Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mesmer's Animal Magnetism Theory

            According to Modern Animal Magnetism: The Work of Alexandre Barety, Emile Boirac, and Julian Ochorowicz, an article written by Carlos S. Alvarado of the University of Virginia, “Animal magnetism was considered by many to be a force that could be used to induce trance, and other phenomena such as healing, clairvoyance, and the transference of thoughts and sensations from one person to another”. The term was first used by German Physician Franz Anton Mesmer around 1766 to explain a mysterious force that enabled him to hypnotize patients. Mesmer brought his theory to the public in his thesis claiming, the tidal influences of the planets also operate on the human body though a universal force. This force being called “animal magnetism”.  
            It is said that Mesmer used a magnet in order to disrupt gravitational tides when treating his patients. He believed the human body emits a magnetic fluid. He predicted disease was caused by a disruption of the flow of the fluid and certain people had the power to control the flow of the magnetic fluid. Some patients claimed to feel immediately cured. For example, when treating a patient name Fraulien, he used the force in order to have the fluid drain from her body which contained her illness.

            The question at hand was, did Mesmer really have the power to control a human magnetic fluid, and even more pressing, is there a magnetic fluid within us? Mesmer’s theory was put to the test by a committee and found to be false. Nothing proved the existence of magnetic animal fluid and he was therefore considered a fraud.However, Mesmer’s work started the era of hypnosis. I think this is interesting to think of, maybe we do function in certain ways according to magnetic pull. I think it would be cool to see an experiment done using Mesmer’s Animal Magnetism theory.

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