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From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic Sleep and the Roots of Psychological Healing

Alexander A. Levitan, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1994;271(22):1805. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510460099044.
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Adam Crabtree, in a scholarly and thoughtful book, has clearly established the seminal role of animal magnetism in modern dynamic psychiatry. In a carefully documented and exquisitely referenced text, Crabtree has established how the concepts initiated by Mesmer and his colleagues under the rubric "animal magnetism" have led to our current conceptualizations of psychodynamic processes and psychopathology.

This book will be quite a revelation for those who conceive of Franz Anton Mesmer only as a purple-cloaked charlatan preying on vulnerable hysterics to his own profit, finally unmasked by the Franklin Commission empaneled by Louis XVI of France. In point of fact, Mesmer was a gifted musician, a friend of the Mozarts, and a graduate of one of the most distinguished medical schools in the world at that time, the University of Vienna. He was effective in treating a large number of seriously ill patients who had been deemed hopeless by


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