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Animal Magnetism

Magnetic Fluid














Magnetic Fluid

Anton Mesmer firmly believed that disease was caused by an imbalance of an invisible magnetic fluid that was contained in all living and non-living things, and he initially treated his patients with magnets. Since the practitioner's own body contained the magnetic fluid, Mesmer felt that techniques such as touching or passing the hands over the patient's body could rebalance / transfer the body's magnetic fluid. Thus the patient would then be cured.

He surmised that the body must have two poles, like a magnet, and must, like a magnet, be emitting an invisible magnetic "fluid." According to Mesmer, disease was due to some interruption or maladjustment in the flow of this "fluid," and it therefore be cured by correcting the flow.

Mesmer concluded that certain people had this gift of being able to control the flow of this mysterious "fluid" and these 'practitioners' had the power to make the fluid flow from themselves into the patient. Furthermore, this could also be accomplished indirectly. For example, by 'magnetizing' almost any object, such as a bottle of water. The magnetized objects would then presumably pass on the 'fluid" to anyone who touched them.

Pursuing this line of thought further, Mesmer discovered that it was important that there should exist a close interest in and sympathy between the physician and the patient. This he called rapport, French for "harmony" or "connection." This term is still in use in psychoanalytic circles, and describes the relationship in which the doctor has the interest and cooperation of his patient.

Mesmer used an apparatus which he called a bacquet, an oak tub filled with iron filings and broken glass. Protruding from the wooden top were dozens of bottles with the necks pointing in the direction of the patients. Placed inside the bottles were many iron rods whose purpose, according to Mesmer's theories, was to spray magnetic rays on the subject. These bottles were filled with supposedly magnetised water.

The patients gathered round the baquet, each holding the hand of the patient on either side, the whole party forming a kind of "magnetic ring." Ethereal soft music would play and the lights dimmed. Some of the patients would start singing during these strange seances. Inevitably, a few patients experienced spasms or a "crisis" after which they would emerge from the experience feeling improved in health. Occasionally young aristocratic women would return for the pleasure of the experience even though they no longer had any medical condition to treat.

Despite widespread skepticism of Mesmer's methods, he was certainly the first person to draw the attention of the world to the important fact that mental treatment can have a direct bearing on illness of the body, and that the proper use of mesmerism, or hypnosis, can have immense benefit to psychic investigators.

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