H. P. Blavatsky
A CASE OF OBSESSION
THE particulars of the case of "obsession,"
alluded to in the April number of this magazine, are given
in the following letter from a respectable English medical man
who is in attendance upon the victim:--
I take the liberty of addressing you in the cause of humanity,
with the intention of exciting your sympathies and obtaining all
the aid in your power to afford, in a case of "control."
You will understand that the gentleman is being made a medium
against his wish, through having attended a few séances
for the purpose of witnessing "materialization."
Ever since, he has been more or less subject to a series
of persecutions by the "controlling" spirit and,
in spite of every effort of his to throw off the influence,
he has been made to suffer most shamefully and painfully in very
many ways and under most trying and aggravating circumstances,
especially by his thoughts being forced into forbidden channels
without external causes being present--the bodily functions overruled,
even being caused to bite his tongue and cheeks severely whilst
eating, &c., and subjected to every species
of petty annoyances which will serve as a means for the "control"
(unknown) to sustain and establish the connection. The
details are in their most painful features not such as I can write
to you; but if there be any means known to you whereby
the influence can be diverted, and it is thought necessary
to be more particular in my description of this case, I
will send you all the information I possess.
So little is known in India of the latest and most startling phase
of Western mediumistic phenomena--"materialization,"--that
a few words of explanation are needed to make this case understood.
Briefly, then, for several years, in the
presence of certain mediums in America and Europe, there
have been seen, often under good test conditions,
apparitions of the dead, which in every respect seem like
living human beings. They walk about, write messages
to present and absent friends, speak audibly in the languages
familiar to them in life, even though the medium may be
unacquainted with them, and are dressed in the garb they
wore when alive. Many cases of fraudulent personation of
the dead have been detected, pretended mediums have sometimes
gone on for years deceiving the credulous, and real ones,
whose psychical powers have been apparently proved beyond doubt,
have been caught playing tricks in some evil hour when they have
yielded to either the love of money or notoriety. Still,
making every allowance for all these, there is a residuum
of veritable cases of the materialization, or the making
visible, tangible and audible of portrait figures of dead
people. These wonderful phenomena have been variously regarded
by investigators. Most Spiritualists have looked upon them
as the most precious proofs of the soul-survival; while
Theosophists, acquainted with the views of the ancient
Theurgists, and the still more ancient Aryan philosophers,
have viewed them as at best misleading deceptions of the senses,
fraught with danger to the physical and moral natures of both
medium and spectator--if the latter chances to be susceptible
to certain psychical influences. These students of Occultism
have noticed that the mediums for materializations have too often
been ruined in health by the drain upon their systems,
and wrecked in morals. They have over and again warned
the Spiritualistic public that mediumship was a most dangerous
gift, one only to be tolerated under great precautions.
And for this they have received much abuse and few thanks.
Still one's duty must be done at every cost, and the case
now before us affords a valuable text for one more bit of friendly
We need not stop to discuss the question whether the so-called
materialized forms above described are or are not those of the
deceased they look like. That may be held in reserve until
the bottom facts of Oriental psychical science are better understood.
Nor need we argue as to whether there has ever been an authentic
materialization. The London experiences of Mr. William
Crookes, F.R.S., and the American
ones of Colonel Olcott, both so widely known and of so
convincing a character, give us a sufficient basis of fact
to argue upon. We assume the reality of materializations,
and shall take the instance cited by the English physician as
a subject for diagnosis.
The patient then is described as having been "controlled"
since attending "circles" where there were materializations,
and as having become the bond-slave of some evil powers which
force him to say and do painful and even disgusting things,
despite his resistance. Why is this? How can a man be compelled
to so act against his will? What is Obsession? Three brief questions
these are, but most difficult to explain to an uninitiated
public. The laws of Obsession can only be well understood
by him who has sounded the depths of Indian philosophy.
The only clue to the secret, which the West possesses,
is contained in that most beneficent science, Magnetism
or Mesmerism. That does teach the existence of a vital
fluid within and about the human being; the fact of different
human polarities; and the possibility of one person projecting
this fluid or force at will, to and upon another person
differently polarized. Baron Reichenbach's theory of Odyle
or Odic force shows us the existence of this same fluid in the
mineral and vegetable as well as the animal kingdoms. To
complete the chain of evidence, Buchanan's discovery of
the psychometrical faculty in man enables us to prove,
by the help of this faculty, that a subtle influence is
exerted by people upon the houses and even the localities they
live in, the paper they write upon, the clothing
they wear, the portion of the Universal Ether (the Aryan
Akása) they exist in--and that this is a permanent
influence, perceptible even at the most distant epochs
from the time when the individual lived and exerted this influence.
In one word, we may say that the discoveries of Western
science corroborate most fully the hints thrown out by Greek sages
and the more defined theories of certain Indian philosophers.
