid impression or a distinct idea in one mind can be communicated to another mind, without the intervening help of the recognized organs of sensation. And if such evidence be found, is the impression derived from a rare or partially developed and hitherto unrecognized sensory organ, or has the mental percept been evoked directly without any antecedent sense-percept?” 1 There is plenty of such evidence as Professor Barret calls for. Thought reading and transference are as old as man. Even little children have a game in which one goes out of a room so that the others may select a word of which they are to think intently. The absent one returns, stands among the others, all of whom in silence are thinking hard of say, “trees.” In a few minutes the experimenter suddenly thinks of trees and shouts it out. This is thought transference. The investigation of this subject may be made interesting. The researches of the Psychical Research Society are of great interest, and were pursued by the scientific men, who formed its committees, with pleasure as well as ardor. In 1875, one Dr. Corey made experiments in America, which were thus described in the Detroit Medical Review:—
“Bringing himself into direct physical contact with some person, Mr. Corey was enabled to discover objects which that person had secreted, and to select from a multitude of objects the one upon which the willer was intent. He usually placed the other person’s hand upon his forehead.”
The person who is to make the experiment ought to sit down quietly. Another person, who sits in front takes hold of the hands of the first, looks intently into the eyes and concentrates his thoughts upon an object or a place or a person: such as, upon “dog,” “the palace,” “the temple,” a geological strata, a flower, or what not. In a few minutes then he asks the sitter, “What flower do I think of, or what place, or what person here, or what ornament or thing in this room, or which King of England or what geological strata,” and so on. It will be found that in the majority of cases the answers will be correct, without fraud and without collusion.
Any company of persons can verify this, and if some of our members pursue this line of inquiry, which was not above the minds of some of the great scientific lights of England, reports of the experiments furnished to The Theosophist will be of great interest and value.
Another way is to blindfold the subject. Then take his hand, and draw yourself upon a piece of paper a simple figure or a face, no matter what. The subject then repeats with a pencil that which comes before his mind. Many experiments of this character have been made with great success, in some instances it was seen that the subject reversed the picture, or turned it topsy turvy.
Another mode is for the subject to remain seated and blindfolded while one of the party goes outside and draws a simple figure on a piece of paper, concentrating his mind upon it for a few minutes so as to get a vivid picture of it before his mental eye. Then he returns and concentrates himself upon the sitter who takes up pencil and paper and reproduces what he sees mentally. This is all done without contact. Many curious and startlingly accurate results may be obtained.
In making these drawings, it is best to use a soft pencil, drawing the lines very coarsely or boldly, so that you may produce upon your own mind a very strong impression of the form. In this way your thought, which is actually dynamic, will the more easily affect the sitter.
A third and easiest mode I will mention is to sit quietly with someone who is to think steadily, while you rapidly relate what you find passing through your brain. It can be done either with or without contact. Contact with the other person of course will make it easier, but you will be surprised to find how often you report exactly what the other person is thinking of.
In drawing pictures, or setting down words to be guessed, it will be found much easier to concentrate the mind if a piece of paper or a blackboard be used as a background before which is placed the object to be guessed, as the contrast between the two causes a sharper image to be conveyed by the eye to the brain.
1. Proceedings of Psychical Research Society, 1882, p. 13.