'Report of the Committee on Mediumistic Phenomena', by William James (1886): With an introduction by.Hist Psychiatry. 2016 Mar; 27(1):85-100.HP
Mediumship was a topic of great interest to some nineteenth-century students of mental phenomena. Together with the phenomena of hypnosis and other manifestations, mediumship was seen by many as a dissociative phenomenon. The purpose of this Classic Text is to present an excerpt of an article about the topic that William James (1842-1910) published in 1886 in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research about American medium Leonora E. Piper (1857-1950). The article, an indication of late nineteenth-century interactions between dissociation studies and psychical research, was the first report of research with Mrs Piper, a widely investigated medium of great importance for the development of mediumship studies. In addition to studying the case as a dissociative experience, James explored the possibility that Piper's mentation contained verifiable information suggestive of 'supernormal' knowledge. Consequently, James provides an example of a topic neglected in historical studies, the ideas of those who combined conventional dissociation studies with psychical research.