Pagenstecher, Gustav (1855-1942)

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Pagenstecher, Gustav (1855-1942)

Nineteenth-century German physician who conducted important experiments in psychometry. He was born in Germany in 1855, and received his medical degree from Leipzig University. Shortly afterward he moved to Mexico where he practiced medicine for some four decades.

One day Pagenstecher treated a patient, Maria Reyes Zierold, for insomnia by using hypnosis. During treatment she claimed to see beyond the closed doors of her room and could describe accurately individuals and events outside the range of normal vision. With Zierold's permission Pagenstecher conducted further experiments to test this paranormal perception. He discovered her normal physical senses were blocked by hypnotic sensation; nevertheless, she reported sensations of vision, smell, taste, hearing, or feelings from objects held by her. These sensations enabled her to report information connected with the history or associations of the objects held by her.

In 1919 Pagenstecher reported on these experiments to a medical society in Mexico City, which appointed a committee to study this psychometric ability. The committee gave Zierold pumice stones to hold while in trance, and she accurately reported information concerning the stones, their origin, and other details. The committee reported favorably on Pagenstecher's view that the phenomena appeared genuinely paranormal.

The next year Pagenstecher reported the facts to the American Society for Psychical Research via an article in the Society's Journal. In 1921 Walter Franklin Prince visited Mexico to observe Pagenstecher's experiments and to conduct his own. Prince also endorsed the phenomena in his reports to the society. Pagenstecher died December 26, 1942, in Mexico City.


Pagenstecher, Gustav. Die Geheimnisse der Psychometrie oder Hellsehen in die Vergangenheit (Secrets of Psychometry or Clairvoyance into the Past). N.p., 1928.

. "A Notable Psychometrist." Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 14 (1920).

. "Past Events Seership." ASPR Proceedings 16 (January 1922).

Prince, Walter Franklin. "Psychometrical Experiments with Señora Maria Reyes de Z." ASPR Journal 16 (January 1922).

. "Psychometrical Experiments with Señora Maria Reyes de Z." ASPR Proceedings 15 (1921).