Franz Anton Mesmer
Mesmer - a Medical Doctor in Vienna
The Importance of Mesmer
It was also in Vienna that he made his discoveries that lead him to develop his system of "Animal Magnetism" -- a theory now obsolete whereas his observations later formed the basis for what Braid labeled Hypnotism. During the mesmeric trance ("Somnambulism") a number of phenomena have regularly been observed such as clairvoyance, telepathy, etc. -- generally spoken ESP. Thus Mesmer, together with his disciples (in Paris, during a later period of his life) became the first one to study ASC and, moreover, a forerunner of parapsychology.
Mesmer's picture in history shows a great variance, some view him as a prime rated scientist whereas others rather call him a charlatan. This is not the place to enter such discussion, however, arguable his impact on fields like psychology and particularly psychotherapy was enormous.
chart on Mesmer's impact
until the present day showing the various influences and mutual
interdependencies. [Link opens a new window.]
Mesmer's Viennese years
Mesmer lived in Vienna from approx. 1760 (his medical diploma is dated 1766) until 1777/78 (when he left for good in order to settle in Paris, wherefrom he later returned to Vienna for two short visits only). Shortly after obtaining his medical diploma, he married a wealthy widow. Their house (which was demolished only in the opening years of the 20th century) was a palais rather than a house, there was a huge garden or park, and in this garden Mesmer had his own little theater. This was the place where Mozart's operetta "Bastien e Bastienne" saw its debut performance in 1768 (note that its composer was 12 years of age at that time! -- See also the Section on "The City of Music".).