In Memoriam: Brunilde Mignani Cassoli (1926 - 2014)
by Massimo Biondi
Reprinted from Volume 6, Issue 2 of Mindfield: The Bulletin of the Parapsychological Association.
on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Brunilde Mignani was born in Bologna, North Italy, on August 6, 1926. After studying music and having completed high school, she began studying chemistry at the university, but never got a degree. Toward the end of the 40s, she met Piero Cassoli, a physician and psychologist, and after a brief time they married. In the same period they began to deepen their study of parapsychology and share their new interest with some of his colleagues. In 1949, Brunilde and Piero joined a local Center of Metapsychics, but in 1953 they left to found a new national Center, the Centro Studi Parapsicologici, CSP, with the aim of attracting towards this discipline other physicians and professionals, especially from the Academy.
Since the 50s Brunilde Cassoli participated in all investigations on spontaneous phenomena and experiments promoted by the CSP researchers on parapsychology, and established contact with the leading figures of this discipline, both in Italy and abroad. She has been always happy to remember her personal friendship with some colleagues in parapsychology such as Emilio Servadio, Ettore Mengoli, and Luigi Occhipinti, among the main Italian scholars of the field; with non-Italians George Zorab and Edward Naumov; and with famous Italian psychics including Elsa Mazzoni, Sandra Baietto, Pasqualina Pezzola, and Maria Gardini. Many of those psychics were subjected to experiments and observations, which she pursued with her husband and other researchers of the CSP. Subsequently she participated – very often with Piero Cassoli – in many inquiries on unusual phenomena, such as fire-walking, a strange case of “ghost sound” of resonating bells, poltergeists, precognitions, and so on.
Early on she joined the Parapsychological Association and the Parapsychology Foundation, and participated in international Conventions promoted by those organizations. Brunilde carried out, also, an intense editorial activity on parapsychological topics, through editing Italian magazines and journals such as the Supplement Parapsychology in Minerva Medica (the most important Italian journal of medicine), and ESP (a monthlyreview directed by Piero Cassoli). From 1970 she was editor in chief of Quaderni di Parapsicologia (Notebooks on Parapsychology), the official publication of the CSP, and the other newsletters produced by the Center. Furthermore, she edited the book Letters to a Parapsychologist, by Piero Cassoli, and wrote with him Parapsychology, and with Paola Righettini coauthored a history of the CSP and Italian parapsychology in the second half of the twentieth century.
More than these acrivities, her main merits for parapsychology in Italy were to always encourage a serious and scientific approach to parapsychology, organize and promote communication and meetings between parapsychologists, and give advice, with patience and friendship, to persons in difficulty due to disturbing “anomalous experiences.” Until her last day, on April 14, 2014, Brunilde Cassoli had been a solid point of reference for all those interested in parapsychology in Italy, the last member of a generation of scholars and enthusiasts who built this discipline in the second half of the 20th century.