The author has asked me for a few introductory words to her book.
It gives me all the more pleasure to comply with her request as her previous book on occultism, written with great care and knowledge of the subject, is still fresh in my memory.
I welcome the appearance of this new book, a copiously documented collection of parapsychological experiences, as a valuable contribution to psychological literature in general. Extraordinary and mysterious stories are not necessarily always lies and fantasies.
Many “ingenious, curious, and edifying tales” were known to previous centuries, among them observations whose scientific validity has since been confirmed.
The modern psychological description of man as a totality had its precursors in the numerous biographical accounts of unusual people such as somnambulists and the like at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Indeed, though we owe the discovery of the unconscious to these old pre-scientific observations, our investigation of parapsychological phenomena is still in its infancy.
We do not yet know the full range of the territory under discussion.
Hence a collection of observations and of reliable material performs a very valuable service.
The collector must certainly have courage and an unshakable purpose if he is not to be intimidated by the difficulties, handicaps, and possibilities of error that beset such an undertaking, and the reader, too, must summon up sufficient interest and patience to allow this sometimes disconcerting material to work upon him objectively, regardless of his prejudices.
In this vast and shadowy region, where everything seems possible and nothing believable, one must oneself have observed many strange happenings and in addition heard, read, and if possible tested many stories by examining their witnesses in order to form an even moderately sure judgment.
In spite of such advances as the founding of the British and American Society for Psychical Research and the existence of a considerable and in part well-documented literature, a prejudice is still rampant even in the best informed circles, and reports of this kind meet with a mistrust which is only partially justified.
It looks as though Kant will be proved right for a long time to come when he wrote nearly two hundred years ago: “Stories of this kind will have at any time only secret believers, while publicly they are rejected by the prevalent fashion of disbelief.”
He himself reserved judgment in the following words: “The same ignorance makes me so bold as to absolutely deny the truth of the various ghost stories, and yet with the common, although queer, reservation that while I doubt any one of them, still I have a certain faith in the whole of them taken together.”
One could wish that very many of our bigots would take note of this wise position adopted by a great thinker.
I am afraid this will not come about so easily, for our rationalistic prejudice is grounded—lucus a non lucendo—not on reason but on something far deeper and more archaic, namely on a primitive instinct to which Goethe referred when he said in Faust: “Summon not the well-known throng …” I once had a valuable opportunity to observe this instinct at work.
It was while I was with a tribe on Mount Elgon, in East Africa, most of whom had never come into contact with the white man.
Once, during a palaver, I incautiously uttered the word selelteni, which means “ghosts.”
Suddenly a deathly silence fll on the assembly. The men glanced away, looked in all directions, and some of them made off.
My Somali headman and the chief confabulated together, and then the headman whispered in my ear: “What did you say that for? Now you’ll have to break up the palaver.”
This taught me that one must never mention ghosts on any account.
The same primitive fear of ghosts is still deep in our bones, but it is unconscious.
Rationalism and superstition are complementary.
It is a psychological rule that the brighter the light, the blacker the shadow ; in other words, the more rationalistic we are in our conscious minds, the more alive becomes the spectral world of the unconscious.
And it is indeed obvious that rationality is in large measure an apotropaic defence against superstition, which is ever present and unavoidable.
The daemonic world of primitives is only a few generations away from us, and the things that have happened and still go on happening in the dictator states teach us how terrifyingly close it is.
I must constantly remind myself that the last witch was burned in Europe in the year my grandfather was born.
The widespread prejudice against the factual reports discussed in this book shows all the symptoms of the primitive fear of ghosts.
Even educated people who should know better often advance the most nonsensical arguments, tie themselves in knots and deny the evidence of their own eyes.
They will put their names to reports of seances and then—as has actually happened more than once—withdraw their signatures afterwards, because what they have witnessed and corroborated is nevertheless impossible—as though anyone knew exactly what is impossible and what is not Sl Ghost stories and spiritualistic phenomena practically never prove what they seem to.
They offer no proof of the immortality of the soul, which for obvious reasons is incapable of proof.
But they are of interest to the psychologist from several points of view.
They provide information about things the layman knows nothing of, such as the exteriorization of unconscious processes, about their content, and about the possible sources of parapsychological phenomena.
They are of particular importance in investigating the localization of the unconscious and the phenomenon of synchronicity, which points to a relativation of space and time and hence also of matter.
It is true that with the help of the statistical method existence of such effects can be proved, as Rhine and other investigators have done.
But the individual nature of the more complex phenomena of this kind forbids the use of the statistical method, since this stands in a complementary relation to synchronicity and necessarily destroys the latter phenomenon, which the statistician is bound to discount as due to chance.
We are thus entirely dependent on well observed and well authenticated individual cases.
