A mesmeric physician taking advantage of his female patient. Colour lithograph, 1852. Printed: British College of Health, London.
The word mesmerism took its root from the name of FranzAntonMesmer, who wasaGermanphysicianandastrologist,whodiscoveredwhathecalledmagnétismeanimal ( animal magnetism) and which othersoftencalledmesmerism.
Franz Anton Mesmer (May 23, 1734 – March 5, 1815) was a German physician with an interest in astronomy, who theorised that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects that he called animal magnetism, sometimes later referred to as mesmerism.
The theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the century.
In 1843 the Scottish physician James Braid proposed the term hypnosis for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today this is the usual meaning of mesmerism.