Phreno-Mesmerism (or Phreno-Magnetism
or Phrenopathy)
An application of the principles of mesmerism to phrenology,
a means of discerning the nature of an individual’s personality
from examining the skull. Mesmerism (or animal magnetism)
and phrenology, both proposed as sciences in the midnineteenth
century, had been regarded by English mesmerists
as related topics after it was observed that a sleepwalker whose
phrenological ‘‘bumps’’ were touched would respond to the
stimulus by exhibiting every symptom of the mental trait corresponding
to the bump touched. Thus signs of joy, grief, destructiveness,
combativeness, and friendship might be exhibited
in rapid succession by the entranced patient.
Among those who claimed to have discovered the new science
were Dr. R. H. Collyer, a pupil of Dr. John Elliotson, and
La Roy Sunderland, although the former afterwards repudiated
it. As time went on, enterprising phreno-mesmerists discovered
many new cerebral organs, as many as a hundred and fifty
more than those already mapped out by J. K. Spurzheim and
Franz Joseph Gall.
Phreno-mesmerism numbered among its supporters James
Braid (credited with demythologizing mesmerism into hypnotism),
who expressed himself fully satisfied of its reality. He recorded
a number of cases in which the patient correctly indicatPhouka
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
ed by his actions the organs touched, although the patient was
by all accounts demonstrably ignorant of phrenological principles
and inaccessible to outside information.
Concerning this evidence, it would seem advisable to admit
the possibility of suggestion, (or even telepathy), by means of
which the expectation of the operator, reproducing itself in the
mind of the patient, would give rise to the corresponding reac