Tuesday, March 28, 2017

XII - Healing of Breast Cancer without Drugs or Surgery by John Elliotson

Last time, we read of the painless mastectomy performed on Madame Plantin in 1829 under magnetic treatment. This present case goes a step further as Dr. Elliotson is described working persistently with magnetism to heal Miss Barber and prevent her from going under the knife.



London, 1848

I CONSIDER the following paper to contain the account of one of the most important and instructive cases in the annals of surgery. When Mr. Ward, of Wellow, removed the poor man's leg without his being conscious of pain, under the mesmeric superintendence of my friend, Mr. Topham, all those persons who were engaged in mesmeric investigation considered the case to be the most important which had been presented to the medical profession. And so it was. Here was a man placed in a state of insensibility by a few passes of the hand, and during the continuance of this state a fourth part of his body removed by the knife of the surgeon. This was in November, 1842. Since that period the world has become so familiar with the performance of surgical operations without pain by means of ether and chloroform, that the proceedings of those who have operated on persons under the influence of mesmerism have not attracted so much notice as they deserved. Nevertheless, the number of operations performed in this state amount, I believe, to nearly four hundred.

Great as this boon to suffering humanity must be considered, and important as every one must admit the facts to be, there is yet another portion of the subject demanding our attention, viz., the alleviation and cure of disease. It is quite impossible to obtain a return of the number of cases of prolonged suffering which medicines had failed to alleviate, but which have been speedily and effectually cured by means of mesmerism.  "The Zoist," from which this paper is extracted and now near the completion of its sixth volume, contains an immense mass of information, and to all those who are afflicted, and more especially those who have had recourse to medical treatment and whose diseases have not been cured, I say, search this record, and you will find cases analogous to your own, and from abundant experience on this subject, I feel myself justified in promising you considerable relief, and in many cases a positive cure.

The sudden removal of a diseased mass is a very simple affair, and the production of the state of insensibility in the mesmeric state is one of the most common phenomena presented to the physiologist. But the removal of a diseased growth, a malignant tumor, not suddenly with the knife of the surgeon, but with the aid of mesmerism, so acting on the inherent powers of the constitution as to produce a steady and progressive absorption, —– this is a phenomenon which has not been witnessed on any former occasion, and certainly demands the most serious consideration of the medical profession. Can any surgeon refer to a single example of tumor of the breast like the one under consideration, which steadily progressed, either with or without medicine, toward a perfect cure? Here was a tumor, carefully examined and unanimously doomed to extirpation by several practical surgeons, and the fact of their doing so, clearly proved that they knew of no other plan by which the diseased mass could be removed. Nevertheless this tumor underwent such changes, day after day, and month after month, just in the proportion that the efforts of the mesmeriser were continued, and finally, became absorbed, —– and not only so, but the constitutional symptoms, which were of an aggravated character, yielded, —– the darting pains ceased, sleep returned, the sallow complexion vanished, the swollen arm returned to a natural size, and the situation of the patient became in every respect more and more satisfactory. On one occasion, during the absence of Dr. Elliotson on the continent, the treatment was nearly discontinued for two months, —– what was the result?

"On my return at the end of October," he says, "I found a very painful and bleeding sore, and, what was worse, the darting pain had returned, and the diseased mass had grown firmly to the ribs." After two years exertion, here was enough to discourage any one not endowed with the same powers of perseverance —– the same determination to prosecute a new and important truth —– the same benevolent desire to alleviate the sufferings of a fellow-creature, which, fortunately for Miss Barber, her friend, Dr. Elliotson, possessed.

Again she was mesmerised daily, and again "the mass began to diminish." During the year 1847 the disease "steadily gave way." "The mass had become not only much less but detached from the ribs and moveable again." And now, September, 1848, the report is, "The cancerous mass is now completely dissipated; the breast is perfectly flat, and all the skin thicker and firmer than before the disease existed. Not the smallest lump is to be found, nor is there the slightest tenderness of the bosom or the arm-pit."

