A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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could not open his eyes. Here was something, thought Braid, that was physiological. Paralysis of the muscles of the eyelids was not imaginary, nor was it somnambulism, magnetism or magic. It represented a weakened function of certain muscles, perhaps due to excessive fatigue. Braid reasoned that if an individual gazes at something with great intensity until the eye-muscles tire, 1 a state of pathologic fatigue will be induced. He proceeded to test out his theory on a young friend, Mr. Walker, and upon Mrs. Braid. To his amazement, when Walker looked fixedly at a bright object Braid used his metallic lancet case he almost immediately fell into a trance-like state. Braid had proved his point. ' Animal magnetism ' was not essential to induce the mesmeric state of stupor. All that was required was that the subject should fix his gaze on a bright object for a short time, induce pathological fatigue of the eye-muscles, and forthwith he would pass into a stupor. To designate the process Braid coined the term ' hypnosis ' (from Greek Hypnos, sleep).
Within a few days Braid announced his findings, and within the next six months he had written a paper for the British Medical Association's annual congress in 1841, entitled ' Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism \ He had by this time amassed a large series of case records where striking improvements through hypnotism were shown to have been accomplished in rheumatism, paralysis, pharyngitis, spasmodic torticollis (wry neck), migraine, spinal irritation, epilepsy, valvular heart disease, frontal bone abscess, deafness, near-sightedness and strabismus. Braid wanted to spread his findings in the profession. The programme committee of the Medical Association was not impressed, however. Caustically they replied to his offer that they were ' pleased to decline entertaining the subject \