Throughout my research in the field of hypnosis, I have waded through articles in journals, especially from the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, for example, which has archives dating back to 1997. Though some hypnosis journals date back earlier, did you know that a mesmerism journal written by medical professionals of the day existed in the 1840s?!!
Way back in 1837, John Elliotson, a highly regarded physician of the day, saw some mesmeric experiments, and began to mesmerise patients at University College Hospital. His students, as well as those of other hospitals, became interested and attended in large numbers.
That said, many of his colleagues are said to have challenged his (according to early accounts I have read, though it is irrelevant to the point of today’s blog) mesmerism work. The Dean subsequently advised him to desist.
In 1838, the Council of University College passed the following resolution : ” That the Hospital Committee be instructed to take such steps as they shall deem most advisable to prevent the practice of mesmerism within the hospital.” Elliotson, on being ordered to cease mesmerising his patients, immediately resigned his appointments, and never afterwards entered College or Hospital. Elliotson was persistent and continued to argue, debate and promote mesmerism with all his will.
As a result, in 1843 Elliotson and his sympathisers started the Zoist; a journal of Cerebral Physiology and Mesmerism.
It appeared quarterly from April, 1843, until it was discontinued on December 31st, 1855. Its writers then claimed that its aim had been fulfilled, as their views had been made public for thirteen years. Some claim that it was as a result of the influence of the Zoist that mesmeric infirmaries and institutions were subsequently opened in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and elsewhere.
Elliotson was a constant writer in the Zoist, and contributed many medical and surgical cases observed by himself and others. These comprised amputations of the thigh, leg, arm, breast, etc., which had been performed painlessly during “mesmeric trance” in England and Scotland, as well as on the Continent and in America.
In the pages on the Zoist, you can read about the cures and improvements that were alleged to have followed mesmeric treatment in cases of insanity, epilepsy, hysteria, stammering, neuralgia, asthma, torticollis, headache, functional affections of the heart, rheumatism and other diseases. Elliotson asserted that mesmerism was especially useful in hysteria and other functional nervous disorders.
Elliotson continued to employ mesmerism in his practice up to his death in 1868. He feuded bitterly with James Braid who went on to coin the term hypnosis and create the foundation for the field as it is today. So before hypnosis actually existed as a field of exploration, there was an intriguing journal called the Zoist that you can go and grab bits and pieces of anywhere on the internet, google offer up entire editions to download should you choose. Just thought I’d share it here today.
So tomorrow, I have a seminar and will not be around, then we have another Bank Holiday weekend, so this blog will not be updated again until next Tuesday… I hope you can cope until then.