I ask whether there is not here a manifestation of cause and effect? Have we not the same evidence here that we have when a beneficial effect follows the exhibition of a drug? To what other conclusion can we come, than that this growth was removed by the aid of mesmerism? I trust that the publication of this pamphlet will stimulate my professional brethren to test the power of mesmerism over other cases of this formidable disease. The time for the sneer, the jest, and the look of contempt is gone by. To indulge in these vulgar manifestations is always unjustifiable, and, to any one anxious to seek for truth in a philosophical spirit, highly derogatory. An array of new facts demands investigation, and the claims of those suffering from disease should be answered in this instance by the members of that profession whose duty chiefly consists in alleviating the miseries of the human race. Medical and surgical societies may consider the investigation beneath their notice, they may do again what the members of the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society did in 1842, —– declare that the statement of a natural fact, which they could not understand, was not a fit subject to be chronicled in the record of their proceedings! *

* Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations without Pain in the Mesmeric State, with Remarks upon the Opposition of many Members of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society and others to the reception of the inestimable blessings of Mesmerism. By John Elliotson, M.D. Cantab. F.R.S. H. Bailliere, Regent street.

But the dial of the world moves on. Truth and science overleap the barriers which man in his wisdom erects, and the men of each succeeding generation contemplate with wonder and astonishment the narrow views and sectarian prejudices of the men of the preceding. And yet this experience does not prevent them from repeating the same irrational course of conduct while contemplating other subjects. From the course pursued during the last eight years, one would suppose that the members of the medical profession imagined their duty to consist in holding fast to their physiological notions with determined obstinacy, whereas their real duty consists in following out, by persevering inquiry, the difficulties of all physiological problems; and after this, in the honest recognition and avowal of what they have satisfactorily ascertained.

The views of the teachers of an imperfect science should not be received as dicta from which there is to be no swerving; but rather as the probable interpretation of facts, so far as they have been ascertained, and therefore indicative only of points of departure for future investigators.  How different has been the course pursued with regard to mesmerism! Tempting, as this subject is, this is neither the time nor the opportunity for its discussion. My object is simply to point to the following paper as containing matter, physiological phenomena, —– chronicled by one of the most hard-working, fact-seeking, truth-loving physicians of the present age. Let the investigation be conducted in a fair and impartial spirit. Let each individual remember that he has to assist in the discovery of truth. He has not to engage in any party investigation, but simply to collect and test the value of facts, and then to record his experience in the simple language of sincerity, which is invariably estimated at its true value by all those worthy of consideration, and thus to aid and assist in the grandest of all occupations —– the promotion of true science and the alleviation of the miseries of his fellow creatures.

Let us all keep in view in our scientific studies the eloquent declaration of a great man of a past generation: —– “The pursuit of truth hath been my only care, ever since I first understood the meaning of the word. For this I have forsaken all hopes, all friends, all desires, which might bias me, and hinder me from driving right at what I aimed. For this I have spent my money, my means, my youth, my age, and all I have, that I might remove from myself that censure of Tertullian, — Suo vitio quis quid ignorat [To his own fault, he does not know what every many should]? If with all this cost and pains, my purchase is but error, I may safely say, to err has cost me more than it has many to find the truth; and truth itself shall give me this testimony at last, that if I have missed of her, it is not my fault, but my misfortune.”

W. C. Engledue, M.D.
Southsen, October 30th, 1848


The details of the case as presented fill the rest of a 40-page booklet which can be found at


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Friday, March 17, 2017

XI - A Mastectomy Performed Painlessly on Madame Plantin in Paris in 1829

The following narration, found in one of Dr. John Elliotson’s writings, describes the amputation of Madame Plantin’s breast. Under usual conditions in the time period, a mastectomy was a horrible procedure to undergo - as you might very well imagine. You can read about one done on Nabby, the daughter of President John and Abigail Adams, in 1811: http://www.shsu.edu/~pin_www/T@S/2002/NabbyAdamsEssay.html  Elliotson adds further commentary on other patients treated painlessly with magnetism - mesmerism.

