SYMHC Classics: He Was Killed by Mesmerism


He listeners I wanted to tell you about a new podcast called happy face from house to works. It is about nineteen ninety-five in the year that Melissa or learned that her father, Keith hunter, just Persson was a serial killer in this set her on a spiral of self doubt where she wondered. She looks like her father, she's intelligent like him. She's charismatic like him and she worries like how she gonna know this. She is not also a psychopath, but it's not just her talking. You're going to hear from season reporters and detectives, and people involved in the case. And it is a stunning tale filled with emotional brutal twists and turns tune in every Friday for new episodes of happy face available on apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey, everybody before we get started with this episode, we have one last live show to announce for twenty eighteen. We will be in New Orleans, Louisiana at the national World War, Two museum on Tuesday, November six, okay. We know that's election day, but we don't want coming to our show to keep you from the polls. We are both gonna vote early before we leave for New Orleans and Louisiana offers early voting as well. So we encourage you to do so you can find out more about this show and get a link to buy tickets at missed in history dot com. Slash tour. Hey, happy, Saturday. Everybody since it is Tober we are revisiting a past Halloween episode. This one is from twenty ten. It is by hosts, Katie and Sarah, and it is about FRANZ, MS Moore and the creation of mesmerized som they get into everything from how mesmerized them influenced the field of psychology to the truly horrifying and even deadly stunts that people did during stage shows both the try to prove that has risen was real and to prove that it was not so enjoy. Welcome to stuff you missed in history class from how stuff works dot com. Hello and welcome to the podcast. I'm Katie Lampert and I'm Sarah dowdy, and this makes me feel pretty big Torian, but I want to let everybody know that I have been to have no sys show before, and I think Katie you have to back in college Jack in college UGA the show I went to the gym and the hypnotists you know, brought out folks from the audience weeded some of them out and then supposedly hypnotize the rest. And it was tame, you know, they didn't do anything that they would be terribly ashamed of ours actually like chickens and like flapped all around the sewage and clucking Brittany spears dancing. I would've done that without being hypnotized and Facebook, like slumping in your seat. There was definitely no poking with needles or shooting of guns or knives under fingernails, which I'm really glad of because I think that would have made me very uncomfortable to see at a college performance. No, I want my money's worth. Oh, gosh. Well, okay. It's finally almost. Talent lean. We've been talking about these spooky topics for the past month, and we're going to bring our series to a close with a little discussion of hypnosis. Probably saw that coming specifically, its predecessor Messmer ISM which if you've ever heard of it, it's probably in relation to the word mesmerized when it's pretty weird in spooky on its own. But it's also connected to so many famous names that especially get pretty interesting, especially for us history lovers. The string of people connected to it don't always have all that much in comment and a less drills list. It is very yes. And when you look at some of the literature of the time, it becomes really clear that regardless of whether people thought it was a scam or not, it had a big influence on the public consciousness during the enlightenment. And then again during the Victorian era, which is what I always connected to as well though finitely. All right. So Katie, let's get hit matai mesmerized. All right. So we're going to start with friends on Thanh Messmer who you know hypnosis had been around for a long time, obviously connected with sorcery and magic in medicine, but it's scientific history started with this MS Moore guy. He was born in what is now Germany in seventeen thirty four. And he attended the university of Vienna and in seventeen sixty six. He wrote his dissertation on animal gravitation, and that sounds not at all like what it is, but his ideas were partly inspired by this British physician, Richard Mead. But mesmerized idea was that we all had this invisible fluid inside of us. And in fact, everything in nature had this invisible fluid and the fluid was controlled by the gravitational attraction of the planet. So it's like the moon tied exactly. So like you have internal tides inside your body. And in seventeen seventy three. He met patient fraud line all stolen who had some physical problems and Messmer decided to put his theories to the test. Let's see. Her tidal fluctuations are out of balance. So he tried to create this artificial tied inside of her by having her swallow in iron solution, which sounds terrible. But