VOICES FROM THE PAST: JAMES BRAID (1795-1860)
HYPNOSIS OR MONOIDEISM
2. JAMES BRAID [BY DYAN MORGAN]
3. THE RATIONALE OF NERVOUS SLEEP CONSIDERED IN RELATION WITH ANIMAL MAGNETISM
4. EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK:
1. INTRODUCTION: Dr. James Braid (1795-1860) decided that the induction methods of the Mesmerist produced hypnosis only because the subject expected it to happen. Dr. Braid proposed that it was suggestion which caused the trance and not the manner or the power of the hypnotist. Braid practiced inductions through verbal suggestions and eye fixation. He found this very successful and coined the words "hypnosis" and "hypnotism" from the Greek word meaning "sleep". When he later discovered that hypnosis was not sleep, he tried to change the word to "monoideism". He explained that hypnosis was like sleep but only in appearance. The word "hypnosis" stuck and is used to this day. James braid wrote the following books on hypnosis: The Rationale of Nervous Sleep Considered in Relation to Animal Magnetism, 1843 and The Power of the Mind over Body, 1846.
James Braid pointed out that (1) hypnosis is a powerful tool. (2) Although hypnotism was capable of curing many diseases for which there had formally been no remedy, it nevertheless was no panacea and was only a medical tool which should be with other medical information, drugs, remedies etc. in order to properly treat the patient. (3) In skilled hands there is no danger associated with hypnotic treatment and neither was there pain or discomfort. (4) A good deal more study and research would be necessary to thoroughly understand a number of theoretical concepts regarding hypnosis. These points were very appropriate in the middle 1800s for there was limited knowledge concerning hypnosis at the time. [William J. Bryan, Jr, A History of Hypnosis, from the Internet]
2. JAMES BRAID [BY DYAN MORGAN]: James Braid is one of the giants in the history of Hypnosis. He was born in 1795 in Fife, studied medicine at Edinburgh, and settled as a surgeon in Manchester, where he died on 25th March 1860.
He became interested in Mesmerism as a result of watching a demonstration by Lafontaine (1803-1892), whose personality and exhibitions were very similar to those of a Stage Hypnotist of the present day. Lafontaine came from a theatrical family, was very self-confident and would demonstrate the more dramatic Hypnotic phenomena on a particularly susceptible member of the audience or a "good" Subject he had brought with him. Braid's personality was quite opposite. He was calm, rational and well-balanced. After watching the demonstration in November 1841 he began to experiment for himself, and was soon demonstrating and lecturing and encouraging open discussion and criticism. He was attacked on both flanks. On the one hand the Mesmerists were naturally incensed at his undermining of the belief in some magnetic power they possessed. On the other there were the average men and women who were incredulous of the effects of Hypnosis and believed that some trickery was involved. Braid must have worked very hard, as must his publisher and printers, because his extensive book Neurypnology was published little more than two years after he first watched the demonstration.
His primary technique was to get the Subject to focus on a small bright object held very close (20cm - 40cm away from the eyes) in a position which strained the eyes and eyelids. This would generally lead to a spontaneous closing of the eyes, with a vibration of the eyelids. This response could be encouraged by moving two fingers of the right hand towards the eyes. The details appear in Braid's Induction.
He did not develop a detailed theory of Hypnotism other than to regard it as involving processes which could either depress or "prodigiously enhance" the activity of the nerves. He gave us the words "hypnotism", "hypnotize", "hypnotist", etc. He also used the concept of a hypnotic state, which is being avoided in this book.
Since Braid did not found a school, his influence waned after his death and the center of Hypnosis moved to France in the second half of the nineteenth century. However, his book continued to be influential.
3. THE RATIONALE OF NERVOUS SLEEP CONSIDERED IN RELATION WITH ANIMAL MAGNETISM: James Braid: J. Churchill, London 1853 (To read the entire book go to Dr. Dylan Morgan’s website .)
General remarks - why Hypnotism has been separated from Animal Magnetism - How far considered useful in the cure of disease - Its Powers on the animal functions - Certain erroneous charges refuted - Opinions and practice of Bertrand and Abb1 Faria, Mr Brooks, Dr Prichard - Its moral influence - Should be used by professional men only - Definition of terms.
