Where Did the Name ‘Esdaile State’ Originate?

In the early 20th Century (and probably before), stage hypnotists were terrified of encountering a spontaneous “hypnotic coma.” A subject in a Hypnotic Coma does not respond to emergence suggestions given by the hypnotist. However, the stage hypnotists all knew that the subject would emerge themselves in a few hours, and therefore the usual way to handle this (if normal emergence suggestions did not work) was to lock the subject in the theater and find him, in fine shape but hungry, the next morning. There was one danger to this – too often the local Sheriff’s response was to lock the stage hypnotist in the local jail until the next morning as well.

My father, Dave Elman, developed the first reliable emergence method for the “hypnotic coma.” All of the methods used today are modifications of the basic philosophy of Dad’s approach. Dad taught it freely to other stage hypnotists of the period.

Meanwhile, physicians sometimes encountered what they called “the Esdaile State.” Whether or not this was what Esdaile used in India is totally irrelevant to this conversation – that is what the medical community of the time called this State.

My father’s physician students ran tests which eventually showed that “the hypnotic coma” and “the Esdaile State” are one and the same thing. Dad (and many others) pushed for the hypnosis profession to use the term Esdaile State whenever possible because “hypnotic coma” severely scares the general populace and the last thing hypnosis needed in the 1950’s (or even today) is something that scares clients away.

In passing, please note that while Dad invented the Esdaile Emergence, my Mother invented the Esdaile Induction of the 1950’s. Like the Emergence, all current methods of inducing Esdaile are simply developments and expansions of her basic approach.

Summarizing, the modern Esdaile State is identical to the Hypnotic Coma and the preference for the name Esdaile State was to avoid a negative image of hypnosis among the general public. While Larry Elman believes this State is probably the one Esdaile used in his surgical operations in India (where he used no anesthesia), there has long been controversy over that because Dr. Esdaile seems to have reached whatever State he used via Mesmerism rather than via hypnosis.

What Makes the Esdaile State Different?

The primary difference is that most people find it so comfortable and “worry free” that their attitude towards the hypnotist is, “Just go away and leave me alone.”

  • THAT is why subjects do not respond to suggestions even for emergence;
  • THAT is why the Elman Emergence was developed for Stage Hypnotists (and later also adopted by the medical community and by today’s hypnosis profession);
  • THAT is why some hypnotists advocate installing an emergence “key word” before entering the Esdaile today.
  • THAT is also why, before Ines Simpson’s breakthrough efforts (and possibly Sichort’s as well), there was usually little or no communication with a subject while the subject was in Esdaile.
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