Telepathic Hallucinations

Telepathic Hallucinations
Telepathic Hallucinations


Telepathy is the purported vicarious transmission of information from one person's mind to another's without using any known human sensory channels or physical interaction. The term was first coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Frederic W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), and has remained more popular than the earlier expression thought-transference,

Telepath experiments have historically been criticized for a lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no good evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.

Telepath experiments have historically been criticized for a lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no good evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.

According to historians such as Roger Luckhurst and Janet Oppenheim, the origin of the concept of telepathy in Western civilization can be traced to the late 19th century and the formation of the Society for Psychical Research. As the physical sciences made significant advances, scientific concepts were applied to mental phenomena (e.g., animal magnetism), with the hope that this would help to understand paranormal phenomena. The modern concept of telepathy emerged in this context.

The psychical researcher Eric Dingwall criticized SPR founding members Frederic W. H. Myers and William F. Barrett for trying to "prove" telepathy rather than objectively analyze whether or not it existed.
 In the late 19th century, the magician and mentalist, Washington Irving Bishop would perform "thought reading" demonstrations. Bishop claimed no supernatural powers and ascribed his powers to muscular sensitivity (reading thoughts from unconscious bodily cues). Bishop was investigated by a group of scientists including the editor of the British Medical Journal and the psychologist Francis Galton. Bishop performed several feats successfully such as correctly identifying a selected spot on a table and locating a hidden object. During the experiment, Bishop required physical contact with a subject who knew the correct answer. He would hold the hand or wrist of the helper. The scientists concluded that Bishop was not a genuine telepath but using a highly trained skill to detect ideomotor movements.

Another famous thought reader was the magician Stuart Cumberland. He was famous for performing blindfolded feats such as identifying a hidden object in a room that a person had picked out or asking someone to imagine a murder scene and then attempting to read the subject's thoughts and identify the victim and reenact the crime. Cumberland claimed to possess no genuine psychic ability and his thought-reading performances could only be demonstrated by holding the hand of his subject to read their muscular movements. He came into dispute with psychical researchers associated with the Society for Psychical Research who were searching for genuine cases of telepathy. Cumberland argued that both telepathy and communication with the dead were impossible and that the mind of man cannot be read through telepathy, but only by muscle reading.

How may the theory be said to work? How can a telepathic impulse from a distant mind cause a picture to appear in space, as it were, before the recipient? Here is the last word of modern science in this direction; here is the theory which has been advanced to explain puzzling cases of this character. When we look at and see an object, the sight-centers of the brain are roused into activity; unless they are so aroused, we see nothing, and whenever they are so aroused, no matter from what cause, we have the sensation of sight. We see. But we get no further than this; we do not reason about the thing seen, analyze; or think to ourselves, “This is a red apple; I like red apples,” etc. No, we only see or perceive the object. All the reasoning about the object takes place in the higher thought centers of the brain. A diagram will, perhaps, help to make all this clear


When light waves coming from the eye, A, travel along the optic nerves and excite into activity the sight-centers—at B—we have the sensation of sight, as before said. Nerve currents then travel up the nerves, going from B to C, and in these higher centers, they are associated and analyzed, and we then “reflect” upon the thing seen, etc. This is the normal process of sight. Now, if the eye, or the optic nerves, or the sight-centers themselves become diseased, we still have the sensation of seeing, though there is no material object there; we have ordinary hallucinations of all kinds—delirium tremens, etc. If the sight centers are stimulated as much as they would be by the incoming nerve stimuli from the eye, we have “full-blown hallucinations.” 

What Is A Ghost?


Now, it is obvious that one method of stimulating the sight centers into activity is for a nervous current to come downwards, along the nerves running from C to B. It is probable that something of this sort takes place when we experience “memory pictures.” If you shut your eyes and picture the face of some dear friend, you will be able to see it before you more or less clearly. The higher psychical centers of the brain have excited the sight-centers into a certain activity; and these have given us the sensation of dim, inward sight. If the stimulus were stronger, we should have cases of intense “visualization”; such as the figures which occur in the crystal ball, etc.—they being doubtless produced in this manner.

Although the “sluice gates,” so to speak, running from C to B is, therefore, always open slightly; they are never open wide; it is not natural for them to be so. But if, under any great stress, thought, or emotion, the downward nervous current was as strong as that ordinarily running from A to B; then we should appear to see as clearly; the object would appear just as solid and real and outstanding to us as any other entity. We should experience a “full-blown hallucination.”


All this being so, it is almost natural to suppose that one method by which these psychical sluice gates could be more widely opened would be under the impact of a telepathic impulse. If we assume that this in some manner arouses into instantaneous and great activity the higher psychical centers (C), these would very probably communicate this impulse to B—downwards, along the nerve tracts connecting the two (or to the hearing centers, when we should experience an auditory hallucination, and hear our name spoken, etc.). In this way we could account for a telepathic hallucination, originating in this manner; and it is sure to be supposed that, at the moment of death, some peculiar quickening of the mental and spiritual life takes place—the peculiar flashes of memory by those drowning, etc., seeming to show this.

How A Ghost Warned The King


So, then, we arrive at a sort of explanation of many of these cases of apparitions, occurring at the moment of death; for we have shown them to be “telepathic hallucinations.” This is also the correct explanation, doubtless, for many cases in which apparitions of the living have been seen—in which a phantasm of a living person has appeared to another, during sleep, or in a hypnotic trance, etc. But how about those ghosts which appear sometime after death? They, at least, cannot be explained by any such theory. What has been said by way of explanation of these cases? It will be remembered that telepathy is the basis of the explanation thus far. Let us extend this. We have only to suppose that the spirit of man survives the shock of death and that it can continue to exert its powers and capacities also. For, if a living mind can influence the living by telepathy; why not a “dead” one? Why should not the surviving spirit of man continue to influence us, by telepathy? If they could, we should still have cases of telepathic hallucinations—induced from the mind of a discarnate, not an incarnate, spirit. The “ghost” might still be a telepathic hallucination. And if several persons saw the figure at once, we should, on this theory, have a case of collective hallucination—in which one mind affected all the rest equally and simultaneously

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