Animal magnetism was postulated by Franz Mesmer in the 18th century, the term referred to a supposed magnetic fluid or ethereal medium believed to reside in the body. Mesmer chose the word animal to distinguish his supposed vital magnetic force from those referred to at that time as “mineral magnetism”.
The theory became the basis of treatment in Europe and the United States that sometimes involved on “laying on of hands,” and was very popular into the nineteenth century, with a strong cultural impact.
From some of the practices of animal magnetism branched out Hypnotism, Spiritualism, New Thought, so called “magnetic healing”, and Parapsychological research. Some forms of magnetism continue to be practiced, especially in continental Europe, even today.
By: Paul Gustafson RN CH