Camille Flammarionは1900年の本"The Unkown"で、「想像による死」の事例を3つ挙げている。

An idea, an impression, a mental commotion, while entirely internal, can produce in another direction physiological effects more or less intense, and is even capable of causing death. Examples are not wanting of persons dying suddenly in consequence of emotion. The power which imagination is capable of exercising over life itself has long been established. The experiment performed in the last century in England on a man condemned to death, who was made the subject of a study of this kind by medical men, is well known. The subject of the experiment was fastened securely to a table with strong straps, his eyes were bandaged, and he was then told that he was to be bled from the neck until every drop of his blood had been drained. After this an insignificant puncture was made in his skin with the point of a needle, and a siphon arranged near his head in such a manner as to allow a continuous stream of water to flow over his neck and fall with a slight sound into a basin placed on the floor. At the end of six minutes the condemned man, believing that he had lost at least seven or eight quarts of blood, died of terror.


Another instance is the case of a college janitor, who had incurred the dislike of the students under his charge. Some of these young men took possession of him and shut him up in a distant room, where they held a mock trial and passed sentence upon him. They recounted all his offences, and they judged that death alone could expiate them, the penalty to be inflicted by decapitation. They then proceeded to bring forth an axe and a log of wood, which they placed in the middle of the room ; they informed the condemned man that he had three minutes in which to repent of his misdeeds and make his peace with Heaven. When the three minutes had expired they bandaged his eyes, and forced him to kneel down before the log of wood with his neck bared, after which the executioner gave him a smart blow on the neck with a wet towel, telling him, with a laugh, to get up. To the extreme surprise of all present, the man did not move. They shook him ; they felt his pulse − he was dead.


Again, an English journal, the Lancet, has more recently published the case of a young woman, who, wishing to put an end to her existence, swallowed a certain quantity of insect powder, after which she lay down on her bed, where she was found dead. There was an inquest and an autopsy. An analysis of the powder found in the stomach showed that it was absolutely harmless in the case of human beings. Nevertheless, the young woman was stone dead.'


[The Lancet Vol 127 No 3277 Jun 19, 1886, p.1175 "CAN IMAGINATION KILL?"]

This is, perhaps, hardly the correct form of question that the British and Colonial Druggist puts to itself in discussing the death of the young woman at Hackney under circumstances in which Keating's insect powder largely figured. As the powder appears by Dr. Tidy's experiments to be perfectly harmless, the suggestion is not unnaturally made that the deceased, who was possibly of a hysterical, highly imaginative turn of mind, took the powder in the full belief that by its means her death might be accomplished. The writer of the article in our contemporary, we think wrongly, brings forward two remarkable instances of what may be regarded as practical jokes with melancholy terminations. In the case of the convict delivered up to the scientist for the purpose of a psychological experiment (the man was strapped to a table and blindfolded, ostensibly to he bled to death; a syphon containing water was placed near his head, and the fluid was allowed to trickle audibly into a vessel below it, at the same time that a trifling , scratch with a needle was inflicted on the culprit'a neck ; it is said that death occurred at the end of six minutes), fear must have played no inconsiderable share in the fatal result, and we do not knew whether all the vital organs were in sound condition, though they were presumably so. The old story of the case of a college porter is also one in point. The students entrapped him into a room at night, a mock enquiry was held, and the punishment of death by decapitation decreed for his want of consideration to the students. It is small wonder that, under the dominion of fear, and belief in the earnestness of his -tormentors, the sight of as axe and block, with subséquent blindfolding and necessary genuflexion, a smart rap with a wet towel on the back of his neck should have been followed by the picking up of a corpse.

Keatingの殺虫粉末のおおよそ引き起こす状況のもとで、Hackneyの若い女性の死について、"British and Colonial Druggist"が論じることは、おそらく正しい問いかけではないだろう。Dr. Tidyの実験により粉末はまったく無害であることがわかっているので、故人は、ヒステリックで、非常に想像力に富んだ心を持っていて、それで彼女の死を完遂できると完全に信じて、粉末を使ったと、考えるのは不自然なことではない。



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