Birth of Physician Franz Anton Mesmer

Birth of Physician Franz Anton Mesmer

Franz Anton Mesmer
Source: Wikipedia

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History of Science

Franz Anton Mesmer is born in Germany. As a physician in Vienna, Austria, he will create the idea of magnétisme animal (animal magnetism), promote belief in spiritual forces, and develop the use of hypnotism (which comes to be known as "mesmerism," from which English gets the word "mesmerize").

Mesmer will come to believe that both physical and mental illnesses are caused by imbalances in a fluid in the body. This fluid is affected by a force or field that allows energy to be transferred between a living being and their environment. He calls his force "animal magnetism," and it means that diseases can be cured by restoring the fluid's balance.

Mesmer attempts to achieve this by putting people in a trance (through hypnosis, or mesmerism) then manipulating their "vital energies" by passing his hands over the places where the disease is located. Thus hypnosis, mesmerism, and "animal magnetism" will all be developed originally as a form of faith healing.

Skeptical French physicians will investigate Mesmer's claims and conclude that he is a fraud. American diplomat Benjamin Franklin will serve on the commission overseeing the investigation. Mesmer is forced to flee and dies in disgrace, but his devoted followers will continue to use his methods for many of the same purposes.



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