Marley's Reviews > Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters

Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters by H. Addington Bruce
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May 24, 2012

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Read on May 28, 2012

Don't know where I got this book, but it's the original 1908 edition. that's been sitting around for years. The author, Henry Addington Bruce, was a journalist and early populizer of psychology--and in the case of this book, a ghost skeptic.

The book consists of true ghost stories mainly from the 17-19th centuries followed by Bruce's
analysis of them; that is, what was really going and ends with two chapters on ghost hunters Dr. Dee and late 19th-early 20th century scientific and academic researchers into psychic phenomena. Bruce debunks several well-known hauntings such as "the devils of Loudon" and the visitations to Samuel Wesley (father of John and Charles) and others as being caused by ill-behaved children and teenagers in the family (girls seem prone to those things), mental illness (what today would be called multiple personality disorder or something along those lines), the subliminal self/second personality, and telepathy, the ladder which he promotes and I think pushes a bit too hard. Without knowing more details in cases such as Frederica Haugge (The Seeress of Prevorst) and Lurancy Vennum too much was going on to dismiss them into those categories. BTW, I am sure the Lurancy Vennum case was dramatized in the old TV series One Step Beyond. I can't remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember old TV shows. One case I found really interesting, which was no doubt fraudulent was that is the Cock Lane Ghost ,which drew the skeptical attention of the Duke of York, Hogarth, David Garrick, and even Oliver Goldsmith who wrote a pamphlet about it. Finally, Bruce brings up how the study of psychic phenomena has furthered the study of psychology, religion, and medicine. It's a fun read with a popular, but serious intent.

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