MORE ON MESMER AND THE BEGINNINGS OF MODERN MAGNETISM
What about Hypnotism?
What about hypnotism? Isn’t this associated with Mesmer and the so-called “mesmeric trance”? Is it the same as animal magnetism?
Today, Mesmer’s practices are often associated, and sometimes erroneously equated with, the practice of hypnotism. Animal magnetism, however, is not the same thing as hypnotism. During the time that Mesmer conducted his therapeutic sessions, some patients, especially those with more serious symptoms, experienced what was called the “Mesmeric crisis”, which was a nervous trembling, nausea, and sometimes delirium or convulsions. Mesmer believed this to be a normal and necessary part of the process in order to break through an obstacle to the flow of fluid, which he believed caused the disease, and then restore the patient’s body to a state in which it responded harmoniously to the natural flow of the fluid through all of nature. Later, after having practiced his method for some considerable time, he discovered the mesmeric trance, which he used as a method for inducing this “crisis.” A follower of Mesmer, Marquis de Puysegur later discovered that it was possible to communicate with people in trance, whereby they would answer questions, remember forgotten events, and even act under outside suggestions, hence, the development of hypnotism as we know it. Therefore, it is probably more accurate to say that Mesmer’s methods, while at a later point included a hypnotic trance, were not identical to it.
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