Introductory remarks - Circumstances which directed to the investigation - A real phenomenon observed - Experiments instituted to prove the cause of it - Opinions and conclusions drawn from them - Reasons for separating Hypnotism from Mesmerism- Hypnotism more generally successful than Animal Magnetism - Mr Herbert Mayo's testimony on this point - Proofs of this referred to - Different modes by which it can be induced - Can only be expected to succeed by complying with the whole conditions required.
Mode of Hypnotizing - Circumstances necessary to be complied with - Peculiar phenomena which follow; excitement first, and afterwards depression of function - Importance of attending to this - How these may be made to alternate with each other - Extraordinarily influence of a current of air during Hypnotism - Reasons for certain modifications of original modes of operating - Hypnotism proceeds from a law of the animal economy - Arises from the physical and psychical condition of the patient, and not from any emanation or principle proceeding from others - Example for proof - Exhibits no appreciable electric or magnetic change. - Two patients may hypnotize each other by contact. - Phenomena arise spontaneously in course of disease. - Mr Wakley's admission on this point. - Mr H. Mayo's testimony as to the effects of Hypnotism. - Effects of different positions of the eyes - Remarks on articles in Medical Gazette. - Consensual adjustment of eyes.- Effects on size of pupil. - Power of habit and imagination. - Docility of patients, and exalted sensibility, and their effects. - Patient hypnotized whilst operating on another. - Mode of resisting influence
Phenomena of natural sleep, dreaming, and somnambulism contrasted - Causes of common sleep - Of dreaming - Effects of variety and monotony compared - Charges alleged to take place in the Structure of the brain by exertion - Cause of Hypnotism, McNish's article on ''Reverie" compared with Mr Braid's theory of Hypnotism - Mode of arousing patients from the state of Hypnotism. CHAPTER IV.
Phenomena of common sleep - Of Hypnotism - Power of locomotion and accurate balancing of themselves - Tendency to dance on hearing appropriate music - Grace displayed under its influence - Tendency to become cataleptiformly fixed in any position if left quiet - Probability of Hypnotism having been practiced amongst the ancients, and the cause of their superior excellence in sculpture, painting, and dancing - Effects analogous to Nitrous Oxide in some - in what it differs front this and intoxication from wine and spirits- Analogous to conium - Effects of monotonous impressions on any of the senses - Opinions of Cullen, McNish, Willich - (Counting and repeating generally known) - A writer in Medical Gazette - Power of habit and expectation - All the phenomena consecutive - Note illustrating this - Power of Hypnotism to cure intractable diseases and disorders - Miss Collins case and Miss E. Atkinson's - Extent to which it may be expected to be useful.
Reasons for delivering Public Lectures on Hypnotism - Mode of procuring refreshing sleep, with low pulse and general flaccidity of muscle - Efficacy of this plan.
Introductory remarks - Relation between mind and matter illustrated to disprove materialism - Armstrong, Colton, Brown, Abercrombie, Stewart, Plato - General conclusion, that mind or life is the cause of organism - Power of conscience - The passions, how excited - Dr Elliotson's opinion as to the efficacy or non-efficacy of volition and sympathy with operator's brain - Modes of dividing the brain - Causes of Phrenology being imperfect - Objections to Phreno-Hypnotism - Mode of connection between the brain and body - First attempts at Phrenologizing during Hypnotism were failures - Succeeded by operating differently - Cases illustrative - A child operates successfully - Details of the case - Other successful cases- Proper time for operating - Case of an officer in 1758 - Inferences as to its curative powers - Opinions of La Roy Sunderland, and Mr Hall - Presumed cause of phenomena called Cross Magnetism - Return stolen property to proper owners and proper place by smell and touch - Power of hearing faint sounds - Additional cases - Opposite faculties can be excited at the same time by acting on the opposite hemispheres - Mode of operating - Concluding remarks on the value of testimony.
General resume - Many phenomena admit of physical and chemical proof - Difficulties of comprehending many phenomena - Effects of prejudice in preventing the reception of truth - Critique on debate at Medico-Chirurgical Society on Mr Ward's operation - State of the circulation - Conjectures as to the cause of the cataleptiform condition.
