Extract from the Book
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
DIAGNOSIS OF THE NATURE OF AN ATTACK
HAVING considered the purely physical factors in a psychic disturbance, we may now come to the consideration of its genuinely psychic factors. We must always bear in mind, however, that because physical disease is found, it does not necessarily eliminate the psychic factor. A physical condition, such as an abnormal state of the blood, may cause a low form of psychism and put its victim in touch with evil astral conditions. Science may call it delirium or hallucination, but the occultist calls it pathological psychism and can do a great deal to relieve it, either by closing down the psychic centres, or by excluding evil psychic influences from the environment of the patient so that the spirits he sees shall be angelic instead of demonic, and cause him happiness instead of distress. The psychic centres forced open by a diseased blood-stream perceive anything that comes within their range of vision. Therefore let us ensure that nothing save what is pleasant shall come near them. We may not be able entirely to keep him off the Astral, but at least we can ensure that his wanderings shall be in a safe and pleasant part of the Astral. People do not realise the extent to which the wanderings of delirium can be directed and controlled by suggestions whispered into the ear of the sick person. We can companion the sick man in his astral wanderings and make our voice heard among his visions, by our knowledge driving away the evil presences that threaten him and guiding his dreams into the way of peace.
At the commencement of our diagnosis we must distinguish between three broad classes of psychic disturbance: those which are a by-product of physical disease, those which are due to malicious human action, and those which are due to non-human interference. The first type should be readily picked out by the doctor if, as has already been advised, recourse has been had to him as the essential preliminary. Moreover, he will also be effective in eliminating the frauds, for people moving in psychic circles and familiar with their terminology may simulate a psychic attack either in order to borrow money or obtain hospitality, or out of pure love of notoriety, a far commoner motive for human aberrations than is generally realised. Frauds usually either fade away or recover quickly when threatened with a physical overhaul. Those who decide to chance their luck are pretty quickly caught out by the man who has served his time in the out-patient department of a general hospital.
The diagnosis which the occultist has to make therefore lies in distinguishing between the attack of an incarnate mind and the attack of a discarnate mind. There are two ways in which he can do this, and he ought to use them both, so that they counter check each other. He ought to get at least two independent psychics to psychometrise the case, and he himself ought to make his own diagnosis entirely from the case-history interpreted in the light of first principles. It is a great mistake to mix the psychic and the scientific. They are apt to neutralise each other. Let one person do the psychism and another the observation, and let proper precautions be taken to prevent the results of the clairvoyant investigation being vitiated by suggestion, or by the thought-reading of previously conceived opinions held in the mind of any of the persons concerned. It is therefore a good thing to send off the specimens for psychometrising at the commencement of an occult investigation, before any opinions have been formed.
It is not the simplest matter in the world to take psychometric specimens properly. I have seen a man bring a lock of hair belonging to someone else out of his pocket, where he had carried it about for a couple of days, and hand it over for psychometry. It was of course so thoroughly impregnated with his own emanations as to be useless. A psychometrical specimen should be some object thoroughly impregnated with the vibrations of a person. A garment recently and habitually worn, a lock of hair, a piece of jewellery, all these can be made to serve provided they are properly preserved. Crystalline substances, such as precious stones, hold magnetism better than anything else; metals are also good, whether precious or otherwise. A pocket knife, for instance, will hold magnetism well. Wood holds it badly, and so do paper, wool, cotton and artificial silk, especially the latter. Silk and linen are good. India-rubber is useless. Glass depends for its holding powers upon its form. If it is cut so that it will refract light it can be very good; if it is flat and purely transparent, like a window pane, it is almost useless. Stone is fair. Earthenware poor. An elaborate article is not as good as a simple article. For instance, a marquise ring is not as good as a signet ring. Letters are apt to be misleading because they often contain nearly as much of the magnetism of the recipient as of the writer. Some psychics can work from a photograph, but this method is not, strictly speaking, psychometry, for the mental image evoked by the photograph is used to pick up the corresponding image in the reflecting ether.
Great care should be used in taking a psychometric specimen, for it is readily contaminated by the magnetism of anyone who handles it, who is in proximity to it, or who even thinks about it concentratedly. For instance, if while packing up such a specimen for sending off you are brooding over the problem it presents and working out your own theory, the psychometrist may pick up your thought-form instead of reading the conditions of the person to whom the object belongs. The materials which are used for packing should also be free from magnetism. I knew of a case wherein the psychic said that a certain trinket belonged either to a nurse or to someone who had to do with hospitals. As a matter of fact, it belonged to neither, but had been packed in surgical cotton-wool.
