A spirit entity, the earliest permanent control of the medium Leonora E. Piper. "Phinuit," who succeeded the soi-disant spirit of Sebastian Bach, said that he was French and a physician in Metz, but never furnished convincing proof of identity. His statements about himself were hazy and contradictory. As N. S. Shaler wrote in a letter to William James of "Phinuit's" first year of manifestation in 1894, "Whatever the medium is, I am convinced that this influence is a preposterous scoundrel."
Attempts to verify the statements of "Phinuit" resulted in failure. The archives of Metz were searched. No trace was found of him. He could not even speak French. When an explanation was asked, he declared that he had forgotten his maternal tongue. Later, on closer questioning, he disclosed uncertainty over whether he was born at Metz or Marseilles, and finally concluded that his name was not "Phinuit," but "Jean Alaen Scliville."
Richard Hodgson regarded the existence of "Phinuit" as an open question. To F. W. H. Myers, it seemed clear that the name "Phinuit" was the result of a suggestion at one of the early séances. Other psychical researchers thought it most probable that "Phinuit" was nothing more than a secondary personality of Piper.
According to "Imperator," a later control, "Phinuit" was an earthbound spirit who had become confused and bewildered in his first attempts at communication and had lost his consciousness of personal identity. The "Edmund Gurney" control also bore out "Phinuit's" claim to an independent existence. He said to Sir Oliver Lodge in 1889: "Dr. Phinuit is a peculiar type of man … he is eccentric and quaint, but good-hearted … a shrewd doctor, he knows his own business thoroughly."
"Phinuit's" regime was exclusive from 1884 to 1892, but beginning in 1892 he shared control with George Pelham. In 1897 the "Imperator" group took over Piper's sessions and "Phinuit" was entirely suppressed.
Piper, Alta C. The Life and Work of Mrs. Piper. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co. Ltd., 1929.