Automatic Writing

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Automatic writing is the process or production of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. Practitioners say that the writer's hand forms the message, with the person being unaware of what will be written. In some cases, it is done by people in a trance state. In others, the writer is aware (not in a trance) of their surroundings but not of the actions of their writing hand.


George (Georgie) Hyde-Lees, the wife of William Butler Yeats, said that she could write automatically. In 1975, Wendy Hart of Maidenhead said that she wrote automatically about Nicholas Moore, a sea captain who died in 1642. Her husband did research on Moore, and he said that this person had resided at St Columb Major in Cornwall during the Civil War.

For lessons on the topic of Automatic Writing, follow this link.


A 1998 article in Psychological Science described a series of experiments designed to determine whether people who believed in automatic writing could be shown that it might be the ideomotor effect. The paper indicated that "our attempt to introduce doubt about the validity of automatic writing did not succeed." The paper noted that "including information about the controversy surrounding facilitated communication did not affect self-efficacy ratings, nor did it affect the number of responses that were produced. In this sense, illusory facilitation appears to be a very robust phenomenon, not unlike illusory correlation, which is not reversed by warning participants about the phenomenon."[2]

Psychology professor Théodore Flournoy investigated the claim by 19th-century medium Hélène Smith (Catherine Müller) that she did automatic writing to convey messages from Mars in Martian language. Flournoy concluded that her "Martian" language had a strong resemblance to Ms. Smith's native language of French. Flournoy concluded that her automatic writing was "romances of the subliminal imagination, derived largely from forgotten sources (for example, books read as a child)." He invented the term cryptomnesia to describe this phenomenon. [3] Skeptics[who?] consider automatic writing to be "little more than a parlor game, although sometimes useful for self-discovery and for getting started on a writing project." [4]


The Oxford English Dictionary implies that Automatic Writing is that writing done by an automaton in as much as searching for a definition of Automatic Writing references one definition of Automatic as concerned with Spiritualism where Automatic Writing is described as:

Of or pertaining to automatism (sense 4); performed by unconscious, subconscious, or occult action.

  • 1883 W. S. MOSES Spirit-Teachings Introd. 1 Automatic Writing is a well-known method of communication with the invisible world of what we loosely call Spirit.
  • 1884 Proc. Soc. Psychical Research II. 226, I wished to know if I were myself an automatic writer, or so-called writing medium.
  • 1889 BARKWORTH in Proc. Soc. Psychical Research Dec. 85 It is only the execution and not the initiation of the movements which is automatic, the suggestion for them being external to the subject's own personality.
  • 1890 W. JAMES Princ. Psychol. I. viii. 209 Certain trance-subjects who were also automatic writers.
  • 1934 Archit. Rev. LXXV. 215/1 Mr. Cooper's picture, on the other hand, might almost be a piece of automatic writing.

It may be helpful to compare the above with a definition of an amanuensis.


  1. Ivan Rabey's Book of St Columb (1979)
  2. Psychological Science, Vol. 9, NO. 1, January 1998
  3. Randi, James. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1995, page 22).
  4. automatic writing
  5. Carroll, Robert Todd. "Automatic writing". The Skeptic's Dictionary. 2003. ISBN 0-471-27242-6.
  6. Randi, James. "Automatic writing". An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. 1995. ISBN 0-312-15119-5.
  7. Keeghan, D.R.T. Meditation Oneness. ISBN 978-09554590-0-9.
  8. Rosoer, Grace. Beyond the Horizon. 1961. Published for the church's Fellowship for Psychical Study by James Clarke & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-227-67412-X.
  9. Cummins, Geraldine. Swan on a Black Sea. Printed by Redwood Press, Trowbridge & London. ISBN 0-710-01243-8.
  10. Montgomery, Ruth. A Search for the Truth. Published by Random House. ISBN 978-0-449-21085-7.

External links