When packing up a psychometric specimen, do it as expeditiously and with as little handling as possible. Take a piece of “virgin” black or white silk (not coloured), large enough to serve as a wrapper. Throw it over the article and bundle it up rapidly, handling it through the silk. In the occult sense, “virgin” means something that has never been used for any other purpose. For instance, you should not use part of an old dress or a cushion-cover. An article which does not lend itself to handling by this method can be picked up with sugar-tongs or the points of a pair of scissors and laid on the square of silk in which it is to be wrapped. Pack the wrapped article in a wooden box, being sure that any padding which is used is also virgin. The report of a single psychometrist should not be relied upon. Specimens should be sent to two at least. It is also well when sending specimens, and especially when sending a birth-hour for a horoscope, not to allow the name to be known lest gossip should be spread about. Astrologers are much too fond of handing round charts and discussing them. I have known some very unfortunate things come about in this way.
A horoscope from someone who understands the nature of the work in hand is of great value, for the position of the planets in the heavenly houses not only serves as an aid to diagnosis but is a very important guide to treatment. It is best therefore to explain to the astrologer the nature of the case, and the kind of information that is wanted, so that he can examine the chart accordingly. A horoscope is to an occult therapist what an X-ray photograph is to a doctor.
While awaiting these returns, and while his mind is still uninfluenced by them, the occultist should make his own independent diagnosis. In order to do this he should have at least two interviews with his patient. In the first he should hear the case-history, allowing the patient to present the facts in his own way, without guidance or leading questions. Immediately the patient has left, the operator should write out the case-history with as much detail as he can recall. It is exceedingly undesirable to take notes in the presence of a patient, because it makes him nervous, for he feels that, in the words of the police-court, “everything he is saying will be taken down and used as evidence against him.”
In preparation for the second interview the occultist should study this record carefully and have its points and sequence clear in his mind. Now is the time to question the patient concerning any discrepancies or hiatuses. This proceeding will reveal the liar, whether deliberate or hysterical, quicker than anything else, for the discrepancies of his second statement will be clearly revealed against the written record of his first. If he is telling the truth, the two statements will be in agreement. If he is distorting the facts, he will soon contradict himself.
Remember that you are dealing with a person who has something of either the psychic or the neurotic, or very likely both, in his disposition, and that your attitude towards him, and even your unspoken thoughts, will influence him profoundly. If he feels that you are doubting his veracity, he will lose his self-confidence and begin to think that his experiences may, after all, be the fruits of his own imagination. Consequently, he will suppress things which may be all-important from the diagnostic standpoint. It is in this outpouring of relevant and irrelevant detail that you are going to find your clues.
There are certain landmarks which you want to look out for in taking this case-history, but you do not want to let your patient realise what you are looking for, because if you have won his confidence, he will be very apt to take on your view-point, and if he sees you have formed any opinion, he will unconsciously twist incidents so that they fit in with that opinion. Do not allow him to guess the bearing of your questions, and then you will obtain from him an unbiassed response. In order to prevent his guessing what you are driving at, do not ask a series of questions elucidating information on a specific point. There will probably be several points on which you want information. Ask questions upon first one and then another of these. For instance, if you suspect that the trouble may be due to the house in which your patient is living, the last thing you want to do is to rouse his suspicions in this respect lest you should be on a false scent. And even if you should prove to be on the right track, you do not want to disclose the facts to him until you are ready to act, for by increasing his apprehensions you will increase his sufferings. If you suspect that sex plays a part in his trouble, and he guesses the trend of your questionings, he will immediately cover his tracks, and you will find it very difficult to get at the facts at all. Whereas, if his suspicions are not aroused, he will reveal himself to an astute and experienced questioner who approaches him indirectly, without realising that he has done so. By approaching thus indirectly you not only get at the real facts of the case, but spare his feelings.
In taking a case-history you want to look for correlations between your patient’s psychic experiences and the circumstances of his life. Dates and places therefore should be sedulously sought for. When did the trouble start, and where? Having obtained as detailed information as possible on these two points, set out to see whether any occult significance is to be found in it. Note the dates carefully, and turn them up in an ephemeris of those years, and observe how the moon stood in relation to them, also the planets. Observe whether they fell on or about the equinoxes or solstices. Note also the days of the week upon which they occurred. If you found that all the crises of the case occurred on Thursdays, or round about the Vernal Equinox, or at the full moon, you would have a piece of information which was of considerable significance. You would be sure of one thing, at any rate, that you were dealing with a case in which the invisible psychic tides played a part. Information should also be sought concerning the place or places in which the different crises of the trouble took place, and especially the circumstances attending its first onset. It is exceedingly useful if possible to visit the place and sense its atmosphere. A very great deal can also be learnt from visiting the place where the patient is living.
