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Jules Denis, Baron du Potet de Sennevoy

b. 12 April 1796, Sennevoy-le-Haut, France

d. 1 July 1881, Paris, France


A leading advocate of the practice of Mesmerism in early nineteenth century Paris, Du Potet practiced in Paris at the same time as Franz Mesmer after beginning his practices in 1821.

From 1826 Du Potet offered free lessons to the public and ran a free school of mesmerism, recording his observances in Le Propagateur du Magnétisme animal, a journal he founded in 1827.[1]

 Du Potet’s early discoveries involved the trance-inducing qualities of the ‘magic mirror’ and effects the abstract symbolism on patients in a trance state. His association of such symbolism with concepts of magic and mysticism has been argued to differentiate him from the more UK and USA-centric branch of mesmerism that presented mesmerism as more akin to a medical science.[2]

 In the 1830s Du Potet moved to England where he encountered the Physician John Elliotson and introduced him to the concept of Animal Magnetism

Du Potet worked with Elliotson demonstrating the existence of magnetism at University College Hospital London in 1837. Despite Du Potet’s belief in the magical and occult implications of Mesmer’s theories, he staunchly defended the practical and medico-scientific potential of Mesmerism after reports of his demonstrations were published in The Lancet, stating “Ill-will attends the door of every innovator...”[3]  

[1] Du Potet de Sennevoy, Baron ( Jules Denis) (1796-1881), http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/du-potet-de-sennevoy-baron-jules-denis1796-1881 [Accessed 8 February 2017] 

[2] J.D. Deveney, Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician (Albany:New York, 1997) 54-55.

[3] The Lancet, 28 (733) 16 September 1837, 509-906.


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