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A Hystory of Hypnosis

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A Hystory of Hypnosis




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Dr. Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer was an Austrian physician who was infamous for inducing a hypnotic and trancelike state in human beings as a curative remedy. This process of mesmerism, as it soon became known, was powerful enough to exercise an extraordinary influence on the human body. The doctor labeled this ability as animal magnetism.

In 1772, Mesmer first began to develop and refine his technique, and three years later he published a report on his discovery, under the claim that it possessed medicinal value. Mesmer's system included the use of the glass armonica as a hypnotic device, because the sounds produced were extremely high-pitched and ethereal.

To hear a sound similar to the glass armonica, be sure your hands are clean, take an empty crystal wine glass, wet your finger with water and run it around the rim of the glass in a complete circle, several times. Move your finger smoothly in a circular motion. The sound will change by adding different amounts of liquid in the glass. The presence of water in the glass decreases the vibrational frequency. Therefore, the pitch is lower than that of the empty glass. Increasing the size of the glass would produce a similar effect in the tone of the sound.

The glass armonica was a vital ingredient in Mesmer's hypnotic 'magnetic sйances'. His patients, mostly 'hysterical bourgeois women', were placed in a magnetic tub filled with glass powder and iron filings, and massaged into a relaxed state by the sweet, distant tones of a glass armonica played behind curtains covered with astrological symbols. Then Mesmer himself, clad in a long purple robe, would enter and touch each patient with a white wand, sending them into a magnetic trance from which they awakened fully cured.

In 1778 Marie Paradies, a blind pianist who suffered from hysterical blindness, approached Mesmer for treatment. Mesmer temporarily restored her eyesight, but the inundation of visual stimuli ruined her nerves and destroyed her ability to play the piano. Mesmer was therefore in bad graces with Empress Maria Theresa, godmother of Marie Paradies, and wisely moved to Paris.

He became extremely popular in Paris through the efforts of Queen Marie Antoinette; in fact too popular for King Louis XVI, who in 1784 appointed a special committee from the Paris Medical Society and Academy to "check this Mesmer's success."

Incidentally, in 1785 the French government appointed a committee of physicians and scientists to investigate the work of the Austrian. Their incriminating findings forced Mesmer into a life of shame and disrepute. Nevertheless, the world will never forget



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