Artwork of Franz Mesmer using animal magnetism

Artwork of Franz Mesmer using animal magnetism

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Credit: JEAN-LOUP CHARMET/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mesmerism. Artwork from 1785 of the Austrian Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) demonstrating the supposed ability of animal magnetism to cure people. The patients are holding metal rods that lead into a chemical bath or iron hoop and some of them have gone into a trance or fainted. Mesmer (at centre left) believed that his apparatus and mystical gestures could channel a cosmic healing force, or animal magnetism, into his patients. This made the patients fall into a trance, after which they would feel better. His successes at "healing" were probably psychosomatic cases where the patients only believed that they were ill. Mesmer's methods were later refined and given the term "hypnotism".

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Keywords: alternative therapy, animal magnetism, discoverer, franz anton, historical image, history, hypnosis, magnetism in medicine, medical charlatanism, mesmer, mesmerism, proposer, quack treatment, quackery

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