Albert von Schrenck-Notzing

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Albert Freiherr[1] von Schrenck-Notzing (18 May 1862 – 12 February 1929) was a German physician, psychiatrist and notable psychic researcher, who devoted his time to the study of paranormal events connected with mediumship, hypnotism and telepathy. He investigated Spiritualist mediums such as Willi Schneider, Rudi Schneider, and Valentine Dencausse.

Eva C[edit]

Eva C. (1912)

Schrenck-Notzing investigated the medium Eva Carrière and believed the ectoplasm she produced was genuine. However, Schrenck-Notzing did not believe her ectoplasm "materializations" were anything to do with spirits, he claimed they were the result of "ideoplasty" in which the medium could form images onto ectoplasm from her mind.[2] Schrenck-Notzing published the book Phenomena of Materialisation in English translation (1920), which included photographs of the ectoplasm. Critics pointed out that the photographs of the ectoplasm revealed marks of magazine cut-outs, pins and a piece of string.[3]

The psychiatrist Mathilde Ludendorff wrote that the experiments of Schrenck-Notzing were unscientific and that he had been duped by tricks of Carrière.[4] In the Schrenck-Notzing experiments with Carrière the scientific controls were scarce and there was evidence that she had freed her hands in the séance room.[5] Harry Price wrote the photographs of her ectoplasm taken with Schrenck-Notzing look artificial and two-dimensional made from cardboard and newspaper portraits and that there were no scientific controls as both her hands were free.[6] In 1920 Carrière was investigated by the Society for Psychical Research in London. An analysis of her ectoplasm revealed it to be made of chewed paper. She was also investigated in 1922 and the result of the tests were negative.[6]

Schrenck-Notzing admitted that on several occasions Carrière deceptively smuggled pins into the séance room.[3] The magician Carlos María de Heredia replicated the ectoplasm of Carrière using a comb, gauze and a handkerchief.[3]

Donald West wrote that the ectoplasm of Carrière was fake and was made of cut-out paper faces from newspapers and magazines on which fold marks could sometimes be seen from the photographs. A photograph of Carrière taken from the back of the ectoplasm face revealed it to be made from a magazine cut out with the letters "Le Miro". The two-dimensional face had been clipped from the French magazine Le Miroir.[7] Back issues of the magazine also matched some of Carrière's ectoplasm faces.[8] In 1913 Miss Barkley in an article in the newspaper Neue Wiener Tagblatt had exposed the fraud of Carrière:

Miss Eva prepared the heads before every séance, and endeavoured to make them unrecognizable. A clean-shaven face was decorated with a beard. Grey hairs became black curls, a broad forehead was made into a narrow one. But, in spite of all her endeavours, she could not obliterate certain characteristic lines.

Cut out faces that she used included Woodrow Wilson, King Ferdinand of Bulgaria, French president Raymond Poincaré and the actress Mona Delza.[9] After Schrenck-Notzing discovered Carrière had taken her ectoplasm faces from the magazine he defended her by claiming she had read the magazine but her memory had recalled the images and they had materialized into the ectoplasm.[2] Because of this Schrenck-Notzing was described as credulous.[3] Joseph McCabe wrote "In Germany and Austria, Baron von Schrenck-Notzing is the laughing-stock of his medical colleagues."[10]

Fraud[edit]

In 1954, the SPR member Rudolf Lambert published a report revealing details about a case of fraud that was covered up by many early members of the Institute Metapsychique International (IMI).[11] Lambert who had studied Gustav Geley's files on Eva Carrière discovered photographs depicting fraudulent ectoplasm taken by her companion Juliette Bisson.[12] Various "materializations" were artificially attached to Eva's hair by wires. The discovery was never published by Geley. Eugene Osty (the director of the institute) and members Jean Meyer, Albert von Schrenck-Notzing and Charles Richet all knew about the fraudulent photographs but were firm believers in mediumship phenomena so demanded the scandal be kept secret.[12]

Published works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron), which is now legally a part of the last name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  2. ^ a b M. Brady Brower. (2010). Unruly Spirits: The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France. University of Illinois Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0252077517
  3. ^ a b c d Carlos María de Heredia. (1922). Spiritism and Common Sense. P. J. Kenedy & Sons. pp. 186-198; Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. Materialisationsphaenomene: Ein Beitrag Zur Erforschung Der Mediumistischen Teleplastie. München: Ernst Reinhardt, 1914; Albert von Schrenck-Notzing. Phenomena of Materialisation: A Contribution to the Investigation of Mediumistic Teleplastics. trans. E. E. Fournier d'Albe. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co.; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1920.
  4. ^ Policing Epistemic Deviance: Albert von Schrenck-Notzing and Albert Moll
  5. ^ Peter H. Aykroyd, Angela Narth. (2009). A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters. Rodale Books. p. 62. ISBN 978-1605298757
  6. ^ a b Harry Price. (1939). Fifty Years of Psychical Research. Longmans, Green & Co. ISBN 978-0766142428
  7. ^ Donald West. (1954). Psychical Research Today. Chapter Séance-Room Phenomena. Duckworth. p. 49
  8. ^ Georgess McHargue. (1972). Facts, Frauds, and Phantasms: A Survey of the Spiritualist Movement. Doubleday. p. 187
  9. ^ Gordon Stein. (1996). The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 520. ISBN 978-1573920216
  10. ^ Frank Harris. (1993). Debates on the Meaning of Life, Evolution, and Spiritualism. Prometheus Books. p. 77. ISBN 978-0879758288
  11. ^ Rudolf Lambert. (1954). Dr. Geley's Reports on the Medium Eva C. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 37: 380-386.
  12. ^ a b Sofie Lachapelle. (2011). Investigating the Supernatural: From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853-1931. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 144-145. ISBN 978-1421400136

Further reading[edit]

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