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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: mesmerism

DEFINITIONS

Mesmerism: A healing system created by Franz Anton Mesmer. Also known as the use of animal magnetism, it was discovered that similar results could be obtained through the use of suggestion while a person was in a trance, what is known as formal hypnotism. This has caused people to mistakenly think that hypnotism and mesmerism are synonymous. In actuality, mesmerism is closer to forms of energy healing such as the laying on of hands and Reiki.Donald Michael Kraig

Mesmerism:

Modern science first became involved in hypnosis with the work of the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815). Mesmer developed a theory called "animal magnetism" using magnets as healing tools to influence what was believed to be a magnetic field surrounding the physical body. The practice, which became known as Mesmerism, included passing a magnet (or at times a twig of wood) over a wound to stop bleeding that resulted from blood-letting. An investigation conducted by a French Board of Inquiry, which included the American Benjamin Franklin, concluded that the purported effects of magnets were instead the consequences of the subject's imagination. Franklin's research team further concluded that the healings were due to the patient's own powers, not those of the magnet. That finding was to become a major step toward the recognition of hypnosis as a scientific approach with potential for self-development and desired change (Ellenberger, 1980).

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke


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