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Available on Amazon
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Erskine, Professor Alexander

Category: Healer

Alistair Marcol

Professor Alexander Erskine was a doctor and a pioneer in the use of hypnosis in healing. 

He was born in Scotland and was a cousin to the Earl of Mar and Kellie.  The title Earl of Kellie or Kelly is one of the peerage titles of in the Peerage of Scotland, created in 1619 for Sir Thomas Erskine, who was Captain of the Guard and Groom of the Stool for James VI. It is named after Barony of Kellie in Fife, Scotland.

Professor Erskine is almost unknown in the records for hypnotherapy. The names of Esdaile and James Braid often appear in books, but Professor Erskine’s name rarely appears.  

And yet

The Invisible Influence By Alexander Cannon
Great Britain owes to Alexander Erskine, the serious introduction of hypnotism to the medical profession and the convincing of the most ardent critic of his earlier days, its practical adoption as a scientific study and a therapeutic agent far superior to any of our drugs; …..


This is made more extraordinary when one considers the success he had in curing problems such as insomnia, anxiety, stress, nervousness, stammering, addiction [cigarettes and alcohol], ‘melancholia’ etc. many of which have their roots in the mind. 

He was particularly successful at alleviating pain.

The Power of the Sub-Conscious Mind - Professor Alex Erskine

 A physician who lacks the knowledge of the power of suggestion has still something to learn.  Suggestion can be given consciously or unconsciously to a patient by a skilful and tactful operator.   Pain can be annulled, as well as -produced, in a patient or subject, by the same principle or law-the idea-affects the condition of the tissues through the neurosis excited : the pain is a real pain, and can work damage to the tissues, if prolonged, as the normal cause of pain would do. Conversely, imagination may prevent or cure disease by determining neurosis.   It is a mistaken idea that the sleep state must be produced first : the power is the art to speak to the sub-conscious mind while the patient is awake and in his normal state………….. No one with a sound mind could possibly imagine that suggestion could set a broken bone or cure appendicitis; but suggestion can and could facilitate recovery by destroying the sense of pain in the operation and afterwards


In the book above he provides a long list of illnesses he had tackled successfully in addition to those already mentioned:

  • Nerve deafness and blindness
  • Neuralgia and other nerve pains
  • Hysteria
  • St. Vitus dance
  • Paralysis - functional, often diagnosed as organic
  • Muscular contraction and rheumatism.
  • Painless extraction of teeth, under hypnosis
  • Complete anaesthesia in surgical operations.
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Women's complaints including Period headache.
  • Prolapsus
  • Headache
  • Sea and train sickness
  • Memory loss
  • Facial paralysis.
  • Colic and diarrhoea
  • Delusions
  • Hypochondria
  • Hemiplegia


  • First stages of locomotor ataxy
  • Sciatica
  • Nervous head trouble
  • Tinnitus and Noises in the head
  • Vertigo
  • Impotence
  • Spermatorrhoea.
  • Prostatic troubles
  • Nocturnal enuresis
  • Coccygodynia
  • Epilepsy
  • Obsessions
  • Pseudoalexia.
  • Advanced phthisis
  • Hypnosis to alleviate distress.
  • Functional aphasia
  • Bronchial neuralgia
  • Hay fever
  • Menieres disease
  • Dyspermia.

And yet more.

Early days

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

Could I be of advantage to my fellow-men ? Was it not of the devil ? And if so, how could it be of use in the world ?  I read such books as I could find, but they were not very helpful. In those days the art still savoured of magic, and what I read convinced my young mind that this power could not be for good. But how harmonize the Church and the devil?  Impossible! Exorcize the devil.
It was the only way. And thus it was that a few years later, with this laudable ambition in view, I betook myself to a theological college.  For a time all went well. I kept my fasts and feasts and vigils. I was happy. Yet, from time to time, memories of those days in the Canadian backwoods of my new-found power came to haunt me. They came at length with the insistence of a message.
Was there a healing power in me by my power to induce sleep ? Ought I to use it for the benefit of my fellow men?  And was this power not, after all, of the devil?
For long I wrestled with my problem alone. I spoke to my confessor about it. When I could stand it no longer I spoke to the head of the college. He was a liberal man and a thinker. He has since been made a bishop. From him I felt I should get the guidance and sympathy I craved.
Little was the comfort I received, and I returned to my cell in despair.
In sheer agony of spirit, I threw myself on my knees at my bedside and prayed for a sign. How long I remained there I cannot say. At length I arose and turned to where lay a book I had knocked off a shelf as I flung myself down by my bed. A piece of paper had fluttered from it, and was lying on the floor. On it was written, in a man's handwriting (whose, I don't know) this :

Christ is not looking for credentials from you and from me, He is looking for wounds to heal.

Within six months I was in America - the only place in the English-speaking world where the study of the science was not regarded as a freak - studying hypnosis and its healing power. First, at the American College at Philadelphia, I took their full course in psychology. Next, at the New York Institute of Science at Rochester, I obtained their diplomas in hypnosis for the practice of hypnotism.

