Animal Magnetism

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Animal Magnetism

Some notes, based on Franz Mesmer's Dissertation on the Discovery of Animal Magnetism

The work of animal magnetism is, foremost, a natural and universal one.

"The spheres exert direct action on all parts that go to make up animate bodies, in particular the nervous system, by an all-penetrating fluid" (34).

This "direct action" is denoted by an "ebb and flow" (sea analogy) or what Mesmer also refers to as "intensification and remission" of the properties of matter. Thus, as the planets effect the ebb and flow of the tide, so to do they cause the intensification and remission of properties of the organic body. This body is like a needle--unmagnetized, its direction is random and open to whatever influences it, but magnetized it may maintain its initial position. The body, once disturbed, is unharmonious, until a general agent restores the harmony (36).

His first extensive case study is with Franzl Oesterline, whose symptoms he describes as "who for several years had been subject to a convulsive malady, the most troublesome symptoms of which were that the blood rushed to her head and there set up the most cruel toothache and earache, followed by delirium, rage, vomiting, and swooning" (36). (symptoms we would now align with hysteria). Mesmer tries to replicate the magnetic force necessary to reset her, to "imitate artificially" the celestial forces he believes are interfering with her. Mesmer can magnetize other people. He's NOT drawing from the universal fluid, he's drawing it from how own inner harmony.