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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Mesmerism

A method of therapy popularized by Franz Anton MESMER (1734-1815) in Vienna and Paris. Mesmer claimed that the human body has an invisible force or “fluid” that flows throughout the body and which causes sickness when obstructed. The function of the mesmerist is to restore the normal flow of the fluid in the body. During the mesmeric session, patients sometimes may exhibit unusual phenomena, including telepathic abilities. The mechanics of mesmerism are said to be different from hypnotism, developed by Dr. James Braid (d. 1860), which is a mental or psychological phenomenon. The invisible fluid is often identified with the Hindu PRĀNA, Chinese ch’i, Reichenbach’s odic energy or the orgone energy of Wilhelm Reich.

Henry Steel OLCOTT, first President of the Theosophical Society (TS), was a well-known mesmerist and he often conducted healing sessions to crowds of people, particularly in Sri Lanka.

See also HYPNOTISM;

V.H.C.

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