Braid, James – Hallucinating as a consequence of suggestion only
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,
PART I. THE INTELLECT.
CHAPTER II. INFLUENCE OF THE INTELLECT ON SENSATION.
Mr. Braid in investigating the alleged discoveries of Reichenbach in regard to the Od force, found that in nearly all cases, even when the persons had not been hypnotized, drawing a magnet or other object slowly from the wrist to the point of the fingers produced various effects. Among these were "a change of temperature, tingling, creeping, pricking," while, when he reversed the motion,
"it was generally followed by a change of symptoms from the altered current of ideas then suggested. Moreover, if any idea of what might be expected existed in the mind previously, or was suggested orally during the process, it was generally very speedily realized. The above patients being now requested to look aside, or a screen having been interposed so as to prevent their seeing what was being done, if they were requested to describe their sensations during the repetition of the processes, similar phenomena were stated to be realized when there was nothing whatever done beyond watching them, and noting their responses."
His son, Dr. Braid, who assisted his father in his experiments, remarks in a letter to the author a few years ago,
" Certainly the first results would have misled anyone who was not accustomed to such such matters."
Mr. Braid gives the case of a lady, above 56, who had, when young, been a somnambulist, but in perfect health and wide awake when the experiment was tried. Having been placed in a dark closet, and desired to look at the poles of a powerful horseshoe magnet and describe what she saw, she "declared, after looking a considerable time, that she saw nothing."
However, after Mr. Braid told her to look attentively, and she would see fire come out of it, she speedily saw sparks, and presently it seemed to her to burst forth, as she had witnessed an artificial representation of the volcano of Mount Vesuvius at some public gardens. Mr. Braid then closed down the lid of the trunk which contained the magnet, but still the same appearances were described as visible.
"By putting leading questions, and asking her to describe what she saw from another part of the closet (where there was nothing but bare walls), she went on describing various shades of most brilliant coruscations and flame, according to the leading questions I had put for the purpose of changing the fundamental ideas. On repeating the experiments, similar results were repeatedly realized by this patient. On taking this lady into the same closet after the magnet had been removed to another part of the house, she still perceived the same visible appearances of light and flame, when there was nothing but the bare walls to produce them ; and two weeks after the magnet was removed, when she went into the closet by herself, the mere association of ideas was sufficient to cause her to realize a visible representation of the same light and flame"
(The Power of the Mind over the Body. By James Braid. 1846).