Having obtained such geographical information as you can, study it carefully in connection with a large-scale Ordnance map. Access to this, and to all relevant information desired, can readily be obtained at any public library. Note whether there are any prehistoric remains in the neighbourhood, and if so, how the house bears in relation to them. Observe not only whether it is near any of them, but whether it is in a direct line between any two of them. Look up the history of the district, and see whether it affords any further information. Roman remains are often at the bottom of the trouble, for the legions brought some very queer cults with them in the days of Rome’s decadence. Druid remains, too, should be suspect if they are near neighbours.
Enquire also concerning any unusual objects in the house, such as images of the deities of primitive cults or savage weapons. It is quite possible that powerful elementals are attached to these.
Enquire whether the trouble seems to lift when the patient goes away to another place. If the reply is in the affirmative, it may safely be presumed that local conditions are at the bottom of the trouble. But if the reply is in the negative, it does not necessarily follow that the opposite is the case. It may also be that the trouble does not depend upon the place, but upon some person residing at the place. Never forget that in the great majority of cases that person’s harmful influence is due to an unfortunate psychic make-up rather than deliberate abuse of occult knowledge. Be very slow to accept the latter hypothesis, for its occurrence is comparatively rare. And even if the person suspected is known to have occult knowledge and can be proved to be antagonistic to the patient, it does not necessarily follow that the attack is conscious and deliberate. It may be unconscious and reflex. It is quite true that an occultist ought to have sufficient control over his vehicles to prevent them from acting independently of his will and consciousness; but this is not always the case. People are at many different stages of development. There is always a difficult period between the awakening of the higher powers and their full control.
Enquiries should also be made concerning the nature of the dreams, and whether the patient is subject to night mares apart from any question of occult attack. Also whether he has ever had any other psychic experiences, and if so, of what nature.
Finally, a careful enquiry should be made concerning the patient’s associates, as to whether any of them are psychic, or students of the occult. Be very careful, however, not to cast suspicion upon any person unless you have conclusive evidence and it is essential to do so in order to save the patient. Remember it is always possible that you may be mistaken. A case was reported in the papers not so long ago of a man who committed suicide because a doctor told him that he had organic heart disease and ought not to marry the girl he was engaged to. At the post-mortem it was found that there was nothing whatever the matter with his heart. Imagine the feelings of the doctor who had given this rash diagnosis. A person already upset by a psychic attack will be in a state to jump at shadows. He must be handled very discreetly. Be very chary of announcing your suspicions until they are conclusively verified. When all is said and done, the main object is a cure, not an explanation. It is of little value to your patient to fix the blame unless the matter can be cleared up. He is considerably worse off if his suspicions are turned towards some person in his environment from whom he cannot escape, than if he be left to attribute his trouble to unidentified psychic influences. Where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise is truer in psychic matters than anywhere else. Never open the eyes of your patient to a danger for which you cannot give him an effectual defence. The surgeon who is about to operate covers his instruments with a cloth so that the patient shall not see them. The wise occultist does the same. Do not forget that the Unseen is always suspect to the uninitiated. Having conducted an enquiry along the lines laid down in the previous pages, you should have acquired a considerable amount of material for investigation. Examine it carefully for correlations of cause and effect. Note if any exacerbation of the trouble is regularly associated with any incident, place, or person. Consider also the various type-cases that I have given as examples in the previous chapters, and see if you can find any that resemble the case you are investigating. Note the explanations given, and see if they throw any light upon the problem, or suggest lines along which enquiry might be pursued.
Working in this way, you ought to be able to arrive at a tentative diagnosis. If this is confirmed by the findings of the psychics to whom you have sent specimens for psychometry, then you may feel confident you are upon the right track and go forward boldly.
Remember, however, that although the psychics ought to agree as to the main points of their investigation, you cannot expect any complete agreement as to details. They are inspecting a composite photograph of the patient’s entire life, and there is so much to see that no one person is likely to see everything. The things in which they confirm each other may be held to be established, but the things which the one sees and the other does not are not necessarily illusionary.
For further reading on Psychic Self Defence and Dion Fortune
7 Basic Psychic Self Defense and Energy Protection Techniques
Introduction to Psychic Self Defense