Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Arthur Conan Doyle’s witch Helen Penclosa: Part IV

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Parasite has inspired a series of articles. Part III described Helen Penclosa and her activities in detail. So what more is there to say about this sinister little story? There are still a few features to be highlighted, points to be made and warnings to be repeated.

Going into reverse
One feature in this and other examples of people ignoring red flags and getting carried away by exciting visions of the future is that not only do many of them not get what they want, but it all goes horribly wrong, into reverse even, and they find themselves in a much worse situation. Their ambition, scientific curiosity, gullibility, greed, arrogance, over-estimation of their powers, strength and resistance … whatever the cause of their involvement with negative metaphysical forces, they are lead to disaster.

Austin Gilroy gets the exact opposite of what he hoped for. He foresees a glorious future for himself; he thinks that his forthcoming paper on hypnotism might even get him made a Fellow of the Royal Society.  This will make Agatha accept that the game is worth the candle!  Unfortunately, it all backfires.

Instead of achieving further academic success, he loses his professorship. Instead of feeling respect and admiration for him, Agatha feels concern because he looks so worried, worn and ill.

Life becomes a living hell
It is bad enough for Gilroy when he experiences the double consciousness, knowing full well that he is being controlled and made to speak and act against his interests but unable to do anything about it or to resist the compulsion to visit Helen Pensclosa when she summons him remotely; it is even worse when he is completely possessed by her and has no memory of what he has said and done while under her influence.

Knowing that he is being forced to ruin his professional career without even remembering the preposterous things he has said in his lectures is a torment to him.

It is in his favour that he accepts responsibility for all the outrageous things he has said and done while under her control, even though he can remember nothing. He believes people when they tell him what happened, and he doesn’t ignore or dismiss the circumstantial evidence.

Gilroy feels trapped in hell with no way out. If it not been for Agatha, he would have taken an overdose of a lethal drug. He even considers murdering Helen Penclosa.

Seeking help and advice
Feeling alone and trapped in a nightmare. Gilroy goes down and down. He realises that no one can help him; they just would not understand.

“I am weighed down and tortured by a power of which science knows nothing. No magistrate would listen to me. No paper would discuss my case. No doctor would believe my symptoms. My own most intimate friends would only look upon it as a sign of brain derangement.”

He is quite right. Most people would not understand, as they have no experience of metaphysical phenomena. Those with similar experiences might understand, but they might well be in a bad state too and just as much in need of help.

He does raise the subject with his friend and colleague Professor Wilson, who is immune to psychic influences and who has no interest in the human aspect:

"This is of great interest," said he. "What are your grounds for saying that it is a dangerous one? Please give your facts in chronological order, with approximate dates and names of reliable witnesses with their permanent addresses."

"First of all," I asked, "would you tell me whether you have collected any cases where the mesmerist has gained a command over the subject and has used it for evil purposes?"

"Dozens!" he cried exultantly. "Crime by suggestion——"

"I don't mean suggestion. I mean where a sudden impulse comes from a person at a distance—an uncontrollable impulse."

"Obsession!" he shrieked, in an ecstasy of delight. "It is the rarest condition. We have eight cases, five well attested. You don't mean to say——" His exultation made him hardly articulate.

Poor Austin Gilroy! There is no help coming from this quarter. He realises that Wilson has lost sight of human beings: everything is a case and a phenomenon. Gilroy would rather die than speak to him again on the matter.

Gilroy in desperation consults another colleague. He had planned to tell this man the whole story, but realises that this is impossible. They just discuss his physical health. Gilroy is dismissed with platitudes about open-air exercise and the avoidance of nervous excitement, and a useless prescription.

This lack of positive, constructive and productive advice and help is only to be expected, considering that Gilroy’s colleague did not know the cause of the problems. But how could Gilroy say that he was in the power of a sadistic, evil woman with psychic powers who was playing cat and mouse games with him?

Perhaps it is best to think of plausible explanations for strange, atypical, behaviour – worry and overwork for example, or being extra sensitive to some people’s energy fields. Tell the truth, but not the whole truth.

