chapter  4
Heterodox science
Pages 37

In 1778, Viennese physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) opened a consultancy in Paris with the intention of administering a mysterious new fl uid to his patients; a fl uid that supposedly had great healing qualities and passed through healthy bodies fi lling them with vitality. Mesmer thought that sickness was the consequence of the obstruction of this fl uid and that magnetic rods should be applied to patients to stimulate their animal magnetism and help to restore their wellbeing. He held group therapy sessions, mainly with aristocratic women. Once they had held hands they experienced trances and convulsions, supposedly as a result of the effi ciency of his method and its capacity to cure.