James Braid

by Bob Walsh

James Braid

James Braid

The inventor of the word hypnosis wasn’t too happy with this choice later on in life. He actually wanted to give it another name once he learned more about hypnosis, but I’ll tell you about that later.

James braid was born on June 19, 1795. He attended the University of Edinburgh for two years and practice to several medical doctors and surgeons.

His skills in the field of surgery where highly acclaimed.

It was in November of the year 1814 that his interest in hypnosis could spot. Back then the word hypnosis did not exist, and the phenomenon that we nowadays referred to as hypnosis was called messmerism.

It was Franz Anton Messmer that popularized messmerism.

On that November day in 1814 James braid witnessed a demonstration of messmerism that was given by Charles Lafontaine.

What was of the most interest to braid when he watched the demonstration, was the state that the mesmerize persons where in. This spurred him to research the phenomenon more closely and give public lectures on the subject, just a couple of days later on November 27 of the same year.

Braid had studied how Lafontaine mesmerized people, and developed his own method. He wrote a report on it (“Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism”) and gave more public lectures when he read from that report.

To him, one of the things that was vital to hypnosis what’s that the hypnotized subject concentrated and focused not just their physical eye, but also their mental eye. The main difference between James Braid’s theory and what was commonly believed previous to Braid was that hypnosis was not something to hold up our normal. James braid belief that hypnosis was the scientific process, something that takes place both in human beings and animals, given the right setting. He thought that hypnosis is a kind of nervous sleep that is different from normal sleep. Now what kind of setting exactly what would people into this special kind of nervous sleep? According to what James braid belief, the best way to hypnotized people is by showing them a small bright object held about 18 inches above and in front of their eyes that they ought to fixate. This will naturally cause hypnosis in people. It’s important to realize that this was James Braid’s belief, and nowadays we found more effective ways of putting people in hypnosis than that. So if you want to hypnotized someone, I would not suggest you try James Braid methods. But that doesn’t take away from the importance of this work. Before him, the manual for John hypnosis, Franz Anton Messmer, tall people that the cost of hypnosis was a magnetic fluid. Medicine also called it magnetism at times. So basically what great it was to debunk lots of myths surrounding hypnosis, and making it more acceptable from a scientific standpoint.

About two years after his first encounter messmerism James braid publishable titled “Neurypnology; or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep Considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism”.

The book sold about 800 copies within the first couple of months, which in today’s terms isn’t much, but back then this was a bestseller.

Now the beginning of this article I told you that rate actually wanted to change the name hypnotism, the work that he came up with. He wanted to change it to a ‘monoidealism’, because the term hypnosis was based on the belief that hypnosis is nervous sleep, but in his later studies he found that people can be hypnotized and wide awake at the same time. That is why he called it monoidealism. Because it was not so much about nervously, but really about focusing the mind on one single thing, it was about fixation on one particular idea or thought.

However, the term hypnosis was already so popularized, that the term monoidealism did not spread.

Even though James braid is credited for coming up with the term hypnosis in 1841, it is important to realize that the French magnetist Baron Etienne Félix d’Henin de Cuvillers use the terms hypnotique, hypnotisme & hypnotiste already in the 1820s, some more than 20 years earlier than James braid. However, the French magnetist use the term in ankle could and paranormal sense, not like James braid in a scientific sense.

Read James Braid’s writings for free:

Read more about the history of hypnosis.

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