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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.

© 1904




As the phenomena now manifested by Mr. Hanna are of the utmost importance, we give as detailed an account of them as possible. We quote verbatim from our own notes and from the account given by Mr. Hanna’s brother, who accompanied him and took care of him.

            (Account by Mr. J. H.) June 8, 1897. “We went to bed at eleven o’clock, and remained awake talking for about forty-five minutes or an hour, and then I fell asleep, and was awakened some time after by hearing my brother leave the bed. He lit the gas and began reading a book. I asked him, if he could not sleep, and he said he didn’t and could not, and then I fell asleep. (This was doubtless due to the excitement to the summation of psychic stimuli of the evening.)

            About 3.15 A.M. I felt him shake me. I asked him what was the matter, and he asked me where he was. I told him we were in New York. He said, “What are we doing here?” and I asked him how he felt; if he had slept well. He said he had been dreaming. I asked him what was the last he remembered. At first he wouldn’t answer. He wanted to know why he was in New York. I told him that this will be made clear to him if he should have a little patience and answer my questions first. I asked him to tell me what he remembered last. He said the last he remembered was Thursday evening. He drove over to Meriden for me. I asked him about the drive, what he saw or what the drive was like, and if he could describe it. He said “Yes”; he drove over for me, and on the way there he passed a balky horse. Later on, he met a friend named Mr. J., pushing his wheel up the mountain, and when he arrived in Meriden, he said, I had walked out a mile to meet him; that I got in the carriage and we drove to my room. I asked him where I had my room, and he said on Crown Street, opposite my old room. Then I asked him what he remembered on the way back, and he began to tell me about the accident of April 15. Then I interrupted him to ask him for something previous to the accident.

            I asked him, if he remembered that I read anything to him. He said “Yes,” he did. He remembered an ode that my brother wrote on my sister and my brother. He thought it was very fine; it was funny.

            Then I asked him about the accident and he gave the following account: I was driving and something was wrong with the headstall, which was over the horse’s ear and seemed to trouble her. He said I turned the carriage so he could get out, and he started to get out and fell. He had a pain in one leg and his other foot caught in the lap robe, so when he fell he could not put out his leg to catch himself, and that was as far as he remembered.

            I then asked him if he remembered his past life at the University of Pennsylvania and at Bucknell University. Here my brother’s patience was exhausted, and instead of answering, insisted on knowing why he was in New York and how he had got there. I told him that when he fell, he struck his head and lost consciousness; that I had carried him to Southington, and since that time he had no memory of his past life. He thought it was a joke, and said I must be joking. He asked me if I carried him down here to New York, and then he shook me by the shoulder and said it was a huge joke. I told him we had come to New York for the sake of seeing the doctors here and that we were in the same house with Dr. G. I asked him where he had placed the matches, and he said, “The matches? I did not put any matches anywhere.” He had placed some matches on the mantel before he went to bed.

            When Dr. G. came into the room, Mr. Hanna looked at him inquiringly, as if seeing one who was a perfect stranger. We endeavored to aid his memory by some associations or impressions which were frequently present in his experiences since the accident. Mr. Hanna was asked if he could not recall Dr. S. and Dr. G., whose attendance upon him since the accident had made him quite intimate with them. When told that their acquaintance dated some weeks back, he was puzzled and seemed to doubt it strongly. When further asked concerning the events of the previous evening, his memory was found to be a perfect blank. He knew nothing of the incidents nor of the individuals; nor did he show even the slightest trace of recognition or familiarity. It was not possible in any manner to awaken recollection of anything which had occurred since the accident. He could not reconcile himself to the facts told him. To him Dr. S. and Dr. G. were fictitious persons, and the whole account was to him nothing but a well-concocted story. The only one for whom he had recognition was his brother. He said he knew his brother and could only explain the peculiar situation by his conviction that his brother had played a huge joke on him and had made arrangements with us to carry out the fun. He then asked what time it was and looked out of the window and saw it was daylight. We replied that it was four o’clock. He said it must be later, as it was so light. The accident occurred on the 15th of April. When he awoke, he thought that the accident had occurred the previous evening. As the dawn occurs later in April than in June (the present time), he thought it must surely be later than four o’clock, and considered his brother mistaken as to the hour.

            Mr. Hanna was assured that he had been sick for the past six weeks and had lost his memory by a fall. At first he absolutely refused to believe it, and only after the most positive and repeated assurance, finally said: “Well, I suppose I must believe you, boys.” He was unable to recall a single incident that had occurred since the accident. He could not even recollect the last thing done before going to bed the night before.

