This is the complete
text of Chapter XXIII of
Over England (Country Life, 1945) which describes the stigmatic
phenomena which Eleonore Zugun displayed on her visit to the National
Laboratory of Psychical Research in the autumn of 1926.
I have not yet been able to make up my mind which of the two classes of Eleonore's phenomena, the telekinetic or stigmatic, were the more convincing.
The stigmatic marks and abrasions which spontaneously appeared on various portions of Eleonore's body were, as I have remarked, the most interesting of the phenomena said to occur with this medium. I saw several of them during the periods I kept the girl under observation. The marks were of several varieties, including teeth-marks, long scratches, oval, annular, elliptical, and other marks of varying shapes. The teeth-marks, it must be admitted, were similar to those made by Eleonore's own teeth; arid tests carried out proved that if Eleonore bit her own arm, identical impressions to those alleged to be abnormal were found, except that the number of teeth indentations varied. But no one saw Eleonore play tricks of this description, although she was kept under observation for days by different investigators. Teeth-marks were never found on any part of her body not accessible to the medium's mouth; they invariably appeared on her arms or hands. This applied also to the scratches and other markings which appeared on her chest, arms, wrists and hands. But she was never caught making these marks, some of which must have been exceedingly painful. The marks were always sore afterwards. And pins and needles in her proximity would suddenly appear in her flesh.
A peculiarity about the markings - both abnormal and normal - was the rapidity with which the resultant weals arose, and the whiteness and the thickness of the ridges forming the weal. This I have witnessed over and over again. Eleonore would perhaps be playing with a ball when suddenly she would give a sharp cry of pain and immediately come over to us and allow us to roll up her sleeve or uncover her chest, when the progress of the phenomenon could be witnessed. The teeth-marks were at first visible as red indentations on a white ground - the white surround gradually becoming red at the same time as the indentations became white, rising in a thick ridge above the level of the flesh. The ridge became quite white in the course of a few minutes, and rapidly disappeared. Indentations and teeth-marks made in the fleshy part of Eleonore's hand in a normal manner acted in exactly the same way. Scratches and other marks of alleged abnormal origin produced thick white weals in the course of a few minutes, afterwards rapidly disappearing
During my investigation of the girl in Vienna, in May 1926, and later in London, as related in the last chapter, these stigmatic markings occurred very frequently. At Vienna during the first few minutes of my preliminary observational period, Eleonore gave a short, sharp cry of pain and Countess Wassilko at once pulled up the left sleeve of the child's bodice, and on the fleshy part of the forearm, some distance above the wrist, were the deep indentations of teeth-marks, six above and five below, forming together an elliptical figure. If the reader will bite the fleshy part of his own arm, he will get an exact representation of what we saw. The length of the ellipse was 40 mm., the width 20 mm. If the marks were produced by an actual mouth, the width of the ellipse would depend obviously on how much flesh was gripped by the teeth. Though the markings could have been made by the girl herself, I did not see any suspicious move on the part of Eleonore. In London we proved that at least some of the stigmata could not have been produced normally.
Well, during the first stigmatic phenomenon I watched the indentations on her arm gradually 'fill up', turn red, then white, and finally rise above the surface of the flesh in the form of weals. I examined the sleeve of her bodice for marks of saliva, because if the girl had bitten her own arm, she must have done it through her sleeve. But there was no sign of moisture. The weals became gradually less distinct. Eleonore was convinced that 'Dracu', her 'devil', had bitten her.
Later during the same afternoon, Eleonore gave another cry of pain, and upon examination we again found another set of teeth-marks on the girl's arm, quite near the previous bite. Four indentations formed the upper portion of the ellipse, and five the lower. The bite was the same size as the previous one. The girl was standing by my side during the appearance of the weals, and there was no suspicious movement on her part.
About ten minutes later, Eleonore gave another cry of pain and pointed to her chest. The Countess at once untied the ribbon that fastened her frock and pulled down her camisole. Between her breasts, and extending a little on to her left breast, were seven scratches in two series of four and three, in the form of a criss-cross. The scratches averaged between six and seven inches in length. As we watched them they gradually turned red, then white, and in a minute or so became hard, white weals. It might have been possible for the girl to have made the scratches herself, especially as she had just left the room for a moment. But her cry of pain was so real, and the condition of the abrasions appeared so fresh, that the theory of self-infliction becomes less tenable. Also, the girl could hardly have had time to undo her frock, make the scratches, and adjust her clothing again. That the scratches had appeared only at the moment of the girl's cry was quite evident from the rapid way they changed before our eyes into the usual hard, white weals.
