The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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HYPNOTISM AND MESMERISM.
87
the subject was confined to its psychological and therapeutic features; but every scientist who dabbled in it was tabooed by the majority of his associates. Many able works were produced on the subject, but none of them attracted the attention of the academicians until Dr. Braid, of Manchester, undertook to demonstrate the theory that the hypothetical magnetic fluid had nothing to do with the production of the phenomena. Braid discovered that by \ placing a bright object before the eyes of the subject, and causing him to gaze upon it with persistent attention, he could be thrown into the hypnotic sleep, during which many of the well-known phenomena ascribed to magnetism could be produced. This seemed to point to the possibility of a physiological explanation of the subject-matter. It attracted the attention of the scientists, and thus to Braid belongs the credit of causing the subject to be at last acknowledged as being within the domain of the exact sciences. The academicians were now mollified. The pet theory of the mesmerists appeared to have been demolished. The method was simple and easily applied. The phenomena of thought-transference could not be produced by its methods. It promised a physiological explanation ; and, best of all, it had been given a new name. It had received many names before Braid undertook the task of rechristening it; but, with the exception of " mesmerism," each was objectionable, because it implied a theory of causation. The name " mesmerism" was obviously improper, because Mesmer was neither the discoverer of the force, nor the inventor of the practical method of evoking it. "Animal magnetism" implied Mesmer's theory of magnetic currents. " Mental or animal electricity " implied practically the same theory. " Neurology " indicated the science of the nervous system. " Patheism" (from the Greek radical signifying disease or suffering) and " etherology" (which means the science of the refined part of the atmosphere) were equally meaningless as applied to the subject. " Psycodunamy " signified the power of the soul; and " electro-biology " was American, and not