The Mystery of the Double

Psychic Observer for May 25 carries a 5-column article by Horace Leaf, F.R.G.S., concerning the 'psychic double' which sums up about as follows. An American woman consulted Leaf, in London, about the haunting of herself by an apparition of her husband - a prosaic business man in normal health. This double appeared during both waking and sleeping hours of the husband, would bow, smile ironically, then disappear. It resembled the husband in every way "except for a deep, cunning look in its eyes." On one occasion, however, it wore a hat and coat, while the husband had on neither and was lying on a nearby couch.

The husband himself was able, after a time, to see this apparition, and then began a distressing period of which he said, "My body is no longer a real part of me. I seem to be looking out of my eyes as if out of windows, and I am becoming a poltergeist. Every night I seem to rise in phantom form, walk about the house and move the furniture. Members of the hotel staff saw me . . . My wife and daughter see me regularly . . . The apparition is me and I must stop it . . ."

Professor Leaf then hypnotized the man, and a secondary personality made its appearance. Interrogation convinced Leaf that it was "some aspect of the subconscious mind" of the subject, tho it clearly had "a character and independence all its own." Furthermore, "it" had a tale to tell. It declared that the patient was "sensitive and unstable " and subject to the "invasion of an external entity" desirous of having earth experience. This entity possessed a body of its own, but could not manifest physically thru it. "It borrows substance", said the hypnotized patient, "from my body, and when that is no sufficient it extracts my etheric body and uses that." The poltergeist, however, was not this invading entity, but the etheric double of the patient. The realization that the apparition was a real personality (the secondary personality declared) had acted as a powerful suggestion on the mind of the subject, and caused him to project his true etheric double during sleep . . . Both apparition and poltergeist were successfully banished thru hypnotic suggestion.

Let us itemize the elements we have here: (1) The subject, in normal health; (2) a vehicle-double of the husband, said to be animated by an external entity, using body substance, and also the etheric body of the husband; (3) the external entity itself, with a body of its own; (4) the etheric vehicle (body, double) of the husband, with a poltergeist tendency; (5) the secondary personality of the husband, said to be an aspect of the subconscious, yet with its own character and independence. Note that the activity of the double (2, sup.) did did not interfere with the normal life of the subject. But the projection of the etheric double (4) caused a sense of dissociation. Both the invading entity and the true double could manifest physically . . . One question: can a secondary personality (or multiple personalities) animate the etheric double of the dense body? Does it possess a double of its own - or what kind of vehicle does it use, if it is able to practise projection? Is the apparition of a living and waking person, at a distance, to be understood as a projection of, or by the subconsciousness? Is the subconsciousness as much a personality in its own right as is the normal waking consciousness?

How far are the mysterious, intelligent, yet often senseless activities of the poltergeist to be explained by these considerations?


To continue briefly, in our unconventional way, with this same subject: we have a few notes from Vincent Gaddis. According to these, Muldoon (writer on astral projection) once saw a 'third double' of himself standing beside his entranced physical body, while 'he himself' (normal consciousness) was returning from an astral excursion. He did not have time to determine whether this 3rd double appeared to be conscious or not. Muldoon also has record of a man observing his own projected body walking, "this observation being made from a third body."

Mr. Gaddis also refers to the Sagee case - the school teacher who was habitually accompanied by her double, visible to children but not to her. Sometimes it imitated all her actions, but again it would wander off on business of its own. There seemed to be no disturbance of normal consciousness, by these activities . . . Goethe and Dumas also caught sight of their doubles (and there was that ancient who "Met his image walking in the garden") . . .

Our own present interest in this question is its bearing on Poltergeister; we suspect that these now-inexplicable phenomena will eventually prove to have various explanations. For example (and in spite of the principle of parsimony), one of these racketing spirits may be an 'outside' entity, the next may be a projection of a double from the subconsciousness of some here-living person, a third may be utilizing the true etheric body of such a person (either waking or asleep) . . . The well-known connection between some types of poltergeists and the presence of living adolescents (or adults) fits in all right here, as an energy source, or etheric substance source . . .

We might remark, once more, not only on the unsurpassable ignorance of contemporary psychologists, but on a curious paucity of information from occult sources as well. We're aware that all these phenomena have been recognized in the Orient, particularly in India, but the data seem to be a bad tangle of fact, fiction, and changing nomenclature - tho the main concepts about the human make-up are reasonably clear . . . Many spiritualists are well aware that doubles, projections, apparitions of here-living persons sometimes appear in seance rooms . . . It is said that "everything has its double." Well, a double is a "thing" and we would like to know how far this double-business or double-dealing goes . . . We are aware that the "doctrine of images" is involved in this, and we are not looking for any final, exhaustive, and all-simplified explanation, but only for a fairly clear-cut working hypothesis for the subconscious . . . or, whether "I" am one or a dozen . . . . We also point out that the HUNA concepts (expounded by Max Freedom Long in his pamphlet) recognize the subconsciousness as a distinct entity, or personality on its own level, and having (as we understand it) a double of its own. Then, the dense body has its vehicle-double (animated by what?); maybe the superconscious has one also, since it exists in an extra-physical vehicle . . . This is very crude writing, of course, about very subtle problems - and we hope some of our readers will come to our rescue with a much better statement.