Modes of operating - Objects of operations - Cases of sight improved - Hearing - Deaf and dumb - Mr Curtis's remarks - James Shelmerdine's case - Mr Bingham's testimony - S. Taylor - Sense of smell - Touch and resistance - Tic, paralysis of sense and motion, cured - Miss E. Atkinson's case, voice recovered - Rheumatism, ten cases - Irregular muscular action - Headache - Spinal Irritation - Epilepsy - Spinal curvature - Neuralgia, and palpitation of the heart - Surgical operations without pain - Diseases of the skin - Locked jaw - Tonic spasm - Miss Collins - Concluding remarks.
4. EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK: The first exhibition of the kind I ever had an opportunity of attending, was one of M. Lafontaine's conversazione, on the 13th November, 1841. That night I saw nothing to diminish, but rather to confirm, my previous prejudices. At the next conversazione, six nights afterwards, one fact, the inability of a patient to open his eyelids, arrested my attention. I considered that to be a real phenomenon, and was anxious to discover the physiological cause of it. Next night, I watched this case when again operated on, with intense interest, and before the termination of the experiment, felt assured I had discovered its cause, but considered it prudent not to announce my opinion publicly, until I had had an opportunity of testing its accuracy, by experiments and observation in private.
Two days afterwards, I developed my views to my friend Captain Brown, as I had also previously done to four other friends; and in his presence, and that of my family, and another friend, the same evening, I instituted a series of experiments to prove the correctness of my theory, namely, that the continued fixed stare, by paralyzing nervous centers in the eyes and their appendages, [Footnote: By this expression I mean the state of exhaustion which follows too long continued, or too intense action, of any organ or function.] and destroying the equilibrium of the nervous system, thus produced the phenomenon referred to. The experiments were varied so as to convince all present, that they fully bore out the correctness of my theoretical views.
My first object, was to prove, that the inability of the patient to open his eyes was caused by paralyzing the levator muscles of the eyelids, through their continued action during the protracted fixed stare, and thus rendering it physically impossible for him to open them. [Footnote: Attempts have been made to prove, that I got this idea from a person who publicly maintained that the patient referred to could have opened his eyes if he liked; to this the patient having replied, 'I have tried all I could and cannot;' the individual referred to, in support of his opinion, alleged, that the inability was only imaginary; that he 'could easily believe that a man may stand with his back to a wall, and may really believe that he has no power to move from the wall.' It is therefore clear this individual attributed the phenomena to a mental, whilst I attributed it to a physical cause.]
With the view of proving this, I requested Mr Walker, a young gentleman present, to sit down, and maintain a fixed stare at the top of a wine bottle, placed so much above him as to produce a considerable strain on the eyes and eyelids, to enable him to maintain a steady view of the object. In three minutes his eyelids closed, a gush of tears ran down his cheeks, his head drooped, his face was slightly convulsed, he gave a groan, and instantly fell into profound sleep, the respiration becoming slow, deep and sibilant, the right hand and arm being agitated by slight convulsive movements. At the end of four minutes I considered it necessary, for his safety, to put an end to the experiment. This experiment not only proved what I expected, but also, by calling my attention to the spasmodic state of the muscles of the face and arm, the peculiar state of the respiration, and the condition of the mind, as evinced on rousing the patient, tended to prove to my mind I had got the key to the solution of mesmerism. The agitation and alarm of this gentleman, on being roused, very much astonished Mrs Braid. She expressed herself greatly surprised at his being so much alarmed about nothing, as she had watched the whole time, and never saw me near him, or touching him in any way whatever. I proposed that she should be the next subject operated on, to which she readily consented, assuring all present that she would not be so easily alarmed as the gentleman referred to. I requested her to sit down, and gaze on the ornament of a china sugar basin, placed at the same angle to the eyes as the bottle in the former experiment. In two minutes the expression of the face was very much changed; at the end of two minutes and a half the eyelids closed convulsively; the mouth was distorted; she give a deep sigh, the bosom heaved, she fell back, and was evidently passing into an hysteric paroxysm, to prevent which I instantly aroused her, on counting the pulse I found it had mounted up to 180 strokes a minute.
