In the mid-1880s, Spiritualism became trendy in England and was imported to the United States. People wanted to communicate with the dead. Even Lincoln’s wife held séances in the White House after the death of her 11 year old son.
A group of investors from Baltimore saw a way of making money from this craze and invented the Ouija board. Participants were to place their fingertips on a planchette designed to slide across an alphabet covered board stopping on letters to spell out messages from spirits. Scientists, of course, said the messages were not from spirits but were, instead, ideomotor phenomena.
An ideomotor phenomenon occurs when a psychological situation provokes a physical reaction. For example, crying. Tears are produced as a response to an emotion and not as a rational decision. Thus, anxious for answers, the participants unconsciously moved the planchette articulating messages not from spirits but from themselves.
The subconscious longs to be heard.