Amazing Historical and Contemporary Facts From Your Favorite Authors.
Offered by Susan Krinard author of The Wolf Trilogy
TOUCH OF THE WOLF, ONCE A WOLF, SECRET OF THE WOLF
Have you ever wondered about the origin of the phrase "to mesmerize?"
In fiction, the word usually means "to fascinate." But it actually comes from the name of a man, Franz Anton Mesmer, who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and became famous for his ability to cure various ailments through the use of "animal magnetism." He treated his clients with passes over the body, which were supposed to awaken "bodily tides"of magnetic fluid to combat ills such as blindness, convulsions,fainting, delirium, and chronic pain. In many ways, his ideas paralleledthose in Chinese medicine, which focuses on unblocking the flow of "Qi" throughout the body with the use of acupuncture and other techniques.
Mesmer's theories were derided by many, yet they had a very powerful influence on the field of psychology and psychiatry. One of Mesmer's successors, the Marquis de Pusyegur, learned how to place individuals in a "somnambulic" state, what we today would call the hypnotic trance state. Patients in this state could diagnose their own illnesses and accept treatment.
Critics began to recognize the power of suggestion in these cures. In the 1840's, James Esdaile, a Scottish physician in India, performed the removal of tumors while his patients enjoyed "mesmeric sleep." Even when chemical anesthetics such as chloroform and ether came into use, he preferred his method.
Mesmerism's greatest achievement was that it led to the development of hypnosis. Another Scotsman, James Braid, published a book on "neurypnology" in 1843. He produced "nervous sleep" with the use of a bright object--the old clich? of the hypnotist dangling a spinning watch or crystal in front of a patient's eyes. Braid was convinced that hypnotic treatment of illness was often more effective than conventional methods.
After Braid's death in 1860, his ideas fell out of favor. It wasn't until the last quarter of the century that hypnotism was considered worthy of the attention of respectable physicians and scientists. In France, J.M. Charcot treated women suffering from "hysterical" complaints in a French asylum. (In those days, hysteria was a specific disorder marked by hallucinations, epileptic attacks, periods of sleep, assuming bizarre positions, and delirium--usually in women, of course!) Charcot divided the hypnotic state into three stages: Catalepsy (immobilization), lethargy (the patient seems deeply asleep) and somnambulism (in which the patient can intelligently respond to suggestion.) But Charcot believed that hypnotism and hysteria were directly linked.
It fell to other doctors to use hypnotism much as it is done today. A French country doctor named AA. Liebeault used hypnosis regularly on the common people in his practice, and with great success. He put patients into a trance by making direct eye contact and urging them repeatedly to "sleep."
He then used "affirmations" to convince the patient that he was on the road to recovery. But his book on hypnotism, published in 1864, sold only one copy! Luckily, his techniques were "discovered" by a professor of medicine, Hyppolyte Bernheim (don't you love these names?), who founded his own group of scientists who opposed Charcot's view of hypnotism. Bernheim and his colleagues studied the psychology of hypnosis as well as its physical effects and causes.
Hypnotism began to reveal all sorts of new disorders of the mind, including "double consciousness," which we today would call multiple personality disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Gradually it was accepted that the hypnotic state was really no more than "heightened suggestibility." By the turn of the century, doctors were using techniques of "regression" to take patients back into their childhoods, or to explore previous traumatic experiences. They treated, or attempted to treat, alcoholism, nervous ailments, obsessive ideas, impotence, epilepsy, and paralysis. They hotly debated whether or not a person could be made to commit a crime under hypnosis.
Today, some of the same debates rage on, but hypnotism has been accepted by many as a legitimate treatment for all kinds of illness, especially psychological and mental conditions. It also makes for a terrific way to uncover deep, dark secrets in fictional characters. Writers as well as physicians the world over owe a great deal to an eccentric genius named Franz Anton Mesmer.
Trained as an artist with a BFA in Illustration from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Susan Krinard became a writer when a friend read a short story she'd written and suggested she try writing a romance novel. A long-time reader of science fiction and fantasy, Susan began reading romance -- and realized what she wanted to do was combine the two genres. PRINCE OF WOLVES, her first romance novel, was the result. Within a year Susan had sold the manuscript to Bantam in 1993 as part of a three book contract, and the novel went on to make several bestseller lists.
Since then, she's written three other contemporary paranormal romance novels, a Time-Travel Romance, Fantasy and Futuristic Novellas including a story in the New York Times Bestselling Anthology - OUT OF THIS WORLD, and the historical paranormals TOUCH OF THE WOLF And ONCE A WOLF. Book three in the trilogy, SECRET OF THE WOLF, is an October 2001 Release from Berkley Books.
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For more information on this subject, including a bibliography and websites, see the "Author's Note" in SECRET OF THE WOLF by Susan Krinard