Dr James Esdaile


James Esdaile

Born: 6 February 1808
Died:  10 January 1859
Birthplace:  Montrose, Angus, Scotland
Best known as: Pioneer in the use of hypnosis for surgical anaesthesia



James Esdaile, a doctor who was studying Mesmerism around the mid 1840's began to use it with patients in a British medical facility in India. At that time fellow surgeons were achieving a mortality rate of about 50 percent with major operations. Esdail probably performed more surgical operations under hypnoanesthesia than any physician even to this day. Esdaile performed many surgeries in India using mesmeric passes. He returned to Europe and moved to Scotland. His most famous work was mesmerism in india. Those who opposed him said that those who had operations were just pretending not to hurt. He took out grapefruit size tumors, did amputations, and many other surgically procedures using hypnosis. "In 161 cases operated on by Esdaile (using hypnotic techniques), mortality dropped to 5% and in none of the fatal cases was death an immediate outcome of surgery." They died later as a result of from genaral infections treated now with antibiotics.

Esdaile wrote that hypnosis is a natural God-given method of healing. The power produced by the unconscious mind of one under hypnosis is similar both in quality, character and degree with the power of the Creator. All men have within them special power given by God - the power of hypnosis - to direct their movement and provide for themselves. Both Dr. Elliston and Dr. Esdaile were condemned by their fellow doctors for their use of hypnosis. At Dr. Esdaile's trial, a doctor claimed that Esdaile's use of hypnosis as an anesthesia was sacrilegious because God meant for people to feel pain. Despite his successes the introduction of Chloroform in 1847 brought the use of hypnosis for anaesthesia to an end.