Animal magnetism

Franz-Anton Mesmer proposed a materialistic interpretation of animal magnetism.

“Animal magnetism” means an interaction between living organisms which takes place without physical contact and is used for example in healing, in which case it refers to the work of some “healers” or “magnetizers”. In most cultures animal magnetism was inextricably mixed with religious beliefs or the like, however in Europe there was a relatively early tendency to consider the practical aspects of animal magnetism independently of religious or other beliefs. An essentially materialistic interpretation of animal magnetism was proposed by the german physician Franz-Anton Mesmer who worked in Paris from 1778 onwards: he attributed animal magnetism to a “subtle physical fluid”. Animal magnetism then became a subject of scientific studies, until bans and rejections overcame the scientific interest which it had raised. Thus, the scientific study of animal magnetism largely preceeded the discovery of electromagnetic fields. The word “magnetism” initially referred to forces exerted by permanent magnets, which were already known and were the most easily observable distant effect at the time. “Animal magnetism” comprises several types of interactions. Its “hypnosis” branch was finally integrated by the scientific community despite the lack of satisfactory explanations. Its strictly medical branch (healing) remains firmly rejected. Except for hypnosis, rejection by mainstream science largely ruined the scientific approach of animal magnetism. Yet some recent studies can be found on this controversial and difficult subject.

The careful reader of this web site certainly noticed that electromagnetic fields have low power, long range effects which make it possible to heal or alternatively to cause diseases. These very low power electromagnetic fields thus have effects which are similar to some aspects of animal magnetism, despite being produced by artificial emitters. The careful reader may also have noticed that the physical explanation of these effects implies that in a natural environment immunity depends on natural electromagnetic fields and can thus be influenced by these fields. Thus there may be a connection between the “subtle physical fluid” to which Mesmer refers, and some natural electromagnetic fields. In that sense, the theoretical approach developed on this web site is supportive of certain aspects of animal magnetism. But the hypothesis of a  connection between animal magnetism and natural electromagnetism  is not developed on this website. Indeed, a theoretical study of animal magnetism within the framework of modern “mainstream” physics, although doable, is unnecessary in view of the objectives of this web site.