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Franz Anton Mesmer (/ˈmɛzmər/; German: [ˈmɛsmɐ]; 23 May 1734 – 5 March 1815) was a German doctor with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. (In modern times New Age spiritualists have revived a similar idea.) Mesmer's theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843 the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term "hypnosis" for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word "mesmerism" generally functions as a synonym of "hypnosis".
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