Friday 16 March 2007



The 1840s revival of interest in mesmerism led to all sorts of experiments, not least operations (including amputation) which relied on hypnosis as anaesthetic. Famously, Dickens was an amateur mesmerist, but the fad for mesmerism extended throughout society. I find this in The Times (one of several such cases mentioned) 22 Dec. 1843 ... "On Tuesday evening, at the Royal Oak, Abbey-street, Bethnal-green-road, the conversation turned upon the subject of "mesmerism," when a gentleman present (Mr. Elisha Harey of No.7, Ramsay-street, who has attended several lectures on the science) offered, for a trifling wager, to send any person into a "mesmeric sleep;" upon which the potboy, a fine active, intelligent youth, about 18 years of age, expressed a wish to be "mesmerised," and his wish was complied with. After a few minutes, the lad's arms and legs began to stiffen, the muscles of the throat appeared to swell, and he gave utterance to a low moaning expressive of great pain. At this time, Mr. De Llenen, the landlord of the house, entered the room and endeavoured to arouse him, but without success. After a lapse of about an hour, the party became alarmed, and a medical gentleman (Mr. Vandenberg) was sent for; but, nothwithstanding every attention has been paid to him, up to the present time he had remained in the same state. Several other medical gentlemen have since seen the lad, but none seem to be aware what course to pursue with respect to him." What became of him, I wonder?

1 comment:

  1. You leave me hanging, man! I wonder if he just o]continued on for the rest of his days in that hypnotized state....