Eleonore did her best to propitiate 'Dracu' by leaving tit-bits of food about the room for him: pieces of cake, an extra large nut, or some other dainty. The girl declared that these peace-offerings prevented the 'devil' from injuring her still more. It appeared that 'Dracu' was particularly fond of chocolates, and she often put one on the bookcase for him. This she did during my presence, with interesting results. She had hardly placed the sweetmeat when she gave another cry of pain, and upon examination of her left arm it was found that an annular marking about the size and shape of a chocolate, 20 mm. in diameter, was deeply indented in the fleshy portion, superimposed on some of the earlier teeth-marks that were still faintly visible. The circular indentation developed with the usual characteristics into a round, white weal. (1)
That the stigmata were associated with some mental process, was proved by the fact that, after every phenomenon, telekinetic or stigmatic, the girl's pulse-rate-increased. Her normal rate was 75 beats to the minute. Immediately after a phenomenon it rose to 95 beats. But there was no other indication of the girl's reaction except an occasional slight trembling. She appeared perfectly normal after each bite or scratch.
During my stay in Vienna, I saw scores of these stigmatic markings. All were spontaneous and there were many variations of size and design. One mark was in the form of a pair of nutcrackers. I could not help wondering if 'Dracu', whether a real entity or a subconscious creation of Eleonore's, would survive the journey to London and the cold light of scientific investigation. As the reader knows, the telekinetic phenomena we witnessed at my laboratory were good. The stigmata were not only good, but even more convincing than those I had witnessed in Vienna, as they occurred under much better conditions of control.
I was not in London during Eleonore's first day at the laboratory, but my secretary recorded some stigmatic markings under control conditions that absolutely precluded self-infliction. A representative of the Morning Post was also present a day or two later and in his report that appeared on the next publishing day (2) he said:
'An example of the stigmatic manifestation occurred yesterday morning in my presence. Soon after I entered the room a mark was noticed rapidly growing on the girl's arm. As I watched it it grew into a number of cruel-looking weals which might have been inflicted by a whip or a thin cane. I am satisfied that neither the girl nor anyone else could have inflicted any such blow. Within a few minutes the marks had disappeared. Some minutes later, while I was helping Eleonore to wind up a clockwork cat, of which she is inordinately fond, I myself saw similar weals beginning to appear on her other arm and at the back of her neck.
1. In the Blatter aus Prevorst, Vol. V, pp. 171 ff., is an account of a Poltergeist in the house of Prof. Schupart, whose wife was 'bitten, pinched, and knocked down' by the entity.
2. Morning Post, October 4,1926.
Nobody but myself was near her at the time and both her own hands were fully occupied with the toy.'
On the following day there was another observational period and one of our members, Captain Neil Gow, and the representative of the Daily News, Mr. E. Clephan Palmer, were present. Captain Gow reported:
3.20 p.m. Eleonore cried out. Showed marks on 'back of left hand like teeth-marks which afterwards developed into deep weals. I got Eleonore to bite her right hand and noted the kind of marks caused by this bite, but could trace no similarity between this and the first alleged stigmata.
3.25. Eleonore gave a soft cry and pointed to her right wrist. She undid the sleeve of her blouse and rolled it up. I saw some freshly made red marks like scratches. There were several of these, about five inches long. After a few minutes they rose up into heavy white weals.
4.12. Eleonore was just raising a cup of tea to her lips, but suddenly gave a cry and put the cup down hastily; there was a mark on her right hand similar to those caused by a bite. Both rows of teeth were indicated.
4.15. Eleonore again raising cup of tea to her lips when she gave a cry. There immediately appeared three long weals extending from the centre of her forehead right down the right cheek. Each was about ten inches long. Eleonore gave every sign of pain. I can state that for several minutes her hands had not been near her head or face.
Mr. Palmer's report (1) on the same phenomena states:
'It may be only coincidence but, at any rate, it happened yesterday that these phenomena came thick and fast only when I turned up with another offering in the form of a toy. We were having tea in the laboratory and Eleonore was in the act of raising her cup to her lips when she suddenly gave a little cry of pain, put down her cup and rolled up her sleeve. On her forearm I then saw what appeared to be the marks of teeth indented deeply in the flesh, as if she or someone else had fiercely bitten her arm. The marks turned from red to white and finally took the form of white raised weals. They gradually faded, but were still noticeable after an hour or so.
