Franz Mesmer

Father of Hypnosis

Mesmer's Fame

Mesmer coined the term "animal magnetism" which was an early form of hypnosis. Though he did not develop the actual modern method of hypnosis, he practice a shamanistic healing method, and hypnotherapy was one of the methods used.

His Effect on Psychology and Human Behavior

Franz Mesmer is thought to have paved the way to modern hypnosis, along with James Braid, another psychologist that coined the term "hypnosis" because he didn't want his study to be associated with the study of "animal magnetism." Mesmer was flawed in his science of "animal magnetism" but the effects left psychologically were a large step for future psychologists studying hypnotherapy. His studies effected people by developing an early form of hypnotherapy, which is occasionally still used today. He helped many with his "healing" technique.

What Is Animal Magnetism Anyway?

Mesmer believed that all living things had magnetic fields running through them that could be manipulated. He believed an imbalance in a "magnetic fluid" that existed in all living beings caused ailments. In order to cure the ailment, he would try to establish an equilibrium of the magnetic fluid. He first tried treating his patients with magnets. He then moved on to magnetizing other objects; he believed magnetic energy would transfer to it. Mesmer also used a device called a baquet, which was an oak tube filled with glass and iron fillings, with iron rods placed inside of bottles filled with "magnetized water" that pointed outward toward the patients, designed to spray magnetic rays on the patient. Mesmer would often put on a dramatic show in order to perform his treatments.

Mesmer's Time Period

Franz Mesmer treated many people, among them were Mozart and Maria Theresa Paradis. His reputation was badly damaged by rumors that spread about him seducing Paradis. In 1784, while in Paris, Louis XVI brought a group of scientists and naturalists, as well as others to investigate Mesmer's work. They debunked Mesmer's work and came to the conclusion that the treatments used were due to self-suggestion. In the late 17th century many people pursued gaining a reputation in spiritual studies, so Mesmer fit in until his downfall in 1784.
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