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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.

© 1904




We wished now to get into direct touch with Mr. Hanna’s subconscious life. We therefore arranged to watch him constantly at night and study his dream states, and watch especially for the recurrence of what he characterized as “picture dreams.”

            On May 28, about five in the morning, after a fairly good night's rest, Mr. Hanna became restless. He was very gently touched and asked what the matter was. We did not wish to awaken him, but to insinuate ourselves into his mental states and to sound his consciousness. When softly spoken to, he replied without opening his eyes. Even when pinched and pricked he was not aroused. In his natural sleep he is very sensitive; the slightest stimuli awaken him. It was not so, however, in this psychic state, a state that may be characterized as hypnoidic, which consists in a hallucinatory recurrence of former life experiences, a resurrection of outlived personalities.

            Mr. Hanna was at this time apparently having sensations of chill and was shivering greatly. His face expressed great agitation and pain. When asked what the trouble was, he exclaimed, “Oh, it is terrible!” To our questions, “Where are you now?” he replied, “Mt. Jewett.” “St. George’s.”

            Q. What are you doing there? A. She is falling. Thunder, wind, rain. (Shivers intensely.) Let us go on, we will save her.

            Q. Who is the woman? What is her name? A. No name. She cries, “Für God’s name, help me.” (He said für instead of for, repeating the broken English used by the woman.) She has two sick children. Mt. Jewett is five miles away. Must carry the woman and the child.

            Q. Is there only one child? A. Only one child. Oh, oh, I am so cold. (He shivers; shows great suffering from cold.) "Oh, the mountain, Mt. Jewett, we run.”

            Q. What are you doing now? A. I drag the woman. The doctor gave her the bottle. Poor woman, so weak.

            Q. How old is the child? A. It is a little boy and his name is Carl.

            (Mr. Hanna rubs his eyes. Exclaims, “Poor old woman! My heart is weak.”)

            He seems to make strenuous efforts; says he is trying to climb over trees and stumps.

            At this point Dr. S., who was endeavoring to insinuate himself into Mr. Hanna’s thoughts, and to whom the patient was replying, suggested that he (Dr. S.) was Mr. Bustler. This was done in order to test the extent of knowledge and experience present in this state; to see if he knew in this state what he did not know in his waking condition. Mr. Hanna, however, laughed us to scorn and said, “Mr. Bustler is not here. He is twelve miles away.” It was quite clear that we were now in direct touch with a personality different from the secondary one, and possessing knowledge which the latter lacked.

            Q. Where are you now? A. Mt. Jewett. I fall over stumps. I climb over trees.

            A little later, when asked where he was, he replied: “Poor old home, child sings. Is so glad. Little child lying in bed. Dirty child.” (He had evidently arrived at some place.)

            Q. What are you doing now? A. I am drinking beer. He was now asked if he knew Miss C. Mr. Hanna laughed, regarded the question as funny, irrelevant at this time; said, “I don't know her yet; I know her later? From her to Mt. Jewett is a year.” This we learned to be correct. The personality was in a peculiar psychic state, in which it was able to foresee its future life. It was as if we should possess prescience of what was to take place in the distant future.

            When asked to give the month of the year, he replied, “August.” We insisted that it was May (the actual time), but he laughed scornfully and said, “I am sure it is August.” “You cannot make me crazy.” His experiences lived over again in this state had really occurred in August.

            When asked to describe the house where he had now arrived, he said, “It is a road-house. Tar-paper all over the roof; women are shrieking in the street. I am tired. Give me more beer.” (Apparently addressing the woman.)

            Q. Who is in the room? A. A girl. She has a nice face, but unclean. Speaks English badly.

            Q. What is her name? A. Girl says, “I have no name. They call me Sal.”

            At this point the character of the “vision” changed, and he passed into another state of consciousness with a different content of experience. This time a boy personality emerged. He exclaimed, “Now we go to the island, Umbrella Island. It is beautiful. The oar-lock is broken off. Oh, this is beautiful!” When asked where he was, he exclaimed, “They have gone to supper; Uncle Will and Hen. Take hold of fish-nets. Cannot row; oarlock gone.”

            He was again asked if he knew Miss C. Replied, “Don’t know her, acquainted a long time after.”

            When asked how old he was, said he was thirteen years. When asked if he knew Mr. Schuyler, said, “I know he is a man; don't know him yet.”

            Asked where he was living, he replied, “In a cottage.” Mr. Hanna was murmuring the names of his brothers and sisters. At this point the “vision” or hypnoidic state ceased and he awoke.

            On awakening from his vision state, he remembered the vision itself very clearly; he could represent it to himself distinctly, reproduce it in all its details; he could not, however, recognize the experiences of his vision as events that had occurred in his past life before the accident. He did not know that Dr. S. conversed with him and led him to give answers, nor did he remember any of the many statements made by him in his “vision” state. He could not remember the answers he gave upon the suggestion that his friend B. was with him. He did not know anything of the quarrel we had about the date, nor did he remember anything of the interesting facts he gave about the events of his life, such as the data of his acquaintance with Miss C. He could only remember, and with extraordinary clearness and distinctness, all the experiences that constituted the vision itself. The names in the vision, such as Mt. Jewett, St. George, etc., were to him unintelligible. When asked, if he knew what beer was, he replied he did not, but the brown liquid he saw in his dream had been called “beer.” When asked who Uncle Will was, “I do not know, I have an Uncle William, but not one named Will.” He had evidently not learned since the accident that Will was an abbreviation of William.

            We learned from reliable sources that the scenes, events and experiences of the “vivid dream” were really life experiences which had occurred years previous to the accident.

            By these various methods of sounding Mr. Hanna’s memories, we were enabled to establish fully the correctness of our original view, that the lost memories were still present and buried within the subconscious self.


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