Controversial Psychic Doris Stokes

Doris May Fisher Stokes, a British spiritualist and psychic medium, claimed she could see spirits and hear their voices even as a child. Some people swear she was a gifted psychic, while others thought she was nothing more than a cold, calculating fraud and an expert at cold reading. Cold reading is a technique of reading an audience to glean obvious or probable facts. It is used by many psychics to create an illusion of clairvoyance.

Doris was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England on January 6, 1920 as Doris Sutton. She first gained national prominence when she appeared on the Don Lane Show in Australia during a 1978 visit. From thereon, she played to capacity crowds often with tickets selling out within several hours. Author Linda Dearsly wrote Stokes’ first autobiography in 1980 titled, Voices In My Ear: The Autobiography of a Medium. The book sold over 2 million copies.

Stokes suffered from cancer throughout much her life and endured 13 operations. But, even after her death on May 8, 1987, controversy over whether or not she was a true psychic still raged. One fan said “Doris is the most genuine person you could ever know and she would not traipse around theatres when she was severely ill just to "con" people. She is for real, and she gives me great inspiration and hope.”

At the other end of the spectrum another person commented “Doris Stokes was a charismatic woman. However, she was also a fraud. She was a skilled cold reader and had numerous stooges placed in the audience or working for her before and during her shows. It is possible,though incredibly unlikely, that she was deluded and genuinely BELIEVED she was hearing dead people's voices but it is far more likely, considering the evidence, that she knew full well she was conning people.”

Stokes has been described in many various ways. Some have said she was "…an individual of great personal warmth," or "the Gracie Fields of the psychic world." Others denounced her as "…a ruthless moneymaking confidence artist.”

As with many in her profession, Stokes was condemned by many Churches and denominations on the grounds their belief communication with the dead was against bible scripture. But Stokes, in her defense, would cite the bible’s injunction to "test the spirits to see if they (were) good.”

Stokes underwent many tests to determine where her information came from, such as polygraph tests and hypnosis since she had to defend herself from outspoken critics accusing her of deceptive practices. A noted columnist claimed Doris’s husband, John Stokes took information he had gotten by offering free tickets to her exhibitions and handed it off to his wife prior to a show.

But, despite convictions of her being a true psychic medium by loyal followers, much evidence to the contrary exists. In one of her many books Stokes claims she solved two murder cases in England. But those claims were vehemently refuted by a constabulary spokesman who stated she made no significant contributions to either case.

And in another murder case in Beverly Hills, California, Stokes maintained the victim had contacted her and gave details about his murder. Again, another detractor stepped forward, a former magician and noted skeptic James Randi. Randi was informed by the Los Angeles Police all information Stokes had provided was already public knowledge at the time. In actuality, the case still remains unsolved. However, Stokes always declared her messages from the spirit world were accurate.

In April 1987, following the removal of a brain tumor, she died in Lewisham, London.

Was Doris Stokes a gifted psychic or a fraud? Perhaps, the only way the world will ever know is if she is able to contact her peers from beyond the grave.

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Comments 11 comments

CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Your last sentence intrigued me. All the way through this hub I was thinking, "why didn't she prove it after death", so maybe she was the biggest fraud around.


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Nicely written hub, jy! I appreciate the way you presented both sides of the argument, and left it to the reader to make up his or her mind. Voted up by me.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina Author

Case, regardless of the fact I'm a skeptic, I think it's up to her to prove one way or another.

Tom, a professional writer always gives both sides and does not interject their own opinions. I was taught in the "old school," not like so called "reporters" today who only care what side their toast is buttered on.


steve of ian fame profile image

steve of ian fame 5 years ago from Essex

She used the kind of tricks Derren Brown uses but less effectively. She came from a showbiz family.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina Author

Steve, thanks for pointing that out.


anon 4 years ago

she was my grandmother and she adopted my father to be a terry her family where very poor so please get you facts right before making comments


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 4 years ago from Florence, South Carolina Author

I made no false comments, I just reported what others were quoted as saying. Read it again before accusing me of falsifying facts. I have been a news reporter for many years. And what does the fact your family is very poor have to do with this article? Maybe I misunderstood what you were trying to say. If you learned how to write correctly, maybe I could understand better.


Mike 4 years ago

JY3502. Bit defensive old chap! Validating your article by stating you have been a news reporter for many years isn't really the best qualification considering the reputation of your profession. If I read 'anon's' post correctly it would indicate they were commenting on the post by Steve of Ian fame rather than your article but that's my opinion. You then go on to attack the post by deriding the quality of their grammar and insulting their educational proficiency. Typical of a bully but then maybe I misunderstood you? Please feel free to correct me or my grammar as I'm dyslexic and not university educated in english so it may be that I could learn to write better. Now re-read to flow of he posts and be the bigger man an possibly say sorry? Didn't think so or maybe you will just prove me wrong and ill be happy to say sorry to you.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 4 years ago from Florence, South Carolina Author

I agree about today's "news" reporters Mike. But I'm from the old school when journalists were taught to report equally and without bias. And after rereading the posts you are probably right the comment wasn't directed at me. As far as bullying...do you see any exclamation points? Actually, I did have a lot of trouble understanding what she meant. If she took offense I am sorry.


Mike 4 years ago

Faith restored! I also apologise to you sir for doubting your integrity and voicing my opinion as to what constitutes as bullying. As per my last post maybe I feel the need to defend against defamation based solely on grammar. Probably based on my own personal abilities so the odds are my response wasn't so un-biased! Lets not go off on a tangent that's a whole new article. I liked your article. Balanced and unbiased. I had trouble reading her post but took a generalised meaning from it. Anon had an emotional input and odds are she was typing defensively and emotionally which as you know is probably not the best state of mind to voice an opinion. Thank you.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 4 years ago from Florence, South Carolina Author

Very good observation. I can't truthfully say I didn't take any offense at her statement, because I try very hard to make things balanced. I was not upset at your comments, because if I was mistaken it needed to be corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

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