Mes·mer \ˈmes-mər\ , Franz
(1734–1815), German physician. Mesmer started a career in orthodox medicine but soon began to explore new theories of medicine. He began experimenting with the use of magnets as curative agents and gradually developed a theory of animal magnetism. He believed in the presence of invisible fluids in the body and that disease resulted from an interruption in the free flow of these fluids. The flow of the fluid could be corrected through magnetic force. Eventually he came to believe that his own body possessed special magnetic forces. In 1778 he began practicing mesmerism in Paris and created a popular sensation. In 1784 his followers started to apply his techniques to hypnosis. Mesmer was regarded as a fraud by contemporary medical authorities.