The Science of the Supernatural

Many assumptions and values separate us from the Victorians, but belief in the supernatural is not one of them, argues Simone Natale. 

A practitioner of Mesmerism using animal magnetismIn 1985 Roy Porter outlined the impact of mesmerism in the late-18th-century with his article Under the Influence: Mesmerism in England. Mesmerism was a theory conceived by the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer. It pointed to the existence of a hidden force, animal magnetism, which binds the universe together and regulates the inner balance within the human body. A historian of medicine, Porter was drawn to this subject by Mesmer and his acolytes’ therapeutic approach.

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