All of Gilroy’s avenues are now closed – another familiar feature.

What a pity that he was born much too soon to find help and moral support online!

Heeding the warnings
If this story doesn’t make its readers reject and avoid anyone who wants to hypnotise them, I don’t know what will.

Austin Gilroy could have escaped much suffering if he had not been so eager to let himself be hypnotised.

What he saw of the effect on Agatha impressed him immensely rather than horrifying him; what Helen Penclosa told him about her powers should have warned him off, but it made him determined to investigate further. His values went into reverse, and black seemed like white.

It is important to learn to recognise energy vampires, unconscious witches and other undesirables and act on warning signals. Be aware of the hooks they might use to draw you in. Do not consent to do anything that these people want you to do.

Paralysing your better nature and bringing out your worst side, as Helen Penclosa did with Austin Gilroy, is one of their attributes.  If you feel that your life is being sabotaged, if you start to speak and behave out of character and against your best interests, look around for the cause.

A friend and fellow victim, another handsome young man, warns Gilroy about Miss Penclosa, but is ignored – until it is too late  and Gilroy realises what a blind fool he has been. This other man is a phlegmatic Saxon, which might explain why Miss Penclosa didn’t get very far with him.

It is sensible to learn from other people’s experiences and take note of the common features and elements in stories about people who get involved - in whatever capacity - with unpleasant and malevolent people who use unseen influences to manipulate others.

The requirements feature
Austin Gilroy makes a very good point when he says that he has both the psychic temperament that enables him to experience metaphysical phenomena and the complementary rational, scientific mind that helps him to understand, analyse and classify them.

Perhaps these attributes are connected to the functions of the left brain and the right brain

It is easy to find people who have just one – or neither – of these attributes, but people who have both are relatively rare.

Gilroy’s friend Professor Wilson for example has only the scientific mind; many mediumistic women are vague and woolly and cannot think logically, deal well with facts and figures or express themselves clearly.

Some people whose psychic temperament gets them into trouble may be able to use their rational minds, critical thinking and a scientific approach to escape and prevent further occurrences.

Breaking the spell
People such as Gilroy can usually deal with unseen influences coming from unconscious people. Realising what is going on is often enough to break the spell and effect some improvement.

What the story does not tell us is how to deal effectively with someone like Helen Penclosa, who is conscious of what she is doing. Nothing that Austin Gilroy does to escape her influence works, and it is not for want of trying. His will-power is not strong enough to resist hers, and his determination to fight is easily overcome.

Gilroy does get a few lucky breaks, which he calls providential. He has a few respites when Miss Penclosa becomes ill and exhausted so loses her control over him. He feels as if a black nightmare has lifted off him. He is – temporarily – set free. Of course he becomes enslaved again, then she faints from weakness and once again he comes to his senses.

After attempting to get help from two of his colleagues, Gilroy realises that he is on his own:

There is no human help for me; I must fight this out single-handed. Two courses lie before me. I might become this woman's lover. Or I must endure such persecutions as she can inflict upon me. Even if none come, I shall live in a hell of apprehension. But she may torture me, she may drive me mad, she may kill me: I will never, never, never give in. What can she inflict which would be worse than the loss of Agatha, and the knowledge that I am a perjured liar, and have forfeited the name of gentleman?

We will never know what would have happened if Helen Penclosa had not over-reached herself while trying to control Gilroy.  It is unlikely that he would have been able to resist her. He would surely have given in to her demands. He might well have destroyed Agatha too.

Gilroy is saved when Helen Penclosa dies. Agatha’s saviour is, fittingly, the vicar who keeps her talking when she should have been meeting Gilroy. She thought that he would never go! It is lucky for everyone that he stayed as long as he did: he may have made Agatha late, but he kept her away from Gilroy and his bottle of acid until just after Miss Penclosa’s influence had died with her.

So they are both unharmed and safe forever.

These really are lucky breaks. Perhaps because Gilroy did his best, the universe did the rest.

There is one, final, article to come.