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Observations placeholder

Fancher, Mollie - For a period of about nine years, day and night, she was subject to trances, spasms and catalepsy



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

What was actually wrong with Mollie?  One would have liked fuller details than we possess, but Judge Dailey has, at least, preserved a statement which was made on July 26,1893, by Mollie's ordinary medical attendant, Dr. S. Fleet Speir, and taken down from his dictation, at the patient's residence, 160 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn.

Dr. Speir informs us that he had been in charge of the case since April 6, 1866, a period of twenty-seven years, and also that Dr. Robert Ormiston had been associated with him in consultation during most of that time. Dr. Ormiston was present when the statement was made and that he formally corroborated it, declaring: "I am familiar with nearly all the facts to which Dr. Speir has referred, and in so far as I recall them they are correctly stated by him."

Regarding the general impression that Miss Fancher was paralysed, Dr. Speir raises some demur as to the correctness of the term. 

“As a matter of fact [he says] she has never been paralysed in the sense in which that word is usually understood. She has lost the use of her limbs and at times has lost the power of sensation. As nearly as I can recollect, for a period of about nine years her lower limbs were in a three twist. The result to the limbs has been that, instead of being the natural hinge joint, the knee approaches the condition of a ball and socket joint; her limbs are drawn up backwards the ankles bent over, and the bottom of the foot upwards-and remaining in that condition. This is so of both feet. The limbs cannot be straightened out; they are contracted underneath.

For a period of about nine years, day and night, she was subject to trances, spasms and catalepsy.

During this time the most constant care and attention were required to prevent personal injury. In these spasmodic conditions she was liable from time to time to be thrown upon the floor, so that barricades were placed around her bed to prevent this happening. Her spasmodic conditions were so violent that she was hurled backwards and forwards with great force and rapidity.

There was a back motion which is hard to explain, by which she seemed to be thrown into the air, rising from her bed. At times her body would become rigid, and upon one occasion one portion of her body was turned to the right, and the other to the left in a distressing manner, and remained so for quite a time, she being in a rigid condition.

The source of the experience

Fancher, Mollie

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items


Activities and commonsteps