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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 179 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRIEDRICH MESMER (or FRANZ) ANTON (1733–1815), Austrian doctor; from whose name the word " Mesmerism " was coined (see HYPNOTISM), was born at Weil, near the point at which the Rhine leaves the Lake of Constance, on the 23rd of May 1733. He studied medicine at Vienna under the eminent masters of that day, Van Swieten and De Haen; took a degree, and comthenced practice. Interested in astrology, he imagined that the stars exerted an influence on beings living on the earth. He identified the supposed force first with electricity, and then with magnetism; and it was but a short step to suppose that stroking diseased bodies with magnets might effect a cure. He published his first work (De planetarum influxu) in 1766. Ten years later, on meeting with J. J. Gassner in Switzerland, he observed that the priest effected cures by manipulation alone. This led Mesmer to discard the magnets, and to suppose that some kind of occult force resided in himself by which he could influence others. He held that this force permeated the universe, and more especially affected the nervous systems of men. He re-moved to Paris in 1778, and in a short time the French capital was thrown into a state of great excitement by the marvellous effects of mesmerism. Mesmer soon made many convects; ,controversies arose; he excited the indignation of the medical faculty of Paris, who stigmatized him as a charlatan; still the people crowded to him. He refused an offer of 20,000 francs from the government for the disclosure of his secret, but it is asserted that he really told all he knew privately to any one for roo louis. He received private rewards of large sums of'money. His consulting apartments were dimly lighted and hung with mirrors; strains of soft music occasionally broke the profound silence; and the patients sat round a kind of vat in which various chemical ingredients were concocted. Holding each others' assigned to Dionysius of Alexandria, have also been attributed to him. See J. F. Bellermann, Die Hymnen des Dionysius and Mesomedes (184o); C. de Jan, Musici scriptores graeci (1899); S. Reinach in Revue des etudes grecques, ix. (1896); Suidas, s.v.
End of Article: FRIEDRICH MESMER (or FRANZ) ANTON (1733–1815)
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