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Parapsychology – Mediumship

4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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In this lecture, we think about the role that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played in the investigation of mediumship, focusing in particular on: (i) the successive deaths of Arthur’s wife, son, brother, two brothers in law and two nephews, which evoked a state of depression, from which he found solace in spiritualism; (ii) the origin of Arthur’s interest in mediumship from an 1881 lecture on spiritualism; (iii) Arthur’s The History of Spiritualism, which praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materialisations produced by Eusapia Palladino and Mina Margery Crandon; (iv) the banning of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the Soviet Union, due to supposed occultism; (v) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini’s common interest in communicating with the spirit world; (vi) the latter part of Doyle and Houdini’s friendship, wherein Doyle campaigned for the authenticity of mediumship, while Houdini campaigned for the opposite.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores mediumship. In the first lecture, we think about how to define a medium and the act of mediumship. In the second lecture, we think about the history of mediumship and its origins in Ancient Greece. In the third lecture, we think about some theories behind how mediumship can occur, with a focus on the paranormal. Next, we think about the role of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the research and popularity around mediumship. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about taking a sceptical perspective towards research into mediumship.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Parapsychology – Mediumship - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Parapsychology – Mediumship – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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