On the whole, the progress of mesmeric science, per se, has been backward since the discoveries of Braid, - not because Braid disproved the fluidic theory, for he did not disprove it, nor did he claim to have done so, but for reasons which will appear in their proper place.
Suggestion is now, as before the discoveries of Liebault, ignored by mesmerists as a necessary factor either in the induction of the mesmeric condition, or in the production of the subsequent phenomena. In this they are partly right and partly wrong. Suggestion, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, - that is, oral suggestion, - is not an indispensable factor in the induction of the condition. This is shown in a great variety of ways. One fact alone demonstrates the principle, and that is, that subjects who have been often mesmerized by a particular individual can be by him thrown into that state, under certain favorable conditions, even though the two may, be many miles apart. Account is not taken in this of the many experiments of the old mesmerists, who previously informed their subjects of the intended experiment. But many instances might be cited where this has been accomplished under test conditions, the element of suggestion being carefully eliminated. The writer has mesmerized a subject at a distance of three hundred miles, and that under conditions which rendered oral or objective suggestion impossible.
Particular instances will not be cited here, for the reason that in subsequent chapters of this book the principle involved will be rendered so plain that further proofs would be superfluous. A further demonstration of this principle lies in the fact that children, too young to understand what is expected of them, and animals of various kinds, can be mesmerized. This is abundantly proved by the experiments of Wilson, who, as early as 1839, mesmerized elephants, horses, wolves, and other animals in London. Obersteimer states that in Austria the law requires army horses to be mesmerized for the purpose of shoeing them. This process was introduced by a cavalry officer named Balassa, and hence it has been termed and is now known as "the Balassiren of horses" (Moll). This is the secret of the celebrated horse-tarriers, Sullivan and Rarey. By their methods the wildest colts and the most vicious horses could be subdued in an hour. Mesmerism is the power exerted by the lion-tamer and the snake-charmer. The power is often exerted unconsciously, - that is, without a knowledge on the part of the operator of the source of his power. • The mesmerists of the present day are not, of course, ignorant or unmindful of the potency of suggestion in the production of mesmeric phenomena subsequent to the induction of the condition.
But, like the Paris school of hypnotists, they hold that suggestion plays a secondary role in the production of many of the phenomena. That they are wrong in this will more fully appear in subsequent chapters of this book.
The points of difference between the three schools of this science have now been reviewed, and the theories of each briefly stated. It is found, -
1. That the Nancy school attributes all the phenomena, including the induction of the state, to the power of suggestion, and that it is to the psychic powers and attributes of man alone that we must look for an explanation.
2. The Paris school, on the other hand, ignores suggestion as a necessary factor either in the induction of the state or in the production of subsequent phenomena, and seeks an explanation of the subject-matter on the bases of physiology and celebral anatomy.
3. The mesmerists ignore suggestion as a necessary factor at any stage of their experiments, and explain the whole on the magnetic fluid theory.
We also find three distinct methods of inducing the sleep; and as it is of the utmost importance to bear the different methods in mind, they will be here restated:-
The Nancy school, true to its theory, employs suggestion alone to induce the condition. Passes are sometimes made over its subjects after the manner of the mesmerists, but only with a view of giving an air of mystery to the proceedings, and thus adding potency to the suggestion.
The Paris school employs physical means to induce the state almost exclusively. They are practically the same as those employed by Braid, namely, causing the subject to gaze steadily at a bright object, - although many variations of the method have been introduced, such as flashing an electric light in the eyes of the subject, striking a gong without warning close to his ears, or by some peripheral excitation, such as rubbing the scalp, etc.
The mesmeric method proper consists in making passes from the head downwards, gazing fixedly into the subject's eyes, and concentrating the mind upon the work in hand, strongly willing the subject to sleep. It is true that many of the so-called mesmerists now employ Braid's method entirely, and others depend largely upon suggestion. But the true mesmeric method is as has been stated.