I now proceed to detail the mode which I practice for inducing the phenomena. Take any bright object (I generally use my lancet case) between the thumb and fore and middle fingers of the left hand; hold it from about eight to fifteen inches from the eyes, at such position above the forehead is may be necessary to produce the greatest possible strain upon the eyes and eyelids, and enable the patient to maintain a steady fixed stare at the object. [Footnote: At an early period of my investigations, I caused the patients to look at a cork bound on the forehead. This was a very efficient plan with those who had the power of converging the eyes so as to keep them both steadily directed on the object. I very soon found, however, that there were many who could not keep both eyes steadily fixed on so near an object, and that the result was, that such patients did not become hypnotized. To obviate this, I caused them to look at a more distant point, which, although scarcely so rapid and intense in its effects, succeeds more generally than the other, and is therefore what I now adopt and recommend.] The patient must be made to understand that he is to keep the eyes steadily fixed on the object, and the mind riveted on the idea of that one object. It will be observed, that owing to the consensual adjustment of the eyes, the pupils will be at first contracted : they will shortly begin to dilate, and after they have done so to a considerable extent, and have assumed a wavy motion, if the fore and middle fingers of the right hand, extended and a little separated, are carried from the object towards the eyes, most probably the eyelids will close involuntarily, with a vibratory motion. If this is not the case, or the patient allows the eyeballs to move, desire him to begin anew, giving him to understand that he is to allow the eyelids to close when the fingers are again carried towards the eyes, but that the eyeballs must be kept fixed , in the same position, and the mind riveted to the one idea of the object held above the eyes.
It will generally be found, that the eyelids close with a vibratory motion, o become spasmodically closed. After ten or fifteen seconds have elapsed, by gently elevating the arms and legs, it will be found that the patient has a disposition to retain them in the situation in which they have been placed, if he is intensely affected.
If this is not the case, in a soft tone of voice desire him to retain the limbs in the extended position, and thus the pulse will speedily become greatly accelerated, and the limbs, in process of time, will become quite rigid and involuntarily fixed. It will also be found, that all the organs of special sense, excepting sight, including heat and cold, and muscular motion, or resistance, and certain mental faculties, are at first prodigiously exalted, such as happens with regard to the primary effects of opium, wine, and spirits. After a certain point, however, this exaltation of function is followed by a state of depression, far greater than the torpor of natural sleep. [Footnote: I wish to direct especial attention to this circumstance, as from overlooking the fact of the first stage of this artificial hypnotism being one of excitement, with the possession of consciousness and docility, many imagine they are not affected, whilst the acceleration of pulse, peculiar expression of countenance, and other characteristic symptoms, prove the existence of the condition beyond the possibility of a doubt, to all who understand the subject. I consider it very imprudent to carry it to the ulterior stage, or that of torpor, at a first trial. Moreover, there is great difference in the susceptibility to the neuro- hypnotic impression, some arriving at the state of rigidity and insensibility in a few minutes, whilst others may readily pass into the primary stage, but can scarcely be brought into the ulterior, or rigid and torpid state. It is also most important to note, that many instances of remarkable and permanent cures have occurred, where it has never been carried beyond the state of consciousness.]
A patient may be hypnotized by keeping the eyes fixed in any direction. It occurs most slowly and feebly when the eyes are directed straight forward, and most rapidly and intensely when they can be maintained in the position of a double internal and upward squint..
I feel convinced hypnotism is not only a valuable, but also a perfectly safe remedy for many complaints, if judiciously used; still it ought not to be trifled with by ignorant persons for the mere sake of gratifying idle curiosity. In all cases of apoplectic tendency, or where there is aneurysm, or serious organic disease of the heart, it ought not to be resorted to, excepting with the precaution, that it may be in the mode calculated to depress the force and frequency of the heart's action.
