noun[mass noun] historical
1The therapeutic system of F. A. Mesmer.
- Particularly after the dramatic and well-publicized cure of the journalist Harriet Martineau, interest escalated amongst the intellectual élite in therapeutic mesmerism and its use as an anaesthetic during surgery.
- He reminds us of Wallace's achievements and pins his downfall on his distracting interest in such fringe fields as mesmerism and phrenology.
- There is, as it happens, strong supporting evidence for the hypothesis that the whole episode is an example of what the practitioners of mesmerism called ‘mental travelling’.
1.1(In general use) hypnotism.
- All the others were converted but I was to remain an implacable and unpersuadable disbeliever in mesmerism and hypnotism for close upon fifty years.
- Another psychologist, E.M. Thornton, extends the analogy between hypnotism, mesmerism, and exorcism.
- She even thought that mesmerism and hypnotism were occult arts.
- Example sentences
- There were flyers for mesmerists, automatic writing machines, the pig-faced woman, and in one instance, an elephant - the first one to tour North America.
- Novelist Evelyn Waugh graphically described the tableau as ‘a wildly vivacious statue of the Abbe Faria, a Goan mesmerist of the Napoleonic era, caught here in hot bronze at the climax of an experiment, rampant over an entranced female.’
- The kid mesmerized; woman secretly a mesmerist?
Late 18th century: named after F. A. Mesmer (see Mesmer, Franz Anton).
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