Definition of mesmerism in English:



mass nounhistorical
  • 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.’
    • ‘With the technique developed by Puységur (but often with the accompanying explanation of Mesmer), Mesmerism spread rapidly.’
    • ‘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’.’
    • ‘He reminds us of Wallace's achievements and pins his downfall on his distracting interest in such fringe fields as mesmerism and phrenology.’
    • ‘But in 1639, one hundred years before Mesmer, a book was published in Europe upon the use of mesmerism in the cure of wounds, and bore the title, The Sympathetical Powder of Edricius Mohynus of Eburo.’
    1. 1.1 (in general use) hypnotism.
      • ‘She even thought that mesmerism and hypnotism were occult arts.’
      • ‘All the others were converted but I was to remain an implacable and unpersuadable disbeliever in mesmerism and hypnotism for close upon fifty years.’
      • ‘This is clearly the case with spiritualism or the unsupported assertion that human beings must have had some supernatural help in their evolution but not the case with phrenology, mesmerism, anti-vaccination and radical land reform.’
      • ‘Hypnosis has been popular in both mainstream and complementary medicine since the huge enthusiasm for mesmerism in the 19th century.’
      • ‘He devoted his life to the species problem but also became a popular authority on many topics, including spiritualism, mesmerism, and phrenology.’
      • ‘The Moon is the queen of mesmerism and mystification.’
      • ‘These modernist Manhattanites are probably most closely associated with the neo-classical composer and his macro-minimalist mesmerism.’
      • ‘They called it mesmerism, hypnotism, suggestion, I know not what?’
      • ‘Zvolen pulled some kind of mesmerism on me or something!’
      • ‘A common idea was that these phenomena arose from the action of a biological energy dependent on the body of the medium, a clear extension of earlier concepts from mesmerism and spiritualism.’
      • ‘In 1784, the French commission investigating mesmerism found that subjects appeared to know when and where they should have a convulsion only if the mesmerist was present to provide the cues.’
      • ‘It's about them, the inert, gullible, credulous, infinitely seducible public; the anonymous masses who are so bored and boring they're the perfect subjects for mesmerism.’
      • ‘Another psychologist, E.M. Thornton, extends the analogy between hypnotism, mesmerism, and exorcism.’
      • ‘What seems more likely is that Brontë was drawing on her knowledge of the science of mesmerism.’
      • ‘From mesmerism and animal magnetism to theosophy and beyond, Gamwell chronicles with great seriousness attempts by modern artists to explore immanentist spiritualities.’
      • ‘Mystery is our playground and mesmerism is our bedfellow.’
      • ‘He was well known in religious circles and was seen as somewhat unusual in his thinking, often expressing an interest in mysticism, mesmerism and later, in the growing Spiritualist movement in America.’
      • ‘Her sister reported that mesmerism and phrenology were also sensations in their north Alabama town while she was away.’
      • ‘For instance, there is an entire chapter on mesmerism, but hardly a paragraph on steel.’
      • ‘Their ranks were equalled by marginal figures, if not blatant quacks, who also meddled in nerves through mesmerism, hypnotism, and erotic life therapies.’


Late 18th century: named after F. A. Mesmer (see Mesmer, Franz Anton).