James Braid (1795 - 1860) was a Scottish surgeon and hypnotist. Braid saw a demonstration of mesmerism by Charles Lafontaine in 1841 and began to explore and research the subject for himself. He argued that the trance like state that a person went into, which he called hypnotism, was a state of mind. He said it was not caused by the transferring "mesmeric fluid" or "animal magnetism". He believed a hypnotic state could be caused by having a person stare at a small bright object. When a person was in a hypnotic state, they could be given suggestions which they did not remember when fully awake. He also noted changes in pulse and blood circulation, which he believed were able to cure some illnesses. He began using hypnotism and suggestion as way of treating some of his patients.
Braid wrote a book and several articles about his research and his ideas:
- Neurypnology, or, The Rationale of Nervous Sleep (1843).
- The Power of the Mind over the Body (1846).
- Magic, Witchcraft, Animal Magnetism, Hypnotism, and Electro-Biology (1852).
- Hypnotic Therapeutics, Illustrated by Cases (1853).
- Alan Gauld, ‘Braid, James (1795–1860)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 , (subscription required), accessed 29 Dec 2015.