'While Eleonore was sitting in her chair under full observation similar markings appeared every few minutes. Once she jumped in her chair and pointed to the side of her face as if she had felt an acute pain there. On immediately examining her face I found two long parallel marks, like superficial scratches, extending from the top of her forehead down to her chin. As I watched they developed into prominent raised white weals and were quite a nasty disfigurement. For about twenty minutes the markings continued to appear more or less severely in various places. The whole time the girl appeared very uncomfortable and resentful of what she considers the attentions of ‘Dracu' or the Devil. Although I
1. Daily News, October 5, 1926.
kept a close eye on her I failed to detect any self-infliction of the marks. The laboratory was brilliantly lit and I was at liberty to go as near Eleonore as I liked.'
The next day a group of our members met at the laboratory in order to keep Eleonore under observation. They included Captain H. W. Seton-Karr, the big-game hunter; Colonel W. W. Hardwick, Mr. Robert Blair, and others. The markings appeared spontaneously and quickly, covering the girl's face and forehead, arms and wrist. Mr. Clephan Palmer was also present and his report duly appeared: (1)
'Eleonore was sitting at the table tying up in its box the toy I had given her the day before, when she suddenly winced violently as if in acute pain. On looking at her face we found long scratches which gradually developed into white weals. A few minutes later, when she was standing near the window in a corner of the laboratory to be photographed, she winced again, and pointed to her arm. What looked like teeth-marks, including two that seemed like attempts at the letters 'B' and '0', also appeared. Within fifteen minutes Eleonore looked indeed as if she had been tatooed all over her face and arms. All the keen observers present agreed that there was no sign of trickery. Captain Seton-Karr and Mr. Robert Blair, entirely independent inquirers, both insisted that they had Eleonore under the closest observation, and were satisfied that she did not cause the marks by her own physical action. It must be remembered that these stigmatic phenomena occurred in full daylight. There is no question, as in some other psychic investigations, of any difficulty of observation owing to darkness or a dim red light.'
Colonel W. W. Hardwick, in his report on the same phenomena, said:
'At 5.40, after tea, Eleonore was tying up a box, when she gave a gasp and moved her right hand towards her left wrist - distinct teeth-marks appeared on her wrist, then scores like scratches appeared on her right forearm, cheeks and forehead. Shortly after, a series of marks like some form of letters appeared on her left forearm, all rising to distinct white inflammatory swelllngs within three or four minutes, fading slowly. The girl was under close observation, and could not have produced these herself by any normal means. (2)
Captain Seton-Karr wrote me under date October 18, 1926:
'I was present on October 5 when the so-called "stigmatic" markings appeared on the face, arms, and forehead of Eleonore Zugun under conditions which absolutely precluded the possibility of Eleonore producing them by scratching or other normal means. The marks were photographed in my presence.
(Signed) ‘H.W. SETON-KARR.’
1. Daily News, October 6, 1926.
2. In the Phelps Poltergeist case (1851-52) one of the girls concerned was pinched paranormally.
EXPERIMENTS IN HYPNOSIS
Thursday, October 7. Eleonore was kept under strict observation from 10.30 in the morning. At 2.45 a long weal, extending from left ear to mouth, slowly developed. I at once photographed the girl. Later in the afternoon the following members of the Council of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research. and others assembled to keep the girl under observation: Dr. R. J. Tillyard, F. R.S., Dr. R. Fielding-QuId, Dr. A. L. Urquhart, Colonel W. W. Hardwick, Mr. W. R. Bousfield, K.C., F.R.S., and myself. Among the visitors were Professor William McDougall, F.R.S., of Harvard University, and Dr. Thea. B. Hyslop, late Chief of Bethlehem Hospital, the London mental asylum. Dr. Hyslop examined the girl and scratched her forearm on one of the spots on which the stigmata often appear. The resultant weal was indistinguishable from those arising spontaneously. Soon after, at 4.46, two weals appeared simultaneously on her right arm, and later two small ones on the left cheek.
