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07 Mesmerism

Carl von Reichenbach's picture
Submitted by Carl von Reichenbach on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 09:34

VII. Mesmerism—The Mesmeric Pass and The Doctors

You will now ask me what, from the point of view arrived at, the so-called magnetizing of a man consists in, and you will perhaps regard this as the pivot upon which my letters hinge. Well, that is not at all the case; but still it is a very noteworthy side of the odic phenomena. It has won for itself a position of great practical importance, and leads up to what is called Mesmerism, that is, the method introduced in medical practice by Dr. Mesmer of using the odic dynamic in the treatment of disease. Mesmer took it for magnetism, swayed by the condition of natural science in his time, and called it “Animal Magnetism.” The two expressions, od and mesmerism, need not stand in each other’s way: the former term is proper to natural science, and designates a force permeating all Nature, the latter stands for a special application of this force to therapy, and is proper to the art of healing.

Here let us link up with Letter v. of this series, in which I invited you to accompany me, with the light of my new-won theory in hand, on a rapid excursion through the intricate territory of this so-called animal magnetism.

You know that, whenever you touch a sensitive with your fingers, you exercise an effect upon him which he can feel and, when in darkness, see. But It is not even necessary to come into actual contact with him; the mere approach of your fingers produces effects that are considerable. The emanation, which darkness discloses to be streaming from the fingers to points beyond, inevitably reaches the body to which the fingers are brought near, and takes effect upon it. You can produce very strong excitations at a distance of several inches; but by sensitives of a middling degree of sensitivity you will be felt a foot off, or even at a distance of several feet. And in the case of high-sensitives the effect goes far beyond that—to the end of the room; in fact, I have had several cases in which the effect made itself clearly perceptible at the astonishing distance of twenty and thirty paces and more.

So far we have only considered contact when at rest, pairings without motion. But now I invite you to make a forward movement with your fingertips, or the flat of your hand, or the pole of a crystal, or with a magnet, from any one place on the sensitive’s body to any other. Place your right finger-tips, for instance, on your sensitive’s left shoulder, and draw them gently and gradually down as far as his elbow joint, or, if you like, down his whole arm to the fingers and beyond. As you formerly did by your stationary contacts, so now by your contact in motion you will produce an effect downwards along the whole line; you will produce a cool stroking, which can be regarded as a chain of innumerable points of coolness produced. This is what the physicians call a “pass.”

Do the same on other parts, over the left side of the head, the left of the body, the left foot to the toes and beyond; you will leave a sensation of coolness behind along the line taken. Perform the same movements with your left hand down the subject’s right side, and you will produce the same effects as before: both are unlike pairings.

Finally, take both your hands together and draw both the prescribed passes, right and left, over the sensitive’s whole body, from the crown of his head to the toes on his feet; the whole man so stroked, will be conscious of an agreeable sense of coolness and repose stealing over his entire person. What you have now done is what Mesmer’s disciples and all the so-called magnetic doctors term an animal-magnetic or mesmeric pass. You are now able to magnetize.

It is more or less a matter of indifference in the case, as you will easily see, whether you make the pass with your hands, the poles of a crystal, or with magnets, whether you do it directly on the bare skin or over the clothing, at a distance of half j span, or an ell, or more, a like effect in kind will always be produced, only falling off in strength as the distance is increased.

It is thus the influence of alien, unlike emanations of od on the part ot a sensitive which constitutes the essence of this so-called magnetizing. When done in darkness, sensitives see the fiery bundles of the stroking fingers, or poles, drawn down over them; they see, furthermore, just where the flames stream against them, a spot on their own body developing a si longer volume of light, which courses over them beneath the luminous excitant.

From this luminous phenomenon, as well as from the sense of coolness produced, you clearly recognize the fact that the person making the passes causes an excitation to the organism of the person over whom the passes are made, and an excitation that must be called an important one; for the od radiating blue light effects, in a way altogether peculiar to itself, an excitation upon the subject of the od with red light, unlike working unlike. And as the human body is a receptacle strongly charged with od, while the odic matter is powerfully connected with its inmost depths, the fact of odic passes being able to penetrate deeply into the physical and mental economy of the subject is intelligible. The production of sleep or restlessness, beneficent or deleterious influences upon morbid disturbances in the body, and effects produced by “the laying on of hands, stroking, and the like” are consequently no “deplorable aberration of deceit and fraud and superstition,” as persons in certain quarters think themselves justified in maintaining, but are physiological facts quite in accord with natural laws and well founded in experience. Only such as have never cared to take the trouble to test the facts can allow such premature judgments to escape them in the matter.

If you ask me what actual profit the healing art, derives from the odic pass treatment, I do, it is true, entertain the conviction that it is capable of becoming unboundedly great, when physics as a science and odic physiology are adequately developed, but I do not shrink from confessing, that, so far, it seems to me of a very limited and uncertain nature To hear and read what, the magnetizers have to say, they are, I admit, as Mesmer claimed eighty years ago, in the position of being able to-day to cure nearly all diseases. Every physician, to whatever school he belongs, imagines when a patient recovers that it is he and his art that have cured the sufferer. Why, < then, should the magnetizing practitioner indulge in any less degree of self-satisfaction?

We who do not belong to the medical profession know well enough that of every twenty patients who attain convalescence nineteen get on to their legs again of themselves, and in some cases in spite of the doctors. But apart from all that, I have in general found it to be a certain fact that at every spot of the human body on which a hand was laid or moved in unlike odic pairing, a rise in vitality took place, and not a mere superficial rise, but one. which penetrated deeply into the internal organs. Consequently in cases of local debility a vitalizing and enhancement of activity can be induced. That is a great and comprehensive general result which far-seeing medical practitioners will appreciate. Then, in special, 1 regard the influence of od upon cramp as decided; I have on innumerable occasions relieved cramp and induced it at will. But when I have seen physicians operating beside the sick-bed, I have observed them, with few exceptions, cutting such capers in opposition to all sound odic science, that it was impossible that any benefit could result therefrom to the patients. Without any knowledge of the nature and laws of so complicated a force as od, how could any solid good be attained by contrectations performed almost at random?

But let us hope that, if the. nature of od and its complex relations with the forces of the living organism come to be recognized and scientifically made known by systematic research, our doctors too will begin to substitute a rational procedure for the fumbling in the dark that has hitherto prevailed, to record under fixed laws the effective working of od upon the patient’s body, and to derive a reliable remedy from these extraordinary things to the advantage of the world, which has long justly expected it.