Forthuny, Pascal (1872–1962)
Pseudonym of Georges Cochet, French author, musician,
poet, painter, art critic, and possessor of remarkable powers of
psychometry. The loss of a son in an aviation accident at the
end of World War I induced Forthuny to take an interest in
table sittings. The result was not strictly evidential, yet it had
a soothing effect on the grieving father. Then in July 1921,
while engaged in ordinary writing, his hand was seized by what
appeared to be an extraneous power. Strokes and loops were
followed by mirror writing and scripts, delivered at an extreme
speed, full of high thoughts and affection, which he believed
emanated from the spirit of his son.
Soon, however, claimed Forthuny, the influence gave way to
an obsessive entity that demanded entire command over his
life, representing itself as having a mandate from Christ and
driving Forthuny to strange acts. By an effort of will Forthuny
regained his self-control; but when banished, the obsessive entity
predicted that Forthuny would lose his mediumship.
Forthuny’s phenomenon of automatic writing did disappear
in about six months, but more important gifts took its
place. During a visit to the Institut Métapsychique in 1922
Forthuny picked up an envelope containing an autograph of
Landru, the Bluebeard murderer, which Gustav Geley had
prepared for another psychic, and gave an accurate description
of the cottage at Gambais where Landru committed his crimes.
Mrs. Geley then picked up a fan and asked jokingly, ‘‘Where
does this fan come from?’’ Forthuny answered, ‘‘I feel as
though I were choking and I hear Elisa by my side.’’ The fan
had belonged to an old lady named Elisa who died of congestion
of the lungs.
Eugèn Osty’s Supernormal Faculties in Man (1923) and
Charles Richet’s Our Sixth Sense (1929) deal extensively with
Forthuny’s powers, which were tested in many experiments at
the institute. For instance, walking among 50 unknown persons
Forthuny addressed each as he felt inspired and disclosed
amazingly accurate facts about their lives.
He was actually stimulated by a large audience. He did not
go into trance nor call himself a medium, was ignorant of the
machinery through which he got his supernormal knowledge,
and preserved a remarkable spirit of criticism in his moments
of intuition. He was sensitive to hostile attitudes, but they only
made him more convinced of the exactness of his vision and induced
him to publicly denounce the hostility. He did not ‘‘fish’’
for information nor ask leading questions but wanted to be
stopped if he ran off the subject, since, he said, he often experienced
the blending of two influences. Generally he ‘‘heard’’ the
names, at other times he saw colored pictures or written names.
In April 1924 he was appointed general secretary of the
Union Spirite Française and gave regular clairvoyant sittings at
the Maison des Spirites, Paris. On one occasion he visited Geley
and, very much moved, told him that he had just had a vision
of an airplane crash in Poland in which a physician was killed.
Forthuny insisted that his vision be recorded at the institute.
He said he did not know who the physician was—possibly a
‘‘Voronoff’’ but he was not sure. On July 14 of the same year
Geley was killed in an airplane crash near Warsaw.
In 1919 Forthuny paid a visit to the Society for Psychical
Research (SPR). V. J. Woolley concludes in his report (Proceedings
of the SPR, vol. 39) that ‘‘we are driven to assume that his
knowledge comes from some supernormal faculty, and it seems
reasonable to suppose that this faculty consists mainly in a supernormal
knowledge of what is in the minds of people present
with him, whether we call such knowledge telepathic or clairvoyant.’’
The archskeptic Harry Price met Forthuny in Paris in 1927
and was impressed by his ‘‘remarkable psychic powers.’’ Price
became friendly with Forthuny, whom he described as a ‘‘fine