Poltergeist girl


Haunted People - Angelique Cottin, Electric Girl

Angelique Cottin was a Normandy peasant girl of 'small stature' who apparently had a bizarre affect on objects and people (now called psychokinesis. Indeed, the apparently supernatural / psychic phenomena which she 'produced' are very similar to those more normally associated with poltergeists

Angelique became known as 'The Electric Girl', or the 'Poltergeist Girl' and her case, though certainly not unique (see other Poltergeist Girls on this site for similar poltergeist cases), was one of the first of a  'paranormal' type to be scientifically investigated. As such Angelique Cottin is deserving of serious attention not only from parapsychologist and students of psychic research but from sceptics outside the paranormal field as well.

The strange phenomena that haunted the girl began in the town of La Perriere, France, on January 15, 1846, when Angelique was 14. It was eight o'clock in the evening, and Angelique, together with some other girls, was weaving silk gloves on an oak frame, when suddenly the frame began to shake as if it were alive. The girls couldn't keep it still no matter what they tried. They became distressed and called the neighbours, who didn't believe them and told them to carry on with their work. So they returned slowly, one by one, to the weaving frame, which remained still until Angelique came near, then it again began dancing around again. All the girls were afraid, but Angelique also felt a strange attraction towards the frame.

When Angelique's parents found out about the incident they thought she must be possessed. So they took her to the presbytery in order to have her exorcised. But the curate would have none of it, instead he wanted to witness the strange phenomenon for himself, and, after doing so, and convincing himself it was physical, advised her parents to take the girl to a medical doctor.

More Poltergeist Phenomena

Meanwhile, Angelique's bizarre condition worsened. When she attempted to sit in a chair, it was pulled or pushed away; and such was the power of the force that a strong man couldn't hold down the chair. A heavy 60 pound table floated up from the floor when she touched it. If she tried to sleep in a bed, it rocked, and the only place she could rest was on a stone covered with cork. Whenever she went near objects they moved away from her, even without apparent physical contact. The merest touch of her hand, apron or petticoats sent things - even heavy furniture - flying off or bouncing up and down, even if someone was firmly holding them down. People who were near her, even without any contact, would frequently get electric shocks. 

A certain Monsieur Hebert, while sitting on a heavy container, was raised up into the air with it. The blowing of a cold wind - as often experienced in hauntings or poltergeist cases, was also noted in her presence. Angelique was often injured by her own violent involuntary movements, and when the power was active her heartbeat would increase to 120 a minute. She also suffered from convulsions during the activity and she was so frightened by her power that she constantly ran away from the scene. 

The effects of her condition, though lessened when she was on a carpet or waxed cloth, intensified remarkably when she was on the bare earth. Metals, it seems, were not affected at all, indicating that if it was a form of electricity it was an unusual kind. Her 'powers' sometimes stopped completely for two or three days, and then started again without warning.  When she was tired the effects were reduced. 

The Phenomena Tested in Paris 

The doctor to whom Angelique had been referred brought her, along with her father and mother, to Paris. She undertook preliminary tests with Dr. Tanchou, who witnessed, among other things, a cold breeze blowing around her, a dining table moved 'by the mere touch of her dress' and a large, heavy sofa on which he was sitting 'pushed with great force' against a wall as soon as Angelique sat down on it next to him. Dr. Tanchou was sufficiently impressed to call in well known astronomer and physicist, Francois Arago, who was convinced enough by the psychic phenomena he witnessed to set up a formal committee of enquiry. The committee testified that the phenomena were real, and a report was published in the Journal des debats (February 1846). 

Arago noted many things about Angelique's strange power, which he thought was a kind of electro-magnetism. He noted that the left side of the body, specifically around her left hand and pelvis, was where most of the repulsive force was, and that during the activity the left side of her body was warmer than the right. Her body was affected by unpredictable movements, and a shaking, which was transferred to any hand which touched it. The phenomena were not produced continuously, but sporadically during the day, and most intensely in the evening between seven and nine o'clock.

When a piece of paper, a pen, or any other light object was put on a table, and Angelique approached with her left hand, even before she touched anything, the object would fly off the table, as if blown by a gust of wind. The table itself was sent flying the minute her hand touched it, or even when it was touched by a thread which she was holding. If she tried to sit down the seat was thrown a distance from her with such a force that any other person sitting in it was carried off as well. One day, even though the chair was held by two very strong men, it shattered between their hands. On another occasion a chest on which three men were sitting was moved in this way. Arago noted that Angelique could: 'touch no object without breaking it or throwing it upon the ground.' His observations also confirmed what others had noticed earlier, that pieces of furniture only needed to be lightly touched by her clothes to be moved or overturned. 

Part 1 | Part 2

Copyright 2003 / 2005 by Brian Haughton. All Rights Reserved.

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