Print of Franz Anton Mesmer
(Musée de la Révolution française)
Franz Anton Mesmer
23 May 1734
|Died||5 March 1815 80) (aged|
|Known for||Animal magnetism|
Franz Anton Mesmer ( // ; German: [ˈmɛsmɐ] ; 23 May 1734 – 5 March 1815) was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. (In modern times New Age spiritualists have revived a similar idea.[ citation needed ]) Mesmer's theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843 the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term "hypnosis" for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word "mesmerism" generally functions as a synonym of "hypnosis".
Mesmer was born in the village of Iznang, on the shore of Lake Constance in Swabia, Germany, a son of master forester Anton Mesmer (1701—after 1747) and his wife, Maria/Ursula (née Michel; 1701—1770).After studying at the Jesuit universities of Dillingen and Ingolstadt, he took up the study of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1759. In 1766 he published a doctoral dissertation with the Latin title De planetarum influxu in corpus humanum (On the Influence of the Planets on the Human Body), which discussed the influence of the moon and the planets on the human body and on disease. This was not medical astrology. Building largely on Isaac Newton's theory of the tides, Mesmer expounded on certain tides in the human body that might be accounted for by the movements of the sun and moon. Evidence assembled by Frank A. Pattie suggests that Mesmer plagiarized a part of his dissertation from a work by Richard Mead, an eminent English physician and Newton's friend. However, in Mesmer's day doctoral theses were not expected to be original.
In January 1768, Mesmer married Anna Maria von Posch, a wealthy widow, and established himself as a doctor in Vienna. In the summers he lived on a splendid estate and became a patron of the arts. In 1768, when court intrigue prevented the performance of La finta semplice (K. 51), for which the twelve-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had composed 500 pages of music, Mesmer is said to have arranged a performance in his garden of Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne (K. 50), a one-act opera,though Mozart's biographer Nissen found no proof that this performance actually took place. Mozart later immortalized his former patron by including a comedic reference to Mesmer in his opera Così fan tutte .
In 1774, Mesmer produced an "artificial tide" in a patient, Francisca Österlin, who suffered from hysteria, by having her swallow a preparation containing iron and then attaching magnets to various parts of her body. She reported feeling streams of a mysterious fluid running through her body and was relieved of her symptoms for several hours. Mesmer did not believe that the magnets had achieved the cure on their own. He felt that he had contributed animal magnetism, which had accumulated in his work, to her. He soon stopped using magnets as a part of his treatment.
In the same year Mesmer collaborated with Maximilian Hell.
In 1775, Mesmer was invited to give his opinion before the Munich Academy of Sciences on the exorcisms carried out by Johann Joseph Gassner (Gaßner), a priest and healer who grew up in Vorarlberg, Austria. Mesmer said that while Gassner was sincere in his beliefs, his cures resulted because he possessed a high degree of animal magnetism. This confrontation between Mesmer's secular ideas and Gassner's religious beliefs marked the end of Gassner's career as well as, according to Henri Ellenberger, the emergence of dynamic psychiatry.
The scandal that followed Mesmer's only partial success in curing the blindness of an 18-year-old musician, Maria Theresia Paradis, led him to leave Vienna in 1777. In February 1778 Mesmer moved to Paris, rented an apartment in a part of the city preferred by the wealthy and powerful, and established a medical practice. There he would reunite with Mozart who often visited him. Paris soon divided into those who thought he was a charlatan who had been forced to flee from Vienna and those who thought he had made a great discovery.
In his first years in Paris, Mesmer tried and failed to get either the Royal Academy of Sciences or the Royal Society of Medicine to provide official approval for his doctrines. He found only one physician of high professional and social standing, Charles d'Eslon, to become a disciple. In 1779, with d'Eslon's encouragement, Mesmer wrote an 88-page book, Mémoire sur la découverte du magnétisme animal, to which he appended his famous 27 Propositions. These propositions outlined his theory at that time. Some contemporary scholars equate Mesmer's animal magnetism with the Qi (chi) of Traditional Chinese Medicine and mesmerism with medical Qigong practices.
According to d'Eslon, Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in our bodies. Illness was caused by obstacles to this flow. Overcoming these obstacles and restoring flow produced crises, which restored health. When Nature failed to do this spontaneously, contact with a conductor of animal magnetism was a necessary and sufficient remedy. Mesmer aimed to aid or provoke the efforts of Nature. To cure an insane person, for example, involved causing a fit of madness. The advantage of magnetism involved accelerating such crises without danger.