Sarah was reminding me, there is iron and my cereal wrinkle it in you ever do that high school, chemistry experiment. Then he put magnets on her stomach and legs, and she said she felt this occult force this fluid in her body and began to feel better. And eventually she completely recovered after a few treatment. So obviously, you know, word gets around about something like that happening and overtime Messmer tweaked his theory and renamed it animal magnetism, which again doesn't sound like what it is and he considered that the fluid followed the laws of magnetism. So it's weird. But at this point, everything was start. Going to seem a little more legit and scientific because some vague science time laws, but it also got weirder in more ritualistic and that's partly because of the rituals Messmer himself attached to it. He figured that disease was the result of fluid blockages or some sort of disequilibrium of these internal tides. And the operator said the, I mean, what we would consider the hypnotist today demands Meriva mesmerised could help restore that balance by acting as a conduit to the greater world of magnetic fluids. So you couldn't access that magnetic fluid just alone, but somebody else could do it for powerful operator. And this was done with a magnetized object or by the passing of hands over the patient called magnetic passes. And eventually the patient would experience what he called a crisis, which was a trance sometimes ending in convulsions in delirium. We all we. And this all a bit suggestive very suggestive, especially when you consider that most of the patients are women and he's the guy. So he even came up with a special tool that he invented for the purpose of treating multiple patients at once called, think about k. and unsurprisingly he gets famous for his crazy semis pseudoscientific antics, Mozart is a follower, and he even performs music and mesmerizing honor. And then also unsurprisingly there's a scandal and the Viennese physicians expose mesmerized the fraud. He leaves Austria in disgrace and goes to Paris in seventeen seventy eight. And he finds a pretty willing audience in Paris. And that's partly because the city was already so awash in all these discussions and demonstrations of gravity and magnetism electricity. So this idea about this magnetic force in fluid in your body seemed to fit. More or less in with the rest of it. And he would set the mood for these demonstrations playing the instrument du jour, which was Franklin's glass harmonica to induce deeper trances on. Sarah says you have to go with you, which I haven't yet. I don't think you can. I could never describe what it sounds like. But I mean, it's kind of like if you've ever seen anybody play crystals with water except they're all stocked on top of each other and it can be played seamlessly, so you're not chiming away at it. It's a very Yeary mysterious sound in just sort of a weird side. Note on the Glasser Monica. Eventually people thought that it was dangerous to your mental health. So it's sort of ironic that it's being used in conjunction with to cure treatment and mesmerized them. They thought that listening to the glass, her Monica, if you were already in a delicate state could possibly cause mental illness, so maybe you shouldn't listen to it actually make in small dose. Are you okay? So far you feeling. About, I'm feeling alright. I don't know. I only listen to like a couple YouTube videos worth. I'll check in with you tomorrow. But Marie Antoinette really liked Messmer and he was, I think she was just bored that court before me, honest. He was frequently invited to the French court perform for the Queen, but that ultimately proved to be his downfall because Louis to sixteenth was not so into this whole thing. He's a skeptic. So he put together a commission to investigate Messmer science quote, unquote. The members include Ben Franklin, Antoine lavar CA the Paris mayor John by an even doctors doctor Josef Gada who you know behind something similar to his name. Yeah, the two, weirdly a few of the commission members meet their fate with the the real deal, don't get into pseudoscience them. This episode is brought to you by the economist, which is a weekly magazine that will bring you all of the news about the world around us in all of the many things going on in current events, but it's not just economics and finance. You can find subjects from all over the globe, including politics and business, but also science and technology arts and the environment I recently was reading an article in the economist about how some animals use the earth's magnetic field to navigate in this whole discussion of magneto reception and how they find themselves and can navigate from there is completely fascinating to me one, I feel a little smarter when I'm reading the economist and I stay up on current events. But then I also find gyms like that. The economist has been doing this for more than one hundred seventy years. They are trustworthy and intelligent, and