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  • John Elliotson was an English physician, born in Southwark, London. He studied medicine first at the University of Edinburgh, where he was influenced by Thomas Brown, M.D., who held the chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh from 1808 to 1820, and then at Jesus College, Cambridge — in both of which institutions he took the degree of M.D. — and subsequently in London at St Thomas' and Guy's hospitals. In 1831 he was elected professor of the principles and practice of physic in London University, and in 1834 he became physician to University College Hospital. He was a student of phrenology and mesmerism, but at the time both fields were vying for scientific authority. Elliotson hoped his development of mesmerism would lead to new therapeutic applications for medical science. Elliotson tended to use working class, female subjects for mesmeric research and demonstration, often from Irish immigrant communities. This was not unusual but was perhaps his downfall. Because the effects of mesmerism took place in the subjects' mind, the scientific community had to believe their testimony.

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