The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Spirit Ectoplasm Photos Sir Conan Doyle Talks About

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spirit Ectoplasm Photos Sir Conan Doyle Talks About is an article written by Marguerite Mooers Marshall, published in The Evening World (New York) on 22 april 1922.

The article reports the fake photos produced by Mme. Diss Debar and shows several photos of ectoplasm published in the Dr. W. J. Crawford's book The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle (E. P. Dutton & Co., 1921) and described how these apparitions appear.

The Evening World (22 april 1922, p. 32)

Twenty Years Ago, Mme. Diss Debar Used Spirit Photographs Like One Below to Take Thousands From Old and Credulous Rich Men

This photo of Sir Conan Doyle with a spirit head beside him is made by double exposures. Years ago they were used to successfully fool the public. Mme. Diss Debar a medium of Brooklyn took several hundred thousand dollars, from aged Luther Marsh, by producing photographs of the old man, surrounded by dead members of his family. Marsh thought he took every scientific precaution to prevent fraud. The spiritualistic madame, however, was later convicted and sent to the penitentiary for a number of years.

Ectoplasm Which Exudes From Bodies of Mediums in Spirit Trances

You know that ectoplasm stuff, about which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been telling us in his talks on spiritualism? He said, you remember, that it is a thick, sticky, whitish substance exuding from the medium in trance, and strong enough to lift tables, perform spirit rappings and other weird stunts.

Here is a page of flashlight pictures of ectoplasm in action, taken from a remarkable new book, "The Psychic Structures at the Goligher Circle," by the late Dr. W. J. Crawford, a trained psychic investigator and writer of Belfast. The book is published by E. P. Dutton & Co., through whose courtesy the pictures are reproduced.

The ectoplasm, or "plasma," as Dr. Crawford usually calls it, came from Miss Kathleen Goligher, Dr. Crawford's medium, in seance. In the pictures, you see it exuding from the legs and body of the medium and lifting a table by a cantilever of the substance, fixed at one end to the medium's body and with the free, or working, end gripping the under-surface of the table.

Dr. Crawford explains: "The plasma is part of the medium's body exteriorized in space. The muscles of the medium's feet and ankles are, during the occurrence of phenomena, in a state of much stress. There is no bodily movement of the foot, but there is a whirlpool or internal muscular movement. The evolution of the plasma must be accompanied by much friction between stocking and leather of shoe or boot. At nearly all seances the noise accompanying the birth pangs of the plasma is distinctly audible. With thin silk stockings the friction of plasma on the threads as it disengages itself is unmistakable.

"There is strong evidence of decrease in volume of the fleshy parts of the medium's body, especially from the waist downward, while the plasma is extruded. Once extruded, the operators can mould it into the various shapes and forms required to produce the phenomen-phenomena."

Dr. Crawford worked for a year before he succeeded in taking these pictures. The chief difficulty was in preventing injury to the medium through shock.