There was a publication called “The Zoist: A Journal of Cerebral Physiology and Mesmerism, and Their Applications to Human Welfare” that ran from April 1843 until December 1855. Initiated by a 19th-century doctor who also dabbled in hypnotism (or mesmerism), John Elliotson. Important to the development of anaesthesia, this publication chronicled the use of mesmerism for treatments as varied as the removal of tumours and amputations, as well as the treatment of chronic pain and psychological and mental illnesses.
An anaesthesia resident may be guided through a systematic breakdown of “The Zoist” as follows: The publication first introduces the concept of mesmerism, which was developed and popularised by the Austrian physician Anton Mesmer in the late 18th century. Mesmer’s method relied on generating a trance-like condition in patients to ease pain and induce anaesthesia, and it was founded on the notion of animal magnetism.
The journal’s primary emphasis is on the research of brain physiology and mesmerism and their potential benefits to human health and well-being. In doing so, it hopes to learn more about how mesmerism might affect people’s physical and emotional well-being.
Mesmerism as a treatment for chronic pain is another topic of interest in the magazine. In these accounts, mesmerism is presented as a viable alternative to conventional anaesthetic and painkilling techniques by relieving patients’ chronic pain.
The publication also discusses the use of mesmerism in the treatment of mental health issues. Mesmerism’s potential advantages in treating illnesses including anxiety, sadness, and hysteria are investigated.
Finally, “The Zoist” details the use of mesmerism in surgery. There are accounts of both minor procedures like tumour removal and big ones like limb amputations that were reportedly carried out while the patients were under the effects of mesmerism. These first-hand descriptions of the quest for anaesthesia and pain relief in surgical procedures are fascinating.
The magazine was published by Bailliere in London and Paris and by Weigel in Leipzig; thus, its reach was global. This shows that mesmerism as a field of research and its potential influence on human well-being are widely acknowledged and appreciated.
Although “The Zoist” would not be classified as a contemporary anaesthesia publication, it did play a part in the development of anaesthesia as a field and the hunt for pain relief and sedation during surgery. This publication paved the way for the emergence of specialised anaesthesia publications.
(the image courtesy -Weiser Antiquarian Books)