A brief history

Most notably, a surgeon by the name of James Esdaile carried out thousands of painless operations in a small hospital in Calcutta, 300 of which involved major surgery and 19 of them amputations. He even removed diseased eyes and not a milligram of clinical anesthetic was in use.

It was another surgeon, a Scot by the name of James Braid (1795 – 1860), who coined the name Hypnosis from Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep. He named it this after seeing a presentation of Mesmerism in which he forced a pin beneath the finger-nail of the subject, a young girl. When she showed not the even the slightest sign of discomfort, he was so impressed that he later carried out numerous experiments for himself and eventually gave the process its new but erroneous name. Later, he realized his mistake and wanted to rename it mono-idealism – total concentration on a single train of thought but it was too late; Hypnosis was far more mysterious and interesting and the name stuck.

It was Franz Anton Mesmer, an Austrian born in 1734 who was the first person to extensively use the phenomena of what he called animal magnetism. He instigated one of the worlds first study courses which allowed those who qualified in his methods the right to practice in specified towns , though only one hundred subscribers were admitted to his secrets. Certainly, Mesmer was an expert with the phenomena and to this day, of course, people still speak of being mesmerised, though not always fully understanding what the expression truly means.

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