John Elliotson, M.D. (1991-1868) was the co-founder of The Zoist: A Journal of Cerebral Physiology & Mesmerism, and Their Applications to Human Welfare (published quarterly from March 1843 till January 1856.
Dr. Elliotson introduced author and social critic Charles Dickens (1812-1870) to Mesmerism.
According to John Elliotson, M.D. (“Dr. Elliotson’s Address to the Phrenological Association,” The Zoist, Oct. 1843) …
“The inefficiency of the will was strikingly shewn in one of my cases. I had a patient, an epileptic young gentleman, in whom I could excite certain faculties by breathing on the respective organs. I had another, an epileptic young lady, in whom I could excite them by contact or pointing. Finding that result in him, I attempted to excite them by breathing on them in her; but always in vain, though I have often breathed till I was nearly spent. On the contrary, when they are excited, breathing instantly stupefies them as it does in all my other subjects excepting him.
“Again; in her I touched over or pointed to the organs, expecting to find the manifestation resemble that in other subjects; but soon found that I affected the side only of the brain at which I manipulated. I could scarcely believe my eyes; but I found that if I took her hands in one of mine, and manipulated one organ of Pride, the corresponding hand only was forcibly withdrawn from mine; and if I manipulated one organ of Friendship, the corresponding hand only squeezed mine violently and carried it up to her bosom. To my farther astonishment I discovered that the two halves of her brain would act oppositely at the same moment: — that if I took both her hands in mine, and pointed to the organ of Pride on one side and of Friendship on the other, the one hand would be forcibly withdrawn from mine, and the other carry my hand to her bosom, at the very same moment. So far from willing all this, I was taken quite by surprise. Yet such is always the case in her.
“One day I was shewing these facts to a friend and pointed to one organ of Pride. We began to converse earnestly and I to look at him and almost forget my patient. To my surprise, the hand of the side opposite to that in which lay the organ to which I had begun pointing was violently withdrawn from mine. But I presently found that, from not attending to what I was about, I had unconsciously moved my finger over the middle line of the head, and that it was actually pointing to the organ of the other side.
“When Dr. Engledue was with me one day, and she in mesmeric sleep with her eyes closed in a high chair, I took her hands and sat looking at them only; he stood behind her chair, looked the other way, and pointed at random to what he guessed might be the situation of one organ of Pride. Presently, both her hands were violently withdrawn from mine. We looked at her head, and found that Dr. Engledue who, it turned out, had pointed with two fingers, had by a strange chance pointed exactly over the middle line, so that a point of a finger was over each organ of Pride.”
Do I “believe” in Phrenology? Yes, No, Maybe.
It has much in common with Palmistry and the micro-systems of Acupuncture.
There are other explanations for Dr. Elliotson’s numerous experiments, but, in the case of a man of his reputation, fraud is likely not one of them.