The term mesmerism is attributed to Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer who was one of the early influencers of modern hypnosis. Dr. Mesmer believed there was a natural energy, a magnetic resonance between living and non-living objects. He termed this energy animal magnetism, and the theory gained popularity in the 18th century. While Mesmer was on the right track that there was an energy at play within living organisms (some theorize that his beliefs were in alignment with the Chinese practices of Qigong) he had unconventional methods that brought concern among his colleagues.
A botched attempt a treating a patient led Mesmer to leave Vienna for Paris. There, he continued to practice medicine and his theories of animal mesmerism. In 1784, King Louis XVI ordered a commission (that included American Benjamin Franklin) to investigate Mesmer's practices. The commission determined that there was little to support Mesmer's practices and that his findings could be attributed to the imagination of the patient. The investigation ultimately led to his exile to Germany.
Mesmer's work is important in that it created more awareness on the patient's imagination and that through autosuggestion, change could be influenced.
Scott Howard is an NGH certified consulting hypnotist and the President of the Baltimore City Chapter of the National Guild of Hypnotists. Scott is dedicated to helping everyday people with everyday problems through hypnosis.