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Observations placeholder

Fancher, Mollie - Living without any food - without sustenance enough to feed a baby



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

We know that she was bed-ridden for nearly thirty years. Details are lacking for the period after Judge Dailey's book was published in 1894; and it is not disputed that before this date she had begun to take a little nourishment again and had partly recovered her sight. It is certain, in any case, that for twenty-six years she lived in one room upon the second floor of a house in Brooklyn, that during practically the whole of this period she was attended by two respected medical men (who sometimes brought other doctors to see her) and that they, not only in 1878, after the illness had lasted twelve years, but again in 1893, when she had been a prisoner for twenty-seven years, both affirmed that for at least twelve years together she had lived "without sustenance enough to feed a baby for a week."

If it be objected that her doctors only visited her at intervals, we have to remember that a patient who was not only bed-ridden, but who had one arm in a fixed position above her head, and whose legs "were drawn up backwards, the ankles bent over and the bottom of the foot upwards," so that "her limbs could not be straightened out," could not possibly obtain food without assistance. Moreover, the very first point to which a doctor's attention would inevitably be directed would be the question of natural relief. Did anything pass, or could anything possibly pass without those in attendance being aware of it?

For some years Mollie Fancher’s aunt, Miss Crosby, did everything for her niece, and during a few months she kept a diary from which Judge Dailey quotes, and in this occurs an entry:

"Since the 6th day of August (a period of three months) the natural functions for relief have not been exercised at all."

 If there were any indication that during this early period of her illness Mollie Fancher courted publicity, we might suppose that she had a confederate who had found means of hiding such matters from her aunt and from the doctors. But even apart from the tribute which all who knew her paid to her truthfulness and sincerely religious character, there is not a hint of the likelihood or even the possibility of such confederacy. Moreover, I should find it hard to believe that anyone afflicted, as the reports of her doctors show Miss Fancher to have been, racked and thrown about by nerve storms which gave no warning of their approach, should have been engaged all the time in carrying on an elaborate and apparently motiveless imposture.

At the beginning of the trouble, Dr. Speir as he tells us, perplexed by the nutrition problem, succeeded on one or two occasions in administering an emetic,

"with the result that nothing was thrown from the stomach, showing conclusively that the stomach was empty."

The source of the experience

Fancher, Mollie

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps