James Braid

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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.


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.