Friday 13 November 2020

animal magnetism

Intending to attend the demonstration at the Manchester Athenรฆum by the mesmerism (after Herr Doktor Franz Mesmer’s invisible, natural binding force he called Lebensmagnetismus) itinerant Charles Lafontaine as a sceptic, the gentleman scientist and surgeon James Braid (*1795 – †1860) who developed life-changing interventions to help those suffering from clubfoot, bandy legs and scoliosis was rather captivated by the performance he witnessed on this day in 1841. Rather than audience to the act of a fraudster, the demonstration seemed credible and genuine and bore further investigation in Braid’s mind—neither seeking to discredit the practitioner nor seeking confirmation for a preconceived pursuit of interest, and would devote the balance of his professional career, research and writing to the development of what Braid dubbed as hypnotism and hypnotherapy, documenting the corrective value of heightened states of suggestibility in rehabilitating nervous disorders—though not yet ready to entertain the possibility of the psychosomatic.