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Braid, James – Hypnotism, a definition, a method and its effects



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Neurypnology ; or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep, considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism. By James Braid, M.R.C.S., &c. 1843

Hypnotism, is "a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye, on one object, not of an exciting nature"

The process of inducing it;

"Take any bright object between the thumb and fore and middle fingers of the left hand ; hold it from about eight to fifteen inches from the eyes, at such a distance above the forehead as may be necessary to produce the greatest possible strain upon the eyes and eyelids, and enable the patient to maintain a steady fixed stare at the object. The patient must be made to understand that he is to keep the eyes steadily fixed on the object, and the mind riveted on the idea of that one object. . . . After ten or fifteen seconds have elapsed, by gently elevating the arms and legs, it will be found that the patient has a disposition to retain them in the situation in which they have been placed, if he is intensely affected. If this is not the case, in a soft tone of voice desire him to retain the limbs in the extended position, and thus the pulse will speedily become greatly accelerated, and the limbs in process of time will become quite rigid and involuntarily fixed. It will also be found that all the organs of special sense, excepting sight, including heat and cold, and muscular motion or resistance, and certain mental faculties, are, at first, prodigiously exalted, such as happens with regard to the primary effects of opium, wine, and spirits. After a certain point, however, this exaltation of function is followed by a state of depression, far greater than the torpor of natural sleep. From this state of the most profound torpor of the organs of special sense, and tonic rigidity of the muscles, they may, at this stage, instantly be restored to the opposite condition of extreme mobility and exalted sensibility, by directing a current of air against the organ or organs we wish to excite to action, or the muscles we wish to render limber, and which had been in the cataleptiform state" (p. 30).

The source of the experience

Braid, James

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items


Activities and commonsteps