they really, really inform their readers. There is something for absolutely everyone in the economist. And right now they are offering a free print copy of the. Economists to our listeners to get that just text the word missed m. i. s. e. d. to nine nine zero zero zero. That's missed to nine nine zero zero zero. Franklin is a bit sickly at the time. So this commission works from his house and Mesmeh of course, you know, he's he wants to defend his reputation. He has to defend it, but he also wants to distance himself from the commission. You don't wanna go there. Mas- Mer himself and demonstrate your theories and your ideas in have it all blow up in your face, especially if you have a suspicion that you might be a bit of a fry. It won't work quite right or maybe maybe wouldn't even think that you just think, oh, the commission wouldn't get it right. So Muslims sends an assistant doctor, Charles dozen to represent him that way. You know if the sky messes up Messmer can blame it on him. So it does lend demonstrated some of the mesmerized som techniques for the panel. At one point, he magnetized a tree and then had this subject. Ideally the tree that had the most force. Unfortunately, the twelve year old blindfolded boy. Starts going in the wrong direction saying, you know, I feel the force increasing tree going down the line of trees going further and further away from the Hudson's going. No tree be maximum three. I can just imagine the guy watching this and you know face in in hand and then the kid fainted. Yeah, not put an end to the demonstration. So a few of these in the commission concludes that there is no scientific evidence behind mesmerized him. They published a report in. That's really that for Messmer himself in Paris. He falls out a favor almost immediately. He dies in obscurity, but he does not full out of memory. No, he's still in the back of everyone's heads. One of his main fans is our mom regime took to Shostak who is a marquee and an aristocrat who starts doing these experiments with mesmerized with the help of a young man on his estate, even before Messmer was out of commission and the marquee would. Hypnotize the guy and then leave him with no memory. And he came to believe that the magnetic effects dependent on the operator's belief on the report with the patient. So more like the two people involved in it and the relationship between the two than just, I am many on math mesmerized wreck that Messmer himself was doing and it. It's interesting, the guy who he's working with will talk quite openly when he's in this mesmerized state. Tell tell this aristocratic master of his things that he wouldn't normally say like I had a fight with my sister and then after he gets some advice on how to deal with it, he has no recollection, but he's still acts on the advice, weird, stuff like that. So it still sounds kind of out there, but the marquees work in seventeen eighty four on his experiments are sometimes considered the start of modern psychotherapy. I mean, I can see that to a certain extent other talking to each other. In trying to drawing everything out there. Yeah, semester is really started to get its second wind in the eighteen thirties and forties. It spread to the United States and influenced William James, the psychologist and the brother of Henry James, and it was simultaneously supported and disproven in eighteen forty three by the English Dr James braid. He concluded that this whole fluid idea was nonsense, but he also decided that these physical facts were real and they are produced by quote, a peculiar condition of the nervous system induced by a fixed and abstracted attention and quote. So this is a real thing. You induce it through this through this process and then it it does have effects on your nervous. It has nothing to do with magnetic fluids, no internal tides. And so trying to distance this idea trying to distance the effects of mesmerized from mesmerized itself, which has the shady reputation. Braid coins a few new terms. One of them is hit metabolism. Another hypnosis any starts to investigate the applications of hypnosis in paralysis and rheumatism. And you know, just treating it more like a possible medical science, French doctors and scientists follow his lead. And by the eighteen eighties, scientists really start tackling hypnosis as as a real thing. And at this point we can separate hypnosis from Messmer ISM, but don't think that most Muslim went away. It just science on a different track. I'm thinking parallel, we're going to get back at the tourism, but these more modern scientists accepted that yet definitely doesn't involve physical forces no fluid. Instead it had something to do with your mind. And Sigmund Freud actually got really interested in hypnosis and it's something that had a very big affect on psychology, even though he abandoned it pretty quickly for free association. It was just too hard to. Actually get people into a translate, a single report fried and by World War One World