When energy rules people: Mesmerism and animal magnetism

When energy rules people: Mesmerism and animal magnetism

You have probably heard that people can be controlled not only by suggestion, but also by influencing their bioenergetic field. There is even a whole science devoted to this topic and it is called Mesmerism.

Animal magnetism, also known as mesmerism, is an invisible natural force possessed by all living things. It can have physical effects, including healing. This theory has attracted many followers in Europe and the United States and was popular in the 19th century.

Why does this terms have such name?

The term Mesmerism is derived from the name of the originator of this theory, Franz Anton Mesmer, who was a German physician interested in the related sciences: physics and astronomy.

His theory suggests that there is a natural transfer of energy occurring between all animate and inanimate objects. Mesmer called it animal magnetism. A similar idea was revived by New Age spiritualists in the New Age. Mesmer’s theory attracted widespread attention between 1780 and 1850 and continued to have some influence until the end of the century. In 1843, the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term “hypnosis” for a technique based on Mesmerism.

To be fair, Messmer was not the only one to make this discovery. Experiments and research in this direction were done by other scientists, long before his time.

Such, for example, was Robert Fludd. He was a prominent English physician with scientific and occult interests. He is remembered as an astrologer, mathematician, cosmologist, Kabbalist, and Rosencreutzer apologist.

Much of Fludd’s writings centered around the sympathies found in nature between man, the earth, and the divine. His theory of the origin of all things asserted, “All species and things come first from dark chaos, then from divine light, which finally produces waters. This last element was also called the spirit of God. In Fludd’s theory Mesmer drew his idea of the “fluid of life.

On what basis were such conclusions drawn?

In 1774 Mesmer induced an “artificial tide” in a patient, Franziska Osterlin, who suffered from hysteria by making her swallow a preparation containing iron and then attaching magnets to various parts of her body. The woman reported feeling streams of mysterious fluid running through her body and was relieved of her symptoms for several hours. Mesmer did not believe the magnets contributed to the healing. He felt a telepathic connection with the patient.

Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in the human body. Sickness was caused by obstacles in this path. Overcoming them produced a crisis that restored health. Nature could not do this spontaneously, so contact with an animal magnetism guide was necessary. For example, to cure a madman, one must induce an attack of insanity. The advantage of magnetism was to precipitate such crises without danger.

When energy rules people: Mesmerism and animal magnetism

What is a magnetizer?

The terms “magnetizer” and “hypnotist” were applied to people who study and practice animal magnetism. They differed from “mesmerist” and “magnetist,” which denote those who study the theory but do not practice it. The etymology of the word “magnetiseur” comes from the French “magnetiseur,” denoting a person who has the ability to manipulate a “magnetic fluid.”

What is a mesmerist?

There was a tendency among British magnetiseurs to call themselves “mesmerists” and their clinical methods “mesmerism”. They wanted to distance themselves from the theoretical orientation of animal magnetism based on the “magnetic fluid” concept. Some magnetists attempted to direct it by “laying on of hands”. The effects of this included various feelings: high fever, shivers, trance and seizures.

When energy rules people: Mesmerism and animal magnetism

What is Vital Fluid?

Vital Magnetism can cause a wide range of effects, from vomiting to what is called a “crisis. The goal of the treatment was to shock the body into convulsions to remove obstructions in the humoral system that were causing disease. Crisis created two effects:

  1. A state in which the individual is completely reduced under magnetic influence. Although he must appear to possess his senses, yet he ceases to be an accountable being;
  2. A state of perfect and unobstructed vision. All opacity is removed. Every object becomes luminous and transparent. The critical patient was thought to be able to see through the body and find the cause of the illness either in himself or in other patients.

When energy rules people: Mesmerism and animal magnetism

What results have the Mesmerists achieved?

The study of animal magnetism stimulated the creation of harmony societies in France, whose members paid to study the practice of mesmerism.

Dr. John Bell was a member of the Harmonica Paris philosophical society and was certified to lecture and teach in England. The existence of the societies turned mesmerism into a secret art. Its lecturers conducted hypnosis sessions. The increased secrecy of the practice contributed to skepticism about it. However, many proponents of mesmerism advertised the ease and opportunity for everyone to acquire the skills to perform their techniques.

The popularization of animal magnetism was denounced and ridiculed by newspaper magazines and the theater in the Romantic era. Many considered it nothing more than theatrical lies and charlatanism.

The French Revolution catalyzed existing domestic political tensions in Britain in the 1790s. Some radicals used animal magnetism not only as a moral but also as a political threat. They accused major politicians and those in power of applying hypnosis to the population. London broker James Tilly Matthews claimed that the French were infiltrating England through animal magnetism. He believed that “magnetic spies” would invade and subdue his homeland. Such an invasion of foreign influences was perceived as a radical threat.

Today, these techniques are not used in traditional medicine, although there are many mesmerists left all over the world. The approach to the practice itself has also changed. Some scholars believe that mesmerism shares the concept of life force and energy with Asian practices such as Reiki and Qigong. However, the practical and theoretical positions of these three theories differ significantly.

As recently as 100-150 years ago, mesmerism was enthusiastic among scientists, psychologists, and physicians, and dreaded in spiritual and religious contexts. Although many discredited it as a credible medical practice, it created a place for spiritual healing. Some animal magnetists advertised their practices, emphasizing spiritual rather than physical benefits.

Some scholars, including Johann Peter Lange and Allan Kardek, have even suggested that Jesus was the greatest of all magnetizers and that the source of his miracles was animal magnetism. Naturally, there is no evidence for this suggestion.


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