I shall now detail a case which occurred many years ago in Paris; the mesmeric operator—Dr. Chapelain, and the surgical operator—M. Jules Cloquet, are now both alive in that city. "Madame Plantin, aged 64, living at No. 151, Rue Saint Denis, consulted M. Cloquet, April 8th, 1829, respecting an open cancer which had existed for several years in her breast, and which was complicated with a considerable enlargement of the right axillary ganglions. M. Chapelain, her physician, who had mesmerised her for some months, with the view of dissipating the disease, could effect only a profound sleep, in which sensation appeared suspended, but intellect remained perfect. He suggested to M. Cloquet to operate upon her in the mesmeric sleep-waking. M. Cloquet, having judged the operation indispensable, consented, and it was fixed for the following Sunday, April 1st. The previous two days, she was mesmerised several times by Dr. Chapelain, who prevailed upon her when in the state of sleep-waking to bear the operation without fear, and brought her even to converse about it calmly; although, when she was awake, she could not listen to the proposal for horror.

"On the day fixed, M. Cloquet arrived at half-past ten in the morning, and found the lady dressed in an arm-chair, in the attitude of a person calmly asleep. She had returned about an hour from mass, which she habitually attended at that time of the day. Dr. Chapelain had thrown her into the mesmeric sleep on her return. She spoke with perfect calmness of the operation which she was about to undergo. All being ready she undressed herself, and sat upon a common chair.

"Dr. Chapelain supported her right arm. The left was allowed to hang at her side. M. Pailloux, internal student of the Hospital Saint Louis, had the charge of presenting the instruments and applying the ligatures. The first incision was begun at the arm-pit, and carried above the breast as far as the inner side of the nipple. The second was begun at the same point, and carried under the breast till it met the first. M. Cloquet dissected out the enlarged ganglions with care, on account of their proximity to the axillary arteries, and removed the breast. The operation lasted ten or twelve minutes.

"During all this time, the patient conversed calmly with the operator, and gave not the least sign of sensibility; no movement occurred in the limbs or FEATURES, no change in the RESPIRATION or VOICE, no emotion EVEN IN THE PULSE, was discernible; this patient remained uninterruptedly in the same state of automatic indifference and passiveness, (état d’abandon et d’impassibilité automiques, or, as Mr. Topham says of his patient, 'uncontrolled, in perfect stillness and repose,' 'like a statue!') in which she was some minutes before the operation. There was no necessity to restrain her, we had only to support her. A ligature was applied to the lateral thoracic artery, which was opened in removing the ganglions. The wound was closed with sticking plaster and dressed, and the patient was put to bed, still in the same state of sleepwaking; and was left in this state for eight and forty hours. An hour after the operation a slight haemorrhage occurred, which proved of no importance.

“The first dressing was removed on Tuesday the 14th; the wound was washed and dressed afresh; the patient shewed no sign of pain; the pulse was undisturbed. After this dressing, Dr. Chapelain awoke the patient whose sleep-waking had lasted from one hour before the operation, i. e. two days. The lady seemed to have no idea, no conception, of what had passed; but, on learning that she had been operated upon, and seeing her children around her, she experienced a very strong emotion, to which the mesmeriser put an end by im
mediately sending her to sleep again."

Some of the surgeons of Paris scouted this case just as the London Medical Society, in imitation, scouted that of the amputation [of Wombell]. Lisfranc explained it somehow or other, and Baron Larrey accused the poor lady of being an “accomplice of the mesmerisers." The latter should have remembered that there was once a soldier named Blanchard, who refused all his advice to part with his right leg on account of fistulous ulcers of the foot, tumefaction of the cellular membrane, a white swelling of the inner ankle, disease of the ligaments, and caries of the tarsal bones, and who was pronounced incurable by the certificates of six physicians and surgeons; that, when the Marquis de Puysegur mentioned to him that by means of mesmerism the poor man was greatly relieved, he burst into a laugh, said the patient would never be cured because the bones were diseased and the periosteum gone, and that amputation would be indispensable. By mesmerism the poor soldier was completely cured.

