Eusapia Palladino (alternate spelling: Paladino; 21 January 1854 – 16 May 1918) was an Italian Spiritualist physical medium. In Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Russia, Palladino seemed to display extraordinary powers in the dark: levitating and elongating herself, "apporting" flowers, materializing the dead, producing spirit hands and faces in wet clay, levitating tables, playing musical instruments under the table without contact, communicating with the dead through her spirit guide John King, and other related phenomena, but after investigation all these things were discovered to be the result of trickery. It was expensive to watch one of her performances.
Some Europeans regarded Palladino as a genuine Spiritualist medium, and as late as 1926, eight years after her death, Arthur Conan Doyle in his History of Spiritualism praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materializations that she had produced. However, Palladino had been caught cheating in every country she had been investigated in, and after many investigations the scientific community concluded that she was a clever conjuror. Her Warsaw séances at the turn of 1893–94 inspired several colorful scenes in the historical novel Pharaoh, which Bolesław Prus began writing in 1894.
Early life 
Palladino was born into a peasant family in Minervino Murge, Bari Province, Italy. She received little, if any, formal education. Orphaned as a child, she was taken in as a nursemaid by a family in Naples. In her early life, she was married to a traveling conjuror.
In 1892, 17 séances held in Milan with Eusapia Palladino gave evidence of paranormal events. In his book, After Death — What? Researches in Hypnotic and Spiritualistic Phenomena (1909; Aquarian Press edition, 1988),  turn-of-the-century scientist Cesare Lombroso recounts the experiments that led him from a strictly materialist worldview to a belief in spirits and life after death. The most extraordinary was a phenomenon that Lombroso titles "The Levitation of the Medium to the Top of the Table." The levitations of Palladino were found by other investigators to be the result of fraud, and the scientific community have dismissed Lombroso's claims regarding her levitation of a table, as Lombroso was known to be having a sexual relationship with Palladino.
Palladino visited Warsaw, Poland, on two occasions. Her first and longer visit was when she came at the importunities of the psychologist, Dr. Julian Ochorowicz, who hosted her from November 1893 to January 1894.
Regarding the phenomena demonstrated at Palladino's séances, Ochorowicz concluded against the spirit hypothesis and for a hypothesis that the phenomena were caused by a "fluidic action" and were performed at the expense of the medium's own powers and those of the other participants in the séances.
Ochorowicz introduced Palladino to the journalist and novelist Bolesław Prus, who attended a number of her séances, wrote about them in the press, and incorporated several Spiritualist-inspired scenes into his historical novel Pharaoh.
On January 1, 1894, Palladino called on Prus at his apartment. As described by Ochorowicz,
"In the evening she visited Prus, whom she always adored. Though their conversation was original, because the one did not know Polish and the other Italian, when il Prusso entered she went mad with joy and they somehow managed to communicate with one another. So she saw it as her obligation to pay him a New Year's visit."
Palladino subsequently visited Warsaw in the second half of May 1898, on her way from St. Petersburg to Vienna and Munich. At that time, Prus attended at least two of the three séances that she conducted (the two séances were held in the apartment of Ludwik Krzywicki).
In July 1895, Palladino was invited to England to Frederic William Henry Myers' house in Cambridge for a series of investigations into her mediumship. According to reports by the investigators Myers and Oliver Lodge, all the phenomena observed in the Cambridge sittings were the result of trickery. Her fraud was so clever, according to Myers, that it "must have needed long practice to bring it to its present level of skill."
When she was brought in 1895 to London for investigation by the SPR (Society for Psychical Research), the results proved disastrous for her mediumship. During the London experiments Palladino was caught cheating in order to free herself from the physical controls of the experiments. Palladino was found liberating her hands by placing the hand of the controller on her left on top of the hand of the controller on her right. Instead of maintaining any contact with her, the observers on either side were found to be holding each other's hands and this made it possible for her to perform tricks. Richard Hodgson had observed Palladino free a hand to move objects and use her feet to kick pieces of furniture in the room. Because of the discovery of fraud, the British SPR investigators such as Henry Sidgwick and Frank Podmore considered Palladino's mediumship to be permanently discredited and because of her fraud she was banned from any further experiments with the SPR in Britain.
According to the psychical researcher Harry Price, who studied Palladino's mediumship, "Her tricks were usually childish: long hairs attached to small objects in order to produce 'telekinetic movements'; the gradual substitution of one hand for two when being controlled by sitters; the production of 'phenomena' with a foot which had been surreptitiously removed from its shoe and so on."
