Time (in Paranormal Perception)
Time is an element of uncertainty in paranormal functions.
Yet we know from hypnotic experiments that the subconscious
mind has a remarkable faculty in estimating time. J. Milne
Bramwell made classical demonstrations, such as suggesting to
a hypnotic subject, Miss A., that at the expiration of 11.470
minutes, she should make a cross on a piece of paper and note
the time. Out of 55 similar experiments, 45 were completed
One would expect that if an entity, communicating through
an entranced individual, was either a hypnotic or secondary
personality, that the entity should demonstrate the same consciousness
of time discovered by Bramwell. Such has not been
the case. Its surprising absence needs an alternative explanation.
Certainly fraudulent production of the entity by the medium
would explain the lack of time consciousness. Spiritualists
have suggested that the odd relationship to time, often manifesting
displacements of a day or more, provides additional
proof of the presence of extraneous entities in séances.
In one instance, ‘‘Pelham,’’ a spirit control of Leonora
Piper, was often asked to go and see what a certain friend was
doing at the moment. The account that he gave on his return
often contained descriptions that applied to happenings a day
after or what he thought a day before.
The psychical researcher S. G. Soal received through
Blanche Cooper communication from Gordon Davis, a friend
who, a few months after, turned up alive. Through the medium,
he gave a description of his house. The description was incorrect
at the time he turned up but perfectly matched his
home a year after.
In clairvoyant perceptions, a similar uncertainty is often noticed.
The percipients often do not know whether the visions
of events that unfold themselves refer to the past or future.
There is a good instance in Quaker history. George Fox cried
‘‘Woe to the bloody city of Lichfield’’ as he passed through it,
and discovered later this was not a prophecy but a psychometric
sensation of the martyrdoms in a past age. The British investigator
J. W. Dunne observed a mixture of past and future elements
in dreams, as described in experiments he conducted.
Bramwell, J. Milne. Hypnotism. London G. Richards, 1903.
Dunne, J. W. An Experiment with Time. London A. & C.
Black; New York Macmillan, 1927.