War Two, we have hypnosis being used on returning soldiers and it's not just a sideshow act anymore. It's part of psychology. But interestingly, we still don't understand what hypnosis really is. There's no generally accepted explanation for how it works. Yeah, so but I'm gonna go back to mesmerized 'em which did become a bit of a sideshow act and yet still was considered, somewhat guess, qualify medical. So between the eighteen forties in eighteen eighties, mesmerized got completely drawn into this both spiritualism and staged demonstrations. So it's a pop culture hit. But if you were a self respecting physician, there is you wouldn't even touch that with ten full node ruin your career. But if you were an itinerant mesmerised, you might have a pretty good career. It's my back career. I think you. I think you could pull it off Katie. So these folks would travel around Britain travel around different countries and perform the shows and the shows would bring in a paying audience. But the main point of them was to try to attract private clients for personal treatment because they would give you the big backs for mesmerizing them and you think that these shows might sound fine. Come like the g. a. shows we described at the beginning, but the knives under fingernails. I was not making that up. That's unfortunately a real thing will and and worse. Let's say we've got a pouring acid on the skin administering electric shocks, putting a Monet and people's mouths, a firing pistols near their ear in. The weird thing about this is it's not just the mesmerized who are doing this to try to prove that it's real. It's skeptics. So people would come to the same mesmerized is fake. I can disprove it by, you know, firing a pistol by this watch if I met guy, he's totally going to stand up. Yes. You would end up with just escalating brutalities on these poor, supposedly, mesmerized people, and you know it, it worked to both ends. If the patient jumped when the gun was fired by her ear, it's a fake. You know, we've exposed it if nothing happened than people thought either it was all real or it was such good fakery that it was really, really sick and disturbing. This episode is brought to you by stamps dot com. I'm one of those outgoing people who knows all of my neighborhood, postal workers at my like going to the post office, but sometimes my life is insane. And that is simply not always practical. Thankfully, these days you can get almost anything on demand and that includes your mailing needs. So you don't have to take trips to the post office to mail your letters or packages. You can get that postage on demand with stamps dot com with stamps dot com. You can access all of the amazing services of the post office. But right from your desk. 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And I mean when I when I read it, it's it's about this young man. Spurgeon young who died after a few days illness and quote, it is now claimed that death resulted from injuries received while under mesmeric influence at the hands of amateurs in the science corner. Bowers has some jewelry in. We'll make a thorough investigation it. It's easy to see how somebody could be killed under an amateur mesmerised demonstration's. If you read some of these things they did to people will in some people started connecting this. This idea of this unconscious state with surgery, thinking painting will exactly maybe. This is a good way to get people through something like amputation, a Messmer can't. Anesthesia was used to amputate the leg at the fi- of a forty two year old man named James Wambo who said he didn't feel anything, but it was obviously crowded out before it could get going. That's why you haven't heard many stories about mesmeric, anesthesia because you know things like ether came into use instead which another sort of strange side knit there either in nitrous oxide were they originally had applications on the stage before they were thought of for medical purposes? Really? Yeah, kind of a strange. It's hard to imagine going to like the cool ether show in town, but. No. So with these itinerant performances, these debates people getting amputations and our MS Merrick, trance mesmerizing becomes a very contentious thing. And the perfect plot point for a romantic or Victorian writer to pursue these altered states of consciousness into the altered states of consciousness, especially those achieved through opium, but also quite effectively done through hypnosis sleepwalking and trans has not every story can have the opium eater. No, some of them just have plain trances. So according to this book Bram Stoker in the man who is Dracula there's a whole genre of MS Merrick, novels that combine gothic elements, know things that we're we're familiar with in much earlier fiction with these more modern scientific ideas than we have Daniel dormer the Messmer secret Edward Heron, Allen the Princess Daphne, and obviously. Bram Stoker's Dracula which is published a little late in the game