Indians and Buddhists believe alike that thought and deed are
both material, that they survive, that the evil
desires and the good ones of a man environ him in a world of his
own making, that these desires and thoughts take on shapes
that become real to him after death, and that Moksha.
in the one case, and Nirvana, in the
other, cannot be attained until the disembodied soul has
passed quite through this shadow-world of the haunting thoughts,
and become divested of the last spot of its earthly taint.
The progress of Western discovery in this direction has been and
must ever be very gradual. From the phenomena of gross
to those of more sublimated matter, and thence on towards
the mysteries of spirit is the hard road made necessary by the
precepts of Aristotle. Western Science first ascertained
that our outcoming breath is charged with carbonic acid and,
in excess, becomes fatal to human life; then,
that certain dangerous diseases are passed from person to person
in the sporules thrown off into the air from the sick body;
then, that man projects upon every body and every thing
he encounters a magnetic aura, peculiar to himself;
and, finally, the physical disturbance set up in
the Ether in the process of thought-evolution is now postulated.
Another step in advance will be to realize the magical creative
power of the human mind, and the fact that moral taint
is just as transmissible as physical. The "influence"
of bad companions will then be understood to imply a degrading
personal magnetism, more subtle than the impressions conveyed
to the eye or the ear by the sights and sounds of a vicious company.
The latter may be repelled by resolutely avoiding to see or hear
what is bad; but the former enwraps the sensitive and penetrates
his very being if he but stop where the moral poison is floating
in the air. Gregory's "Animal Magnetism,"
Reichenbach's "Researches," and Denton's "Soul
of Things" will make much of this plain to the Western inquirer,
though neither of those authors traces the connection of his favourite
branch of science with the parent-stock--Indian Psychology.
Keeping the present case in view, we see a man highly susceptible
to magnetic impressions, ignorant of the nature of the
"materializations" and, therefore, unable
to protect himself against bad influences, brought in contact
with promiscuous circles where the impressionable medium has long
been the unwitting nucleus of evil magnetisms, his system
saturated with the emanations of the surviving thoughts and desires
of those who are living and those who are dead. The reader
is referred to an interesting paper by Judge Gadgil of Baroda
(see our December number), on "Hindu Ideas about Communion
with the Dead," for a plain exposition of this question
of earth-tied souls, or Pisachas. "It
is considered," says that writer, "that
in this state, the soul, being deprived of the means
of enjoyment of sensual pleasures through its own physical body,
is perpetually tormented by hunger, appetite and other
bodily desires, and can have only vicarious enjoyment by
entering into the living physical bodies of others, or
by absorbing the subtlest essences of libations and oblations
offered for their own sake." What is there to surprise
us in the fact that a negatively polarized man, a man of
a susceptible temperament, being suddenly brought into
a current of foul emanations from some vicious person,
perhaps still living or perhaps dead, absorbes the insidious
poison as rapidly as quicklime does moisture, until he
is saturated with it? Thus, a susceptible body will absorb
the virus of small-pox, or cholera, or typhus,
and we need only recall this to draw the analogy which Occult
Science affirms to be warranted.
Near the Earth's surface there hangs over us--to use a convenient
simile--a steamy moral fog, composed of the undispersed
exhalations of human vice and passion. This fog penetrates
the sensitive to the very soul's core; his psychic self
absorbs it as the sponge does water, or as fresh milk effluvia.
It benumbs his moral sense, spurs his baser instincts into
activity, overpowers his good resolutions. As the
fumes of a wine-vault make the brain reel or as the choke-damp
stifles one's breath in a mine, so this heavy cloud of
immoral influences carries away the sensitive beyond the limits
of self-control, and he becomes "obsessed,"
like our English patient.
What remedy is there to suggest? Does not our very diagnosis indicate
that? The sensitive must have his sensitiveness destroyed;
the negative polarity must be changed to a positive; he
must become active instead of passive. He can be helped
by a magnetiser who understands the nature of obsession,
and who is morally pure and physically healthy; it must
be a powerful magnetiser, a man of commanding will-force.
But the fight for freedom will, after all, have
to be fought by the patient himself. His will-power must
be aroused. He must expel the poison from his system.
Inch by inch he must win back the lost ground. He must
realize that it is a question of life or death, salvation
or ruin, and strive for victory, like one who makes
a last and heroic effort to save his life. His diet must
be of the simplest, he must neither eat animal food,
nor touch any stimulant, nor put himself in any company
where there is the smallest chance for unclean thoughts to be
provoked. He should be alone as little as possible,
but his companions should be carefully chosen. He should
take exercise and be much in the open air; use wood-fire,
instead of coals. Every indication that the bad influence
was still working within him should be taken as a challenge to
control his thoughts and compel them to dwell upon pure,
elevating, spiritual things, at every hazard and
with a determination to suffer anything rather than give way.
If this man can have such a spirit infused into him, and
his physician can secure the benevolent help of a strong,
healthy magnetiser, of pure character, he may be
saved. A case almost exactly like this one, except
that the patient was a lady, came under our notice in America;
the same advice as the above was given and followed, and
the obsessing "devil" was driven out and has been kept
out ever since.
Theosophist, May 1880