In 1898 the French astronomers Camille Flammarion and Eugene Antoniadi investigated the mediumship of Palladino at the house of Flammarion and came to the conclusion that her performance was "fraud from beginning to end". Palladino tried constantly to free her hands from control and was caught lowering a letter-scale by means of a hair.
Other members of the Curies' circle of scientist friends—including William Crookes; future Nobel laureate Jean Perrin and his wife Henriette; Louis Georges Gouy; and Paul Langevin—were also exploring spiritualism, as was Pierre Curie's brother Jacques, a fervent believer.
The Curies regarded mediumistic séances as "scientific experiments" and took detailed notes. According to historian Anna Hurwic, they thought it possible to discover in spiritualism the source of an unknown energy that would reveal the secret of radioactivity.
On July 24, 1905, Pierre Curie reported to his friend Gouy: "We have had a series of séances with Eusapia Palladino at the [Society for Psychical Research]."
It was very interesting, and really the phenomena that we saw appeared inexplicable as trickery—tables raised from all four legs, movement of objects from a distance, hands that pinch or caress you, luminous apparitions. All in a [setting] prepared by us with a small number of spectators all known to us and without a possible accomplice. The only trick possible is that which could result from an extraordinary facility of the medium as a magician. But how do you explain the phenomena when one is holding her hands and feet and when the light is sufficient so that one can see everything that happens?
Pierre was eager to enlist Gouy. Palladino, he informed him, would return in November, and "I hope that we will be able to convince you of the reality of the phenomena or at least some of them." Pierre was planning to undertake experiments "in a methodical fashion." Marie Curie also attended Palladino's séances, but does not seem to have been as intrigued by them as Pierre.
On April 14, 1906, just five days before his accidental death, Pierre Curie wrote Gouy about his last séance with Palladino: "There is here, in my opinion, a whole domain of entirely new facts and physical states in space of which we have no conception."
Charles Richet claimed to have observed the materialization of a hand in a séance of Palladino's. However, it was revealed that he had had a sexual relationship with Palladino and that he had been duped by trickery of medium Eva Carrière; thus his reports on Palladino's mediumship were dismissed by the scientific community as unreliable.
In a series of séances, physicist Jacques-Arsène d'Arsonval caught Palladino cheating many times. Professors Gustave Le Bon and Albert Dastre of Paris University examined Palladino in 1906 and concluded that she was a cheat. They installed a secret lamp behind Palladino and, at a séance, saw her release and use her foot. In 1907 Palladino was found using a strand of her hair to move an object toward herself and it was noted by investigators that the objects were not outside of her easy reach.
In 1908, the Society for Psychical Research appointed a committee of three to examine Eusapia Palladino in Naples. The committee comprised Mr. Hereward Carrington, investigator for the American Society for Psychical Research and an amateur conjurer; Mr. W. W. Baggally, also an investigator and amateur conjurer of much experience; and the Hon. Everard Fielding, who had had an extensive training as investigator and "a fairly complete education at the hands of fraudulent mediums." They were convinced that Palladino possessed unusual powers. Note: In August 1906 Everard Fielding and his brother Basil were boating. The boat capsized and Basil drowned. It was at this period Everard became noted in the affairs of The Society for Psychical Research.
Regarding the first report by Carrington and Fielding, the American scientist and philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce wrote:
|“||Eusapia Palladino has been proved to be a very clever prestigiateuse and cheat, and was visited by a Mr. Carrington... In point of fact he has often caught the Palladino creature in acts of fraud. Some of her performances, however, he cannot explain; and thereupon he urges the theory that these are supernatural, or, as he prefers it "supernormal." Well, I know how it is that when a man has been long intensely excercised and over fatigued by an enigma, his common-sense will sometimes desert him; but it seems to me that the Palladino has simply been too clever for him... I think it more plausible that there are tricks that can deceive Mr. Carrington.||”|
In 1910 psychic investigator Everard Fielding returned to Naples, without Hereward Carrington and W.W. Baggaly. Instead, he was accompanied by his friend, William S. Marriott,   a conjuror of some distinction who had exposed psychic fraud in Pearson's Magazine. His plan was to repeat the famous earlier 1908 Naple sittings with Palladino.  Other members of the Society for Psychical Research had called attention to the failings of Fielding's 1908 notes. Unlike the 1908 sittings which had baffled the investigators, this time Fielding and Marriott detected her cheating, just as she had done in the US. Her deceptions were obvious. Marriott stated,"When one knows how a feat can be accomplished and what to look for, only the most skillful performer can maintain the illusion in the face of such informed scrutiny." Fielding saw the second visit as totally worthless. In a new report Fielding also wrote that he believed some of the phenomena observed by the sitters were caused by hallucinations.
