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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Murphy, Bridey (1798-1864)? The fictitious character created by Mrs. (Hugh) Virginia Tighe of Denver, Colorado, at the suggestion of investment broker/amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein in 1952. In trance, Mrs. Tighe relived a colorful nineteenth-century life, speaking in a heavy brogue, using typically quaint Irish expressions (some, unfortunately for the theory, not in use in the nineteenth century), and giving details of her former life in Cork. It was all believed to be a sterling case of either reincarnation or possession. The possibility of imagination never came up.
      Then, investigations by the Denver Post and the Chicago American, later followed up by writer Melvin Harris, showed that as a child Mrs. Tighe had lived across the street from an Irishwoman whose maiden name was Bridie [sic] Murphy. This woman had entertained Virginia with tales of her early life in Ireland. Also, as a teenager, Virginia had been featured in school theatricals playing Irish parts and using an Irish brogue. The kindest interpretation that one can put on this matter is that Mrs. Tighe had undergone classic cryptomnesia.
      This highly publicized playlet resulted in a hit popular song by Nat King Cole, a motion picture, several best-selling books, and an LP recording of the trance session.

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