In a message dated 25/06/2007 12:09:27am GMT Standard Time,
Going back thousands of years there is evidence that trance was used in most
of the ancient cultures and civilizations, The Vedas, the Upanishads, the
Bible, the Koran and other books of wisdom all seem to point in this
direction. Even in primitive tribal cultures trance has been the domain of
the witch doctors etc and has been applied in many different ways.
May I suggest that Braid was not really discovering anything other than a
new slant on an old story.
Sure. This is a question, basically, about semantics. What do we mean here
by "hypnotism"? Trance rituals and suggestion are as old, probably, as
mankind. Nobody would argue that these things weren't around for thousands of
years before Braid's time. So if that's all you mean, then yours is a straw
Braid was one of the first people to discover that the kind of phenomena
produced by Mesmerism were within the normal range of physiological responses
and could be induced by a combination of physical manipulation and suggestion.
That's the essence of hypnosis, in the modern sense. Several people had
already toyed with this idea but it was Braid who first completely stripped M
esmerism of its "occult" hypotheses and substituted a wholly psychological and
physiological explanation instead. He wrote,
"I beg farther to remark, if my theory and pretensions, as to the nature,
cause, and extent of the phenomena of nervous sleep [hypnotism] have none of
the fascinations of the transcendental to captivate the lovers of the
marvellous, the credulous and enthusiastic, which the pretensions and alleged occult
agency of the mesmerists have, still I hope my views will not be the less
acceptable to honest and sober-minded men, because they are all level to our
comprehension, and reconcilable with well-known physiological and psychological
principles." (Braid, 1853: 36)
In that sense, he "discovered" hypnotism, because he identified that the
clusted of typical effects could be reliably produced without the intervention
of (supposed) supernatural powers, like the "odylic fluid", etc. Can anyone
provide any evidence, i.e., a direct quotation, which shows that someone else
arrived at that discovery, and publicised it, before the time of Braid?
Incidentally, you refer to religious texts which you think allude to the
concept of trance. Braid himself gradually abandoned this concept and made
suggestion central to hypnosis. In doing so he was way ahead of his time, as
modern researchers also claim that "suggestion not trance" is the central
concept of hypnosis. Many, following Sarbin, treat "trance" as a (misleading)
descriptive metaphor which has caused confusion by becoming widely "reified" and
treated literally, i.e., as a supposed causal factor in hypnosis. Also, the
whole point of Braid's work was to disentangle hypnotism from supernatural
and religious theories, so you can hardly claim he was pre-empted in this by
the Vedas, Koran, etc.
Senior Clinician Hypnotherapist (NCH)
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