I have extracted the case of the lady from the highly-favourable report, in 1831, of the Committee appointed by the French Academy of Medicine to report upon mesmerism, and to be found in Dr. Foissac's excellent work. The committee continues thus:—

"The committee sees in this case the most evident proof of the suspension of sensibility during sleep-waking, and declares that, though it did not witness the case, they find it so stamped with the character of truth, it has been attested and reported to them by so good an observer who had communicated it to the surgical section, that they do not fear to present it to you as a most unquestionable proof of the state of torpor and stupefaction produced by mesmerism."

I may mention that the case is related as perfectly genuine in the Penny Cyclopaedia, published by our Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, article Somnambulism, in which the truth of mesmerism is admitted to the extent even of clair-voyance; Lord Brougham being president of the society, and the Bishop of Durham, several peers, several Fellows of the Royal Society, men of the first distinction in science and literature, and several professors of University College, where a general stand was made against mesmerism, being my colleagues on this committee. In the Hermès it is stated likewise, that M. Cloquet attests not only that there was complete absence of pain, but that, while he was washing the surface around the wound with a sponge, the patient felt tickled, and several times said merrily, "Come, leave off, —don't tickle me." Her laughter, thus occasioned, was heard by M. Plantin—the patient's son, and by Madame Granier, who were outside the door.

This remarkable circumstance must be viewed side by side with the uneasiness felt from the blood in the mouth of my patient who had no sensation from the extraction of her tooth, and whose case I have related at p. 66; and with the exquisite sensation she always had both of heat and cold in parts perfectly insensible to pinching, &c.—a fact noticed by me in several other cases, and by Mr. Prideaux in regard to heat in one of his patients, spoken of at p. 71; and in regard to cold in the Spanish Lady mentioned at p. 49, who was comatose without mesmerism.

No man who has a heart can read the narration without being affected and earnestly hoping it is true. But, though its truth is equally certain as that there is such a surgeon as M. Cloquet, it has lately been denied in England and the parties have been vilely traduced.

In the London Medical Gazette for the 2nd of last December, immediately after an imperfect and incorrect account of the discussion in the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society on the paper which detailed the case of amputation [of Wombell] in the mesmeric state, is an anonymous letter of three paragraphs,—signed "a member of the Medical and Chirurgical Society," who is ashamed to give his name, and there fore does the deed in darkness,—the first styling the account "very silly" and unfit for the society, the second heartlessly accusing the poor patient of deception, and the third as follows:

''It is rather remarkable that it should have occurred to no one present to mention the case of a woman whose breast was amputated, some years ago in Paris, by M. Cloquet, while she was (as it is supposed) in a state of mesmeric stupor. This woman was believed to have been insensible to pain during the operation; and was a better actor than the man mesmerised by Mr. Topham, as she did not even moan. Some considerable time afterwards, however, while dying of an internal complaint in another hospital, she confessed to the nurse that the whole had been a cheat; that she had experienced pain like other persons, but had sufficient command over herself not to shew it."

The Nottingham surgeon, to whose letters I have already twice referred, writes,—"some years ago in France the breast of a female was removed while she was professedly in the mesmeric sleep. She died a few days afterwards; an operation which in other cases rarely indeed proves fatal. Is it not too probable that the attempt to bury the anguish in her own bosom proved too much for nature to sustain? Another mesmeric operation case succeeded better, but the patient subsequently confessed that her insensibility was all feigned."

"Many similar cases have occurred, &c." Now the statements of both writers are altogether untrue. Madame Plantin was never in an hospital, but the wife of a wealthy merchant of Paris; resided in a country house which she could hardly be prevailed upon to leave in the fine season of spring to take up her abode in Paris for the purpose of being mesmerised, for she disliked mesmerism because it had been tried upon her at different times unsuccessfully, and she was unwilling to submit to the restraint of mesmeric treatment; and she was terrified at the thought of a surgical operation under any circumstances, and declared she would rather die, and had indeed suffered severely from
refusing even to be bled in one of her pregnancies.