Mesmer treated patients both individually and in groups. With individuals he would sit in front of his patient with his knees touching the patient's knees, pressing the patient's thumbs in his hands, looking fixedly into the patient's eyes. Mesmer made "passes", moving his hands from patients' shoulders down along their arms. He then pressed his fingers on the patient's hypochondrium region (the area below the diaphragm), sometimes holding his hands there for hours. Many patients felt peculiar sensations or had convulsions that were regarded as crises and supposed to bring about the cure. Mesmer would often conclude his treatments by playing some music on a glass armonica.
By 1780 Mesmer had more patients than he could treat individually and he established a collective treatment known as the "baquet." An English doctor who observed Mesmer described the treatment as follows:
In the middle of the room is placed a vessel of about a foot and a half high which is called here a "baquet". It is so large that twenty people can easily sit round it; near the edge of the lid which covers it, there are holes pierced corresponding to the number of persons who are to surround it; into these holes are introduced iron rods, bent at right angles outwards, and of different heights, so as to answer to the part of the body to which they are to be applied. Besides these rods, there is a rope which communicates between the baquet and one of the patients, and from him is carried to another, and so on the whole round. The most sensible effects are produced on the approach of Mesmer, who is said to convey the fluid by certain motions of his hands or eyes, without touching the person. I have talked with several who have witnessed these effects, who have convulsions occasioned and removed by a movement of the hand...
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In 1784, without Mesmer requesting it, King Louis XVI appointed four members of the Faculty of Medicine as commissioners to investigate animal magnetism as practiced by d'Eslon. At the request of these commissioners the King appointed five additional commissioners from the Royal Academy of Sciences. These included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, the doctor Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly, and the American ambassador Benjamin Franklin.
The commission conducted a series of experiments aimed not at determining whether Mesmer's treatment worked, but whether he had discovered a new physical fluid. The commission concluded that there was no evidence for such a fluid. Whatever benefit the treatment produced was attributed to "imagination." But one of the commissioners, the botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu took exception to the official reports. He wrote a dissenting opinion that declared Mesmer's theory credible and worthy of further investigation.
The commission did not examine Mesmer, but investigated the practice of d'Eslon.
In August 1784 Mesmer visited a Mesmeric society in Lyon. In 1785 Mesmer left Paris. In 1790 he was in Vienna again to settle the estate of his deceased wife Maria Anna. When he sold his house in Vienna in 1801 he was in Paris.
Mesmer was driven into exile soon after the investigations on animal magnetism although his influential student, Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puségur (1751-1825), continued to have many followers until his death.Mesmer continued to practice in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, for a number of years and died in 1815 in Meersburg, Germany.
Abbé Faria, an Indo-Portuguese monk in Paris and a contemporary of Mesmer, claimed that "nothing comes from the magnetizer; everything comes from the subject and takes place in his imagination, i.e. autosuggestion generated from within the mind."
Hypnosis is a human condition involving focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion.
James Braid was a Scottish surgeon and "gentleman scientist". He was a significant innovator in the treatment of club-foot and an important and influential pioneer of hypnotism and hypnotherapy. He is regarded by many as the first genuine "hypnotherapist" and the "Father of Modern Hypnotism".
Although Braid believed that hypnotic suggestion was a valuable remedy in functional nervous disorders, he did not regard it as a rival to other forms of treatment, nor wish in any way to separate its practice from that of medicine in general. He held that whoever talked of a "universal remedy" was either a fool or a knave: similar diseases often arose from opposite pathological conditions, and the treatment ought to be varied accordingly. — John Milne Bramwell (1910)
Abbé Faria, or Abbé (Abbot) José Custódio de Faria, was a Luso-Goan Catholic monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism, following on from the work of Franz Mesmer. Unlike Mesmer, who claimed that hypnosis was mediated by "animal magnetism", Faria understood that it worked purely by the power of suggestion. In the early 19th century, Abbé Faria introduced oriental hypnosis to Paris.
Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a French physician, politician and freemason who proposed on 10 October 1789 the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution. Although he really did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype was a man named Tobias Schmidt working with the king's physician, Antoine Louis.
