‘I do not think that any one who has seen the effects of a _good_ séance upon Eusapia could doubt its reality. She has been known to suffer from partial paralysis, from hysteria, nausea, amnesia, loss of vision, as well as great weakness, prostration, etc., after the séance. I have seen her actively nauseated–excessively ill–after a good séance of this character, a symptom which is unlikely to be simulated, even if it could be. It is only after a _good_ séance that such things occur, however. After a poor séance at which, perhaps, much fraud has occurred … I think that Eusapia often simulates exhaustion when, as a matter of fact, there is little or none, but this would not deceive one who has carefully watched her for weeks and months together, and has observed the effects of a genuine séance upon her.’
[Footnote 35: _Personal Experiences_, p. 242.]
The behaviour described by Mr. Carrington is precisely that of the hysteric, but it is not clear what he means when he says that her being actively nauseated is a symptom unlikely to be simulated, even if it could be. Hysterical vomiting–resulting from mental processes, and not from any physical cause–is very common, and is a simulation of bodily disease, though I do not imply that the patient is aware of the simulation. Perhaps being nauseated was, in this case, a symbol of the disgust which one personality felt towards the frauds and lies of the other. Eusapia, having reached a condition of hysterical dissociation, presents the material symptoms of such a condition, for the nausea, paralysis, amnesia, loss of vision, prostration, etc., are classical symptoms of hysteria. The spiritualist actually holds them forth as proofs of the reality of spirit communication! Let the reader bear in mind that they show Eusapia to have been not merely a cheat, but mentally diseased.
There is a sad list of books purporting to instruct beginners how to communicate with the dead, and the instructions are such as to induce dissociation–a mental condition with possibilities of self-deception and hysterical manifestations like those shown by Eusapia Palladino.
Bad enough it is to believe the fantasies of a diseased mind to be revelations from beyond the grave, but how can one sufficiently condemn men of learning and position who would lead along the pathway of disease those who mourn their lost ones?
A few extracts from _How to Speak with the Dead_ will illustrate these pernicious attempts.
[Footnote 36: By Sciens: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.]
(Page 88) ‘By sitting in some place quite alone and free from interruption, and by adopting a mental attitude of passive receptivity and expectancy, the soul becomes ready to perceive and be affected by any spirits that may be in its vicinity and that may attempt to open up communications…. The manifestations … may vary from thought-suggestion to positive physical phenomena … such as the hearing of a voice or even the visual appearance of some supernormal object. All depends upon whether the sitter is or is not susceptible to psychical influence, and also upon whether the locality or the sitter personally is or is not haunted.’
Then (page 91) when the Dissociation has developed:–
‘In cases where the sitter is markedly “psychic” it frequently happens that normal control over the body is lost. A condition of trance supervenes, and while this continues the spirit–which may be either a “second personality” or a soul from the outside–that has gained the upper hand makes use to a greater or less extent of the brain and other organs subject to its mastery. The hand may write: the mouth may speak: the whole body may be engaged in some impersonation; and all this may take place beyond the scope of the sitter’s normal consciousness.’
Lest the hysterical dissociation is not yet enough developed, the victim receives, on page 98, another thrust along the road to disease:–
‘If it be found on trial that psychic powers exist to an appreciable extent it may be taken for granted that they are capable of very great increase by persevering effort and systematic employment.’
A warning is both given and stultified on page 107:–
‘Self-deception and the imaginations bred of wishes and emotions are to be guarded against;’ … ‘in solitary Expectancy fraud and trickery are completely absent, and all manifestations are matters of the most simple personal observation, the accuracy of which can be confirmed–as in an ordinary scientific laboratory–by the test of repetition.’