M. Cloquet testified to the Academy that she was pious, modest, and incapable of any collusion; and Dr. Caldwell of America, hearing a rumour in London that this surgeon confessed he had operated upon other patients in an ordinary state who bore the pain as unmoved, called upon M. Cloquet, in Paris, to ask the question, and told me that he received for answer, "Jamais! jamais! jamais!” [Never! never! never!] However, Dr. Davison, a friend of mine, called upon M. Cloquet at my request in January, to make enquiries respecting the case; and the following is an extract from his reply,— "The letter to which you allude in the Medical Gazette is false in every particular, save the death of the patient. The lady was never the inmate of an hospital. She was the wife of a rich negotiant, an excellent person, respected by all who knew her. She died above a fortnight after the operation, of a pleurisy; the wound having done well, and she having taken a drive some days previously. Cloquet saw her and is quite sure that she never made the confession alluded to."

As to the other case, spoken of by the Nottingham surgeon, Dr. Davison has made every enquiry in Paris, and cannot learn that it ever occurred. "Many similar cases have occurred!" I call upon him to make good all his assertions. He knows that Mr. Wood flatly contradicted him in The Nottingham Journal in regard to the one, and pointed out that he gave no authority whatever for the others: yet, though two months have elapsed, this candid person has never replied or ventured to recur to the subject.

The next post will be on Dr. Elliotson's mesmeric treatment of a patient with breast cancer which did not lead to surgery and produced cure.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

X - James Esdaile Performs Painless Surgeries in 19th Century India

James Esdaile was a surgeon assigned to work in the mid 19th century in colonial India. He spent almost twenty years there. Like many surgeons of the era, he was at large disadvantage compared to colleagues in Europe and especially those working after the appearance of chloroform and ether anesthesia. Opium and alcohol were for practical purposes the only painkillers available. Biting the bullet was often the only remedy hand for patients about to undergo major operations and even amputations.

Furthermore, he worked under very difficult conditions in a distant land, under tropical climate, and questionable sanitation. There were no blood transfusions and IVs, and not much more than beds, shelter and operating rooms with simple sharp knives, crude saws and rudimentary clamps. 

Working with Indian convicts in a prison hospital near Calcutta, Esdaile was struck by the idea of trying magnetism – mesmerism – on his patients in hopes of relieving the pain and discomfort of major operations to be done at his hand. [The following extract comes from his book Mesmerism in India published in England in 1851.]

Note: There is unfortunately no portrait of Esdaile (1808-1859) to be found on the Internet. 

An English surgeon ready with the knife circa 1840

First Experiment.
Madhab Kaura, a hog-dealer, condemned to seven years' imprisonment, with labour on the roads, in irons, for wounding a man so as to endanger his life, has got a double Hydrocele [fluid filling the scrotal sac common at the time in India, sometimes to enormous size and weight].

He was ordered to be taken from the jail to the charity hospital, to be operated upon.

April 4th.— The water was drawn off one side of the scrotum, and two drachms of the usual cor. sub. [corrosive sublimate - mercuric chloride] injection were thrown in. On feeling the pain from the injection, he threw his head over the back of the chair, and pressed his hands along the course of the spermatic cords, closing his eye lids firmly, and making the grimaces of a man in pain.

Seeing him suffering in this way, I turned to the native sub-assistant surgeon, an eleve [student] of the medical college, and asked him if he had ever seen Mesmerism? He said, that he had seen it tried at the medical college, but without effect. Upon which I remarked, "I have a great mind to try it on this man, but as I never saw it practised, and know it only from reading, I shall probably not succeed." —

The man continuing in the position described, I placed his knees between mine, and began to pass my hands slowly over his face, at the distance of an inch, and carried them down to the pit of his stomach. This was continued for half an hour before he was spoken to, and when questioned at the end of this time his answers were quite sensible and coherent.

He was ordered to remain quiet, and the passes were continued for a quarter of an hour longer — still no sensible effect. Being now tired (thermometer 85°), I gave it up in despair, and declared it to be a failure. While I rested myself, the man remained quiet, and made fewer grimaces, and when ordered to open his eyes, he said there was a smoke in the room. This roused my attention, and tempted me to persevere. I now breathed on his head, and carried my hands from the back of his head over his face and down to the Epigastrium, where I pressed them united. The first time this was done, he took his hands off his groins and pressed them both firmly down upon mine; drew a long breath, and said, "I was his father and mother, and had given him life again." The same process was persevered in, and in about an hour he began to gape, said he must sleep, that his senses were gone; and his replies became incoherent. He opened his eyes, when ordered, but said he only saw smoke, and could distinguish no one: his eyes were quite lustreless, and the lids were opened heavily. All appearance of pain now disappeared; his hands were crossed on his breast, instead of being pressed on the groins, and his countenance showed the most perfect repose. He now took no notice of our questions, and I called loudly on him by name without attracting any notice.

