Hypnosis in History – Revealing Documentary, Facts, Photos, Mesmer, Braid and More

Hypnosis in History – Revealing Documentary, Facts, Photos, Mesmer, Braid and More



Mesmerism,hypnosis,history of mesmerism,hypnosis,


Hello my name is John Melton and this is hypnosis in history.

Hypnosis as we know it today had its origins in the unique medical practices of dr. Franz Anton Mesmer a physician who lived in Vienna Austria during the mid 18th century Mesmer was a fervent believer in the more esoteric aspects of Western medical tradition including the influence of astrology and magnets on human health in 1774.

During a magnetic treatment with a female patient Mesmer felt that he perceived the fluid flowing through the woman’s body whose flow was affected by his own will he eventually named this fluid and its manipulation animal magnetism and developed an elaborate theory regarding its effect on health. Mesmer believed that every individual had magnetic fluid flowing through channels throughout his body and that blockages in the flow of this fluid caused emotional or physical disease, he believed that certain individuals had more or less innate animal magnetism and therefore varied in their ability to manipulate the flow of this fluid.

In the late 1770s Mesmer moved to Paris and found more interested students there than in Vienna. The process of animal magnetism or mesmerism laid the foundations for the later development of hypnosis. A contemporary english doctor described Mesmer’s technique in vivid detail, his patients were received with the air of mystery and studied affect. The apartment hung with mirrors was dimly lit a profound silence was observed broken only by strains of music which occasionally floated through the rooms, the patients were seated around a sort of vat which contained a heterogeneous mixture of chemical ingredients with this and with each other they were placed in relation by means of chords or jointed rods or by holding hands and among them slowly and mysteriously moved Mesmer himself affecting one by a touch another by a look. A third by passes with his hand a fourth by pointing with a rod, one person became hysterical and another one was seized with catalepsy others with convulsions some with palpitations of the heart perspirations and other bodily disturbances. The method was supposed to provoke in the sick person exactly the kind of action beneficial to his recovery. To the uninitiated the scene was full of wonderment the extraordinary tales of Mesmer’s personal power over individuals are probably part exaggeration part real results of his confidence and skill in the use of the means he wielded.

By the mid 1780s Mesmer’s dramatic practices had drawn the amazement and scrutiny of the citizens of Paris including the king louis xvi himself who commissioned a panel of renowned scientists to examine animal magnetism as fact or fiction once and for all.

The results of the Kings scientific panel. Luise sixteenths panel included medical doctors from the Royal Faculty of Medicine in Paris as well as respected scientists from other fields, these included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier Discoverer of oxygen and hydrogen. Dr. Joseph dieta co-founder of the Academy of Medicine in Paris and the inventor of the guillotine. Astronomer John baiii a senior member of the French Academy of Sciences who studied the moons of Jupiter. And an American scientist and ambassador to France Benjamin Franklin. After months of investigation and observation the Commission determined that Mesmer had not discovered a real physical fluid, that the human body did not contain previously undiscovered channels and that any effects of his treatments were due to solely the imagination of the subjects.

His reputation ruined by the Commission’s findings Mesmer returned to Vienna the following year eventually returning to the countryside near his place of birth living out the last 30 years of his life in near total obscurity. Though the idea of animal magnetism had been debunked within scientific circles a number of individuals continued the practice into the 19th century many making their own unique changes to the underlying theories and procedure. Some performing it in stage mesmerism shows.

Mesmerism took a turn towards something closer to modern hypnosis with one of dr.Mesmer’s followers the Marquis Theyboy,he secured a lower noble men of the French aristocracy. The story of his session where the peasant named Victor is widely thought to be the first use of mesmerism to improve the mood or psychological state of a person. The story is described in detail by an English doctor of the time, he took occasion to mesmerize the daughter of his agent and another young person for the toothache and in a few moments they declared themselves cured.

This questionable success was sufficient to lead Monsieur de Poissy a few days later to try his hand on a young peasant of the name Victor who was suffering with a severe depression. On what was monsieur de Poissy sagir surprise when at the end of a few moments Victor went off into a kind of tranquil sleep without crisis or convulsion and that’s he began to gesticulate and talk and enter into his private affairs then he became sad and monsieur de voice gear tried mentally to inspire him with cheerful thoughts he hummed a lively tune to himself inaudibly and immediately Victor began to sing the air Victor remained asleep for an hour and awoke composed with his symptoms mitigated.

While reflecting upon this episode the Marquis noted a connection between some of Victor’s reactions and sleepwalking and became the first person to refer to this reaction as artificial Sonnambula so a term which has carried with us to this day.

