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HYPNOSISThe study of hypnosis can throw much light on our understanding

of interpersonal relations.  The concept of hypnosis has under­gone a significant evolution in recent decades. (Cf. Leon

Chertok, M.D., 22 Rue Legendre, Paris (17E), France, author of an

article "Relation and Influence," appearing in the American

Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Volume 29, Nubmer 1, July 1986,

pp. 13-22)Franz Anton Mesmer (1736-1815)First of his writings in our possession was his doctoral thesis

presented at the Viennese Facultgy of Medicine in 1766, entitled

"De planetarum influxu" (Of the influence of the planets). 

Mesmer argued that living bodies, humans in particular, are

subject to the influence of the stars.He married a young wealthy widow in 1766 and lived a life of

luxury for six years, after which he ran out of money and

returned to the practice of medicine.  What little medicine he

did at the time was conventional.In 1772, he was obliged to work and turned to magnetic medicine. 

This phenonomenon was being studied by Father Maximilian Hell,

Director of the Vienna Observatory and Astronomer Royal. He had

begun to use it in the treatment of nervous disorders. In 1774, Mesmer was treating Mademoiselle Oesterline, a young

woman suffering from symptoms of hysteria.  Using conventional

medical methods, Mesmer was unable to help the woman.  He decided

to try treatment by magnetism.  He noted that the application of

the magnets produced a crisis in his patient, after which the

symptoms disappeared.  The cure was connected with the crisis. 

But what precisely had happened?  The woman's pains which had

previously been localized in one part of the body suddenly

pervaded the entire body.  Mesmer concluded from this experiment

that the physical existence of beings is governed by a kind of

force, a magnetic matter.  Sickness is related to the way this

force is distributed in the body, a lack of harmony, or an uneven

distribution.Mesmer attempted to extend the laws of ordinary magnetism to the

body, which he conceived of as a filed of magnetic forces

identical in nature to those at work in the inanimate world.  Mesmer later reconized that the therapeutic power did not lie in

the magnet itself.  In his words: "I have observed that magnetic

matter is almost the same thing as electrical fluid, and that it

sperads in the same manner, through intermediate bodies.  Steel

is not the only substance capable of this: I have also magnetized

paper, bread, wool, silk, leather, stones, glass, water, differ­ent metals, wood, men, dogs, in a word, everything I laid hands

on, so that these substances produced in sick people the same

effects as the magnet" (F.A. Mesmer, 1971, Le magnetisme animal. 

works published by Robert Amadou with commentaries and notes by

Frank A. Pattie and Jean Vinchon, Paris: Payot).From this observation, Mesmer evolved the concept of animal

magnetism.  The therapeutic action is still caused by a physicalÜv��Ü
process, but it is the magnetizer's personality which influences

the patient.  What matters now, is not the magnetic substance

itself, but the passes and touching of the physician.This was a revolutionary concept at the time, acknowledging the

existence of a specifically human force of attraction.  Now the

therapist himself was involved in the curative process.  Mesmer

mentioned the importance of the therapist's "will to heal".What exactly did Mesmer do?  He established a "rapport" with his

patient first by pressing his knees against his patient's knees

or by rubbing his thumbs against theirs.  Then he made a series

of passes.  He progressed then to collective seances around a

baquet, a large basic filled with water, broken glass, pebbles

and iron filings; iron bars protruded from the basin and were

grasped by the patients, who were joined together by a string

along which the fluid was supposed to circulate.  Mesmer held a

magnetic wand in his hand, going from patient to patient, here

and there provoking a crisis, and the patienst thus affected were

taken off to padded individual cabins in order to allow their

crises to develop.  In one corner of the room, a small orchestra

created a propitious atmosphere for the onset of crises.  Mesmer,

apparently, loved music and held that sound was an outstanding

conductor of the fluid.Mesmer's practice was soon condemned by the medial profession of

his day.  A Royal Commission was set up to investigate Mesmer and

the Commission finally denounced him.  His techniques were said

to be "dangerous to morals".  But the Commission was astute in

concluding that his "cures" could not be attributed to a material

force he called the fluid, but to a psychic factor.  They also

recognized that the psychic dimension necessarily entails

broaching the sexual dimension of the relation between doctor and

patient, a relationship later observed by Freud.One of Mesmer's pupils, the Marquis de Puysegur (1751-1825), made

an important discovery, the hynotic state of somnambulism.  He

called it magnetic somnambulism.  He magentized a shephard named

Victor, in his village, who fell into a sort of sleep during

which he remained conscious, capable of seeing, walking and

speaking, but only at the magnetizers direction.  When awakened,

Victor could remember nothing of what had happened during his

sleep.  Mesmer had run into the same phenomenon, and described it

as "critical sleep", but he attached no importance to it,

considering it an unnecessary complication. The ability to carry on a conversation with the person in this

state created a new dimension for therapy.  The patient was now

not just a body to be manipulated.  Puysegar now began to

question the patient in somnabulism about the seat of his

ailment, the date of his possible cure, and how to proceed with

the treatment.  He discovered that in somnambulism the patient

becomes particularly luck about his illness.  This happened a century before Freud.  Puysegar had a pupil,

Deleuze (1753-1835) who evolved what amounted to a theory to

explain what was happening in these so-called magnetic cures,

resembling what we would call the process of psychoanalysis.  He

suggested that the cure depended upon the "rapport" or bond

between the therapist and patient.  He noticed that when theÜv��Ü
patient was cured, the bond ceased to exist and the patient

became immune to magntic influence.  Author writers of the time

(Virey in 1818 and de Vilers in 1787) went even further than

Deleuze arguing that feeling was the prime mover in the treat­ment.An important break from the Mesmer tradition occurred in the 19th

century with the work of Braid, a Manchester surgeon, who coined

the word hypnotism in 1843.  The theory shifted from the concept

of a magnetic fluid to the a neuro-physiological concept of

hypnosis.Faria in 1814 and Bertrand in 1823 denied the existence of a

fluid, claiming that everything happened in the patient's mind. 

To prove the point, Faria put a subject to sleep without the aid

of magnetic passes.  Brain went further inducing hypnotic sleed

by getting the subject to fix on a shiny object.  He concluded

that muscle fatigue in the eye brought on partial sleep. 

Hypnosis, he suggested, was simply a mechanical process occurring

in the brain.