A History of Hypnotism

Hardcover (Print)
Not Available on BN.com


Franz Anton Mesmer arrived in Paris from Austria in February 1778 and established a medical practice which hailed him as one of the most remarkable men of his time. His skill lay in his theories and in his use of 'animal magnetism' to cure disease. Mesmer began a school of thought which spread across Europe and America, and enjoyed, at various stages, favour as a respected scientific and medical therapy, and disrepute as the tool of occultists, mystics and charlatans. Dr. Gauld has created a detailed and scholarly history of the phenomena, practice and theory of mesmerism, hypnotism and multiple personality disorder. The book traces the course of the mesmeric and hypnotic movements and gives special attention to the ideas and influence of certain leading figures. It considers the theories which developed to explain the phenomena and the uses and shortcomings of the technique in medical practice. Throughout the book, case histories and anecdotal accounts provide a fascinating insight into this controversial subject. The book also touches on the social and intellectual issues which influenced the progress and development of mesmerism and hypnotism. The work is extensively annotated and referenced. In his epilogue, Gauld discusses modern approaches to hypnotism and multiple personality disorder, and the role of hypnotism in clinical practice, and offers some ideas for understanding these intriguing phenomena. A History of Hypnotism is a wide-ranging and detailed history of the mesmeric and hypnotic movements and is an essential work of reference and scholarship in this field. A fascinating account, this important work will be of interest to psychiatrists, psychologists and medical historians, as well as to the general reader who wishes to learn more about this absorbing topic.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...the most important history of mesmerism and hypnotism available....The writing style makes the book very readable and comprehensible. The book should be on the reading list of anyone who is interested in the history of the treatment of physical and mental ailments and the evolution of our concept of the mind." Nathan Schecter, Canadian Medical Association Journal

"...never ceases to interest the reader, perhaps because it is evident that the author was never uninterested in his subject....In this large volume is incorporated an analysis of nearly all the writings that are even remotely related to hypnosis, animal magnetism, or mesmerism, regardless of designation....presents us with a history of psychiatry and sociology from the middle of the 18th century until the 20th. It is a rich source of information...the volume is a joy to read." Ilza Veith, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

"If you are a serious student of hypnosis, Gauld's A History of Hypnotism is a must read....Gauld puts the period 1778 to circa 1900 under a microscope and provides the reader with a detailed and insightful account of hypnotism's early development and theoretical underpinning. The history is enriched by accounts of the social settings in which events unfolded, glimpses of the personalities of the leading characters, and good doses of citations from source documents....This title is well suited as a college or graduate-level text, as well as for the truly earnest professional who remains uninspired and unsated by the obligatory historical chapter in clinical texts on hypnotherapy." Science Books and Films

"...a significant contribution to the field, which will stand as a hallmark of scholarship for many years....for the serious scholar, A History of Hypnotism now represents the highest standard of excellence. It is no hyperbole to say that this volume belongs on the bookshelf of every interested student of the field." Melvin A. Gravitz, American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

"This is a splendid book, impressive in its scope, in the depth of its research, and the elegant, seemingly effortless style in which it is written...Gauld's work will undoubtedly become one of the most important source books, and one of the most enjoyable reads, on this fascinating subject." Alison Winter, Times Education Supplement

"...a very scholarly, exhaustive and cumulative history bound to become a chief source of data for other investigators. Gauld writes in a clear and nontechnical manner that should interest any student of the history of that period....The most thorough treatment of hypnosis in one volume, it should interest not only serious students of hypnotism but also curious general readers." Choice

"...an absorbing account of hypnotism's colorful history....for those who know and value the work of the early and more recent pioneers of hypnosis the book may be indispensable." Hypnotherapy Today

"A long book written with clarity, intelligence, and touches of wit." Advances

"Gauld's history is thus bound to appeal more to those narrowly interested in past theories and practices of hypnotism than to those seeking fuller historical understanding of the construction of such theories and practices....a useful reference tool." Roger Cooter, The British Medical Journal

"Of special interest is his concluding discussions of the pros and cons of the social psychological as opposed to the special state approaches to hypnosis." R.A.W., Exceptional Human Experience

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521306751
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/1992
  • Pages: 756
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Franz Anton Mesmer; Part I. The Successors of Mesmer: 1. The Royal Commissions and the pamphlet war; 2. Puységur; 3. Phenomena and speculations 1784–1789; 4. Mesmerism in the German-speaking countries; 5. Kluge; 6. The revival of magnetism in France; 7. Mesmerism and the medical profession in France 1820–1840; 8. Mystical magnetism: Germany; 9. Mystical magnetism: France; 10. Mesmerism in the United States; 11. Mesmerism in Britain; 12. Topics from the Zoist; 13. Animal magnetism: retrospect and reflections; Part II. The Heyday of Hypnotism: 14. Precursors of hypnotism; 15. Hypnotism and scientific orthodoxy 1875–1885; 16. The Nancy school; 17. Pierre Janet and his influence; 18. Dipsychists and polypsychists; 19. Hypnotism and multiple personality in the United States; 20. Hypnotism and suggestion at the turn of the century I: preliminary considerations; 21. The turn of the century II: hypnotic phenomena; 22. The turn of the century III: uses and applications of hypnotism; 23. The turn of the century IV: states ostensibly related to hypnosis; 24. The turn of the century V: theories of hypnosis; 25. The decline of hypnotism; Epilogue: hypnotism today: Barber and beyond.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)