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Fig 2.5 – Mesmerism

Text: Pages 56-58

One of the most colorful and unjustly demeaned physicians in psychological history, Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), created animal magnetism. This occurred when natural transference occurred between animate and inanimate objects. His theory initially met with some medical acceptance because of the belief that planets affected humans through animal gravitation and the Newtonian theory of universal gravitation.

In 1784, the Society of Harmony, an organization promoting animal magnetism, convinced the king of France to create a commission to scientifically assess the effectiveness of animal magnetism. The commission report found that there was no such thing as animal magnetism. Mesmer was dismissed as a mystic and a fanatic. The results were full of irony because the commission also found that the only positive results were the powers of imagination and suggestion. History would judge Mesmer more favorably when he was acknowledged as the father of hypnosis, suggestion being a key hypnotic technique.

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