MESMER, FRANZ ANTON (1734- 1815)

Mesmer, Franz Anton (1734-1815)

Franz Anton Mesmer was an Austrian physician and scientist who laid the foundation for what would later become known as “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism.” He is best known for introducing the concept of “magnetic cures” for ailments and diseases. Mesmer believed that all living things, including humans, had a magnetic fluid that could be manipulated in order to alleviate physical and mental illnesses. He developed a method of treatment that involved making physical contact with the patient, usually in the form of hand passes or strokes, and using magnets to channel the magnetic fluid.

Mesmer was born in the town of Iznang, Germany in 1734. He studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Vienna and received his medical degree in 1766. He then traveled to Paris, where he began to develop his ideas about magnetic cures. He gained a following among the Parisian elite and began to treat diseases with his magnetic cures. He encountered resistance from the medical establishment, however, and was eventually forced to leave the city.

Mesmer returned to Vienna in 1785 and continued to practice his magnetic treatments. He became famous as a healer, but he also encountered criticism from members of the medical community. In 1784, he published a book called The Doctrine of Animal Magnetism, which outlined his theories and treatments. In 1784, a commission was established by the Austrian government to investigate Mesmer’s claims. The commission concluded that there was no evidence to support his theories and that his treatments were ineffective.

Mesmer ultimately died in poverty in 1815. Despite the rejection of his theories by the medical community, his ideas had a lasting impact. His theories formed the basis for the development of hypnosis and psychotherapy, which are still used today.


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Mesmer, F. A. (1784). The doctrine of animal magnetism. London, UK: J. Johnson.

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