Friday, December 17, 2010

James Braid

Braid was a Manchester doctor of sceptical temperament and really scientific outlook. Braid found in 1841 that by fixing his eyes on those of a relaxed patient, or getting the patient to gaze at some bright object until the eye-muscles tired, he could induce a condition that looked like sleep.
It is to Braid we owe the word "hypnotism" (aTiros = sleep). He further discovered that in this state of induced sleep the patient exhibited characteristics that made his sleep different from the natural type. He was still en rapport with the hypnotist, was extremely suggestible to anything the hypnotist said, but oblivious of all else. Ideas suggested to the patient by the hypnotist, if reasonable, were carried out. Ideas suggested by another person were apparently unheard, unless the hypnotist told the patient to hear and heed them. If paralysis of a certain limb were suggested to the patient, then he appeared paralysed in that limb, but, more usefully, symptoms of diseases from which he was suffering when he came to Braid were diminished and often removed during the hypnotic state.
Leslie D. Weatherhead, Psychology, Religion and Healing (1952)

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