The psychologist can only bid a hearty welcome to any new crop of objective reports.
The author has put together an impressive collection of factual material in this book.
It differs from other collections of the kind by its careful and detailed documentation, and thus gives the reader a total impression of the situation which he often looks for in vain in other reports of this nature.
Although ghosts exhibit certain universal features they nevertheless appear in individual forms and under conditions which are infinitely varied and of especial importance for the investigator.
The present collection provides the most valuable information in just this respect.
The question discussed here is a weighty one for the future.
Science has only just begun to take a serious interest in the human psyche and, more particularly, in the unconscious.
The wide realm of psychic phenomena also includes parapsychology, which is opening undreamt-of vistas before our eyes.
It is high time humanity took cognizance of the nature of the psyche, for it is becoming more and more evident that the greatest danger which threatens man comes from his own psyche and hence from that part of the empirical world we know the least about.
Psychology needs a tremendous widening of its horizon.
The present book is a milestone on the long road to knowledge of the psychic nature of man.
April 1850 Jung’s Contribution
In the summer of 1920 I went to London, at the invitation of Dr. X, to give some lectures.
My colleague told me that, in expectation of my visit, he had found a suitable weekend place for the summer.
This, he said, had not been so easy, because everything had already been let for the summer holidays, or else was so exorbitantly expensive or unattractive that he had almost given up hope.
But finally, by a lucky change, he had found a charming cottage that was just right for us, and at a ridiculously low price.
In actual fact it turned out to be a most attractive old farmhouse in Buckinghamshire, as we saw when we went there at the end of our first week of work, on a Friday evening.
Dr. X had engaged a girl from the neighbouring village to cook for us, and a friend of hers would come in the afternoons as a voluntary help.
The house was roomy, two-storeyed, and built in the shape of a right angle. One of these wings was quite sufficient for us.
On the ground floor there was a conservatory leading into the garden; then a kitchen, dining-room, and drawing-room.
On the top floor a corridor ran from the conservatory steps through the middle of the house to a large bedroom, which took up the whole front of the wing.
This was my room.
It had windows facing east and west, and a fireplace in the front wall (north).
To the left of the door stood a bed, opposite the fireplace a big old-fashioned chest of drawers, and to the right a wardrobe and a table.
This, together with a few chairs, was all the furniture.
On either side of the corridor was a row of bedrooms, which were used by Dr. X and occasional guests.
The first night, tired from the strenuous work of the week, I slept well. We spent the next day walking and talking.
That evening, feeling rather tired, I went to bed at 11 o’clock, but did not get beyond the point of drowsing.
I only fell into a kind of torpor, which was unpleasant because I felt I was unable to move.
Also it seemed to me that the air had become stuffy, and that there was an indefinable, nasty smell in the room.
I thought I had forgotten to open the windows.
Finally, in spite of my torpor, I was driven to light a candle: both windows were open, and a night wind blew softly through the room, filling it with the flowery scents of high summer.
There was no trace of the bad smell.
I remained half awake in my peculiar condition, until I glimpsed the first pale light of dawn through the east window.
At this moment the torpor dropped away from me like magic, and I fell into a deep sleep from which I awoke only towards nine o’clock.
On Sunday evening I mentioned in passing to Dr. X that I had slept remarkably badly the night before.
He recommended me to drink a bottle of beer, which I did.
But when I went to bed the same thing happened : I could not get beyond the point of drowsing.
Both windows were open.
The air was fresh to begin with, but after about half an hour it seemed to turn bad; it became stale and fuggy, and finally somehow repulsive.
It was hard to identify the smell, despite my efforts to establish its nature.
The only thing that came into my head was that there was something sickly about it.
I pursued this clue through all the memories of smells that a man can collect in eight years of work at a psychiatric clinic.
Suddenly I hit on the memory of an old woman who was suffering from an open carcinoma.
This was quite unmistakably the same sickly smell I had so often noticed in her room.
As a psychologist, I wondered what might be the cause of this peculiar olfactory hallucination.
But I was unable to discover any convincing connection between it and my present state of consciousness.
I only felt very uncomfortable because my torpor seemed to paralyze me.
In the end I could not think any more, and fell into a torpid doze.
Suddenly I heard the noise of water dripping.
“Didn’t I turn off the tap properly?”
I thought. “But of course, there’s no running water in the room—so it’s obviously raining—yet today was so fine.”
Meanwhile the dripping went on regularly, one drop every two seconds.
I imagined a little pool of water to the left of my bed, near the chest of drawers. “Then the roof must leak,” I thought.
Finally, with a heroic effort, so it seemed to me, I lit the candle and went over to the chest of drawers.
There was no water on the floor, and no damp spot on the plaster ceiling.
Only then did I look out of the window: it was a clear, starry night.
