Animal magnetism was the name given by the German doctor Franz Mesmer in the 18th century to what he believed to be an invisible natural force exerted by animals. He believed that the force could have physical effects, including healing. He tried persistently but without success to achieve scientific recognition of his theories. The theory attracted numerous followers in Europe and the United States of America and was popular into the nineteenth century. For about seventy-five years from its beginnings in 1779, it was an important speciality in medicine, and continued to have some influence for about another fifty years. Hundreds of books were written on the subject between 1766 and 1925. Today it is almost entirely forgotten. Animal magnetism is still practiced as a form of alternative medicine in some countries. Magnetic practices are not recognised as part of medical science.
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Quotes from popular culture
- [to Howard T. Duck] I just can't resist your intense animal magnetism.
- [referring to Franz Mesmer's animal magnetism practice] Sir, this is just trash and tricks for the weak mind.