Nowadays hypnosis originates in the medical practices of Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer. He was a physician in Vienna, Austria.
He strongly believed that the influence of astronomy and magnets could influence human health.
After a magnetic treatment of a female patient, he developed a theory about “Animal Magnetism”, believing that each and every individual had a magnetic fluid flowing through the body, and that blockages caused disease, either emotional or physical.
By the end of the 1770’s Mesmer travelled to Paris where he found many interested students.
The method Mesmer used was aimed to provoke in the sick person the kind of action beneficial to his recovery. So, people became hysterical, cataleptic, people got convulsions, palpitations of the heart, and perspirations. This caused a lot of stir in Paris.
Because of all the upheaval in Paris, by the mid 1780s, King Louis XVI commissioned a panel of scientists to examine Animal Magnetism as fact or fantasy. This panel had both medical doctors as well as respected scientists from other fields. Even Benjamin Franklin, Ambassador to France, was part of the panel.
After months of investigation and observation the panel concluded that any effects of Mesmer’s treatment were because of the imagination of the subjects, that there was no such thing as a physical fluid, or that the body contained previously undiscovered channels.
His reputation now in tatters, Mesmer went back to Vienna, to live out the remaining part of his life completely forgotten.
Although Mesmer had left, a number of his students continued his practice way into the 19th century, some of them adapting the underlying theories, making their own unique changes, and others earning a living with ‘Mesmerian’ stage shows.
In fact, we can call Mesmer the father of the Hypnosis Stage Shows.