In the migration of Africanist practices to white psychology, liberal reform became a matter of spiritual awareness; the privilege of disembodiment derives from slaves whose encumbered bodies silently justified the universalism of mesmerists
, spiritualists, and antislavery men and women.
It was on these conditions that Pitt the mesmerist thrived--and then repressed--both the home population and that of the countries Britain was colonizing.
The analogy with the electric fluid was frequently made by mesmerists in Britain--as, for example, in Samuel Stearns, The Mystery of Animal Magnetism Revealed to the World (London, 1791).
For more on the uncanny bonds between patient and mesmerist
see Alison Chapman, "Mesmerism and Agency in the Courtship of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning," VLC 26, no.
who murmured and gesticulated at me had no effect on my rational capacities, though the experience was rather relaxing," Franklin says.
Psychical research emerged as an attempt to continue and systematize the work of the mesmerists
and the Spiritualists by exploring hidden dimensions of human functioning and the possibility of spirit agency (Gauld, 1968; Lachapelle, 2011; Moore, 1977; Wolffram, 2009).
Mediumship, psychical research, dissociation, and the powers of the subconscious mind/ Medialitat, psychische forschung, dissoziation und die krafte der unterbewussten psyche/ Mediumnidad, investigacion psiquica, disociacion, y poderes de la mente subconsciente/ Mediumnite, recherche psychique, dissociation, et les pouvoirs de l'esprit subconscient
Japan) creates a wonder show of his own with his vivid portraits of mesmerists
, magicians, electrical wizards, mind readers and their spectacles.
Alan Bewell starts the issue with a broad survey of colonial natural history and its place as a discursive site for colonial conceptions and relationships; George Gilpin explores Blake's use and abuse of John Hunter's anatomical and implicitly forensic science to advance an integrated and Romantic science of life; Tim Fulford evokes the vital fluid of Romantic mesmerists
to summon and query the politics and poetics of the 1790s; Stuart Peterfreund examines the Romantic transformations of Paracelsus' neglected science of affinities in Frankenstein; and Eric Wilson reads Thoreau and American transcendentalism through the life formations and the transparencies of Romantic crystallography.
Indeed, secularized occultism pervades the modern world in ways we rarely think about, from psychoanalysis (which, as occult historian Peter Washington notes, presents the analyst as a kind of "sensitive" with a sixth sense) to the still-thriving Marxist communications theory (which posits the mass media as powerful mesmerists
with their audience in thrall).
The second chapter (1853-1859) identifies a widening split during the 1850s between therapeutic mesmerists
and spiritualist mesmerists
, the former defending what they considered pure objectivity and mesmerism's medical mission against spiritualism's dangerously emotional subjectivism, and the latter countering that scientific objectivity required openness to such metaphysical possibilities as spirit intervention.
As far as the historical association between psi and hypnosis is concerned, it is true that many of the early classical mesmerists
such as Puysegur, Elliotson, and Janet believed strongly in the occurrence of the "higher phenomena of mesmerism" (community of sensations and travelling clairvoyance) and they attributed these to the somnambulistic trance stage of hypnosis (Dingwall, 1967; Gauld, 1992).
Specters are once again haunting Europe and America--as are magicians, mermaids, mesmerists
, and a melange of marvels once thought to have been exorcised by the rational and secular processes of modernity.