A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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v                     THE EVOLUTION OF PSYCHOTHERAPY                 197
Repulsed, Braid continued with his experiments. His technique was to have the patient look fixedly at some bright object. After a period of three minutes the patient slipped into a hypnotic state. Apparently he became cataleptic, a state in which the extremities are involuntarily held rigid, and on awakening had no memory of what happened. The effects of the hypnosis itself were sufficient to cause improvement in the patient's symptoms. These treatments were carried out as many as five or six times. Dr. Braid stressed the importance of relaxation, ' absolute repose of body, fixed attention and suppressed respiration \ He insisted that the passes of the operator of the action of magnetic fluid, or any other mystical element, were not necessary for the hypnosis. Braid proclaimed his discovery, claiming that the hypnotic reactions he observed were more complete than those attending the work of mesmerists.23
Although he was on the verge of discovering the secret of hypnosis, Braid freely confessed that he did not understand the reason for the overpowering reaction occurring in his patients ; nor was he willing to ascribe hypnosis to any personal power or to any vital force or substance. Braid's chief contribution was his insistence that he knew nothing beyond the fact that neuro-hypnosis induced a peculiar state of the nervous system. And thus he laid the foundation for a clearer conception of mesmerism.
It did not escape Braid's notice that the desire to co-operate with the hypnotizer was obviously a wish to submit. He was on the track of the correct explanation of the hypnotic mechanism ; he expressed the idea that hypnosis depended on the suggestive influence of one person on another. Of all the magnetizers since the days of Mesmer, Braid came closest to the essence of mesmerism, namely, the principle qf^uggestion. ' It is