The Psychic Dope Peril

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Psychic Dope Peril is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Sunday Express No. 139 on 28 august 1921.

The Psychic Dope Peril

Sunday Express No. 139 (p. 3)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose interest in psychic matters is well known, takes up the cudgels on behalf of spiritualists as a class.

Not only have I a very large confidential correspondence from hundreds of people who are interested in psychic questions, but I am in close touch with several leaders of the movement who have a similar correspondence.

Looking back at this correspondence for some months, I can recall one woman who imagines herself to be the mouthpiece of Lord Kitchener, and writes alarming messages under this delusion.

Beyond this solitary case I cannot find a single example of that degeneration to which the article in last week's "Sunday Express" alludes; but I possess, and can produce, very many letters in which the writers thank God that psychic inquiry has eased their minds and enabled them to take up the duties of life once more after some shock which has unsettled them. In several of these letters the writers claim that the definite knowledge and consolation obtained have saved them from insanity, and in two cases from suicide.


I am prepared to agree that there are people who are mere sensation hunters, who drift from medium to medium with no religious or scientific aim, seeking only for a morbid excitement. I have met with no man of this class, but with several women, who wore all of that neurotic type who exaggerate in all things.

Such people are on the skirts of every movement, and I agree that they should either leave the thing entirely alone, or else come right into it, mastering its philosophy, and realising that it is not a plaything, but the most solemn and wonderful subject to which the mind can be turned.

No doubt the existence of such people may call up a class of psychic adventurers who are as shallow as their clients. The records of fortune-tellers in the police courts show that such charlatans exist, but fortune-telling is looked upon askance by all sober spiritualists, for even when psychic gifts are genuine the power of prophecy is the most uncertain of any I can see no good purpose to be served by such prophecies, for if good comes to us we cannot accelerate it, and if evil then the anticipation is worse than the actual sorrow. I have known lives to be clouded by such injudicious and untrue forecasts.

I have known spiritualists by the tens of thousand, both here and in Australia, and I unhesitatingly say that en masse they are the most sane, healthy, and above all, cheery set of people I have ever met. Lunacy is, as Professor Morselli has observed, very rare among them, and Dr. Forbes Winslow was compelled on reexamination to withdraw his assertion upon this point.


There is always some danger somewhere when new fields of thought are entered, but it would be difficult to name any subject where the advantages so manifestly outweigh the disadvantages, as in this, which transcends in importance an other worldly subjects put together.

The "Sunday Express" very wisely calls upon us to "Get buck to God," and also says, "Believe in something. Scoffing is the attribute of the immature mind."

Exactly. But we have brought forward definite proofs of immortality, and have established religion upon a basis of fact instead of faith, so that the poor groping human soul may have a provable foundation upon which to build.

That is the way back to God — to give people knowledge which they can test and which shows that God is as truly working among us now as He was two thousand years ago. The modern mind demands such proof. We have the proofs, and we endeavour to get them before humanity.