This work traces the history of hypnotism from its beginnings as "animal magnetism". It begins with a detailed description of Anton Mesmer's 1774 discovery and recounts the story of his life. The major alterations in Mesmer's theory made by a variety of early pioneers, including the supposed paranormal powers possessed by somnambulists, are then examined, with a fuller account of the tragedy of John Elliotson than has appeared elsewhere. James Braid's coining of the term "hypnotism" to replace "animal magnetism" introduces the modern era, and after an appreciation of Braid's work the dramatic demonstrations in Charcot's Clinic are described, with the subsequent exposure of his errors by Bernheim and others. The book concludes with an account of the therapeutic and experiment work of the 20th century and the practical ways in which hypnotism is being employed today.
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