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Hypnotism: Its History, Practice and Theory

John Milne Bramwell was born in Perth, Scotland, May 11, 1852. The son of a physician, he studied medicine in Edinburgh, and after obtaining his degree of M.B., in 1873, he settled at Goole, Yorkshire.

Fired by the unfinished work of Braid, Bernheim and Liébeault, he began, in 1889, a series of hypnotic researches, which, together with a number of successful experiments he had privately conducted, created considerable stir in the medical world.

Abandoning his general practice and settling in London in 1892, Dr. Bramwell became one of the foremost authorities in the country on hypnotism as a curative agent. His Works include many valuable treatises, the most important being "Hypnotism: its History, Practice and Theory," published in 1903, and here summarised by Dr. Bramwell himself.

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  • Pioneers of Hypnotism - Just as chemistry arose from alchemy, astronomy from astrology, so hypnotism had its origin in mesmerism. Phenomena such as Mesmer described had undoubtedly been observed from early times, but to his work, which extended from 1756 to his death...
  • Theory of Hypnotism - From the psychical side, he explained the phenomena of hypnosis by the action of predominant and unchecked ideas. These were able to obtain prominence from the fact that other ideas, which, under ordinary circumstances, would have controlled their development, did not arise, because the portion of the brain with which the latter were associated had its action temporarily suspended—i.e., the connection between the ganglion-cells was broken, owing to the interrupted connection between the "fibres of association."
  • Hypnotic Induction - Within recent times another theory has arisen, which, instead of explaining hypnotism by the arrested action of some of the brain centres which subserve normal life, attempts to do so by the arousing of certain powers over which we normally have little or no control. This theory appears under different names, "Double Consciousness," "Das Doppel-Ich," etc., and the principle on which it depends is largely admitted by science.
  • Curative Value of Hypnotism - The intelligent action of the secondary self may be illustrated by the execution of certain post-hypnotic acts. Thus, one of my patients who, at a later period, consented to become the subject of experiment, developed an enormously increased power of time appreciation. If told, during hypnosis, for example, that she was to perform some specific act in the waking state at the expiration of a complicated number of minutes, as, for example...
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