Mesmerism refers to Franz Anton Mesmer’s doctrine of “animal magnetism.” Mesmer (1734–1815) – a German physician – understood it as a universal force of living beings with the capability of producing physical effects over the matter, in particular, healing. As it was argued, mesmerism “fascinated an age almost obsessed by the possibility of curing all illnesses and that suffered various epidemics of its own, particularly plagues of the nervous system and the psyche” (Kaplan 1974, p. 693). Therefore, it looked for cure to different diseases through the application of clinical techniques; in many cases, in this entrepreneurship phrenology became also allied; because of that both were thought of in terms of their physiological and psychological implications – i.e., the action over body and mind. By referring to the notion of magnetism – which was extracted from physics, especially electricity – that force was defined as an ethereal fluid possible to be passed from one...
KeywordsMagnetism Spiritualism Healing Phrenology Galvanism Popular science Allan Kardec
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