            Mr. Hanna soon began to regard with curiosity and interest the various objects about the room, which he appeared to see for the first time. He looked at pictures on the wall and made comments upon them. He admired some of them, and of one he said, “That is a fine picture.” His brother then showed him one he had seen just before retiring. He had no recollection of it. Another picture, portraying a horse, and which had especially interested him the evening before, did not now interest him in the least. When his attention was now called to it, he did not recognize it. He made some comments on other articles in the room; spoke of the folding bed, said, “This is liable to close upon a fellow.” He was asked, if he had ever slept in one before. He said often. In short, the room and environment were entirely new to him.

            Some incidents were then related to Mr. Hanna that he had described in his picture dreams, or what we characterized as hypnoidic states. Characters which had appeared to him in those states were spoken of, and he knew them at once. He gave an account of his relations with these individuals and verified as actual all the events he had gone through in his picture dreams of the secondary state. When asked, for instance, who Schuyler was, he answered, “An old school-mate of mine.” He also mentioned his relations to the Bustler of the hypnoidic states. When asked about Cemetery, Mt. Jewett, New Boston Junction, he gave us a detailed description of them; of his experiences on Mt. Jewett, during a violent storm, he gave a detailed account. He met there a woman and child in distress; rescued them; accompanied them home, and so on. In short, he recounted as a part of his actual life experience all that we had witnessed him live over again in his hypnoidic state.

            Mr. Hanna was astonished at our intimate familiarity with these events of his life which he had kept as a secret. “I never communicated that to anybody,” he said, “how do you know about it? I would not have my mother or father know that for the world, because they would worry were they to know of some of my thrilling experiences in mountain life.” Assured that he himself had told it, he positively refused to believe it.

            Mr. Hanna was greatly bewildered at his new experience. He would frequently turn around and say, “Now, boys, this is a huge joke; tell me where I am.”

            Last night, when at dinner, we happened to speak of Sweden, of its literature, and so on. This seemed to have made a very strong impression on the young man, and when we were in the car, he turned to us and said, “The woman in the dream about Mt. Jewett was Swedish. I did not know that Swedish was a nation, but I am sure that in the dream about Mt. Jewett the woman was Swedish. I did not know what Swedish meant.” When asked how he knew she was Swedish, he answered, “I know it.” He could not give the reason. Now, in his present primary state, when he was asked about the woman on Mt. Jewett, he confirmed the statement of the evening previous, that she was Swedish. “They were all Swedish living about there.” He could not, however, recall that he had spoken of Sweden during the previous evening, and that he had said the woman was Swedish.

            Mr. Hanna was then asked as to his companion at college. He mentioned names and incidents, spoke of boarding and gave, among other things, the names of eight companions who usually dined with him and also the order in which they were seated at the table. His brother verified the truth of his statements.

            In the midst of our conversation, Mr. H. suddenly exclaimed, “What a funny taste in my mouth! You have been feeding me on tobacco.” (He was not conscious of having smoked a cigarette the evening before. He had given up the use of tobacco some years ago.)

            At the question, “How is Miss C.?” he became indignant. “That is my business, and furthermore, see here, honestly, I take a decent joke, but I want to know what you are about. I don't want to have the name of Miss C. bantered about.”

            When he was asked how he felt, he said, “I feel just like Rip Van Winkle. I feel hazy.”

            Tests of his handwriting gave interesting results. In the secondary state he wrote poorly; he could only make printed characters; his written letters were extremely imperfect; many of the capitals he could not write at all. He was now asked to write his father's address. The handwriting was identical with that of his state previous to the accident. The address he gave was that of the former residence of the family before the accident. His family up to the time of the accident lived in Pennsylvania, and he, having no memory in his primary state for what occurred since the accident, thought that the family still lived in Pennsylvania. He did not know they had moved to Plantsville since his illness.

            Mr. Hanna then turned to his brother and asked with great interest, “Who has been preaching at the church?” The brother replied that the father was occupying the pulpit and that the family had moved to Plantsville. He exclaimed in great surprise, “Why, you don’t say so; when was this?”

            A number of events occurring during the last six weeks were recalled to him, but his mind was for them an absolute blank.

            When he was asked to rise, he said, “he felt sore and exhausted.” His back was stiff. He arose with difficulty and was assisted down-stairs and back. He said he felt as if “he was recovering from the fall of last Thursday.”

            When requested to relate the dream he had just before awakening, he said, “I dreamed I was with Em. on the street-car.” Asked where that was, he said, “In a city.”

Asked what city, answered “Philadelphia.” He remembered no further details of the dream.

            The dream, therefore, related to the experiences of his primary state. He must have passed into that state, when asleep.

            Mr. Hanna soon expressed himself as “feeling very sleepy,” and begged permission to lie down and sleep. He seemed unable to remain awake. This primary state lasted about three-quarters of an hour.


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