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Observations placeholder

Fancher, Mollie - The multiple personalities



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

The period of nine years, which remained to the end a perfect blank in her memory, began on Sunday, June 3, 1866. Her medical attendant, Dr. Speir was visiting her that morning and by way of excuse for a rather hurried departure he remarked that his wife was giving him "chicken-pot-pie" for dinner which would be no good if it was allowed to get cold.  When, nine years later, after endless trances and more convulsive seizures, the rigidity of the right arm suddenly relaxed, it was in some sense a new Mollie who awoke to consciousness.

On the appearance of Dr. Speir though he had never ceased to visit her in the interval, Mollie asked him, "well, Doctor, were you in time for your "chicken-pot-pie?" To her aunt she said: "why, Aunt Susie, what has become of your red cheeks? You look so old and changed." Her brother, who was a lad of thirteen at the time "the great trance" came on, was immediately repelled by her as being too familiar for a stranger. She remembered him a boy; he was now a man wearing a moustache.

She had kept a diary and written thousands of letters with her left hand during the interval, but she did not recognize the handwriting, and had some difficulty in recovering the use of pen or pencil.

One of her most intimate friends during this later stage of her suffering life, was a Mr. George Sargent, a manufacturer of invalid furniture, with whom she entered into a sort of business partnership.

He used to visit her quite late and relieve her aunt in sitting up with her. In this way he became acquainted with Mollie's different personalities, and, to distinguish them, christened them by such rather absurd names as "Idol," "Rosebud," "Pearl" etc. He has left an account of his personal experiences, dated July 5, 1893, which Judge Dailey has printed and from which I venture to quote. Mr. Sargent tells us, for example:

My first acquaintance with "ldol " began April 8, 1886. Three days previous to that date, Miss Fancher had accidentally fallen from the bed, striking her head on the floor, which added injury to injury, causing unusual suffering.

On the evening mentioned her aunt Susie (Miss Crosby) and I were sitting by her bedside, when Miss Fancher went into a trance.

While in this condition her aunt left the room. When she came out of the trance I was alone with her, and was startled to see her eyes wide open, since I had never before seen her except with closed eyes. She looked strangely at me and asked "Who are you? as though it was an impertinence for a stranger to be sitting by her bedside, and at the same time asked, "Where is----------?" naming a person wholly unfamiliar to me, and then asked about a matter of which l was entirely ignorant.

... I was nonplussed, and each moment added to my confusion. ... I was trying to explain my identity when her aunt returned. She was almost as surprised as I, and she said it was three or four years since "that Mollie " had made an appearance.

Mr. Sargent was then formally introduced, "as a friend of the other Mollie,"

 whereupon  she made all sorts of inquiries concerning the other Mollie, wanted to know if I would think as much of this Mollie as I did of the other Mollie.

She said nobody cared anything for her. They put off her questions and tried to get rid of her: . . . After a stay of about three quarters of an hour, she said: "l am very tired," and with the saddest, sweetest expression on her face, and with pleading arms outstretched towards her aunt Susie, she said, with a voice of such pathos that I shall never forget it, "Hold me close, kiss my eyes down," and in the twinkling of an eye her features became rigid as sculptured marble.

After a lapse of some ten or fifteen minutes she returned to consciousness, and the original Mollie again appeared on the scene and seemed wholly ignorant of what had happened.

From that date, for perhaps a year, the second Mollie came at frequent, though irregular, intervals, and the length of her visits increased.

She seemed to have no note of time; there were no yesterday or tomorrow in her calendar. When she came, it was always through a trance condition, and usually accompanied by severe spasms, and her exit was in a similar manner. If she had been talking at the time of her departure on any subject, on her return, whether it happened to be an hour, a day or a week, she would take up the thread of conversation where she dropped it, if the same people were present.

The curious thing was that these personalities, learning in the course of conversation of each other's existence, were apt to be very inquisitive about the character and doings of her whom they were each disposed to regard as a sort of rival. Mr. Sargent came in time to know them all and found them easy to distinguish.

"Pearl " seemed to reproduce the characteristics of Miss Fancher at the age of sixteen, just before her terrible accidents, and her memory covered all that she had experienced up to about 1865.

Her expression and accent were those of a very properly brought up young lady of that period. "Her visits," we are told, "were very brief, sometimes five, at others ten or fifteen minutes, and sometimes only a minute. Then she makes her presence known by the pressure of her fingers and holds no conversation at all." There was nothing evil about any of these personalities, but they were inclined to be jealous of "Sunbeam," the name given to the normal Miss Fancher whom her friends knew in the daytime.

I soon found [writes Mr. Sargent] that when we told "ldol" of the numerous friends of "Sunbeam," of her beautiful work which we showed her, she seemed to become exceedingly jealous, and was sad that she had no friends, and that she could not do the work that the other Mollie, "sunbeam," could do. She would get hold of Sunbeam's work, and hide it away about the bed, or in other places within her reach, and to prevent this, "Sunbeam" secretes it, or asks others to put the work away. "ldol " sometimes unravels her crochet work.

Undoubtedly the most attractive of all the personalities is that which Mr. Sargent christened "Rosebud." He gives the following account of his first introduction to Mollie Fancher in that character.

One year after "ldol " came I first saw "Rosebud." It was the sweetest little child's face, the voice and accent that of a little child. She was apparently frightened, and was asking for her mother. I inquired "Who is this?" Without answering she asked me who I was. I asked her whom she knew, she said she knew Spencer, who, I have since learned, was a friend and a little boy acquaintance of Miss Fancher’s childhood. Miss Crosby told me that "Rosebud" came first eight years before, but only at intervals. I began to strike up an acquaintance with her. She asked me if l loved her? I asked how old she was, and she said "six years old."  I asked her if she went to school, and she said "Yes, sir." She told me the names of her playmates. ... She is a great mimic and can imitate animals and fowls very nicely. I asked her to sing for me and she sang "l want to be an angel" and other children's songs.

The source of the experience

Fancher, Mollie

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps