Mesmer, Friedrich Anton

Mesmer, Friedrich Anton fränts [key], 1734–1815, German physician. He studied in Vienna. His interest in “animal magnetism” developed into a system of treatment through hypnotism that was called mesmerism. It seems now that Mesmer was actually treating psychosomatic illness, but an unsympathetic medical and scientific community caused him to be expelled first from Vienna, and in 1778 from Paris. He retired to his native Austria and to obscurity.

See his memoir (1799, tr. 1957); biography by D. M. Walmsley (1967).

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