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Observations placeholder

Fancher, Mollie - The multiple personalities - Sunbeam, Idol and Pearl



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

As Mollie's personalities hardly ever emerged except at night, we have, unfortunately, no medical report regarding them, but Mr. Sargent and Miss Crosby are far from being the only witnesses. Such intimate friends as Dailey, the Townsends, Mr. Howard S. Jones and his wife, whose presence at late hours Miss Fancher in no way resented, all give similar descriptions. It is stated that Mollie, like Teresa Higginson, never slept, but Mollie, also like Teresa Higginson, was subject to frequent trances, and she herself was of opinion that the trances served her in place of sleep. What is perhaps most noteworthy in connection with these trances is the passage from what Dailey calls the "rigid trance" through the "relaxed trance " to normal conditions. In these convulsive seizures there must have been much that was painful to look upon.  He writes:

The rigid trance was followed by a relaxed trance, then by violent spasms of the body, and the shaking of the bed and floor; and then came swinging of the arms, the beating of the breast and the top of the head with her fists, and the efforts to restrain her, and finally a reawakening to consciousness.

Again he describes how he himself witnessed the relaxing of her arms from their rigid condition which was "the first evidence of returning consciousness."

Then came violent spasms and twitching of the limbs, then the rapid swaying of her head from side to side set in, followed by moans as of distress, then she violently beat her breast over the region of the heart with one fist and with the other hand attempted to tear her hair and beat her head. These acts were restrained as much as possible, but the violence of the spasms perceptibly shook the floor…….

Again the whole question of Miss Fancher's five personalities seems to me a matter of considerable interest to the hagiographer. The normal Mollie, "Sunbeam," was absolutely sincere in disavowing all knowledge of anything which had been either said or done by "Idol" or "Pearl." It was the mere accident of her helpless condition, entailing more or less continuous observation, which led to the existence of these dissociated personalities being discovered at all. "Pearl" might have eaten, or drunk, or stolen, or lied, without "sunbeam" having the least idea that anything of the sort had happened.

The source of the experience

Fancher, Mollie

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items


Activities and commonsteps