Autograph Letter, signed (“Jas Braid”), an invitation to a conversazione on Neuro Hypnotic operations. James Braid.
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Autograph Letter, signed (“Jas Braid”), an invitation to a conversazione on Neuro Hypnotic operations.

[Manchester]: Thurs. 25 Aug 1842.

Ink on paper, 22 lines. 1 vols. 8vo. Old folds. For Braid, see Crabtree, 450, 465, and Norman sale lots 951-953. Item #317078

"My Dear Sir / I called yesterday but you were out. I wished to invite you to a conversazione at my house this evening at 7 oC, where besides exhibiting explaining my modes of inducing the phenomena, I expect a number of patients to be present who have been cured or relieved by the Neuro Hypnotic operations. I wish to afford those present an opportunity of judging for themselves as to the real facts of the cases free from all partiality or bias on my part as the offering of this new agency. / [...] to be / very respectfully / yours / Jas Braid"

The present letter dates from a period of active discovery and public debate about the topic of Hypnotism, a term coined by James Braid (1795-1860), "the founder of modern hypnotism," a couple of months earlier. It is here rendered as three distinct words, "Neuro Hypnotic operation."

During magnetist Charles Lafontaine's English tour of 1841, Braid was allowed, as a medical man, to examine the magnetised subjects and he witnessed that the phenomena was not being faked, determined to study the nature of the effects and their causes. Braid immediately began auto-experimentation at home that refuted the idea of an operator's 'magnetic influence,' but confirmed that the process did indeed generate a 'particular physiological state.' Braid began a series of five public lectures to exhibit his findings just one week after Lafontaine's last demonstration. He was attacked as a necromancer and satanic agent in April 1842, in a well-attended and well-publicized sermon by the controversial cleric, Hugh M'Neile. Braid wrote a personal response letter to M'Neile, inviting him to an upcoming lecture, but was met with silence. Braid's defense, "a work of the greatest significance in the history of hypnotism," was a pamphlet entitled Satantic Agency and Mesmerism Reviewed, in a Letter to the Rev. H. Mc. Neile...of Liverpool..., of which only two copies are known, published in June 1842. Braid first uses his new, more scientific, terms, 'neurohypnotism,' 'hypnotic sleep,' and 'hypnotise,' in the pamphlet. In 1843 Braid published his only full-length book, Neurypnology; or, the Rationale of Nervous Sleep, Considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism. His writings were published in France after his death, where they became an important influence on the work of Azam, Broca, Richet, Charcot, Liébeault, and Bernheim, as well as Freud, whose "earlier works clearly reflect the magnetic-hypnotic tradition."

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