Bruno Belhoste: "Mesmerism between science and quackery"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: H. Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

Office for History of Science

Bruno Belhoste, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne: "Mesmerism between science and quackery: a debate at the end of the Eighteenth century"

Abstract
Animal magnetism is a medical doctrine invented by the Viennese doctor Franz Anton Mesmer in the mid-1770s. Based on the idea that there is a universal agent circulating between the bodies, whose effects would explain health and disease, it has been very successful in Germany and especially in France. In 1784, two Royal commissions composed of doctors and scientists condemned in Paris animal magnetism and considered that its alleged effects were only the product of imagination.

In this presentation, I will recall the history of animal magnetism and I will focus on the controversy around what it represents: a scientific theory or a quackery?