Science and Health
with Key to The Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy
Chapter V
Animal Magnetism Unmasked
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, forni-
cations, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which
defile a man. – JESUS.
Earliest investigations
MESMERISM or animal magnetism was first brought
into notice by Mesmer in Germany in 1775. Ac-
cording to the American Cyclopaedia, he regarded this
so-called force, which he said could be ex-
erted by one living organism over another, as
a means of alleviating disease. His propositions were
as follows:
"There exists a mutual influence between the celestial
bodies, the earth, and animated things. Animal bodies
are susceptible to the influence of this agent, disseminat-
ing itself through the substance of the nerves."
In 1784, the French government ordered the medical
faculty of Paris to investigate Mesmer's theory and to
report upon it. Under this order a commission was
appointed, and Benjamin Franklin was one of the com-
missioners. This commission reported to the govern-
ment as follows:
"In regard to the existence and utility of animal mag-
netism, we have come to the unanimous conclusions that
there is no proof of the existence of the animal magnetic
fluid; that the violent effects, which are observed in
the public practice of magnetism, are due to manipula-
tions, or to the excitement of the imagination and the
impressions made upon the senses; and that there is one
more fact to be recorded in the history of the errors of
the human mind, and an important experiment upon
the power of the imagination."
Clairvoyance, magnetism
In 1837, a committee of nine persons was appointed,
among whom were Roux, Bouillaud, and Clo-
quet, which tested during several sessions the
phenomena exhibited by a reputed clairvoyant. Their
report stated the results as follows:
"The facts which had been promised by Monsieur
Berna [the magnetizer] as conclusive, and as adapted to
throw light on physiological and therapeutical questions,
are certainly not conclusive in favor of the doctrine of
animal magnetism, and have nothing in common with
either physiology or therapeutics."
This report was adopted by the Royal Academy of
Medicine in Paris.
Personal conclusions
The author's own observations of the workings of
animal magnetism convince her that it is not
a remedial agent, and that its effects upon
those who practise it, and upon their subjects who do
not resist it, lead to moral and to physical death.
If animal magnetism seems to alleviate or to cure dis-
ease, this appearance is deceptive, since error cannot
remove the effects of error. Discomfort under error is
preferable to comfort. In no instance is the effect of
animal magnetism, recently called hypnotism, other
than the effect of illusion. Any seeming benefit derived
from it is proportional to one's faith in esoteric magic.
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