Besinnet, Ada M. (d. 1936)
American physical medium who produced psychic lights, direct
voices known for singing and whistling, and materializations.
She was married to William Wallace Roche and lived for
many years in Toledo, Ohio.
After a formal investigation during 1909–10 in 70 test sittings,
James H. Hyslop wrote in Proceedings of the American
Society for Psychical Research (vol. 5, 1911) that the medium
produced phenomena herself, but while in a hysterical state of
secondary personality and without the slightest degree of
moral responsibility in her own person for the fraud. After six
months of study, the British College for Psychic Science in
London reached the opposite conclusion in 1921. According to
J. Hewat McKenzie’s report in Psychic Science (April 1922),
those actions of the medium which Hyslop attributed to hysteria
could be fully accounted for as due to the action of controlling
spirits.
Dr. Hereward Carrington concluded in The Story of Psychic
Science (1930), ‘‘My own sittings with this medium left me entirely
unconvinced of their genuineness.’’ Nevertheless, he admitted
that he observed very curious lights at a séance in 1922.
On request, the lights hovered for a few moments over exposed
photographic plates, and the plates, when developed, showed
unusual markings that he failed to obtain by artificial means.
Besinnet had two principal controls, both Indians ‘‘Pansy,’’
a little girl, and ‘‘Black Cloud.’’ As a rule Besinnet sat in the
dark, unbound; then during the séance, as a feat of her stock
performance, her hands and feet were often tied to her chair
by invisible hands. The sitters usually did not join hands, but
placed them on the table. Her materializations were incomplete.
The faces seen had a corpse-like appearance and often
resembled her own face. It is said that she disappeared several
times from the séance room altogether and was found transported
in a deep coma in another room. In Glimpses of the Next
State (1911), Osborne Moore described several séances with the
medium. He found the phenomena supernormal and entirely
convincing. Besinnet died in 1936.