Carrington, who became Palladino's manager, believed that Palladino posessed some supernatural ability and only a certain number of her classical and customary tricks were detected, which every investigator of this medium's phenomena had known to exist and had warned other investigators against for the past 20 years. Palladino also made another convert. Howard Thurston (1869–1936), a magician, declared:
I witnessed in person the table levitations of Madame Eusapia Palladino ... and am thoroughly convinced that the phenomena I saw were not due to fraud and were not performed by the aid of her feet, knees or hands.
However, Howard Thurston was already a convinced spiritualist and had studied at the Dwight L. Moody Bible Institute, intending to become a Unitarian missionary before he became a magician. In 1907, when the physician and professor Filippo Bottazzi read about studies about the phenomenon of mediumism, he decided to do experiments with his team. In 1909 he published the book, Mediumistic Phenomena.
On 18 December 1909, in New York, the Harvard psychologist Hugo Munsterberg investigated Palladino's mediumship and, with the help of a hidden man lying under a table, caught her levitating the table with her foot. Some investigators were originally baffled how Palladino could move curtains from a distance when all the doors and windows in the séance room were closed, but it was later discovered that she moved the curtains by releasing a jet of air from a rubber bulb that she had in her hand.
|“||Joseph F. Rinn and Warner C. Pyne, clad in black coveralls, had crawled into the dining room of Columbia professor Herbert G. Lord's house while a Palladino seance was in progress. Positioning themselves under the table, they saw the medium's foot strike a table leg to produce raps. As the table tilted to the right, due to pressure of her right hand on the surface, they saw her put her left foot under the left table leg. Pressing down on the tabletop with her left hand and up with her left foot under the table leg to form a clamp, she lifted her foot and "levitated" the table from the floor.||”|
In England, America, France and Germany, Palladino had been caught using tricks. She dictated the lighting and "controls" that were to be used in her mediumistic seances. The fingertips of her right hand rested upon the back of the hand of one "controller." Her left hand was grasped at the wrist by a second controller seated on her other side. Her feet rested on top of the feet of her controllers, sometimes beneath them. A controller's foot was in contact with only the toe of her shoe. Occasionally her ankles were tied to the legs of her chair, but they were given a play of four inches. During the sitting in semi-darkness, her ankles would become free. Generally she was unbound. In one instance, a controller cut her free so that phenomena might occur.
In a séance sitting in 1898 in Munich an investigator Theodor Lipps noticed that, instead of Palladino's hand, he held the hand of the sitter controlling the left side of the medium. In this way Palladino had freed both hands by a trick. She was also discovered using trickery by other scientists in Germany. Max Dessoir and Albert Moll of Berlin detected the precise substitution-tricks that were used by Palladino. Dessoir and Moll wrote: "The main point is cleverly to distract attention and to release one or both hands or one or both feet. This is Paladino's chief trick".
Palladino normally refused to allow someone beneath the table to hold her feet with his hands. She refused to levitate the table from a standing position. The table being rectangular, she must sit only at a short side. No wall of any kind could stand between Palladino and the table. The weight of the table was seventeen pounds. The table levitated to a height of 3 to 10 inches for a maximum of 2–3 seconds. When the table levitated, there was also movement from Palladino's skirt. 
In France, the United Kingdom and the USA, she had been caught using tricks. Palladino was expert at freeing a hand or foot to produce phenomena. She chose to sit at the short side of the table so that her controllers on each side must sit closer together, making it easier to deceive them. Her shoes were gimmicked and unbuttoned in such a way that she could remove her feet without disturbing a "control." Her levitation of a table began by freeing one foot, rocking the table, and then slipping her toe under one leg. Since she sat at the narrow end of the table, this was made possible. She lifted the table by rocking back on the heel of this foot. A total levitation was produced by now switching the support of the table to her knees. She made light spirit rappings by pressing the tips of her fingers on the table top and moving them. Louder raps were made by striking a leg of the table with a free foot. She could do these tricks in full light and not be caught. All the sitters at the table viewed her from different angles. Where one might catch her trick, another could not. This confusion greatly aided her. 
