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December 29, 1962

Marshall Hall

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, New York City

JAMA. 1962;182(13):1341. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050520039018

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To the Editor:—  The editorial on Marshall Hall, in the Sept 29 issue of The Journal (181:1132), presented his meritorious contributions to neurology, medicine, and physiology. We may note, too, that he made a mistake worth remembering. Mr. Ward, a surgeon, at Nottinghamshire in 1842, amputated the leg of a patient who was under hypnoanesthesia. ( He had been placed in a mesmeric trance.) When the case was reported, Marshall Hall noted that the patient did not evidence the anticipated reflex movements, and he suggested, unreasonably, that the patient was an impostor. An old adage asserts that an authority in one field is not necessarily an authority in another. This adage is often forgotten, but should be recalled more than ever today.