Anton Mesmer & Modern Day Mesmerism

Without Mesmerism modern hypnosis might never have existed, or even become a therapeutic profession at all. Contrary to modern perceptions, Franz Mesmer wasn’t a hypnotist he was a Magnetist. Mesmer studied the works of Paracelsus, Richard Mead, and also the ancient techniques of Magnetism and Hypnotic Fascination that finds roots in the ancient Egyptian Temple masters and the Fakirs and Holy Men of India and Ancient Persia.

One of Mesmer’s pupils; The Marquis de Pusgesur is the first recorded mesmerist to combine words with the trance state of Mesmerism, surprisingly eliciting a verbal response when he spoke to a peasant boy, Victor Race, after mesmerising him. To Puysegur's surprise Victor, immersed in a deeply mesmerised state, answered back.

Mesmer was a strong vocal opponent against using words and verbal instructions in conjunction with his method and he discredited the “Somnambules,” the name  verbal hypnotists soon became known by. Mesmer considered the Somnambules as quacks and imposters, accusing them of not knowing what they were doing and of having no knowledge or account of the deeper energies at play. He was also distressed that his method became intertwined with verbal involvement.

Mesmer was a magnetist and he was fiercely proud of it. The English doctor James Braid developed what could be called traditional hypnosis after watching the Swiss Magnetist La Fontaine at a show in Manchester. However, Braid, acutely aware of his medical peers, ignored the magnetic aspects used by La Fontaine. In doing so Braid disempowered Magnetism to inducing the trance state by eye fixation and verbal suggestion and renamed the method hypnosis. Some claim that by doing this Braid threw the baby out with the bathwater. He is known to have admitted soon before his death that his method could not produce even 20% of the benefits that the Mesmerists and Magnetists of  the era could acheive.

At the same time a Scottish surgeon by the name of James Esdaile used Mesmer’s non-verbal method at hospitals in India, and when it was suggested by his medical peers that it was all imagination Esdaile stated, “All of the imagination in the world will not stop the screams of pain or the gushing of blood when a diseased limb is removed by the surgeons saw. However Mesmerism will”. Esdaile performed hundreds of documented surgeries and limb amputations using Mesmerism as the anaesthetic. Using the method he had only a 5% mortality and post surgury infection rate, while the usual mortality and post surgury infection rates in those times exceeded 50%.

Mesmerism, Somnambulism and Hypnosis are three completely different methodologies. When Mesmerism and traditional hypnosis are blended correctly a self-perpetuating energy develops that Traditional hypnosis, Ericksonian hypnosis, NLP, and few other methodologies can come close to.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Collingwood

Rick is the world's premier clinical therapeutic hypnotist.

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