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10 Bizarre Therapies in Mental Illness Treatment History

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4. Mesmerism

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The term “mersmerize” comes from an Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer. Mesmer believed that physical and mental illness were the result of magnetic imbalances in the body. He called these forces “animal magnetism” and was convinced that restoring it’s equilibrium would alleviate health problems. Mesmer administered iron medication to patients and then passed magnets over their body. He found that patients responded positively to his unconventional treatment and later he abandoned using the magnets altogether once he saw that he could achieve the same affects without them. What he did not realize however, was that his patients were only psychologically responding to the power of suggestion and the “belief” that his treatment was working. Mesmer’s methods were dismissed as a quackery by the medical community and he later moved to Paris where he continued to practice his therapy on large groups of people. His work paved the way to the development of hypnotism.

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