QueenVictoria The subject of this article is not considered Steampunk on its own, but relates directly to the history, culture, philosophy, technology or aesthetic of Steampunk.

This article is Inspiration for Steampunk.

Frontspiece mesm.volVIIxIV6341

Mesmerism is a concept invented by Friedrich (or Franz) Anton Mesmer (1733-1815).

Franz Mesmer was an Austrian doctor who believed in astrology and concieved the idea that the stars and planets could affect human beings; and having identified the supposed force with magnetism, he began to stroke patients with magnets (yes, you read that right...). Ten years later he abandoned the use of magnets and decided that the mysterious curative influence or occult force resided within himself and could be transmitted through the nervous system and hands of the operator. He began to hold seances in Vienna, but was moved on by police. He then went to Paris, and it soon became fashionable to attend Mesmer's consultations. He devised a baquet, or large wooden tub, which was filled with water and electric eels. Later the eels were substituted for iron filings and bottles of "magnetized water". Iron rods which protruded from it were then applied to diseased patients, while the originator of "animal magnetism" (as Mesmer liked to call himself) moved among his patients, dressed like a magician, to a background of soft music and dim lighting. The medical faculty denounced him as a charlatan and the "magnetic fluid" as a myth, but grateful patients proclaimed cures, and Mesmer, undoubtedly honest in his beliefs, remained popular for years. Mesmer left France in 1789 and moved to Switzerland, where he died in obscurity thirty six years later.

Recommended readingEdit

640px-Franz Anton Mesmer
  • Weitzenhoffer, A. Hypnotism, 1953.
  • Dingwall, E.J. Abnormal Hypnotic Phenomena: A Survey of Nineteeth Century Cases, 1967.
  • Winter, A. Mesmerized: Powers of the Mind in Victorian Britain, 1998.
  • Chase Coale, S. Mesmerism and Hawthorn: Mediums of American Romance, 1997.
  • Willis, Martin. Victorian Literary Mesmerism, 2006.