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Observations placeholder

Fancher, Mollie - Blindsight and prophecy



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

In Dr. Speir's statement of 1893, we [now] quote the observations made by him concerning Mollie's very abnormal faculty of sight. He says:

With reference to the condition of Miss Fancher’s eyes. When I first attended her it seemed to me that her eyes were in such a state that she could not see by the use of them. On that date her eyes were glaring open, and did not close day or night, and there were no tears or secretion in them.

I made the usual test for anaesthesia, even going to the extent of touching the ball of the eye with my finger, without provoking any reaction. During the first part of her troubles, the pupils were considerably dilated and the impression of light effected no change. The pupils are still considerably dilated, though not so much as formerly and still do not change at the approach of light.

We have caused a careful and critical examination to be made by a competent expert-an oculist-in whose skill we have great confidence, and agree with him that she cannot see by the use of her eyes-at least as a person ordinarily can see.

She has the power of seeing with a great deal of distinctness, but how she does it I am unable to state. The condition has remained substantially unchanged since I first began to attend her. This feature of Miss Fancher’s power of sight has attracted a great deal of comment. At one time she did all her work, crocheting, etc., at the back of her head. When she selected worsted or colour she put it behind her head to see it. For nine years her right arm was behind her head, where she did her work by bringing the left hand up to the right hand, which was at the back of her head.

I recall one instance, when, Dr. Ormiston and myself being present, Miss Crosby received a letter from the postman. I took the letter in my hand; it was sealed, and Miss Fancher, at the time being unable to speak, took a slate and pencil and wrote out the contents of the letter, which, on being opened and read, was found to correspond exactly with what she had written. During that time she maintained conversation with her physicians and friends by the use of the slate, she being unable to speak.

On another occasion she gave me warning that I was likely to be robbed, and told me to be on my guard. The sequel was that, immediately after, I was robbed of a valuable case of instruments. On another occasion I had invited a number of doctors to call at Miss Fancher's house, and we were waiting for one to arrive, when she said: "He is coming I see him coming now” and told where he was, which was correct.

…… One remarkable feature during all these years she has been confined to her bed is that she has never been afflicted with bedsores, although her right hip, from constant pressure, is flattened, and the flesh is gone so that the bone is merely covered by the integument. She has always explained, when asked how she saw without the use of her eyes, that she saw out of the top of her head.

Miss Fancher experiences quite remarkable conditions from the action of her heart. At times the chest over the heart seems considerably enlarged; it presents something of the appearance of oedema, but responds to pressure in a different manner. It seems more elastic, and every day she coughs up about half an ounce of blood, which comes from the mucous membrane of the throat and bronchial tubes.

These are the principal data attested by Miss Fancher’s ordinary medical attendant, Dr. Speir, and confirmed by his colleague, Dr. Ormiston.

The source of the experience

Fancher, Mollie

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps