Braid, James (1795–1860)
Scottish surgeon who originated the word ‘‘hypnosis’’ following
his investigations into the phenomena of mesmerism.
He was born at Rylaw House, in Fifeshire, Scotland, about
1795. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, apprenticed
to a doctor in Leith, then became member of the Royal
College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (M.R.C.S.E.). He became surgeon
to coal miners in Lanarkshire, then practiced with a doctor
in Dumfries. Here Braid assisted a man injured in a stagecoach
accident who persuaded him to move to Manchester,
where Braid distinguished himself for his medical skill.
In 1841 he attended a lecture on animal magnetism given
by Charles Lafontaine. Braid began his own experiments
becuse he suspected that the subject was illusory or a matter of
collusion between operator and subject. He soon believed in
the reality of the mesmeric state but concluded that it did not
arise from any ‘‘magnetic influence’’ passing from operator to
subject. Braid found that an abnormal condition of sleep or
suggestibility could be induced by the subject concentrating the
gaze on an inanimate object. He designated this condition
‘‘neuro-hypnotism,’’ a term later shortened to hypnotism. He
delivered his paper, ‘‘A Practical Essay on the Curative Agency
of Neuro-hypnotism,’’ to the British Association at Manchester
on July 29, 1842. He used hypnotism to produce anesthesia in
some of his surgical patients.
Braid’s findings and his writings were translated into French
and German. Braid died March 25, 1860, in Manchester.
Sources
Braid, James. Observations on J. C. Colquhoun’s History of
‘‘Magic, Witchcraft, and Animal Magnetism.’’ Manchester, England
J. T. Parkes, 1852.
———. Neurypnology or, The Rationale of Nervous Sleep. London
J. Churchill, 1843; 1899. New York Arno Press, 1976.
———. Observations on the Nature and Treatment of Certain
Forms of Paralysis. London T. Richards, 1855.
———. Observations on Trance; or, Human Hibernation. London
J. Churchill 1850.
———. The Physiology of Fascination, and the Critics Criticised.
Manchester, England Grant and Co., 1855.
———. The Power of the Mind Over the Body. 1846.