A photograph, taken in the dark, of a small stool behind her that moved and levitated, revealed the stool to be sitting on Palladino's head. After she saw this photo, the stool remained immobile on the floor. A plaster impression taken of a spirit hand matched Palladino's hand. She was caught using a hair to perform "controlled" scientific experiments. In the dim light, her fist, wrapped in a handkerchief, became a materialized spirit. (Podmore, 1910.) Hugo Münsterberg, who succeeded Professor William James at Harvard University, later attended some sittings and explained that the blowing out of the cabinet curtains when all the windows were closed and doors were locked was accomplished by a rubber bulb that Palladino had in her hand.
In 1910 Dr. Stanley LeFevre Krebs wrote an entire book debunking Palladino and exposing the tricks that she had used throughout her career, Trick Methods of Eusapia Paladino. Palladino was known for using her sexual charms in attempts to seduce her scientific investigators, who were all male. She often slept with male sitters to whom she was attracted. Two investigators who had supported her mediumship, Charles Richet and Cesare Lombroso, were both known to have had a sexual relationship with Palladino. According to Deborah Blum, Palladino had a habit of “climbing into the laps of the male” investigators. Another investigator who had supported Palladino, Hereward Carrington, was known to have a had sexual relationship with another medium he investigated, Mina Crandon, so the same could have occurred with Palladino to bias his judgement in his reports of her mediumship. Paul Kurtz suggested that Carrington could have been Palladino's secret accomplice.
See also 
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Albert de Rochas, leading French psychic researcher and one of the committee members that investigated Palladino
- Eusapia Palladino: Psychic Wonder Or Blatant Fraud?. Prairieghosts.com (1918-05-16). Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
- Joseph Jastrow, The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918.
- William Kalush, Larry Ratso Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, 2006, ISBN 0-7432-7207-2.
- Polidoro, Massimo (June 2009). "Eusapia Palladino, the Queen of the Cabinet". Skeptical Inquirer 33 (3): 30.
- Radcliffe, 1952, p. 321.
- Cesare Lombroso, William Sloane Kennedy (1909). After Death—what?. Small, Maynard & Company.
- William Kalush, Larry Ratso Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, 2006, p. 419.
- Krystyna Tokarzówna and Stanisław Fita, Bolesław Prus, pp. 440, 443, 445–53.
- See External links: "Julien Ochorowitz, 1850–1918."
- Krystyna Tokarzówna and Stanisław Fita, Bolesław Prus, p. 448.
- Krystyna Tokarzówna and Stanisław Fita, Bolesław Prus, p. 521.
- Joseph McCabe Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?: The Evidence Given by Sir A.C. Doyle and Others, London, Watts & CO., 1920, p. 14.
- Janet Oppenheim The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914 Cambridge University Press, 1988
- Harry Price, Fifty Years of Psychical Research, chapter XI: The Mechanics of Spiritualism, F&W Media International, Ltd, 2012.
- Joseph McCabe Is Spiritualism based on Fraud?: The Evidence Given by Sir A.C. Doyle and Others London: Watts & CO., 1920, p. 14
- Barbara Goldsmith, Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie, p. 138.
- Susan Quinn, Marie Curie: A Life, p. 208.
- Susan Quinn, Marie Curie: A Life, p. 226.
- William Kalush, Larry Ratso Sloman (2006). The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. p. 419.
- Ruth Brandon. (1983). The Spiritualists. New York: Alfred E. Knopf, Print. ISBN 978-0394527406.
- Charles Edward Mark Hansel ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Reevaluation Prometheus Books, 1980, p. 60
- Joseph McCabe Spiritualism: A Popular History From 1847 T. F. Unwin, ltd, 1920, p. 210
- Sofie Lachapelle Investigating the Supernatural: From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853-1931 Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011, p. 82
- Everard Fielding, Sittings with Eusapia Palladino & Other Studies, University Books, 1963. Proceedings: Society for Psychical Research, XXV, 1911, pp. 57–69.
- * Christopher, Milbourne (1970). ESP, Seer & Psychics: What the Occult Really Is. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-690-26815-7. OCLC 97063.
