(precursor of hypnotism, believed by Mesmer to involve animal magnetism)
2. A strong or spellbinding appeal; compelling; fascinating.
3. Hypnotic induction believed to involve animal magnetism.
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.
This term is named for the physician Franz (originally Friedrich) Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), who advocated 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.
An example from literature: "At first, when as a young man he began to dip into the secrets of mesmerism, his mind seemed to be wandering in a strange land where all was chaos and darkness, save that here and there some great unexplainable and disconnected fact loomed out in front of him." Arthur Conan Doyle, The Captain of the Polestar and other Tales, 1894, p. 84.
When the members of an audience sit mesmerized by a speaker, their reactions do not take the form of dancing, sleeping, or falling into convulsions; however, if Franz Anton Mesmer were addressing the audience, such behavior could be expected.
Mesmer was a visionary 18th-century physician who believed cures could be effected by having patients do things such as sit with their feet in a fountain of magnetized water while holding cables attached to magnetized trees. Mesmer then came to believe that magnetic powers resided in himself, and during highly fashionable curative sessions in Paris he caused his patients to have reactions ranging from sleeping or dancing to convulsions.
These reactions were actually brought about by hypnotic powers that Mesmer was unaware of possessing. One of his pupils, named Puységur, then used the term mesmerism (first recorded in English in 1802) for Mesmer's practices. The related word mesmerize (first recorded in English in 1829), having shed its reference to the hypnotic doctor, lives on in the sense “to enthrall”.
2. To bewitch someone or to put a person into a trance: Dr. Grimms said he could mesmerize, or hypnotise, the patient during the therapeutic session in order to find out what happened at the accident the previous year.
3. Origin of the word: Mesmerize comes from the name of the Austrian physician, Friedrich Anton Mesmer (1733-1815), who was the first to produce examples of hypnotism to the public in Vienna about 1775.
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2. Attracting and holding interest as if by a spell; such as, "The sheer force of her presence was mesmerizing."