Rethinking Mesmerism and its Dissemination in the 19th Century: at the Intersection between Philosophy, Medicine and Psychology


  • Carmela Morabito Department of Literary, Philosophical and History of Art Studies University of Rome Tor Vergata


History of bio-medical and cognitive sciences in the XIXth century, Hypnosis , Psycotherapy , Social and Cultural History of Medicine


 The thought and work of Anton Mesmer had a great dissemination in the last decades of the XVIII century and all along the XIX, a dissemination that differed in its theoretical and practical valences in line with the peculiar cultural, social and political contexts of the main European countries. On the basis of a new ‘science of the mind’ social reforms were invoked, ranging from education to ethics and to the treatment of mental disorders, obviously passing through the questioning of the legal and political organization of the various States. A new ‘physiology’ justified and at the same time required to replace with the ‘scientific’ knowledge the basic ideological and social assumptions upon which the whole society was based, from schools to prisons and asylums. But does it really was ‘scientific’ knowledge? And who had the last word on this problem, a problem that was in the first place epistemological but had also enormous social implications?