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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.

© 1904




IN order to introduce again new psychic stimuli, Mr. Hanna was taken to see a popular variety performance. During his university life he had undoubtedly been familiar with the theatre; since entering, however, into religious work, this mode of entertainment had been severely frowned upon. We hence chose this visit as an admirable stimulus, because of its decided novelty to his present life, but not altogether foreign to his former early life experience. We wished likewise to observe how the young clergyman in his present secondary mental state would regard the gayety and life which one sees at such a place. We must remember that Mr. Hanna had “never” (i.e., in his secondary state) been to theatre. Everything was new to him. The bright lights, the many faces, the brilliant costumes, the gay scenery, the witty remarks, the daring feats, the dancing, all greatly interested him. He was amazed, and absorbed everything with great avidity. He was frequently asked whether he enjoyed the scenes, and he invariably replied he did. It was amusing as well as instructive to see the naturally austere and dignified young minister readily learning in this his secondary state of mental metamorphosis to applaud the “highly” artistic, though somewhat ethically questionable, feats of the heel and toe.

            Mr. Hanna drank two glasses of beer. When asked if he had tasted anything like that before, he replied he had not. “Do you like it?” he was asked, to which he said, “Oh, it tastes all right.” It is of interest to note that the taste of beer must have been familiar to his subconscious state, as it is rather improbable that a man tasting beer for the first time should find it “all right.” The beverage had been known to him in his early college days, as it was brought out in his “hypnoidic” dream state. In his present mental state, Mr. Hanna did not know that beer was any different in its nature than any of the non-alcoholic beverages. He drank the beer as a matter of course.

            On his return home with us, Mr. Hanna at once retired. As usual, he was watched carefully during the night.

            He awoke only once, at 3 A.M., but was then also in his secondary state. He awoke at seven and was found to be in the primary state. He was already familiar with his apartment, but the last thing he remembered was that he was sitting completely dressed in a chair. He could not understand how he should at this time be in bed with no recollection of how he got there.

            Although Mr. Hanna in his secondary state had seen Dr. G. the night before, he now asked for him, saying he had not seen him since Wednesday (the last primary state). This time likewise on awakening, as in the last primary state, he complained of muscular weakness and pain in his back. He also complained of a buzzing in his ear as if a “brass band” were there. This was probably due to the impression made by hearing the brass band at the roof garden the night previously, when he was in the secondary state.

            We took occasion to test Mr. Hanna’s memory in this primary state. The method of serial numerals was employed. His memory was, for new impressions, far less retentive than in, the secondary state.

            At breakfast he engaged in a long discussion with Dr. S. concerning the various philosophers from Plato to Hegel. Tie ably discussed the significance for modern philosophy of the Cartesian principle, “cogito ergo sum.” He likewise discussed Kant, and said he had studied Baldwin’s Psychology. When Professor James's essays, which Dr. S. had in his hands, were shown him, Mr. Hanna smiled; said he knew of Professor James. He read paragraphs given to him with great ease and fully understood their meaning. One of the passages read had been given to him the day before, when in the secondary state. At that time he did not understand most of the words; the sense of the phrases was not comprehended at all, and as usual he said “never heard of Professor James.”

            As it was Sunday, we determined to take Mr. Hanna to church. We went to attend the services of his uncle, a well-known preacher in New York. The exactness of Mr. Hanna’s memory was manifested when the question of his uncle’s residence arose. Mr. Hanna’s brother gave a street and number which he thought correct. Mr. Hanna at once changed the number, and it turned out that it was the correct one.

            As we passed from the house to the street, he looked about with great curiosity. He did not recognize the scene as he had “never” been in this neighborhood when in the primary state. A few minutes later, as we were seated in the car, Mr. Hanna, in the same manner as previously described, fell into the hypnoleptic state. He remained in this state for about one minute. His eyes were firmly closed; he could not be aroused. We pricked him sharply with a pin, but he did not respond. Upon awaking, he complained at once of a feeling of pain where the pin-point had entered the skin, although he did not know the cause of the pain. He had passed into the secondary state. He remained in the primary state from 7.30 until 10 A.M. He was quite surprised to find himself seated with us in a Broadway cable-car. “Dear me!” exclaimed he, “I have the taste of that beer in my mouth yet.” (It will be remembered he had taken the beer when in his secondary state. In the primary state in which he had been previously, however, he had not complained of the taste, and knew nothing about having taken any.)