The first symptoms after the induction of the hypnotic state, and extending the limbs, are those of extreme excitement of all the organs of sense, sight excepted. I have ascertained by accurate measurement, that the hearing is about twelve times more acute than in the natural condition. Thus a patient who could not hear the tick of a watch beyond 3 feet when awake, could do so when hypnotized at the distance of 35 feet, and walk to it in a direct line, without difficulty or hesitation. Smell is in like manner, wonderfully exalted ; one patient has been able to trace a rose through the air when held 46 feet from her. May this not account for the fact of Dr Elliotson's patient okey, discovering the peculiar odor of patients in articulo mortis? when she said on passing them, 'there is Jack'. The tactual sensibility is so great, that the slightest touch is felt, and will call into action corresponding muscles, which will also be found to exert a most inordinate power. The sense of heat, cold, and resistance, are also exalted to that degree, as to enable the patient to feel anything without actual contact, in some cases at a considerable distance, (18 or 20 inches) if the temperature is very different from that of the body ; and some will feel a breath of air from the lips, or the blast of a pair of bellows, at the distance of 50, or even 90 feet, and bend from it, and, by making a back current, as by waving the hand or a fan, will move in the opposite direction. The patient has a tendency to approach to, or recede from impressions, according as they are agreeable or disagreeable, either in quality or intensity. Thus, they will approach to soft sounds, but they will recede from loud sounds, however harmonious. A discord, such as two semi-tones sounded at same time, however soft, will cause a sensitive patient to shudder and recede when hypnotized, although ignorant of music, and not at all disagreeably affected by such discord when awake. By allowing a little sure to elapse, and the patient to be in a state of quietude, he will lapse into the opposite extreme, of rigidity and torpor of all the senses, so that he will not hear the loudest noise, nor smell the most fragrant or pungent odour ; nor feel what is either hot or cold, although not only approximated to, but brought into actual contact with, the skin. He may now be pricked, or pinched, or maimed, without evincing the slightest symptom of pain or sensibility, and the limbs will remain rigidly fixed. At this stage a puff of wind directed against any organ instantaneously rouses it to inordinate sensibility, and the rigid muscles to a state of mobility. Thus, the patient may be unconscious of the loudest noise, but by simply causing a current of air to come against the ear, a very moderate noise will instantly be heard so intensely as to make the patient start and shiver violently, although the whole body had immediately before been rigidly cataleptiform. A rose, valerian, or asafoetida, or strongest liquor ammonioe, may have been held close under the nostrils without being perceived, but a puff of wind directed against the nostrils will instantly rouse the sense so much, that supposing the rose had been carried 46 feet distant, the patient has instantly set off in pursuit of it ; and even whilst the eyes were bandaged, reached it as certainly as a dog traces out game ; but, as respects valerian or asafoetida, will rush from the unpleasant smell, with the greatest haste. The same with the sense of touch.
In the second part of this treatise, where the cases are recorded, will be found many examples of the curative power of hypnotism, equally remarkable with those to which I have just referred : such as Tic Doloureux ; Nervous headache; Spinal irritation ; Neuralgia of the heart ; Palpitation and intermittent action of the heart; Epilepsy; Rheumatism; Paralysis; Distortions and tonic spasm, etc.
Dr Elliotson distinctly states, in a published letter, dated 11th September, 1842, that he had "Never produced any effect by mere willing;" and adds, "I have never seen reason to believe, (and I have made innumerable comparative experiments upon the point,) that I have heightened the effect of my processes by exerting the strongest will, or lessened them by thinking intentionally of other things, and endeavoring to bestow no more attention upon what I was about than was just necessary to carry on the process. So far from willing, I have at first had no idea of what would be the effect of my processes; in exciting the cerebral organs, the effect ensues as well in my female patient though the manipulator be a sceptic, and may therefore be presumed not to wish the proper result to ensue and though I stood aside, and do not know what organ he has in view. I have never excited them by the mere will; I have excited them with my fingers just as well when thinking of other matters with my friends, and momentarily forgetting what I was about," The Doctor also denies his belief in the phrenological results arising from sympathy with the state of the operator's brain. I feel convinced that he is right in these sentiments, and believe that the same degree of mechanical pressure or stimulus to the integuments of the cranium, from an inanimate substance, when the patient is in the proper stage of the mesmeric condition, will produce the same manifestation as the personal touch of either sceptic or believer in animal magnetism. Thus, touching them with a knobbed glass rod, three feet long, has produced the phenomena with my patients as certainly as personal contact, so that if there is any thing of vital magnetism in it, it is subject to different laws from that of ordinary magnetism or electricity.
In confirmation of the efficacy of a few minutes of hypnotism, in curing many cases of paralysis, I may refer to the reports of the Liverpool papers, as to what took place at my lectures in that town in April, 1842. There were hundreds who witnessed the effects when I publicly operated on such patients, who were entire strangers to me. Cases where the patients had been for years powerless of limbs, so that they could not unlock the clenched hands, nor raise the arm to the chin, even with the aid of the other arm, have been enabled in eight or ten minutes, to open the hand, and lift the arm above the head. My intelligent friend, Mr Gordon, lately informed me, he had treated a paralytic case most successfully by hypnotism.