Braid's interest in
the subject began in 1841 when the Swiss magnetiser, Charles Lafontaine
was visiting Manchester to present performances of his abilities.
Braid suspected Lafontaine
would proved to be a charlatan and on the evening of 13th November his
initial expectations tended to be confirmed.
According to Braid's
own account: "I saw nothing to diminish, but rather to confirm, my
However six nights
later Braid, at another exhibition, the physician was impressed by one
patient's inability to open his eyelids.
Braid wrote later: "I considered that to be a real phenomenon, and was anxious to
discover the physiological cause of it.
"Next night, I watched this case when again operated on, with intense interest, and before the termination of the experiment, felt assured I had discovered its cause, but considered it prudent not to announce my opinion publicly, until I had had an opportunity of testing its accuracy, by experiments and observation in private."
James Baird began
his own experiments in an attempt to find a scientific reason for the
trance. He quickly dismissed the erroneous theories of the time that Mesmeric
trances were due to some form of magnetism.