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Mesmerism

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Mesmerism was first brought into notice by Frederick Anton Mesmer, a German physician, in 1766, when he published a thesis on "The Influence of the Planets on the Human Body," claiming that the heavenly bodies diffused through the universe a subtle fluid which acts on the nervous system of animated beings ; and he further stated that he regarded the new force, which, he said, could be exerted by one living organism upon another, as a means of alleviating or curing disease. In 1778 lie left Vienna for Paris, where he gained numerous proselytes and much money. His discovery was fostered by Dr. D'Elson, physician to the king's brother, and in 1784 the French government ordered the medical faculty of Paris to investigate Mesmer's theory. A committee was appointed, who subsequently reported that "The violent effects which are observed in the public practice of magnetism are due to the manipulations, to the excitement of the imagination which leads us to repeat anything which produces an impression upon the senses." One year later, 1785, Mesmer's popularity had so far declined that he left Paris and retired to Switzerland, where he spent the balance of his life. Mesmerism excited some attention again in 1848, when Miss Harriet Martineau and others announced their belief in it.



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