Mesmerism and Spirituality

Topics: Franz Mesmer, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, Benjamin Franklin Pages: 3 (1030 words) Published: March 19, 2013
Though very few remember him, Mesmer's interpretation of animal magnetism marked the beginning of mental therapy as we understand it today. At a time when methods reminiscent of medieval superstitions were being viewed with suspicion. His theories bridged the gap between ancient superstitions and modern psychotherapy. Franz Anton Mesmer (1733-1815) was born on the 23rd of May 1733 at the village of Iznang near Switzerland, on the German side of Bodensee (Lake Constance). He was originally intended for the church and studied at Jesuit University of Dillingen, Bavaria where he studied philosophy and theology. During his studies, he came into contact with the works of Christian Wolff, who gave him scientific method and Descartes, which convinced him that heavenly bodies affected the lives of men. Wolff had published an essay on the practical philosophy of the Chinese, one of the earliest of such works in the West. The interrelationship of Heaven, Earth and Man, implicit in this philosophy, deeply impressed young Anton and affected his whole worldview. He later embarked on medical studies in the University of Vienna. He was the student of some the most famous physicians at the time, such as Girard de Sweiten (Empress Marie Theresa’s physician), Anton de Haen and Anton von Storck. His thesis “De influxu planeterium in corpus humanum” (“Influence of the Planets on the Human Body.") showed his growing interest in Paracelsus’ theories. He wrote on the influence of the planets and their possible effect on human bodies by ways of and the element fluidum. He declared human bodies harboured a magnetic curative fluid that people could use to heal each other, thus a doctor could heal a patient by touching them. However, stayed well away from any astrological theories or any other supernatural explanations. One of his goals was to have his method and theories accepted by the scientific institution of the day, this proved to be a very frustrating goal that reached no fruition...
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