for some of this mesmerised off. Eighteen ninety seven. It was definitely not in any more science wasn't now, but it's used to great effect by Stoker. Yes, this is one of my favorite books of all time and has a prominent place on my bookshelf, but the character of Lucy is often sleepwalking vampire uses mesmerizing to satisfy his blood lust and van Helsing uses it to fight back. It's it's a central point in how everything happens and observing what someone is like in a trance and what they can do when they're in this altered state of consciousness, things against their will, even so another famous horror writer to used it pretty great effect. That's Edgar Allan Poe. He became interested in Missouri after he attended this lecture by Andrew, Jackson Davis, and his most famous story on mesmerized is the facts in. The case of Mosul Valdemar and the story was so good that people thought it might be true even though it sounds incredibly outrageous just give you like a brief plot outline here. There's this mesmerized and he's interested in the effect of hypnosis on a dying person. So he reaches out to this dying friend and gets his approval to try to hypnotize him on his deathbed. He puts the guy into a state of hypnosis and then the guy starts to talk and says, I'm dead, even though he's trance state in the guy just remains like that in this inert state for months and months without a pulse. Just in this death, trance, half living half dead. And finally, the narrator jostles out of the trans by repeatedly saying dead dead dead. And when he comes to he immediately rots because he's been sitting there for. Months dead and turns into this puddle of GU. So I have to read this immediate. I think it it sounds like a really great use of mesmerized them. It wasn't always used though in that that horrifying kind of way people weren't always rotting and falling puddles. Unfortunately, just with a psychological kind of twist, you had a couple of examples. I think a wild in the picture of Dorian gray and even Walt Whitman in poetry. The sleepers and song myself and dickens who is of course, arguably the most famous. So we use weird. He was very much influenced by mesmerized them. In fact, he, he takes it a step beyond somebody like PLO or wild. He's actually a mesmerised himself. He performed mesmerizing on his wife and Pittsburgh eighteen hundred issue. And then yeah, of course, on this other lady in eighteen forty four classic dickens where you and his final unfinished novel, the mystery of Edwin drood is. Is about an evil mesmerised who sexually manipulates women through hypnosis, which I have never heard of that before. Oh, really? Candice, former co host for y'all who remember from way back in the day, she's reading drood by Dan Simmons, and I was trying to decide kind of a take off on that. If I had to read the unfinished mystery of Edmund rude before you can let me know. But that does raise an interesting point about mesmerizing one we brought up earlier that it's pretty sexual. The patients nearly almost always women, something that may have helped that literary success damsels and improperly heard it's medical reputation to. And there's also that that crime angle of being hypnotized and doing things against your will, which that appears in literature for way longer. It's even you. You'll hear actual defenses using that aside her literature. I was hypnotized. I don't know what to say about even have. There's some sleepwalking murder stories. I wrote in article for the website how stuff works dot com, how sleepwalking works. And I was reading many defenses that people have given. I had no idea. I killed my wife. I was sleepwalking. Thank you so much for joining us for this Saturday classic since this is out of the archive, if you heard an Email address or Facebook URL or something similar during the course of the show that may be obsolete now. So here's our current contact information. We are at history podcasts at how stuff works dot com. And then we're at missed in history all over social media. That is our name on Facebook, Twitter, temblor, Pinterest, and Instagram. Thanks again for listening. For more on this and other topics visit how stuff works dot com. Hello earth actually. Hello universe? Yeah, we are here to tell you that in addition to Tuesdays, Thursdays, when you can get your regular stuff, you should know episodes just as you always have the last ten thousand years await ten years tenures we're now adding a whole new episode of a spin off show. That's really the same show. It's just a shorter episode. It's called short stuff. Yeah. We said, hey, sometimes we have topics that maybe aren't robust enough to fill out a full forty five minutes stuff. You shouldn't have pa- sewed though. We don't want to shortchange these topics these people. And so let's just make him short, get over here short stuff and Trump in our feet. Right. Exactly. It's kind of like the Roper to our three's company. 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