In Vienna Countess Wassilko frequently hypnotised the girl, and suggested to her that certain marks - usually letters - should appear on various parts of the arms. These experiments were often successful. It was decided among the medical members of our Council that this afternoon, the events of which I am relating, would be propitious for some similar experiments. Eleonore was accordingly placed on the special settee designed for the purpose, and the Countess then endeavoured to put her into a hypnotic sleep. It is doubtful if the girl went under complete control; I think the presence of so many strangers somewhat excited her. While she was under this partial control the Countess suggested that the letter 'G' should appear on her right forearm ten minutes after she 'awoke'. Some faint marks appeared after a few minutes, but it required some imagination to construe them into the suggested letter.
After the Countess's experiment Professor McDougall stated that he would like to try his skill in hypnotising the girl - who thoroughly entered into the spirit of the experiment. So Eleonore was once more placed on the settee, and for about fifteen minutes Professor McDougall exercised his skill in putting the child to sleep. Eleonore became very drowsy, but did not completely succumb to the Professor's efforts to put her into the trance state. He 'suggested' that five minutes after she became normal the letter 'B' should appear on her arm, but no signs of a letter were visible at the prescribed period. Professor McDougall stated that Eleonore was a very difficult subject and that it would require a considerable number of experiments to make her quickly react to his influence. These experiments in post-hypnosis were interesting, but not very successful.
Various theories have been formulated to account for Eleonore's spontaneous stigmata. Though many saints and ecstatics have been sub-
ject to stigmata, I believe that Eleonore is the only medium who has produced such phenomena. There can be little doubt that the infliction is a psychological one, and must not be confused with urticaria, a disease of the skin characterised by evanescent rounded elevations resembling weals raised by a whip, attended by intense itching when the skin is knocked or rubbed. Eleonore's stigmata did not itch. And in urticarial subjects, the weals do not appear spontaneously, as in the case of Eleonore's markings. There is a curious belief that those who suffer from urticaria have a layer of skin too few!
As for the psychological theory, Mr. G. E. Browne, the scientist and student of psychic phenomena, wrote me during Eleonore's visit, and his remarks deserve some attention. He said:
'All physical phenomena, if caused by, worked through, or bound up with a human being as medium, have a psychological foundation, or perhaps it is better to say a nexus. This is admitted by all writers. Now in Poltergeist cases (with few exceptions) and in all stigmatisation cases, there is hysteria at the base: not advanced or pathological hysteria, but a decided thinning of the crust or division between the thinking mind and the underlying dreaming mind. (Supraliminal and subliminal or hypnotic stratum.) "All mediumship", said Janet, (1) "is dislocation." Students of the mental side have been struck by the repeated emergence of an habitual control showing the intelligence of a child - usually a girl, undeveloped, whimsical, tricky, full of mischief and energy; in large measure uncontrollable and reckless of consequences .... Saints dream God and His wounds; and the dream mind in ecstasy (self-induced hypnosis) produces the wounds. Another type of secondary adopts the child's conception of a devil, and uses it to spite the primary by marking its face with scratches, and its arms with bites. Naturally there is no biting on the back or face; it can't imagine it, but you suggest it under hypnosis and it is most probable that it would be done. It bites when it is particularly displeased with its primary, waiting until in a moment of distraction it can get command of the body and its functioning (vascular). It bites when it is bored. I will engage that when Eleonore Zugun is kept amused there is no biting, no scratching; for then the secondary is also amused, which it loves most of all. Similarly, when the secondary enjoys the play of the primary, especially motion of any kind, ball-playing, running about, motion games - then you may look for objects being thrown about and perhaps even more elaborate telekinesis.'
Mr. Browne (who did not see Eleonore during her visit) was quite correct in his hypothesis that the telekinetic phenomena occurred more frequently when the girl was in motion; also, that the 'stigmata' appeared usually when the girl was quiescent. My own experiences with the girl fully confirm this theory.
What had happened to Eleonore was this: during her early childhood,
1. The famous French psychologist.-H.P.
when the Poltergeist phenomena became first apparent, the simple peasants of Talpa threatened her so often with 'Dracu', and what he would do to her, that her subconscious mind had become obsessed with the idea of whippings, bitings, etc., which would be inflicted upon her by 'Dracu'. We tried to eliminate the 'Dracu' complex, without success. What apparently happened was that the stigmata were the outward and visible signs of influences that radiated from the higher nervous centres as reflex responses to external stimuli. What these stimuli were we never discovered. We did not have the girl long enough to make the necessary
experiments. But the stigmata - and all her phenomena - ceased very I abruptly, as the reader will learn in the next chapter.