Afterwards, at the same Institute, i took the full Course in neurology of the New York Institute of Physicians and Surgeons-part of the medical course, though I did not take medicine and surgery, which would have entitled me to practise as a doctor. In due course I returned to England to practise the new art.



Professor Erskine believed that hypnotherapy was ‘a great science which should, for the benefit of mankind, be more generally understood.’ And in order to explain the science and spread the word, he lectured frequently to fellow doctors as well as writing books about case histories.  He held what he called “Medical Matinees” in Liverpool, Harrogate, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and in St. George's Building, Hanover Square, all of which were very largely attended by the medical profession. He also visited various Hospitals, both in London and Scotland, at the invitation of doctors in these hospitals.

The phrase Medical Matinees gives the impression that these meetings were small cosy get togethers, but they were anything but.  At one lecture he gave at a medical matinee at the London Pavilion, Piccadilly, some eight hundred medical men and their friends attended to hear what he had to tell ‘in support of the Science of Hypnotic suggestion’.  

And yet on searching we could find no photographs of this modest man and had some difficulty in piecing together a biography.  Erskine was also aware of the potential for abuse of his techniques, and this may be one reason why he is less well known.  "I have not divulged the methods to be employed to gain access to the subjective mind, but I shall be pleased to instruct medical gentlemen by appointment."

The Gentleman's Journal
" Professor Alex. Erskine is a Scotchman, ….and to some extent his hypnotic powers may be said to be hereditary. Magnetic influence asserted itself in him when a boy, and from certain incidents which came under his observation whilst in America demonstrating the wonders of Magnetic Agency, he was led to take up its study. He passed through several scientific institutions, among them being The American College, from which he holds diplomas; he is also [sic] diploma from The Institute of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, Rochester, N.Y. Many patients will remember him at Eastbourne, but he has now made London his domicile.


"To talk with Professor Alex. Erskine, the celebrated hypnotist, is one of the most pleasurable occupations a really thoughtful man can be privileged to do - immediately you know you are in the company of one whose whole heart and soul lies in the science he so brilliantly expounds both by explanation and actual demonstration. His elemental powers alone upset a fallacy, inasmuch as he controls the subject in the waking state and afterwards puts him to sleep. As a rule, it has been considered necessary to reverse absolutely this method of procedure, but the Professor refutes the idea with characteristic emphasis. 'It is,' he said, 'a mistaken idea that the sleep state must be produced first.' The curative power is the art of speaking to the 'sub-conscious mind ' while the patient is awake in his normal condition. In deep-seated and chronic complaints, however, the ' sleep state' is more efficacious."………

" Not the least noteworthy part of his opening address corrected the mistaken idea that it is only the weak-minded who can be hypnotised; on the contrary, it is only possible with those who sufficiently concentrate their minds-weak-minded persons and those under the influence of alcohol cannot be hypnotised.




EXTRACT FROM The Edinburgh Magazine :-

Gentlemen,-There is no intention on my part, had I the power, to belittle the effect of medicine properly administered, or the honourable profession of medical men,' etc., etc." With these words Professor Alex. Erskine introduced him-self to the audience of medical men and others whom he had invited to the Empire Theatre on Tuesday afternoon, and it may be said throughout his two hours' exhibition Professor Alex. Erskine never departed from the modest and unassuming position he took up at the outset.

Here is no charlatan trying to impress by theatrical mannerisms a belief in his own ultra-human powers. Indeed, if Professor Alex. Erskine erred, it was upon the other side--in the assumption that the power to hypnotise was general among mankind, etc., etc.

In certain classes of diseases it would appear that hypnotism can accomplish what cannot be done in any other way nearly so quickly or effectually. If a science which is now fortunately dissociated from all alliance with him of darkness can be lifted out of the atmosphere of the booth, to which its mystery and laughter-producing possibilities have condemned it, this will be done by the agency of such men as Professor Alex. Erskine.



  • The Power of the Sub-conscious mind – 1915
  • A Hypnotist’s Case Book – 1932 [also reprinted in 1957 and 1966]
  • Hypnotism. The mystery of the subconscious mind and the power of suggestion - 1912

The pictures are of Pittenweem in 'the kingdom of Fife'

A Hypnotist’s Case Book – Professor Alexander Erskine

I shall preserve the anonymity of my patients except where I have their permission to give their names, or where the Press has made an investigation of a case and has reported its findings. I shall invent nothing. There is no need to do so, and indeed I could not imagine events more wonderful than those I have experienced in my professional practice. Every case has its message of hope for some sufferer or other. That is my justification. I want to indicate what I believe to be the great truths of hypnosis, its theories and facts, to illustrate and explain the theories on which the science has been built up, to give the reasoning which led to their adoption, and sketch the trend of modern research in the subject.

It affects the daily life of the man in the street to an almost unbelievable extent. It must play a part in his dealings in his home, his business, or his public life. It is a fundamental of character. It is the essence of "Self".  It has to deal with his bodily health and his peace of mind.

It dominates his life. Such is the power which is inherent in everyone, and it is there for the conjuring up, if only a man believes and will approach the problem in the right way.


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