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James Braid

James Braid (1795 - 1860) coined the term and invented the procedure known as hypnotism.

A surgeon, born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh. Braid practised in Scotland for a short time, then moved to Manchester, England, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Braid became interested in mesmerism in November 1841, when he observed demonstrations given by a traveling mesmerist named Charles Lafontaine (1803 - 1892). Convinced that he had discovered the key to understanding these phenomena, Braid began giving lectures the following month.

In 1843 he published Neurypnology: or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep, his first and only book-length exposition of his views. In this book he coined the words "hypnotism", "hypnotize", and "hypnotist", which remain in use. Braid thought of hypnotism as producing a "nervous sleep" which differred from ordinary sleep. The most efficent way to produce it was through visual fixation on a small bright object held eighteen inches above and in front of the eyes. Braid regarded the physiological condition underlying hypnotism to be the over-exercising of the eye muscles through the straining of attention.

He completely rejected Franz Mesmer's idea that a magnetic fluid caused hypnotic phenomena, because anyone could produce them in "himself by attending strictly to the simple rules" that Braid laid down.

Suggested Reading

Alan Gauld, A History of Hypnotism, (Cambridge University Press, 1992).

James Braid (Feb. 6, 1870-Nov. 27, 1950) -- The Scottish-born member of the "Great Triumvirate" of British golfers (Braid, John H. Taylor and Harry Vardon), Braid won five British Opens in all and was the first to achieve this feat. His victories came in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, and 1910. In addition Braid won four British PGA championships in 1903, 1905, 1907 and 1911 as well as the 1910 French Open title. Braid was runner-up in the British Open in 1897 and 1909.