Mesmer, Franz

Mesmer, Franz (according to others, FRIEDRICH ANTON), the founder of the doctrine of animal magnetism, or, as it is more generally' termed, mesmerism, was born at a village near the Bodensee May 23,1733. He studied mathematics and natural science at the Jesuit school in Dillingen, and, later, medicine at the University of Vienna, and there took the degree of doctor of medicine in 1766. About 1772 he commenced, assisted by father Hell, to investigate the curative powers of the magnet, and was led to adopt the opinion that there exists a power similar to magnetism, which exercises an extraordinary influence. on the human body. This he called animal magnetism, and published an account of his discovery, and of its medicinal value, in 1775: Precis historique et faits relatifs au magnetisme animal; and in 1776, in his thesis, On the Influence of the Planets on the Human Body. Honors were conferred upon him in Germany. In 1778 he went to Paris, where he attracted much attention. His system obtained the support of members of the medical profession, as well as of others; but he refused two offers, one of 30,000 livres, and the other of 340,000 livres, to reveal his secret; and this, combined with other circumstances, gave rise to suspicion, and induced the French government to appoint a commission, composed of physicians and naturalists, among them Bailly, our own Franklin, and Lavoisier, whose report was unfavorable to him. He now fell into disrepute, and after a visit to England, retired- to Meersburg, near his native place, where he spent the rest of his life in complete obscurity. He died March 5, 1815. SEE MESMERISM.

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