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Following the introduction is a valuable background on trancing in Europe and the United States, with documentation of significant historical points and individuals in the history of trancing: saint Augustine, the Roman Church in the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, the work of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815; see the subsequent expression "mesmerized" derived from Mesmer's work), Jean Martin Charcot (1825-93), Pierre Janet (1859-1947; hypnosis), and the recent revival of interest over the last thirty years in multiple personality disorder.
Gabay (School of Arts and Education, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia) is an historical survey tracing the influences of philosopher, theologian, and iconoclast Emanuel Swedenborg, and Franz Anton Mesmer with his "Animal Magnetism" hypnosis, upon European and American culture.
Paradoxically, the once mesmerising therapeutics of the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer now survive mainly in Poe's tales and in the English verb "to mesmerise', which has no equivalent in German, French of Italian.