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25 Apr 2015

Franz Mesmer on Animal Magnetism

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From The Original Writings of Franz Anton Mesmer

Animal MagnetismAnimal magnetism must be considered, in my hands, as a sixth “artificial” sense. The senses can be neither defined nor described: they are experienced. It would be useless to try to explain the theory of colors to a person blind from birth. It is necessary that he see them; that is to say, they must be experienced.

It is the same with animal magnetism. It must, in the first place, be transmitted by experience. Experience alone can render my theory intelligible.

For example, one of my patients had, to my comprehension, more of an inclination to experience results than the rest of the people, and was accustomed to feeling the effects, which I produced.

The supposition of a sixth “artificial” sense should not be shocking: everyone who has used a microscope has-expressing it in a strict sense-made use of a sixth “artificial” sense.

(a) If the microscope were not known and a person with an agile mind were to think of it and were to predict its invention and its marvelous effects, people would not pay attention to him; at best, he would be received as a clever dreamer. lie would, to no purpose, establish the possibility of his system through profound calculations based on the mechanics of the eye and the phenomena of light. His language, necessarily abstract, would be relegated to obscurity.

……………….If he were subsequently to announce the hope, near at hand, of realizing what, up until then, he only had as presentiment, his confidence would be considered as presumptuous.

(b) Hearing, vision, smell, and taste are nothing more than extensions of touch, so that there is only one sense. However, in associating oneself with what is perceptible to sense, one counts five. One must admit that the microscope is to the eye what the eye is to touch: an extension of the organ. This idea should not be too abstract, except for persons who have little familiarity with the language of science.

………………..If by the perseverance of his labor he were to finally succeed in becoming the owner of a microscope, and lie were to invite scholars in order to convince them by their own eyes of the truth and the advantages of his discovery, wouldn’t it be ungracious of these scholars to refuse this on the grounds that they had not been given a previous description of the instrument and the theory of its effects?

Would one accuse the author of dishonesty if he claimed that the description of a microscope could in no way take the place of the possession of a microscope?

Would it not be admissible if he were to assert that the definition of this instrument could only be intelligible to those who already had a clear idea of what is involved with a piece of glass shaped in the form of a lens?

[animal magnetism] By the time the microscope would have become, by means of intelligent workers, as universal as it is today, people would regard it to be as simple as playing a game. However, in order that there be a single observer worthy of the greatness of Nature, how many narrow, inept, even impertinent observers are there!

The simplest act of the inventor would have been to lavish this admirable piece of machinery upon the world without taking any precautions That the world disregards quaint articles, and even misuses them up to a point, would be a trivial inconvenience.

However, were his discovery to affect the safety, health, life or death of his fellow man, he would have committed a very imprudent act: sacred matters regarding which there is so much frivolity.

The thoughts, which I have just presented, can be applied to animal magnetism, and two principal conclusions can be drawn from them. The first is that I have tried in vain to present the theory of my doctrine without any preliminaries: no attention has been paid to it, nor has it been understood. The second is that once my doctrine has become universally established, it will, in its usage, appear to be standard to those glancing at it superficially, while it will completely occupy all of the intellectual faculties of those worthy of its administration.

Having acknowledged these two conclusions, one must understand the kind of prudence involved in my desire to produce students who understand me, to whom I can transmit the fruits of my experience without danger, and who would be able, in turn, to form new students.

Author – Franz Anton Mesmer

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