The dripping still continued. I could make out a place on the floor, about eighteen inches from the chest of drawers, where the sound came from.
I could have touched it with my hand.
All at once the dripping stopped and did not come back.
Towards three o’clock, at the first light of dawn, I fell into a deep sleep.
No—I have heard death-watch beetles.
The ticking noise they make is sharper. This was a duller sound, exactly what would be made by drops of water falling from the ceiling.
I was annoyed with myself, and not exactly refreshed by this weekend. But I said nothing to Dr. X.
The next weekend, after a busy and eventful week, I did not think at all about my previousexperience.
Yet hardly had I been in bed for half an hour than everything was there as before: the torpor, the repulsive smell, the dripping.
And this time there was something else: something brushed along the walls, the furniture creaked now here and now there, there were rustlings in the corners.
A strange restlessness was in the air. I thought it was the wind, lit the candle and went to shut the windows.
But the night was still, there was no breath of wind.
So long as the light was on, the air was fresh and no noise could be heard.
But the moment I blew out the candle, the torpor slowly returned, the air became fuggy, and the creakings and rustlings began again.
I thought I must have noises in my ear, but at three o’clock in the morning they stopped as promptly as before.
The next evening I tried my luck again with a bottle of beer.
I had always slept well in London and could not imagine what could give me insomnia in this quiet and peaceful spot.
During the night the same phenomena were repeated, but in intensified form.
The thought now occurred to me that they must be parapsychological.
I knew that problems of which people are unconscious can give rise to exteriorization phenomena, because constellated unconscious contents often have a tendency to manifest themselves outwardly somehow or other.
But I knew the problems of the present occupants of the house very well, and could discover nothing that would account for the exteriorizations.
The next day I asked the others how they had slept.
They all said they had slept wonderfully.
The third night it was even worse.
There were loud knocking noises, and I had the impression that an animal, about the size of a dog, was rushing round the room in a panic.
As usual, the hubbub stopped abruptly with the first streak of light in the east.
The phenomena grew still more intense during the following weekend.
The rustling became a fearful racket, like the roaring of a storm.
Sounds of knocking came also from outside in the form of dull blows, as though somebody were banging on the brick walls with a muffled hammer.
Several times I had to assure myself that there was no storm, and that nobody was banging on the walls from outside.
The next weekend, the fourth, I cautiously suggested to my host that the house might be haunted, and that this would explain the surprisingly low rent.
Naturally he laughed at me, although he was as much at a loss as I about my insomnia.
It had also struck me how quickly the two girls cleared away after dinner every evening, and always left the house long before sundown.
By eight o’clock there was no girl to be seen.
I jokingly remarked to the girl who did the cooking that she must be afraid of us if she had herself fetched every evening by her friend and was then in such a hurry to get home.
She laughed and said that she wasn’t at all afraid of the gentlemen, but that nothing would induce her to stay a moment in this house alone, and certainly not after sunset.
“What’s the matter with it?” I asked. “Why, it’s haunted, didn’t you know? That’s the reason why it was going so cheap.
Nobody’s ever stuck it here.” It had been like that as long as she could remember.
But I could get nothing out of her about the origin of the rumour.
Her friend emphatically confirmed everything she had said.
As I was a guest, I naturally couldn’t make further inquiries in the village.
My host was sceptical, but he was willing to give the house a thorough looking over.
We found nothing remarkable until we came to the attic.
There, between the two wings of the house, we discovered a dividing wall, and in it a comparatively new door, about half an inch thick, with a heavy lock and two huge bolts, that shut off our wing from the unoccupied part.
The girls did not know of the existence of this door.
It presented something of a puzzle because the two wings communicated with one another both on the ground floor and on the first floor.
There were no rooms in the attic to be shut off, and no signs of use. The purpose of the door seemed inexplicable.
The fifth weekend was so unbearable that I asked my host to give me another room.
This is what had happened : it was a beautiful moonlight night, with no wind ; in the room there were rustlings, creakings, and hangings; from outside, blows rained on the walls.
I had the feeling there was something near me, and opened my eyes.
There, beside me on the pillow, I saw the head of an old woman, and the right eye, wide open, glared at me.
The left half of the face was missing below the eye.
The sight of it was so sudden and unexpected that I leapt out of bed with one bound, lit the candle, and spent the rest of the night in an armchair.
The next day I moved into the adjoining room, where I slept splendidly and was no longer disturbed during this or the following weekend.
I told my host that I was convinced the house was haunted, but he dismissed this explanation with smiling scepticism.
His attitude, understandable though it was, annoyed me somewhat, for I had to admit that my health had suffered under these experiences.
I felt unnaturally fatigued, as I had never felt before.
I therefore challenged Dr. X to try sleeping in the haunted room himself.
