Mesmer’s two basic principles (Kaplan article):
1. Mechanical laws control ‘a mutual influence between the Heavenly bodies, the Earth, and Animate Bodies which exist as a universally distributed and continuous fluid […] of an incomparably rarefied nature.’
2. It is possible to create a new theory; to perfect the art of healing through the use of magnets.
Mesmerism’s Core Ideas:
- Mesmerism as a new, alternative branch of materialistic, progressivist science purporting the existence of an all-encompassing invisible force/fluid/energy that can be manipulated through magnetism in order to heal hitherto incurable diseases, such as epilepsy. Elliotson espouses this view, recounting in his “Case of Epilepsy Cured by Mesmerism” article how through repeatedly mesmerising a female patient previously diagnosed as epileptic, her fits had grown considerably milder.
- Furthermore, according to Mesmer, the curability of mesmerism could be extended to all human activity including relationships, government, health, and economics.
- From this perspective, disease is recognised as induced by the obstruction of this invisible fluid.
- The accessibility of mesmerism: if properly trained, anyone could have the ability to cure diseases or social ills/exert power through magnetism. For example, in A Full Discovery of the Strange Practices of Dr. Elliotson on the Bodies of His Female Patients, the anonymous author proclaims how the power to mesmerise ‘seems to reside in anyone.’ In this primary source, material objects are shown to acquire power through mesmerism. This is seen, for example, through the use of gold, aurified lead and water on female patients.