            Mr. Hanna asked, if we had been in the car all night. His last clear recollection was of being in the theatre the previous evening, although he had returned home and retired while still in the secondary state. Mr. Hanna, unaccustomed to alcoholic drink and also being more impressionable in the secondary state, had been slightly affected by the beer, which dimmed his faculties somewhat for, events of the late evening.

            Nothing of importance passed during the church service. After the services, Mr. Hanna was introduced by his brother to his uncle, the pastor. Although in the years before the accident he had spent much time at his uncle’s house and knew him very well, it was now introduce the young man, who, of course, psychic state, did not know his relative.

            Mr. Hanna remained in his secondary state until the next day, June 14. He awoke at eight in the morning, having spent the night in the same apartment as previously. It was rather dark in the room. His first question was, “Where are we? Have we returned? How many days have passed?” When leaving the house in the primary psychic state, Sunday morning, it was his intention to go to Brooklyn after church and spend the afternoon with his relatives there. On the way to church in the car, as we have said, he had passed into the secondary state and remained in it until Monday morning, when he awoke in the primary state. His last recollection was of the latest events of the previous primary state, namely, leaving the house with the intention of going to church and then to Brooklyn. This explains his first question upon awaking.

            At the house where Mr. Hanna stayed for several days was an attractive and intelligent young woman in whom Mr. Hanna, of the secondary state, became much interested. He confided much to her, and although he rarely spoke to others of his changing psychic condition, he revealed the whole story to the young lady who had won his confidence.

            Mr. Hanna, now in the primary state, was told by his brother, in order to avoid the embarrassment of not recognizing those in the house, whom he had learned to know, while in the secondary state, to bow indiscriminately to all whom he met there. The equally indifferent and formal recognition of the young lady so much admired by Mr. Hanna of the secondary state, rather surprised and nettled her. In his present psychic state, she was just as strange to him as the others.

            He was now taken to the psychological laboratory in order to take various tracings. The place and people there were all strange to him in his present primary state. Dr. V. G., to whom he had been introduced and with whom he had a long conversation while in the secondary state, he now passed by without recognition. He gazed with interest at the many “new things” he saw in the laboratory.

            During the taking of tracings, we urged Mr. Hanna to resist all inclination to sleep, and endeavored by various stimuli to assist him. We explained that if he succumbed to his feeling of drowsiness, he would pass into the secondary state, and he himself was most anxious to have the primary state prolonged as long as possible. We tried to engage his attention and interest him. About 12.30 A.M. he began to manifest an inclination to sleep. We endeavored to counteract this tendency by talking loudly and emphatically to him, urging him to resist with all his power the drowsiness coming over him. He made a strenuous effort to assist us. Each time the feeling of sleepiness seemed fairly to overpower him, but it yielded to the intense efforts to keep up the waking state. Now he would drop into a sleepy state, and again he would open his eyes and give a response as we shouted into his ear or applied some strong physical stimuli. He seemed to alternate in his moments of sleep and awakening, and his responses showed that he was at one moment in the secondary and at another in the primary state. He seemed to oscillate between sleep, or rather hypnolepsy, and the waking state, and his responses to our questions indicated now the presence of the primary, now that of the secondary state, and now of the simultaneous presence of both. Each time the stimuli aroused him from the state of hypnolepsy and each time the latter took possession of him; again he was aroused and again the hypnoleptic state gained the ascendency, until at last he fell into the deeper, the last stage of hypnolepsy. In this condition he was completely shut out from the external world and appeared to be in an unconscious state. The first stage of hypnolepsy continued for about five minutes, the last stage about three-quarters of a minute. He awoke, and as usual was found to be in his secondary state. The primary state had continued for about four and one-half hours.


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