Massage, hypnotism and murder

St. Petersburg, Saturday – the Criminal Court of Appeal has just been called upon to deal with a sensational case of hypnotic influence.

A young lady named Roumyantseff, the only child of a wealthy resident of Varzin, had become infatuated with a hairdresser named Krisanfoff. The latter was giving her a course of massage treatment, and together they schemed to kill the girl’s father, in order to obtain possession of his money.

It was shown beyond doubt that the female prisoner deliberately and systematically administered a slow poison to her father, and that neither during the commission of the crime nor subsequently was she afflicted by remorse.

So inexplicable was the girl’s callousness that experts were called by the court to report. When questioned as to the character of the massage treatment she underwent, Roumyantseff replied that the hairdresser used a sort of ointment which made her lose all control of herself. He stared straight at her, and the effect of his treatment was to produce sensations of indescribable terror. When she was in this condition he suggested that she should murder her father.

The experts gave their opinion that the accused was most susceptible to hypnotic influence, and said that this explanation of the crime was thoroughly consistent with scientific evidence, the more so as even healthy persons undergoing massage treatment were liable to such influence. The prisoner, they added, was nervous and hysterical owing to worry about the drunken habits of her parents.

In consequence of this testimony the Court reduced the woman’s sentence to five years’ penal servitude only.

The Illustrated Police News, December 28, 1895.

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