'LeMagnetisme', after lithograph by L.Boilly

'LeMagnetisme', after lithograph by L.Boilly

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Credit: JEAN-LOUP CHARMET/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: "Le Magnetisme", after a lithograph by L.Boilly in 1826. A doctor is seen passing his hands over his elderly patient whilst her daughter gazes on. The doctor is using the technique called 'animal magnetism' of Franz Mesmer (1734- 1815). Having obtained a degree in medicine in 1766, Mesmer studied the effect of magnetism on patients. 'Cures' were effected by passing magnets over the patient, Mesmer later discovering that the same results could be achieved by the simple passing of hands, so-called 'animal magnetism'. He was all the rage in Paris from 1778 to 1785, by which time he was discredited. Today it is clear that Mesmer was simply curing psychosomatic symptoms.

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Keywords: animal magnetism, historical image, history, magnetic therapy, medical charlatanism, mesmer, psychosomatics, quack treatment, quackery

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