A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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the curriculum marked out for him at the university. After having found divinity unsatisfactory as a life-work, he turned to philosophy, subsequently abandoning that for law and finally taking his degree in medicine. His thesis presented at the time of his graduation from the Medical Faculty of Vienna in 1765 bore the title ' De Influxu Planetarum in Corpus Humanum y I57a ('The Influence of the Planets on the Human Body '). In it he tried to show that the celestial bodies acted upon human beings through a subtle magnetic fluid which he called ' animal magnetism \ This magnetism, he speculated, could be harboured in the human body and made to act directly on the unhealthy tissues. For three years afterwards Dr. Mesmer, a serious but not too busy practitioner, retained his early interest in music and continued his abstruse studies in physics. His marriage to a wealthy widow, Frau Marie Anna von Posch, brought him leisure and the opportunity to take a dilettante interest in music. The drawing-rooms of rich citizens and the nobility fostered the arts in those days and Mesmer became friendly with Gliick and the young prodigy, Mozart, who was creating a stir in Vienna.
In 1773 Mesmer became interested in Father Maxi-millian Hell, one of the Empress Theresa's court astronomers who was stimulating comment by his magnet cures. Father Hell cured patients; he had no theories concerning his success beyond a belief in the efficiency of his magnets. The physicians of Vienna paid little attention to magnet therapy, but Mesmer, intrigued, studied Father Hell's cases carefully. At length he had an opportunity of operating on Fraulein Osterlin, whose hysterical fevers, convulsions, attacks of vomiting, earache, mad hallucinations, swooning, breath-lessness, attacks of paralysis and ' other terrible symp-