1871: A Sound Like the Humming of Bees


In order to prove that almost any kind of dream can, with tolerable certainty, be excited by special classes of stimulants, M. Maury caused a series of experiments to be performed on himself when asleep, which afforded very satisfactory results.

First experiment : He caused him-self to be tickled with a feather, on the lips and inside of the nostrils. He dreamed that he was subjected to a horrible punishment. A mask of pitch was applied to his face, and then torn roughly off, taking with it the skin of his lips, nose, and face.

Second experiment : A pair of tweezers was held at a little distance from his ear, and struck with a pair of scissors. He dreamed that he heard the ringing of bells. This was soon converted into the tocsin, and this suggested the days of June, 1848.

Third experiment : A bottle of eau de Cologne was held to his nose. He dreamed that he was in a perfumer’s shop. This excited visions of the East; and he dreamed that he was in Cairo, in the shop of Jean Marie Farina. Many surprising adventures occurred to him there, the details of which were forgotten.

Fourth experiment : A burning lucifer match was held close to his nostrils. He dreamed that He was at sea (the wind was blowing in through the windows), and that the magazine of the vessel blew up.

Fifth experiment : He was slightly pinched on the nape of the neck. He dreamed that a blister was applied. And this recalled the recollection of a physician who had treated him in his infancy.

Sixth experiment : A piece of red-hot iron was held close enough to him to communicate a slight sensation of heat. He dreamed that robbers had got into the house, and were forcing the inmates, by putting their feet to the fire, to reveal where their money was. The idea of the robber suggested that of Madame D’Abrantes, who, he supposed, bad taken him for her secretary, and in whose memoirs he had read some account of bandits.

Seventh experiment : The word parafagaramus was pronounced in his ear. He understood nothing, and awoke with the recollection of a very vague dream. The word maman was next used many times. He dreamed of different subjects, but heard a sound like the humming of bees. Several days after, the experiment was repeated with the words Azor, Castor, Léonore. On awaking, he recollected that he had heard the last two words, and had attributed them to one of the persons ‘ who had conversed with him in his dream.

Eighth experiment: A drop of water was allowed to fall on his forehead. He dreamed that he was in Italy, that he was very warm, and that he was drinking the wine of Orvieto.

Ninth experiment : A light, surrounded by a piece of red paper, was repeatedly placed before his eyes. He dreamed of a tempest and lightning, which suggested the remembrance of a storm he had encountered in the English Channel in going from Merlaix to Havre.

—from an article signed “An Old Physician”: “Dreams and their Causes,”  Good Health: A Popular Journal, Vol. 2 (1871)

Image: Straits of Dover by JMW Turner engraved by William Miller (c1827) (source)

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