CME INDIA Presentation by ⚜ Dr. M. Gowri Sankar, MD, Senior Assistant Professor, Dept. of General Medicine, Government Medical College and ESI Hospital, Coimbatore.

Today’s History Feature:

Franz Anton Mesmer

(1734 – 1815)

💠Austrian Physician

💠Father of Hypnosis

His contributions…

🔸Mesmer was born as the third of the nine children family in a small village called Iznang in Southern Germany.

🔸In fact, he intended to become a priest since childhood. Therefore, he studied at the Theological school as well as learned the Latin language.

🔸Later, he enrolled to study law and then switched to medicine at the University of Vienna in Austria and completed his medical studies in 1766 at the age of 32.

🔸While studying, he was highly influenced by the 14th century physician Paracelsus, who used to treat the illness by the power of magnets and also by Sir Issac Newton’s theory of gravity and ocean tides.

🔸Mesmer married to a wealthy widow and was thus prosperous and socially well-positioned in Vienna – He started his medical practice.

🔸He actually believed that the illness is caused by universal magnetic fluids in the body which builds up in the wrong parts of the body. Thereby, he started treating his patients with magnets.

🔸He developed the theories and clinical practice of magnets and named it as Animal Magnetism. By using magnets the magnetic fluids were drawn away from the body for cure.

🔸He also believed that he could produce all these effects and cure the illness by his hands ✋✋… This was later called as Mesmerism in 1802.

🔸Mesmer gained popularity not only in science but also in music. He used to play Cello, Piano and glass harmonica. He appointed a 12 years old kid Mozart (later he became the most gifted musician in the history of classic music) to perform music in private theatre in his garden.

🔸Furthermore, Mesmer himself played Glass harmonica, as the background music to treat the illness – which is an integral part of his mesmerizing practices.

🔸His method of magnetism was a panacea to several diseases including hysterical paralysis, convulsive disorder, hypochondriac and depressive illness.

🔸After some time, his method gained popularity among the members of the public but was criticized by the members of the medical profession and at one point, his method was debunked.

🔸After three decades following Mesmer’s death, a Scottish Physician Dr. James Braid developed Mesmer’s work scientifically and coined the term “hypnotism and hypnosis” after the Greek God of Sleep, Hypnos in 1840’s.

🔸Later his system of therapeutics, known as Mesmerism influenced the French Neurologist Prof. Jean-Martin Charcot who further developed hypnotism while he was working at Salpetriere University Hospital in Paris. Prof. Charcot’s pupil Sigmund Freud further developed psychoanalysis from his acquaintance and practices.

🔸In history, Mesmer is one of the personalities, whose name has become a verb in everyday use – “Mesmerize.”

The Columbus of Modern Psychology

Franz Anton Mesmer 🙏


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