Geley, Gustav (1868–1924)
Distinguished French psychical researcher. Geley was born
in 1868 at Montceau-les-Mines, France, and became a physician.
In his first book, l’Etre Subconscient (1899), he expounded
a theory of ‘‘dynamo-psychism,’’ a sort of soul energy by which
he sought to escape from the difficulties of materialistic philosophy.
In his second book, De l’Inconscient au Conscient (1919),
published in English as From the Unconscious to the Conscious, he
Gayatri Mantra Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
624
developed his idea into a more comprehensive treatise and admitted
an external direction and intention in the phenomena
of trance that could not be referred to the medium or the experimenters.
Shortly before the publication of his second book, which is
considered by many the most important contribution to psychical
research since F. W. H. Myers’s Human Personality and its
Survival of Bodily Death (1903), Geley abandoned his medical
practice at Annecy and accepted the post of director of the Institut
Métapsychique International founded by Jean Meyer.
Geley was a keen and indefatigable investigator. When,
under fraud-proof circumstances, paranormal results were apparently
produced in his laboratory, he had to defend himself
against the accusation of medical colleagues that he was an accomplice
of the medium. He consented to having his premises
examined for secret doors and to being chained up with other
investigators.
The most palpable evidence he produced for the reality of
metapsychical phenomena were plaster casts from the mediumship
of Franek Kluski, which were put on view in the institute.
Geley’s last book, L’Ectoplasmie et la Clairvoyance (1924),
based chiefly on his experiences with Eva C., marked another
milestone in psychical research. It was to have been followed by
a second volume, ‘‘The Genesis and Meaning of Metapsychic
Phenomena,’’ which, unfortunately, was never written because
of Geley’s death in an airplane accident on July 15, 1924.
Geley was essentially a spiritist, because he accepted the reality
of survival, reincarnation, and communication with the
dead. He was careful not to declare his opinion on subjects that
would have alienated the scientific community. However, his
belief system seems to have made him a target for tricks by the
mediums he studied and, in the end, capable of suppressing
negative evidence. After his death it was reported that some
very suspicious photographs of the mediumship of Eva C. were
found among his papers, and it was suggested that these indicated
the possibility of fraud. For a discussion of the facts and
speculations involved, see Rudolf Lambert’s article in the November
1954 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.
Sources
Geley, Gustave. L’Etre Subconscient. Paris Editions Pygmalion,
1899.
———. De l’Inconscient au Conscient. Paris F. Alcan, 1919.
Translated as From the Unconscious to the Conscious. New York
and London Harper & Brothers, 1921.
Lambert, Rudolf. ‘‘Dr. Geley’s Reports on the Medium ‘Eva
C.’&43’’ Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 37, 682
(November 1954).