Though Mesmer’s theories about the mechanics of animal magnetism were proven to be false many early mesmerist continued to practice and expound upon their own theories and procedures.

Into the 19th century one of these early practitioners was a man named abbe Faria who wrote a book on the subject in 1819 entitled on the cause of lucid sleep ma Faria was near the end of his life when he wrote this work and the road which led him there reads like a novel literally he was the real-life basis of a character of the same name Nia Alexander Dumas classic. The Count of Monte Cristo but the real-life Abbe Faria did not die in prison like in the novel but eventually served out his prison sentence and moved to Paris where he became fascinated with mesmerism.

Born in Portuguese colony on the coast of India in 1746 he spent the majority of his life as a Catholic priest and a doctor of theology in his forties he became involved in an attempted revolt in his native India and fled to France which itself was in the throes of its own revolution. He befriended many notable revolutionaries during this time which was suspicions enough for Napoleon Bonaparte to throw him into the infamous Chateau d’If prison for nearly 20 years. Based on his lengthy observations of mesmerism once he was free he wrote his influential book was put forward the idea that mesmerism was a mental process of the subject. He called the state lucid sleep and explained it as the result of a combination of visual fixation and mental fatigue. Just a year later another mesmerist Etienne de Cuvier published the first work to name the phenomenon hypnotism and call the practitioners hypnotist based on the Greek word for sleep.

The first recorded instance of using hypnosis for anesthesia and surgery was on April 12 1829 in Paris dr.Jewel kukais worked in conjunction with the local Mesmer’s chef’s to perform surgery on a female patient with breast cancer.

Herbert Mayo and English surgeon described the operation she was prepared for. The operation on tiara Chaplin who on several successive days threw into trance by the ordinary mesmeric manipulations. She was then like an ordinary sleepwalker and would converse with indifference about the contemplated operation the idea of which when she was in her natural state filled her with terror. During the whole of the operation the patient in her trance exhibited not the slightest sign of suffering, her expression of countenance did not change nor was the voice, breathing or the pulse at all affected. When asked by dr. Mayo why he did not begin utilizing the stay for all his operations the French doctor replied that he had not dared, the prejudice against mesmerism was so strong in Paris he probably would have lost his reputation and his income. By doing so the public distrust of mesmerism led to many such instances of hypnotists keeping the results quiet without publication which in turn contributed to the air of mystery surrounding the subject.

Hypnosis finds a new ally in James Braid  the early mesmerist began proposing new theories and finding new applications for mesmerism the practice began to gain more legitimacy among doctors and scientists. Moving into the mid 19th century in 1841 a Scottish medical doctor James Braid went on to become one of the most important figures in the history of hypnosis after he observed his first Mesmer stroke at the age of 46 born in rural Scotland James Braid went on to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh became a respected general surgeon in Manchester England .Though he may have heard of mesmerism during his training or career the first time he actually observed it was at a traveling show performed by a Swiss mesmerist and the practice greatly intrigued him. After the show he obtained permission to closely observe the man subjects and after months of intense observation dr.Breda developed the core of his theory regarding the practice disliking the connotations of the term mesmerism he adopted de qu Vieira’s term hypnotism and hypnotist becoming the first to use these words in English.

He explained in his first book that I have now entirely separated hypnotism from animal magnetism I consider it to be merely a simple speedy and certain mode of throwing the nervous system into a new condition which may be rendered eminently available in the cure of certain disorders. I trust therefore it may be investigated quite independently of any bias either for or against the subject connected with mesmerism and only by the fact it can be adduced. I feel quite confident we may have acquired in this process a valuable addition to our curative means but I repudiate the idea of holding it up as a universal remedy nor do I even pretend to understand as yet the whole range of diseases in which it may be useful.

Dr.Braids writings and experiments with hypnotism quickly made him the leading figure in hypnosis in the english-speaking world his scientific approach and willingness to engage in debate gave hypnosis a new respectable face compared to the mystery and controversy surrounding mesmerism. He clearly summarized his basic fascination in his 1843 book. Take any bright object, I generally use my Lancet case between the thumb and the foreign middle fingers of the left hand. Hold it from about 8 to 15 inches from the eyes at such position above the forehead as may be necessary to produce the greatest possible strain upon the eyes and the eyelids and enable the patient to maintain a steady fixed stare at the object. The pupils will be at first contracted they will certainly begin to dilate and after they have done so to considerable extent and have assumed the wavy motion if the foreign middle fingers of the right hand are carried from the object towards the eyes most probably the eyelids will close involuntarily with a vibratory motion.

The renewed scientific interest in hypnosis prompted by James Braid not only led to new ways of thinking and talking about the practice but to new studies and applications as well more next time on hypnosis in history .