JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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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