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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 ?
The difference between mesmerism and nervous sympathy is that, whereas mesmerism operates on the basis of the mesmerist's will, the action of nervous sympathy is unconscious.
Accounts of the practice indeed suggest that the mesmeric subject often lost all speech and hearing unless the mesmerist addressed her.
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.
(2) All of the forms of care present then are still present today including botanical medicine ("Thomsonians"), health food ("Grahamites"), homeopathy, hydrotherapy, healing touch ("mesmerists"), osteopathy, naturopathy, chiropracty, and Christian Science.
Midwives, herbalists, mesmerists, and other healers among the slaves on the Caribbean island treated their fellow slaves, white residents, and non-human animals with their own combination of Western, African, and Caribbean remedies.
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.
That a woman should challenge the mesmerists, that she should try to shake Americans from their complacent trust in their own government and most powerful corporations, dismayed not just the chemical companies and their colleagues in research universities.
The relationship of the mesmerist to the mesmeric subject raised issues of power and control between individuals, classes, and (since most mesmerists were men and most subjects women) the sexes.
The emergence of the modern double and such a fascination for duality in Europ ean literary texts (especially around the 1820s) originates with the magical sciences of the eighteenth century, with the interest of mesmerists in an experimental separation of the second self being taken up in various ways by Romantic writers and artists.
For example, a picture of a contemporary operating theater, or the carefully annotated political cartoons showing Victoria and Peel as successful mesmerists (thus demonstrating the power of the mesmerizer and the inferiority of the mesmerized subject), are exciting testimonies to her argument; whereas portraits of Dionysius Lar dner or Thomas Wakley, or even the playbill showing Charles Dickens as an actor in a private performance of Inchbald's Animal Magnetism, are of marginal interest.