Franz Mesmer

German physician

Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer (/ˈmɛzmər/;[1] German: [ˈmɛsmɐ]; 23 May 1734 – 5 March 1815) was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism.

Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer


  • You are at the head of the committee which the government sent to M. d'Eslon's house, in order to witness the evidence of my discovery, and to judge its efficacy. When Mr. d'Eslon approached me and when I saw fit to let him glimpse a few elements of the system of my knowledge, I made him give his word of honor that he would never make public, without first having obtained my permission, the small number of new ideas that I might confide in him. M. d'Eslon has since signed a statement in which he recognizes that animal magnetism is my property, and that to make use of it without my consent is to be guilty of an offense as odious as it is punishable. However, in spite of his oaths and the statement which he signed, M. d'Eslon has not only dared to use my property for himself, but he has found men who were not afraid to share the spoils of my discoveries with him. Thirty-six doctors, from what I have been told, came to him looking for a system of knowledge about which he should be silent, and which he could not impart to them without breaking a code of honor... Like you, Monsieur, the world is my judge; and if the good that I have done can be forgotten, and the good that I wish to do can be obstructed, then I will have posterity to avenge me.

Quotes about Mesmer

  • Theophrastus Paracelsus rediscovered the occult properties of the magnet—“the bone of Horus” which, twelve centuries before his time, had played such an important part in the theurgic mysteries—and he very naturally became the founder of the school of magnetism and of mediaeval magico-theurgy. But Mesmer, who lived nearly three hundred years after him, and as a disciple of his school brought the magnetic wonders before the public, reaped the glory that was due to the fire-philosopher, while the great master died in a hospital! So goes the world : new discoveries, evolving from old sciences ; new men—the same old nature! p. 71/2
  • The church of Rome has never been either credulous or cowardly, as is abundantly proved by the Machiavellism which marks her policy. Moreover, she has never troubled herself much about the clever prestidigitateurs whom she knew to be simply adepts in juggling. Robert Houdin, Comte, Hamilton and Bosco, slept secure in their beds, while she persecuted such men as Paracelsus, Cagliostro, and Mesmer, the Hermetic philosophers and mystics—and effectually stopped every genuine manifestation of an occult nature by killing the mediums. p. 100
  • I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred an fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.
    • Aldous Huxley letter to George Orwell (October 1949) anthologized in More Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience edited by Shaun Usher (2015)

Studies in Occultism By H. P. Blavatsky (1910)

  • In the large curative establishment founded by Mesmer at Vienna, he employed, besides magnetism, electricity, metals and a variety of woods. His fundamental doctrine was that of the Alchemists. He believed that metals, as also woods and plants have all an affinity with and bear a close relation to, the human organism. Everything in the Universe has developed from one homogeneous primordial substance differentiated into incalculable species of matter, and everything is destined to return thereinto.
  • The secret of healing, he maintained, lies in the knowledge of correspondences and affinities between kindred atoms.
  • Find that metal, wood, stone, or plant that has the most correspondential affinity with the body of the sufferer; and, whether through internal or external use, that particular agent imparting to the patient additional strength to fight disease -- (developed generally through the introduction of some foreign element into the constitution) -- and to expel it, will lead invariably to his cure. Many and marvelous were such cures effected by Anton Mesmer. p. 24
  • In 1774 he too happened to come across the theurgic secret of direct vital transmission; and so highly interested was he, that he abandoned all his old methods to devote himself entirely to the new discovery. Henceforward he mesmerized by gaze and passes, the natural magnets being abandoned. The mysterious effects of such manipulations were called by him -- animal magnetism. This brought to Mesmer a mass of followers and disciples. The new force was experimented with in almost every city and town of Europe and found everywhere an actual fact.
  • About 1780, Mesmer settled in Paris, and soon the whole metropolis, from the Royal family down to the last hysterical bourgeoise, were at his feet. The clergy got frightened and cried -- "the Devil"! The licensed "leeches" felt an ever-growing deficit in their pockets; and the aristocracy and the Court found themselves on the verge of madness from mere excitement. p. 25
  • When Mesmer arrived, Paris divided its allegiance between the Church which attributed all kinds of phenomena except its own divine miracles to the Devil, and the Academy, which believed in neither God nor Devil, but only in its own infallible wisdom. But there were minds which would not be satisfied with either of these beliefs... They had laid their legitimate desires at the royal feet, and the King forthwith commanded his learned Academy to look into the matter....
  • The Academy disbelieved her most eminent Scientists and proclaimed Mesmerism a delusion... Even now when experiment has amply demonstrated that "Mesmerism" or animal magnetism, now known as hypnotism (a sorry effect, forsooth, of the "Breath of Cybele") is a fact, we yet get the majority of scientists denying its actual existence. Small fry as it is in the majestic array of experimental psycho-magnetic phenomena, even hypnotism seems too incredible, too mysterious, for our Darwinists and Haeckelians.
  • Ever since Mesmer's death at the age of eighty, in 1815, the French and English "Faculty," with some honorable exceptions, have ridiculed and denied the facts as well as the theories of Mesmer, but now, in 1890, a host of scientists suddenly agree, while wiping out as best they may the name of Mesmer, to rob him of all his phenomena, which they quietly appropriate under the name of "hypnotism," "suggestion," "Therapeutic Magnetism," "psychopathic Massage," and all the rest of it. p. 28

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