Pagenstecher, Gustav (1855–1942)
Nineteenth-century German physician who conducted important
experiments in psychometry. He was born in Germany
in 1855, and received his medical degree from Leipzig University.
Shortly afterward he moved to Mexico where he practiced
medicine for some four decades.
One day Pagenstecher treated a patient, Maria Reyes
Zierold, for insomnia by using hypnosis. During treatment she
claimed to see beyond the closed doors of her room and could
describe accurately individuals and events outside the range of
normal vision. With Zierold’s permission Pagenstecher conducted
further experiments to test this paranormal perception.
He discovered her normal physical senses were blocked by hypnotic
sensation; nevertheless, she reported sensations of vision,
smell, taste, hearing, or feelings from objects held by her.
These sensations enabled her to report information connected
with the history or associations of the objects held by her.
In 1919 Pagenstecher reported on these experiments to a
medical society in Mexico City, which appointed a committee
to study this psychometric ability. The committee gave Zierold
pumice stones to hold while in trance, and she accurately reported
information concerning the stones, their origin, and
other details. The committee reported favorably on Pagenstecher’s
view that the phenomena appeared genuinely paranormal.
The next year Pagenstecher reported the facts to the American
Society for Psychical Research via an article in the Society’s
Journal. In 1921 Walter Franklin Prince visited Mexico to
observe Pagenstecher’s experiments and to conduct his own.
Prince also endorsed the phenomena in his reports to the society.
Pagenstecher died December 26, 1942, in Mexico City.
Sources
Pagenstecher, Gustav. Die Geheimnisse der Psychometrie oder
Hellsehen in die Vergangenheit (Secrets of Psychometry or Clairvoyance
into the Past). N.p., 1928.
———. ‘‘A Notable Psychometrist.’’ Journal of the American
Society for Psychical Research 14 (1920).
———. ‘‘Past Events Seership.’’ ASPR Proceedings 16 (January
1922).
Prince, Walter Franklin. ‘‘Psychometrical Experiments with
Señora Maria Reyes de Z.’’ ASPR Journal 16 (January 1922).
———. ‘‘Psychometrical Experiments with Señora Maria
Reyes de Z.’’ ASPR Proceedings 15 (1921).