A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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v                     THE EVOLUTION OF PSYCHOTHERAPY                 191
toms ' had resisted treatment for a long time. He had already observed the symptoms came and went according to a kind of rhythm, the patient had convulsions and remissions flux and reflux. Mesmer had always believed that the stars acted on the earth in the same manner, by ' flux and reflux ', so here was a golden opportunity to study the matter. With the magnet he could prove his theories! Borrowing the magnets from the good Father, Mesmer applied two to Fraulein Osterlin's feet and hung a heart-shaped one around her neck. Immediately intense spasms of pain shot up her legs to the hips and agonizing pains flowed around the breasts, where the heart-shaped magnet hung. After anxious minutes the spasms moved through her body and out of her lower extremities. For six hours Fraulein Osterlin was free from symptoms. Dr. Mesmer was delighted and tried the magnet again the following day with the same success. ' My observations ', he wrote in his Memoirs, ' . . . opened up a new horizon, confirming my former ideas ... it taught me that another principle acted on the magnet, itself incapable of this action on the nerves/ Mesmer jumped to the conclusion that the magnetic fluid, passing through the metal, had revitalized her nervous tissues. He believed he had stumbled upon the ' magnetic energy ' through which man obeyed the heavenly bodies. The magnetic energy diffused itself through all life and matter. The gap between the speculation of the ancients and modern science had been bridged by his discovery. Having erected a theory he never questioned his basic premise. He was as certain of its truth as was Paracelsus, who brought the magnet into mediaeval medicine.
From the point of view of later developments, Mesmer had made a fatal scientific error : he had constructed a hypothesis on an inadequate basis and he