Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Excerpts from Franz Anton Mesmer's Dissertation on Animal Magnetism (1779)

 “In accordance with my ideas on this subject, I published in Vienna 1766 a thesis on the influence of the planets on the human body. I asserted, according to the familiar principles of universal attraction, verified by observations which teach us how the planets mutually affect one another in their orbits, how the sun and moon cause and control the ocean tides on our globe and in the atmosphere I asserted that these spheres also exert a direct action on all the parts that constitute animate bodies, particularly the nervous system, by means of an all penetrating fluid. I denoted this action as the Intensification and the Remission of the properties of matter and organic bodies – such as gravity, cohesion, elasticity, irritability, electricity.
I maintained that just as the alternate effects, in respect of gravity, produce in the sea the appreciable phenomenon we term ebb and flow, so the intensification and remission of the said properties, being subject to the action of the same principle, cause in animate bodies alternate effects similar to those sustained by the sea. By these considerations I established that the animal body, being subjected to the same action, likewise underwent a kind of ebb and flow. I supported this theory with different examples of periodic revolutions. I named the property of the animal body that renders it sensitive to the action of heavenly bodies and of the earth Animal Magnetism...”
PROPOSITIONS:
  1. There exists a mutual influence between the Heavenly bodies, the Earth and Animate Bodies.
  2. A universally distributed and continuous fluid, which is quite without vacuum and of an incomparably rarefied nature, and which by its nature is capable of receiving, propagating and communicating all the impressions of movement, is the means of this influence.
  3. That this reciprocal action is subordinated to mechanical laws that are hitherto unknown.
  4. This action results in alternate effects which may be regarded as Ebb and Flow.
  5. This ebb and flow is more or less general, more or less particular, more or less composite according to the nature of the causes determining it.
  6. It is by means of this operation (which is the most universal of those presented by Nature) that the connective activities are exercised between heavenly bodies, the earth and its component parts.
  7. The properties of Matter and the Organic Body depend on this operation.
  8. The animal body sustains the alternate effects of this agent, which by insinuating itself into the substance of the nerves, effects them at once.
  9. It is particularly evident in the human body that the agent has properties similar to those of the magnet; different and opposite poles may likewise be distinguished, which can be changed, communicated, destroyed and strengthened; even the phenomenon of dipping is observed.
  10. The property of the animal body which brings it under the influence of the heavenly bodies, and the reciprocal action occurring among those who are surrounded by it, shown by its analogy with the Magnet, induced me to term it Animal Magnetism.
  11. The action and properties of Animal Magnetism, thus defined, can be communicated to other animate and inanimate bodies. Both are more or less susceptible to it.
  12. This action and this quality can be strengthened and propagated by those same bodies.
  13. Experiments show the passage of a substance whose rarefied nature enables it to penetrate all bodies without appreciable loss of activity.
  14. Its action is exerted at a distance, without the aid of any immediate body.
  15. It is intensified by mirrors, just like light.
  16. It is communicated, propagated and intensified by sound.
  17. - Franz Anton Mesmer, Dissertation on Animal Magnetism. 1779 CE.
Coming shortly (timeline presently unknown): Paschal Beverly Randolph, Magnetism/Animal Magnetism/Mesmerism, and Spiritualism.

[This entry is going to form a series of links to avoid writing 500 billion pages that no one will read.]

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