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‘Under the influence’ in British India: James Esdaile's Mesmeric Hospital in Calcutta, and its critics

  • Waltraud Ernst (a1)


Mesmerism was for a period very popular in Victorian Britain. The special clinical approach developed by Dr J. Esdaile while on duty in British India is elaborated in detail. The controversy surrounding Esdaile's treatment of surgical, medical and psychiatric cases at the ‘mesmeric hospital’ at Calcutta is discussed, and the main arguments are set within their contemporary socio-cultural context. Some of the arguments advanced for and against mesmerism contain concerns similar to those that have been raised during later decades in regard to hypnotism and hypnotherapy.


Corresponding author

* Address for correspondence: Dr Waltraud Ernst, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton S017 1BJ.


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‘Under the influence’ in British India: James Esdaile's Mesmeric Hospital in Calcutta, and its critics

  • Waltraud Ernst (a1)


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