- Polidoro, Massimo; Rinaldi, Gian Marco (December 12, 2000). "Eusapia Palladino's Sapient Foot". CICAP. Retrieved July 29, 2009. (On Eusapia's use of foot during séances)
- Justus Buchler The Philosophy of Peirce: Selected Writings, Volume 2 2000, pp. 166-167
- Report on Further Series of Sittings with Eusapia Palladino at Naples by Everard Fielding and W. Marriott, Proceedings Society for Psychical Research, Volume 15, pp. 20–32, Dec 5, 1910
- Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1884)
- Everard Fielding and William Marriott Report on Further Series of Sittings with Eusapia Palladino at Naples Proceedings Society for Psychical Research, Volume 15, pp. 20–32, Dec 5, 1910
- Magic Trick Secrets Revealed-Howard Thurston. Secretstomagictricks.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
- Filippo Bottazzi, Irmeli Routti, Antonio Giuditta Mediumistic Phenomena: Observed in a Series of Sessions with Eusapia Palladino ISBN 1936033054
- Filippo Bottazzi e gli esperimenti sul paranormale. Denaro.it (2006-07-22). Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
- Frank Podmore, Newer Spiritualism, Kessinger Reprint Edition, 2003, p. 143.
- Fakebusters II: Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art and Philately
- Milbourne Christopher. (1979). Search for the Soul. T. Y. Crowell. p. 47
- Joseph Jastrow, The Psychology of Conviction, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918, pp. 101-127. Online
- Albert Shaw The American Review of Reviews, Volume 42, 1910, p. 78
- Frank Podmore, 1910
- Joseph Jastrow The Psychology of Conviction Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918, pp. 101-127
- W.S. Davis, 1910
- William Seabrook, chapter 17: "Wood as a Debunker of Scientific Cranks and Frauds — and His War with the Mediums", Doctor Wood, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1941.
- Trick Methods of Eusapia Paladino
- Ruth Brandon. The Spiritualists. New York, Alfred E. Knopf, 1983.
- Deborah Blum, Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, New York, Penguin Press, 2006.
- William Kalush, Larry Ratso Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, 2006, pp. 419-20.
- Paul Kurtz, Vern L. Bullough, Tim Madigan, Toward a New Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz, 1994, p. 159.
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- D.H. Rawcliffe, Occult and Supernatural Phenomena, Chapter 21: "Eusapia Palladino," Dover Publications reprint of Psychology of the Occult, Derricke Ridgway Publishing Co., 1952.
- Frank Podmore, Mediums of the Nineteenth Century, Vol. 2, Book 4, Chapter 1: "Some Foreign Investigations," University Books, 1963 (reprint of 1902 edition).
- Frank Podmore, The Newer Spiritualism, book one, chaps. 3 ("Eusapia Palladino") and 4 ("Eusapia Palladino and the S.P.R."), Arno Press, 1975 (reprint of 1910 edition).
- W.S. Davis, "The New York Exposure of Eusapia Palladino," Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research, vol. 4, no. 8 (August 1910), pp. 401–24, gives detailed information from conjurors who were prepared for her skills and watched her closely. At one point, at the total levitation of the table in full light, everyone applauded. This seemed "to go over her head."
- Krystyna Tokarzówna and Stanisław Fita, Bolesław Prus, 1847–1912: Kalendarz życia i twórczości (Bolesław Prus, 1847–1912: a Calendar of [His] Life and Work), edited by Zygmunt Szweykowski, Warsaw, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1969.
- Barbara Goldsmith, Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie, New York, W.W. Norton, 2005, ISBN 0-393-05137-4.
- Susan Quinn, Marie Curie: A Life, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1995, ISBN 0-671-67542-7.
- Harry Price and Eric J. Dingwall, Revelations of a Spirit Medium, Arno Press, 1975 (reprint of the 1891 edition by Charles F. Pidgeon). This extremely rare, forgotten book gives an "insider's knowledge" of 19th-century deceptions.
- Joseph Jastrow, Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1935. Chapter 12, "Paladino's Table," contains a photo of a mysterious spirit face in clay, compared to Palladino's face. The similarity is striking.
- Joseph Jastrow, The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes, Chapter 4: "The Case of Paladino," Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918.
- Nandor Fodor, An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science, 1934.
- Hereward Carrington, Eusapia Palladino and her Phenomena, B.W. Dodge & Company, 1909. Carrington's detailed descriptions and analysis of experiments conducted in European cities between 1891 and 1908.
- Massimo Polidoro, Secrets of the Psychics, Prometheus Books, 2003.
- Andreas Sommer (2012), Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Munsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino, History of the Human Sciences, 25 (2) 23-44.
- Trick Methods of Eusapia Paladino (1910) , by Stanley LeFevre Krebs.
- The American Seances with Eusapia Palladino (1954) , by Hereward Carrington, Palladino's sponsor and manager, and member of the Society for Psychical Research.