Without Mesmerism modern hypnosis might never have existed, or hypnosis may never have become a therapeutic profession at all. Contrary to modern perceptions, Mesmer by his own admission wasn’t a hypnotist. He had studied the works of Paracelsus, Richard Mead, and also the ancient techniques of Hypnotic Fascination that has roots back to the ancient Egyptian Temple masters and the Fakirs and Holy Men of India and Ancient Persia. One of Mesmer’s pupils; The Marquis de Pusgesur was the first recorded person to use words with the trance state of Mesmersim, accidentally discovering that he could get a verbal response when working with one of his servants, a boy named Victor Race.
Mesmer was always a strong vocal opponent against using words and verbal instructions with his method and he discredited the “Somnambules,” which is what verbal hypnotists soon became known as in his time. Mesmer considered the Somnambules as quacks and imposters, accusing them of not knowing what they were doing and of having no knowledge or account of the deeper energies at play. He was also distressed that his method became intertwined with and confused with hypnosis.
Mesmer was a magnetist and he was fiercely proud of it. The English doctor James Braid developed what could be called traditional hypnosis after watching the Swiss Magnetist La Fontaine at a show in Manchester. However Braid was acutely aware of his medical peers so he altered the method and he removed all mention of Magnetism or Mesmerism from his postulation. In doing so he threw the baby out with the bath water; he disempowered it down to inducing the trance state by eye fixation and renamed the method hypnosis. Before his death and after being somewhat ridiculed by his peers for trying to mix his methods with Phrenology, Braid said that if only he had have kept with what he had seen the Magnetists do he would have been a far more effective healer.
Around the same time that James Braid was attempting to satisfy the medical establishment a Scottish surgeon Dr James Esdaile from Montrose was using Mesmer’s non-verbal method at hospitals in India. When it was suggested by his medical peers that it was all imagination Esdaile stated, “All of the imagination in the world will not stops the screams of pain or the gushing of blood when a diseased limb is removed by the surgeons saw, however Mesmerism will”. Esdaile performed many documented surgeries and limb amputations using Mesmerism as the anaesthetic. Mesmerism, Somnambulism and Hypnosis are three completely different methodologies. When Mesmerism and traditional hypnosis are blended correctly a self-perpetuating energy develops that Traditional hypnosis, Ericksonian hypnosis, NLP, and few other methodologies can come close to.
Rick Collingwood – Australia’s Premiere Clinical Hypnotist.