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see hypnotismhypnotism
[Gr.,=putting to sleep], to induce an altered state of consciousness characterized by deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility. The term was originally coined by James Braid in 1842 to describe a phenomenon previously known as animal magnetism or mesmerism (see
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an antiscientific medical system promoted by the Austrian physician (of Swiss origin) F. Mesmer (1734–1815) and based on the notion of animal magnetism, widespread at the end of the 18th century in France and Germany. Mesmer believed that the planets affect man through a special magnetic force and that a person in command of this force can emit it to others to favorably influence the course of all diseases. The untenability of the theory was demonstrated in 1774 by a special commission that included A. L. Lavoisier.


Hypnotism induced by animal magnetism, a supposed force passing from operator to subject.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, in mesmerism the active will power of the mesmerist is the crucial factor; while in mediumism what is essential is the degree of passiveness that the will can attain--the higher the degree, the better the results.
Also like Whitman in the 1842 editorial, this writer makes his case in part by distancing himself from the practitioners and promoters of mesmerism: they are "the Mesmerists," not he.
Robert Darnton notes that "postrevolutionary mesmerists developed their own version of the ideas that characterized spiritualism in general," including pantheism.
We learn about the actual techniques of a mesmerist from a journalist's description of the trials and successes of one of the first foreign mesmerists to -- as Winter puts it -- get off the ferry in 1837.
The esoteric rhetoric of this occult public sphere is politically charged with the crisis of the here-and-now: mesmerists, mediums, and ghosts speak repeatedly of souls freed of the physical body, of a postmortem identity emancipated from terrestrial existence.
New-style therapists -- mesmerists and spiritists -- worked on the image of the individual seen as a unity of closely interconnected body and spirit, in a way the Church had always looked upon with suspicion.
Franklin and his band of enlightened men stoically sat through sessions conducted by accomplished mesmerists.
In Winter's account, mesmerism was one of the last major spectacles involving the putative manipulation of hidden forces in which virtually the entire public could participate (as actor, spectator, or critic) without there being a consensus that some group (scientists, skilled mesmerists, or the like) had authoritative knowledge of the causes (whether real or feigned) of the phenomena.
Of the sexual baggage mesmerists carried, Benjamin Franklin's 1784 commission on Mesmer found that "women are always magnetized by men" (qtd.
Acting Naturally began, Knoper says, as a study of the relationship between Twain's literary works and the popular performances - minstrels, mesmerists, music-hall shows - whose traditions he absorbed and transformed.
Rival groups with secular outlooks challenged the church and won followers to their ideas, which the author discusses under the rubrics of spiritualism, positivism, and spiritism (the latter comprising socialists, Swedenborgians, mesmerists, and such other-world theorists as Allan Kardec).
Gough warned against the terrors of intemperance, mesmerists and phrenologists inducted listeners solemnly into these sciences, Anna Dickinson championed reforms, Henry Ward Beecher delivered his eloquent sermons, J.