No department of psychical research is at present exciting so widespread an interest as that which is known under the name of Hypnotism; and inquiries are constantly made by those to whom the subject is new, regarding its nature and effects, and also how, if at all, it differs from the mesmerism and animal magnetism of many years ago.

Unfortunately, these questions are more easily asked than answered, and well-informed persons, and even those considered experts in the subject, would doubtless give different and perhaps opposing answers to them. A short historical sketch may help in forming an opinion.

From the remotest periods of human history to the present time, certain peculiar and unusual conditions of mind, sometimes associated with abnormal conditions of body, have been observed,

-28 during which unusual conditions, words have unconsciously been spoken, sometimes seemingly meaningless, but sometimes conveying knowledge of events at that moment taking place at a distance, sometimes foretelling future events, and sometimes words of warning, instruction, or command.

The Egyptians and Assyrians had their magi, the Greeks and Romans their oracles, the Hebrews their seers and prophets, every great religion its inspired teachers, and every savage nation had, under some name, its seer or medicine-man.

Socrates had his daemon, Joan of Arc her voices and visions, the Highlanders their second sight, Spiritualists their mediums and "controls." Even Sitting Bull had his vision in which he foresaw the approach and destruction of Custer's army.

Until a little more than a hundred years ago all persons affected in any of these unusual ways were supposed to be endowed with some sort of supernatural power, or to be under external and supernatural influence, either divine or satanic.

About 1773 Mesmer, an educated German physician, philosopher, and mystic, commenced the practice of curing disease by means of magnets passed over the affected parts and over the body of the patient from head to foot. Afterward seeing Gassner, a Swabian priest, curing his patients by command, and applying his hands to the affected parts, he discarded his magnets, concluding that the healing power or influence was not in them, but in himself; and he called that influence animal magnetism.

Mesmer also found that a certain proportion of his patients went into a sleep more or less profound under his manipulations, during which somnambulism, or sleep-walking, appeared. But Mesmer's chief personal interest lay in certain theories regarding the nature of the newly-discovered power or agent, and in its therapeutic effects; his theories, however, were not understood nor appreciated by the physicians of his time, and his cures were looked upon by them as being simply quackery.

Nevertheless, it was he who first took the whole subject of these abnormal or supranormal conditions out of the domain of the supernatural, and in attempting to show their relation to natural forces he placed them in the domain of nature as proper subjects of rational study and investigation; and for this, at least, Mesmer should be honored.

Under Mesmer's pupil, the Marquis de Puyse-gur, the facts and methods relating to the magnetic sleep and magnetic cures were more carefully observed and more fully published. Then followed Petetin, Husson, and Dupotet, Elliotson in England and Esdaile in India. So from Mes-mer in 1773 to Dupotet and Elliotson in 1838 we have the period of the "early mesmerists."

During this period the hypnotic sleep was induced by means of passes, the operators never for a moment doubting that the influence which produced sleep was a power of some sort proceeding from themselves and producing its effect upon the patient.

In addition to the condition of sleep or lethargy, the following conditions were well known to the "early mesmerists"; somnambulism, or sleepwalking, catalepsy, anaesthesia, and amnesia, or absence of all knowledge of what transpired during the sleep. Suggestion during sleep was also made use of, and was even then proposed as an agent in education and in the cure of vice.

This was the condition of the subject in 1842, when Braid, an English surgeon, made some new and interesting experiments. He showed that the so-called mesmeric sleep could be produced in some patients by other processes than those used by the early mesmerists; especially could this be accomplished by having the patient gaze steadily at a fixed brilliant object or point, without resorting to passes or manipulations of any kind.

He introduced the word hypnotism, which has since been generally adopted; he also proposed some new theories relating to the nature of the hypnotic sleep, regarding it as a "profound nervous change," and he still further developed the idea and use of suggestion. Otherwise no important changes were made by him in the status of the subject. It was not looked upon with favor by the profession generally, and its advocates were for the most part still considered as cranks and persons whose scientific and professional standing and character were not above suspicion.

The period of twenty-five years from 1850 to 1875, was a sort of occultation of hypnotism. Braidism suffered nearly the same fate as mesmerism - it was neglected and tabooed. A few capable and honest men, like Liebeault of Nancy and Azam of Bordeaux, worked on, and from time to time published their observations; but for the most part these workers were neglected and even scorned.

To acknowledge one's belief in animal magnetism or hypnotism was bad form, and he who did it must be content to suffer a certain degree of both social and professional ostracism. The field was given over to town-hall lectures on mesmerism, by "professors" whose titles were printed in quotation marks even by the local papers which recorded their exploits.

But a change was about to be inaugurated. In 1877 Prof. Charcot, then one of the most scientific, most widely-known, and most highly-esteemed of living physicians, not only in France but in all the world, was appointed, with two colleagues, to investigate the treatment of hysteria by means of metallic disks - a subject which was then attracting the attention of the medical profession in France.