But we did have the girl with us long enough to prove scientifically that (a) the stigmata were genuine; (b) they were spontaneous; (c) they were not self-inflicted. The Press representatives also proved these things for themselves. In a leading article headed 'The Poltergeist' in the Daily News (for October 12, 1926) the writer said:
'If there is one thing about the Poltergeist girl that is beyond dispute it is the fact that she is responsible in some way for uncanny manifestations. Things are wafted away in her presence, she is bitten by unseen teeth, her face becomes scarred and disfigured, stilettos fly across her room. The suggestion that she is possessed of evil spirits is unsatisfactory,
and certainly unscientific. The temptation to believe that these phenomena are produced by trickery is obvious. Yet it must be remembered that these 'stigmata' have appeared not in a darkened room before the credulous, but in a laboratory of psychical research in South Kensington, before men expert in tracing every form of conscious deception or complex hysteria. The genuine character both of the markings on her flesh and the movements of the articles in her room have survived the most searching tests…. Altogether the eccentricities of the Poltergeist girl have provided one of the most bewildering problems, both psychical and psychological, of this generation.'
Another leader writer said, (l) in discussing Eleonore's telekinetic phenomena: 'The same difficulty [explaining the phenomena] occurs in the attempt to discover by what means the coins were moved in the recent experiments conducted in the National Laboratory of Psychical Research…Was the force employed drawn from the medium? Or was it external to her? Or was it an external force acting upon the medium? No one knows. Nor does anyone know the nature of the force we call electricity, whose utilisation in wireless telegraphy has prepared the minds of men to believe that to be possible which has hitherto been in. conceivable.'
It is difficult to estimate which were the more interesting phenomena, the telekinetic or stigmatic. For centuries visionaries and ecstatics have been - as they imagine - singled out by the Almighty as worthy of bearing replicas of Christ's wounds in the form of the stigma of the crown of thorns or the nails. I believe that up to the year 1894, no fewer than 321 saints received these peculiar marks of God's favour. The first good case is that of St. Francis of Assisi; the latest, Padre Pio of Foggia, who is still living.
One of the most, if not the most, interesting cases of what I will call ecstatic stigmatisation occurring in modern times is that of Louise Lateau (1850-83) a Belgian peasant, who, like Eleonore, attained notoriety (1868) on account of her presenting the appearance at periodic intervals of stigmata, or marks on the skin similar to those on the body of our Lord -a condition known to physiologists as 'stigmatic neuropathy'. Periodic bleeding of the stigmata every Friday was a feature of Louise's case, which is worth studying. (2) The case was verified by the Belgian Academy of Medicine.
An interesting case was also reported (3) by Fr. Herbert Thurston, S.J.
The purely pathological cases of stigmatization which undoubtedly are due to a form of hysteria are as interesting as those recorded above.
1. Morning Post, October 20, 1926.
2. "See Dr. Warlomont's Rapport médical sur la Stigmatisée, 187S; E. Lefébure's Louise Lateau - A Medical Study (trans.); Macmillan's Magazine Vol. XXIII, 1871, pp.488 ff; Dublin Review, 1871, p.170.
3. Proceedings, S.P.R., Vol. XXXII, 1922.
Well-known cases include the production of cruciform marks by suggestion, (l) and the case of ‘Ilma S.’ (2) (1888) in which blisters, red patches, burns, etc., were produced by suggestion. Then we have the experiments of Dr. Pierre Janet who produced red marks by means of imaginary mustard plasters. (3) Experiments have shown that in some subjects red marks could be produced by suggesting that drops of water were burning sealing wax. Dr. J. Rybolkin produced blisters on a subject by 'burning' at an unlighted stove (4) and many other cases have been recorded where the potent power of suggestion on suitable subjects has been responsible for hemorrhage, bleeding stigmata, etc. Most large hospitals have investigated cases of alleged stigmatisation. Within the limits of this chapter I have been unable to do more than touch the fringe of this fascinating subject.
1. Three cases. Dr. Biggs of Lima. Journal, S.P.R., Vol. III, page 100.
2. Dr. R. von Kraffi-Ebing, An Experimental Study in Hypnosis, London, 1889.
3. See l'Automatisme Psychologique, Paris, 1889, p.166.
4. Revue de l'Hypnotisme, Paris, June, 1890.
Poltergeist Mediums by Harry Price
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