I now pinched him, without disturbing him, and then asking for a pin in English, I desired my assistant to watch him narrowly, and drove it into the small of his back; it produced no effect whatever; and my assistant repeated it at intervals in different places as uselessly. His back had continued to arch more backwards latterly, and he now was in a state of "opisthotonos;" the nape of his neck resting on the sharp back of the chair, and his breech on the edge of it. Being now satisfied that we had got something extraordinary, I went over to the Kutcherry, and begged Mr. Russell, the judge, and Mr. Money, the collector, to come and see what had been done, as I wanted the presence of intelligent witnesses in what remained to do. We found him in the position I had left him in, and no hallooing in his ears could attract his attention. Fire was then applied to his knee, without his shrinking in the least; and liquor ammonia?, that brought tears into our eyes in a moment, was inhaled for some minutes without causing an eyelid to quiver.

This seemed to have revived him a little, as he moved his head shortly afterwards, and I asked him if he wanted to drink; he only gaped in reply, and I took the opportunity to give, slowly, a mixture of ammonia so strong that I could not bear to taste it; this he drank like milk, and gaped for more. As the "experimentum crucis," I lifted his head, and placed his face, which was directed to the ceiling all this time, in front of a full light; opened his eyes, one after the other, but without producing any effect upon the iris; his eyes were exactly an amaurotic person's, and all noticed their lacklustre appearance. We were all now convinced that total insensibility of all the senses existed, and I ordered him to be placed on a mattress on the floor, and not to be disturbed till I returned.

It was now one o'clock, the process having commenced at 11 a. m. I returned at three o'clock, and was vexed to find that he had awoke, and been carried back to the jail hospital. The native doctor of the jail had come in; and on hearing that the Sahibs could not awake the patient, he set about doing so, and succeeded by throwing water on his face, &c. I again went to Messrs. Russell and Money, and requested them to accompany me to the jail, to be present when he was interrogated regarding his reminiscences; and we put down a series of questions to be put to him, at once, and without explanation. We found him looking well, with a lively expression of face, and the following questions were put to him ; his answers being taken down at the same time:—

"How do you feel?"

"Very well.”

"Any pain in the throat, or elsewhere?"

"A little uneasiness in the throat, no pain anywhere else."

"What has happened to you to-day?"

"I went in the morning to the Imbarah Hospital, to get the water taken out of my scrotum."

"Was the water drawn off?"


"What do you remember after the operation?"

"I went to sleep soon after, and remember nothing else."

"Did you eat or drink after the operation?"

"I felt thirsty, but got nothing to drink till Kurreem AH, the native doctor, awoke me."

"Did any body prick, or burn you?"

"No, no."

"Did you smell anything disagreeable?"


"Were you happy when asleep?"


"Did you hear any thing when you were asleep?"

"I heard voices, but did not understand them."

"Did you see any gentleman in the hospital but me?"


"Did you feel any pain in the scrotum after going to sleep?"

"I felt none till I awoke."

"Any pain in that part now?"

"A very little."

"How many motions have you had to-day?" (he was suffering from chronic diarrhoea.)

"Four, before going to the hospital, none since; belly is much easier than it has been for some time."

Having answered all these questions readily and frankly, he began to cry, thinking it was some kind of judicial investigation, I suppose.

"The above is an exact relation of what took place in our presence, and we are thoroughly convinced that there was a complete suspension of sensibility to external impressions of the most painful kind.

(Signed) F. W. Russell, D.J.Money.

Esdaile went on to perform numerous surgeries on the likes of the patient pictured below. 

The following is a letter from Esdaile (further explaining his work) to James Braid, the claimed inventor of hypnotism who took mesmerism in another direction. It was published in 1850 towards the end of Esdaile’s surgical career in India.

