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Definition of Mesmerism

Mesmerism: 1. Originally, a system of therapeutics propounded by Mesmer.
2. A precursor of hypnotism, believed by Mesmer to involve animal magnetism.
3. By extension, the power to fascinate in a way that is almost hypnotic.
The term mesmerism is named after the physician Franz (originally Friedrich) Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), who propounded his theory of animal magnetism or mesmerism. Mesmer stroked his patients first with magnets and later with his hands, believing he possessed animal magnetism. Mesmer's system of therapeutics was a forerunner of modern hypnotism.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=33795
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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