Administrative / Biographical History

Braid was born in Fifeshire. He Took the MRCS (Edinburgh) in 1815. Initially he practised in Scotland, but in 1826 moved to Manchester. He was successful in Manchester but was not involved with the MRI or the local medical societies. He was originally known as a surgeon, and devised a new operation for pryltic talipes. However he is best known to posterity as a practitioner of hypnotism. In 1841 he witnessed a demonstration of mesmerism by one Lafontaine in Manchester. He appears to have been persuaded by this, and was very soon giving public lectures in support of 'neuro-hypnotism' In 1843, his chief work, Neurypnology, or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep considered in relation to Animal Magnetism or Mesmerism was published. it was reprinted many years after his death in 1899. Braid is believed to have coined the term 'hypnotism' and he published several other works on the therapeutic value of this phenomenon. Braid is considered to have treated hypnotism in a more scientific way than did mesmerism, rejecting their belief in animal magnetism. His work was influential in France. Braid was also the first to suggest the use of arsenic in the treatment of trypanosomiasis. He was active during the cholera epidemic of 1832, and suggested several practical sanitary reforms as a result of his experiences. His portrait was bequeathed to the Manchester Medical School.