Self-hypnosis or auto-hypnosis is a form, a process, or the result of a self-induced hypnotic state.
The history of alternative medicine refers to the history of a group of diverse medical practices that were collectively promoted as "alternative medicine" beginning in the 1970s, to the collection of individual histories of members of that group, or to the history of western medical practices that were labeled "irregular practices" by the western medical establishment. It includes the histories of complementary medicine and of integrative medicine. "Alternative medicine" is a loosely defined and very diverse set of products, practices, and theories that are perceived by its users to have the healing effects of medicine, but do not originate from evidence gathered using the scientific method, are not part of biomedicine, or are contradicted by scientific evidence or established science. "Biomedicine" is that part of medical science that applies principles of anatomy, physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, and other natural sciences to clinical practice, using scientific methods to establish the effectiveness of that practice.
Jean-Martin Charcot was a French neurologist and professor of anatomical pathology. He is best known today for his work on hypnosis and hysteria, in particular his work with his hysteria patient Louise Augustine Gleizes. Also known as "the founder of modern neurology", his name has been associated with at least 15 medical eponyms, including Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease and Charcot disease.
John Elliotson, M.D., M.D.(Oxford, 1821), F.R.C.P.(London, 1822), F.R.S. (1829), professor of the principles and practice of medicine at University College London (1832), senior physician to University College Hospital (1834) — and, in concert with William Collins Engledue M.D., the co-editor of The Zoist.
Johann Joseph Gassner was a noted exorcist.
The development of concepts, beliefs and practices related to hypnosis and hypnotherapy have been documented since prehistoric to modern times.
Jean d'Arcet or Jean Darcet was a French chemist, and director of the porcelain works at Sèvres. He was one of the first to manufacture porcelain in France.
Hypnosurgery is a name used for an operation where the patient is sedated using hypnotherapy rather than traditional anaesthetics. It is claimed that hypnosis for anaesthesia has been used since the 1840s where it was pioneered by the surgeon James Braid. There are occasional media reports of surgery being conducted under hypnosis, but since these are not carried out under controlled conditions, nothing can be concluded from them.
Although Amand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puységur (1751–1825) was a French magnetizer aristocrat from one of the most illustrious families of the French nobility, he is now remembered as one of the pre-scientific founders of hypnotism.
Étienne Félix d'Henin de Cuvillers (1755–1841) was a French magnetizer who was an early practitioner of mesmerism as a scientific discipline.
Stage hypnosis is hypnosis performed in front of an audience for the purposes of entertainment, usually in a theatre or club. A modern stage hypnosis performance typically delivers a comedic show rather than simply a demonstration to impress an audience with powers of persuasion. Apparent effects of amnesia, mood altering and hallucination may be demonstrated in a normal presentation. Stage hypnosis performances often encourage audience members to look further into the benefits of hypnotism.
The Salpêtriére School, also known as the School of Paris, is, with the Nancy School, one of the schools that contributed to the age of hypnosis in France from 1882 to 1892. The leader of this school, the neurologist Jean Martin Charcot, contributed to the rehabilitation of hypnosis as a scientific subject presenting it as a somatic expression of hysteria. Charcot also used hypnosis as an investigative method and that by putting his hysterical patients into an "experimental state" it would permit him to reproduce their symptoms and interpret them.
William Saul Kroger was an American medical doctor who pioneered the use of hypnosis in medicine and was co-founder and founder of medical societies and academies dedicated to furthering psychosomatic medicine and medical hypnosis.
Animal magnetism, also known as mesmerism, was the name given by German doctor Franz Mesmer in the 18th century to what he believed to be an invisible natural force (Lebensmagnetismus) possessed by all living things, including humans, animals, and vegetables. He believed that the force could have physical effects, including healing, and he tried persistently but without success to achieve scientific recognition of his ideas.
Jules Denis, Baron du Potet or Dupotet de Sennevoy was a French esotericist. He became a renowned practitioner of mesmerism—the theories first developed by Franz Mesmer involving animal magnetism.
Charles Poyen was a French mesmerist or magnetizer. Mesmerism was named after Franz Anton Mesmer, a German physician who argued in 1779 for the existence of a fluid that fills space and through which bodies could influence each other, a force he called animal magnetism.
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