I shall find much in the books to interest and instruct me, as I did in your first work on Hypnotism; but I shall not wait to read them before replying to your communication.
I have not seen any of the papers you allude to in the journals; but am glad to hear that the doctors are, at last, condescending to turn their attention to one of the most interesting and important subjects ever submitted to the consideration of the physiologist, the metaphysician, and natural philosopher.
Regarding the reality and cause of the mesmeric phenomena, if I venture to differ from you even, who are so much better prepared to investigate the subject [than certain individuals to whom the Doctor had referred], it is for reasons which I hope you will consider worthy your attention. I am fully aware that there are various modes of inducing the mesmeric symptoms, to a certain extent, without the probability, or even possibility, of any vital force proceeding from the operator being concerned in the matter. But I have never (except for experiment) produced the mesmeric state of the system by the exhaustion of any organ, such as the eye, or by acting strongly on the imagination, or by any means that could favour self-mesmerization, as you will perceive from the following resumé of my practice:—

During the last six years I have performed upwards of 300 capital operations of every description, and many of them of the most terrible nature, without inflicting pain on the patients; and, in every instance, the insensibility was produced in this fashion.

All knowledge of our intentions was, if possible, concealed from the patients; and if they had never heard of mesmerism and painless operations, so much the better. They were taken into a darkened room, and desired to lie down and shut their eyes. A young Hindoo or Mussulman then seated himself at the head of the bed, and made passes, without contact, from the head to the epigastrium, breathing on the head and eyes all the time, and occasionally resting his hands for a minute on the pit of the stomach. This often induced the coma deep enough for the severest surgical operation in a few minutes; but the routine was for me to examine the patient at the end of an hour, and if he was not ready, the process was repeated daily. Taking the average, the operation, of whatever description, was usually performed on the fourth or fifth day.

Probably as many more cases were subjected to the trance for medical
purposes, and were usually treated in the same way, for its convenience to both parties.

The enclosed remarkable case of clairvoyance, with transference of the
senses to the epigastrium, will show that the mesmeric control of the system may be obtained, when the patient is not only asleep, but in a state of intense natural coma.

I have also entranced a blind man, and made him so sensitive, that I could entrance him however employed, (eating his dinner, for instance) by merely making him the object of my attention for ten minutes. He would gradually cease to eat, remain stationary a few moments, and then plunge, head foremost, among his rice and curry.

Numbers of madmen have been entranced in the lunatic asylum of Calcutta; and I performed a mesmeric operation on one man who had cut his throat.

I frequently desired the visitors of my hospitals to pretend to take the
portraits of patients, and to engage their attention as much as possible, by conversing with them. I then retired to another room, and reduced them to statues, without the possibility of their suspecting my intentions.

How such phenomena can be accounted for, without presuming the
existence of a physical power transmitted from the operator to the subject, passes my comprehension. That the mesmeric virtue can be communicated to inanimate matter, is a physical fact, of which I am as well convinced as of my own existence. It was my common hospital practice to entrance patients for the purpose of having their sores burned with Nitric Acid, by giving them mesmerised water to drink.
Community of taste, and thought-reading, are among the most common of the higher mesmeric phenomena; and how they are to be explained, except by the transmission of the operator’s sensations, through his thought-stamped, nervous fluid, sent to the brain of the subject, I cannot conjecture.

"Important, if true", you will probably say. I can only say, that healthy senses, a natural power of seeing things as they really are, and an earnest desire to know the truth, whatever it may be, are perfectly useless for the acquisition of knowledge, if all I have related is not perfectly true.
Till such facts are known to medical men and natural philosophers, it is surely premature to dogmatise about the only source of the mesmeric phenomena.
[End of letter]

Esdaile performed his 300+ operations in truly extraordinary circumstances with no aseptic techniques, crude instruments, difficult climate and on criminals. His operations included major surgeries, amputations, extraction of tumors and hydroceles weighing up to 100 pounds and yet the mortality rate of his patients was around 5 percent. That number in itself, phenomenally low even in the best of modern conditions, should have produced global interest. But ...

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