He agreed to this, and gave me his word that he would send me an honest report of his observations.
He would go to the house alone and spend the weekend there so as to give me a “fair chance.”
Next morning I left. Ten days later I had a letter from Dr. X. He had spent the weekend alone in the cottage.
In the evening it was very quiet, and he thought it was not absolutely necessary to go up to the first floor.
The ghost, after all, could manifest itself anywhere in the house, if there was one.
So he set up his camp bed in the conservatory, and as the cottage really was rather lonely, he took a loaded shotgun to bed with him.
Everything was deathly still. He did not feel altogether at ease, but nevertheless almost succeeded in falling asleep after a time.
Suddenly it seemed to him that he heard footsteps in the corridor. He immediately struck a light and flung open the door, but there was nothing to be seen.
He went back grumpily to bed, thinking I had been a fool.
But it was not long before he again heard footsteps, and to his discomfiture he discovered that the door lacked a key.
He rammed a chair against the door, with its back under the lock, and returned to bed.
Soon afterwards he again heard footsteps, which stopped just in front of the door; the chair creaked, as though somebody was pushing against the door from the other side.
He then set up his bed in the garden, and there he slept very well.
The next night he again put his bed in the garden, but at one o’clock it started to rain, so he shoved the head of the bed under the eaves of the conservatory and covered the foot with a waterproof blanket.
In this way he slept peacefully. But nothing in the world would induce him to sleep again in the conservatory.
He had now given up the cottage.
A little later I heard from Dr. X that the owner had had the cottage pulled down, since it was unsaleable and scared away all tenants.
Unfortunately I no longer have the original report, but its contents are stamped indelibly on my mind.
It gave me considerable satisfaction after my colleague had laughed so loudly at my fear of ghosts.
I would like to make the following remarks by way of summing up. I can find no explanation of the dripping noise.
I was fully awake and examined the floor carefully.
I consider it out of the question that it was a delusion of the senses.
As to the rustling and creaking, I think they were probably not objective noises, but noises in the ear which seemed to me to be occurring objectively in the room. In my peculiar hypnoid state they appeared exaggeratedly loud.
I am not at all sure that the knocking noises, either, were objective.
They could just as well have been heartbeats that seemed to me to come from outside.
My torpor was associated with an inner excitation probably corresponding to fear.
Of this fear I was unconscious until the moment of the vision—only then did it break through into consciousness.
The vision had the character of a hypnagogic hallucination and was probably a reconstruction of the memory of the old woman with carcinoma.
Coming now to the olfactory hallucination, I had the impression that my presence in the room gradually activated something that was somehow connected with the walls.
It seemed to me that the dog rushing round in a panic represented my intuition.
Common speech links intuition with the nose: I had “smelt” something.
If the olfactory organ in man were not so hopelessly degenerate, but as highly developed as a dog’s, I would have undoubtedly have had a clearer idea of the persons who had lived in the room earlier.
Primitive medicine-men can not only smell out a thief, they also “smell” spirits and ghosts.
The hypnoid catalepsy that each time was associated with these phenomena was the equivalent of intense concentration, the object of which was a subliminal and therefore “fascinating” olfactory perception. The two things together bear some resemblance to the physical and psychic state of a pointer that has picked up the scent.
The source of the fascination, however, seems to me to have been of a peculiar nature, which is not sufficiently explained by any substance emitting a smell.
The smell may have “embodied” a psychic situation of an excitatory nature and carried it across to the percipient.
This is by no means impossible when we consider the extraordinary importance of the sense of smell in animals.
It is also conceivable that intuition in man has taken the place of the world of smells that were lost to him with the degeneration of the olfactory organ. The effect of intuition on man is indeed very similar to the instant fascination which smells have for animals.
I myself have had a number of experiences in which “psychic smells,” or olfactory hallucinations, turned out to be subliminal intuitions which I was able to verify afterwards.
This hypothesis naturally does not pretend to explain all ghost phenomena, but at most a certain category of them.
I have heard and read a great many ghost stories, and among them are a few that could very well be explained in this way.
For instance, there are all those stories of ghosts haunting rooms where a murder was committed.
In one case, bloodstains were still visible under the carpet.
A dog would surely have smelt the blood and perhaps recognized it as human, and if he possessed a human imagination he would also have been able to reconstruct the essential features of the crime.
Our unconscious, which possesses very much more subtle powers of perception and reconstruction than our conscious minds, could do the same thing and project a visionary picture of the psychic situation that excited it.
For example, a relative once told me that, when stopping at a hotel on a journey abroad, he had a fearful nightmare of a woman being murdered in his room.
The next morning he discovered that on the night before his arrival a woman had in fact been murdered there.
These remarks are only meant to show that parapsychology would do well to take account of the modern psychology of the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 317-326