Exteriorization of Sensitivity
Term used to denote sensory power of the medium operating
outside the periphery of the body. The term was used by
Eugene Rochas as the title of his book on the subject in 1896,
but it was Paul Joire who called broad attention to the phenomenon
in his treatise on hypnology, Précis Théorique and pratique
de neuro-hypnologie (1892).
The phenomenon was on the confines of hypnotic and psychical
phenomena. Approaching his hypnotic subject with a
pointed instrument, Joire found him sensitive a short distance
from the skin. The distance at which the sensation was perceived
and the range of the sensitive surface varied with the
nervous sensibility of the subject on an average from one to ten
centimeters. The sensibility of the skin itself disappeared. In
deep hypnosis a series of sensitive layers appeared to be
formed around the body, and the sensibility could also be
transferred into various objects, such as a glass of water, glass
plates covered with velvet, wood, or a ball of putty. Joire gave
the putty the vague contour of the subject, and as he pricked
parts of the putty that represented the parts of the subject’s
body, the subject experienced a corresponding sensation.
Some of the subject’s hair was cut off while he was asleep and
stuck into the putty. When they were later pulled, the patient
strongly protested, saying his hair was being pulled out. When
a glass of water, charged with sensibility, was held by the subject,
the reaction to the pricking of the water was instantaneous.
If it was held by an assistant, removed from the subject in a
chain, there was an increasing slowness in the sensation. The
delay between the pricking and the sensation was two seconds
when five persons formed a chain.
Joire claimed that he could also transfer the sensibility to a
living man or to the subject’s shadow on the wall. Care was
taken to prevent the working of suggestion. The exteriorization
of sensation to this degree, however, was a very rare phenomenon.
Joire also found that the excitation produced at a distance
in a subject whose sensibility had been externalized left a persistent
painful trace, like a contusion or a mosquito sting. A few
moments after the first movement the subject began to stroke
the sensitive spot as though he still felt the sensation; and although
he remembered nothing in the waking state, in the
night he often dreamed that he was being pricked or pinched.
Rochas obtained similar results to those of Joire and described
during the magnetizing process the formation of a series
of equidistant layers separated by an interval of six or seven
centimeters around the body of his subject. They extended
sometimes as far as two or three meters, and their sensibility diminished
in proportion to their distance from the body. He noticed
that when a glass of water was placed across a zone of sensibility
the layers beyond the glass were interrupted, whereas
the water in the glass became rapidly luminous throughout its
mass and later a sort of luminous mist was liberated from it.
Taken to some distance, the glass of water retained its sensibility.
Experimenting further on these lines, Rochas found that
sensibility appeared to be stored in those substances that store
odors liquids; viscous substances, especially those derived
from animals, like gelatin and wax; wadding; and stuffs of loose
or plushy texture, such as velvet.
As the emanations seemed to spread themselves in a manner
analogous to light, he tried to focus them on a plate of gelatino-bromide
film. The subject of these experiments was a Mrs.
Lux. She was photographed awake, then asleep but not exteriorized,
and afterward asleep and exteriorized. In the latter case
the plate was briefly left for sensitivity inside her belt in contact
with her body.
According to Rochas, ‘‘I observed that when I pricked the
first plate with a pin Mme. Lux felt nothing, when I pricked the
second she felt it slightly, and when I pricked the third she felt
it sharply, and this was a few minutes after the operation.’’
Three days later, ‘‘wishing to discover to what extent this plate
was sensitive, I gave two sharp blows with the pin on the hand
depicted in the picture in such a manner as to tear the film of
gelatino-bromide. Lux, who was two metres distant from me,
and could not see what part I had pricked, fell back at once with
cries of pain. I had some difficulty in restoring her to her normal
state; her hand hurt her, and a few seconds afterwards I saw
appear on her right hand—the one I pricked in the photograph—some
little red marks whose position corresponded to
the pricks. Dr. P., who was present during the experiment, observed
that the epidermis was not broken and the redness was
in the skin.’’ These experiments were verified by Jules Bernard
Luys (1828–1897), a famous brain specialist.
According to Rochas, exteriorization of sensibility may be
gradually pushed to the formation of two luminous phantoms
on the left and right of the subject, and finally to their union.
This is the exteriorization of the astral body. While the astral
body of his subject was thus exteriorized, Rochas unintentionally
struck the astral hand with his hand. In a few seconds the corEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Exteriorization of Sensitivity
poreal hand became very red. It is possible that the special hypnotic
conditions may have been responsible for this result.
Among those refuting Rochas and Joire, Sylvan Muldoon,
in his remarkable book The Projection of the Astral Body (cowritten
with Hereward Carrington, 1929), describes his experiences
in self-projection and declares that he never experienced
sensitivity as described by the French experimenters. There is
some point in his question wouldn’t an astral entity have to be
constantly on the watch, dodging pointed material objects If
not, these pointed objects would make contact with the entity’s
sensibility. Muldoon felt certain that if repercussion of sensibility
took place it did so while the phantom was within cordactivity
Elizabeth d’Esperance wrote of her phantom ‘‘Yolande’’
‘‘When she touches some object I feel my muscles contract
as if it were my hands that touched it. When she put her hands
into melted paraffin I felt my hands burn and when a thorn
penetrated her finger I experienced great pain. When I touch
the hands of Yolande I believe I am feeling my own, but perceive
my error afterwards when I see four hands.’’
The psychical researcher Emile Boirac believed that there
was no reason for supposing that exteriorization of sensibility
is a rare, accidental, abnormal phenomenon that requires a
particular hypnotic condition for its production. It might be a
normal phenomenon but not in evidence because a special developer
is necessary to note it.
In his book Psychic Science (1918) Boivac mentions some experiments
with a glass of water that the experimenter held for
a short time in his hand, then handed to the somnambulist subject
in the first experiment and placed it on a table in the second.
If the somnambulist plunged his fingers into the water
and the experimenter was pinched, the somnambulist felt it in
his own hand. If the experimenter held the somnambulist’s
hand and the glass of water was pricked by one of the spectators,
the subject again declared the corresponding sensation.
Everything happened as though the experimenter, and not the
subject, had externalized his sensibility into a material object
and remained in communication with this object by some kind
of force so that every impression made on his nervous system
was immediately experienced by the object and reciprocally
every impression made on the object was immediately experienced
in his nervous system.
Historically the beginning of the concept of exteriorized
sensitivity may be traceable to the idea of sympathetic medicine
in magic. In 1658 Sir Kenelm Digby published A Late Discourse
. . . Touching The Cure of Wonders by The Powder of Sympathy, and
even earlier, Sir Francis Bacon had discussed the subject in his
book Sylva Slyvarum (1627). In Sir Walter Scott’s Last Minstrel
(1805) the Ladye of Branksome takes the broken lance from
Deloraine’s wound and treats the lance with a salve, instead of
the wound, whereupon ‘‘William of Deloraine, in trance, whenever
she turned it round and round, twisted as though she’d
galled his wound.’’
Joire, Paul. Précis Théorique and pratique de neuro-hypnologie.
Paris, 1892.

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