The Esdale State

Dr. James Esdaile

While James Braid was making quantum leaps with hypnosis, another Scottish doctor, Dr. James Esdaile, was experimenting and gaining permanent recognition in the history of hypnosis. Stationed in Hoogly, India, James Esdaile used hypnosis in surgery with astounding results; and even today many would say that Dr. Esdaile’s work with applied hypnosis almost borders on the fantastic.

James Esdaile submitted reports at the end of 1846 indicating that Dr. Esdaile had performed several thousand minor operations and about 300 major ones, including 19 amputations, all painlessly. Due mostly to the removal of post-operative shock through hypnosis, James Esdaile cut the 50% mortality rate of that time down to less than 8%! (One book even reported less than 5%.) The Medical Association actually accepted Esdaile’s report, and Dr. Esdaile was assigned to the Calcutta hospital to continue “mesmeristic” operations.

While the Association considered mesmerism taboo at the University Hospital, mesmerism could quite easily be expected to work for the uneducated masses in India. They were right, of course. In India, long known as the home of occult sciences, Dr. James Esdaile was assured of success from the very beginning because of the common belief system. Later, when Dr. Esdaile returned home, Esdaile was unable to duplicate his work because of lack of belief and negative expectation; so Dr. Esdaile’s career went down the same dark path of discouragement take by Elliotson.

Dave Elman gave James Esdaile respect by referring to an ultra-deep hypnotic state as the Esdaile state (Chapter 13 of his book, Findings in Hypnosis, is entitled: The Esdaile State). It would be difficult to replicate the process that Dr. Esdaile used back at this time today. According to my research Dr. Esdaile used people to provide long trance sessions to his patients. This could take all day at times and would be considered a very long and boring process in today’s clinical setting. The majority of Dr. Esdaile’s patients at the time as well were criminals and it was also in their best interests to accept the suggestions during these times.

The Esdale State Induction

I know how relaxed you are, but even in your relaxed state I'll bet you sense in your own mind that there is a state of relaxation below the one you're in right now. Can you sense that?

(the client answers, "yes")

You know that you can clench your fist and make it tighter and tighter and tighter - and you might call that the height of tension. You can relax the same fist until you can't relax it any more. You might call that the basement of relaxation. I'm going to try to take you down to the basement.

To get down to floor A, you have to relax twice as much as you have relaxed already. To get down to floor B, you have to relax twice as much as you did at floor B, and to get down to C, you have to relax twice as much as you did at floor B. But when you reach floor C, that is the basement of relaxation, and at that point you will give off signs by which I will be able to tell that you are at the basement. You don't know what these signs are, and I'm not going to tell you what they are, but every person who has ever been at the basement of relaxation gave off those signs ... Let's get started.

You will ride down to floor A on an imaginary elevator and you will use that same elevator to get down to the basement of relaxation. You are on that elevator now. When I snap my fingers, that elevator will start down. If you relax twice as much as you have relaxed already you will be down at floor A. Tell me when you are at floor A by saying the letter A out loud.

(Snap fingers) The elevator is starting down ... now.

(Wait for response)

(Snap fingers) Continuing down to floor B ... now.

(Wait for response)

(Snap fingers, wait, and watch for signs of depth.)

Test #1 - Anesthesia

When you're sure he is at floor C, without giving suggestions of any kind for anesthesia, take a pair of allis clamps or towel clips, and make a test for anesthesia. Don't use a word of suggestion for this. If it is necessary to give suggestions for hypnotic anesthesia, you don't have the coma state.

Test #2 - Moving an arm or a leg

Ask him to try to move a large group of muscles such as an arm or leg. If he is unable to move the big muscles, he is ready for the third test.

Test #3 - Opening eyes

This should involve a small group of muscles such as those around the eyes. Ask him to try to open his eyes. If he does, he is not in the coma state, and you must take him down a flight further, until the eye muscles will not work.

In somnambulism, when the client tries to open his eyes, you will see a movement of the muscles even though the eyes don't open. But in the true coma state, those tiny muscles don't work at all, and you see no movement whatever.

Test #4 - Catatonia

Your fourth test should be for catatonia. Realize that catatonia can be obtained in the lightest state of hypnosis. Therefore, it means nothing unless it is the fourth test you make in the coma state. When a client passes all of these four tests in the exact order given, you may be sure you have the true hypnotic coma, and can proceed from there. In your test for catatonia, no suggestions should be given. the catatonia must arrive by itself, without suggestions of any kind.

Never go on to a further test until the client has passed the first one. Don't make test two until the client has definitely passed test one: don't make test three until the client has passed tests one and two, and so on.

Hypnosis in Sleep

To obtain hypnosis in sleep, the following steps are necessary:

Count the respirations of the client. Make sure breathing is down to about seven or eight times a minute; six or seven a minute is even better. If the client is breathing too fast, you will be wise to wait until he is more soundly asleep.

Approach the client very gently, for the aim is to bypass the critical faculty without arousing him from sleep. The bypass must occur instantly. The following speech may be extremely valuable if spoken very gently, but very confidently: "This is (your name) speaking. You can hear me, but you can't wake up. You can hear me, but you can't wake up. You can hear me, but you can't wake up.

The client is usually in such deep sleep that the above must be repeated several times before it seems to penetrate his unconscious. Continue: "I'll know you're hearing me when your thumb, which I'm going to touch, begins to rise. I'll know you're hearing me when your thumb moves. You can hear me, but you can't wake up."

When the thumb responds, continue to talk gently, compounding suggestions as you proceed.

When you have finished giving the desired suggestions, or have concluded the hypnoanalysis, your next step is to remove the hypnotic state, so that the client can continue an entirely natural sleep state until he wakes up by himself. Do it as follows: "When I stop talking to you, you will revert to the state you were in before I started talking to you. You will sleep deeply, and in the morning, you'll awaken completely refreshed - won't even remember I've been talking to you, but you'll feel so much better about the ____ (operation, or will not be bothered any more by this allergic reaction or whatever suggestions is appropriate). You won't worry about it a bit. You just know we wouldn't be ____ (performing the operation) if we didn't know it was going to be absolutely safe for you, and easy for you to take. And you'll get well so fast. Now go to sleep very soundly, and I'll see you in the morning ... I'll stop talking now.
From the book "Hypnotherapy"

by Dave Elman

Hailed as a classic in its field, Elman's work is a forceful and dynamic presentation of hypnosis as a lightning-fast and amazingly effective tool with a wide range of applications. A useful and practical summation of the teaching of one of the pioneers in modern hypnotherapy.

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