Armand-Marc-Jacques Chastanet, Marquis de Puységur (1751–1825) belonged to one of the most ancient and reaches aristocratic families in France. His ancestors hold across the centuries many prominent roles especially in the military field. Following their example he was colonel in the artillery regiment of Strasbourg. As the eldest son he inherited a large estate at Buzancy near Soissons. De Puységurs were also known for their philanthropic activities.
His youngest brother, Viscount Jacques Maxime, was a student of Anton Mesmer the founder of the “animal magnetism” and the first semi-scientific effective treatment method of hysteria. The second brother, Antoine-Hyacinthe was also a dedicated student of Mesmer. As a naval officer he introduced animal magnetism into the French colony, Saint-Domingue.
Armand-Marc-Jacques de Puységur and his brothers were typical French aristocrats of the Enlightenment era, a period from the middle of 17th until the end of 18th century. In this period the science has been shaken by the revolutionary ideas of Isaac Newton, who laid the foundation for classical mechanics, explaining law of gravity, motion and discovery of magnetic and electric phenomena.
With Francoise Antoine de Lavoisier began the era of the modern chemistry. Lavoisier was the first who explored and explained the proper nature of combustion. He also discovered oxygen and hydrogen, overturned the phlogiston theory, wrote the first list of elements, and reformed chemical nomenclature.
On the philosophical field in England Francis Bacon, the “father of empiricism”, advocating the scientific method of enquiry and investigation of scientific phenomena. In France Rene Descartes revolutionaries the scientific approach doubting previously paradigms and trying to prove their validity through evidence based investigation, whilst Voltaire criticized social convention and promoted radical republican ideas.
The members of the French aristocracy created their own laboratories on their estates and experimented with chemistry, physics, astronomy and other brunches of science. Armand-Marc-Jacques Chastanet, Marquis de Puységur belonged to this brilliantly educated part of the French aristocracy. As did many of his aristocratic contemporaries fellow aristocrats, he kept on his estate at Buzancy a “cabinet de physique”, where he experimented with electricity.
His brothers Viscount and Antoine-Hyacinthe had persuaded Armand-Marc-Jacques to join the newly formed “Society of Universal Harmony” founded by Franz Anton Mesmer. In 1784 he attended Mesmer’s seminar in Paris where he learned about the “animal magnetism”, presented by its inventor. Puységur learned the technique of a system that later has been described as hypnotism.
Having returned to his estate, on one day in May Puységur entered the house of Victor Race, one of the peasants on his estate, who was suffering from congestion in his lungs and a fever. Victor Race was a young shepherd, at that time twenty-three years old, whose family served Puysegurs for several generations. Puységur began to “magnetize” the man. This involved making passes or sweeping movements of the hands over the body of the person. To de Puységur’s surprise, the magnetic passes he exercised on the young man had the opposite effect from what he had witnessed in Paris observing Mesmer’s stage performances and patients going into a “violent crisis”. In the “violent crisis” the “mesmerized” patients experienced a state of a severe agitation. To Puységur’s great surprise, after few minutes, Victor fell peacefully asleep. Puységur recognized, however, that Victor had not fallen into a normal sleep but had slipped into an unusual state of consciousness; he was awake while asleep, he spoke aloud, answered questions, and displayed a far brighter mind than in his normal condition.
Writing about the incident a few days later, Puységur said:
“He spoke, occupying himself out loud with his affairs. When I realized that his ideas might affect him disagreeably, I stopped them and tried to inspire more pleasant ones, imagining himself shooting a prize, dancing at a party, etc.… I nourish these ideas in him and in this way I made him move around a lot in his chair, as if dancing to a tune; while mentally singing it, I made him repeat it out loud. In this way I caused the sick man that day to sweat profusely. After an hour of crisis I calmed him and left the room. He was given something to drink, and having had bread and boullion brought to him, I made him eat some soup that very same evening something he had not been able to do for five days. He slept all that night through. The next day, no longer remembering my visit of the evening before, he told me how much better he felt” (Memoirs pour servir à l’histoire et à l’établissement du magnétisme animal (1784), pp. 28-29).
Intrigued, Puysegur magnetized Victor again and was able to create a similar state magnetizing other subjects. It immediately occurred to Puységur that a primary characteristic of subsistence in this in-between subconscious state was the devitalization of conscious willpower. To distinguish this trance-like state from the Mesmer’s “violent crisis” he called it a “perfect crisis”; later he used such terms as “mesmeric somnambulism”’, “artificial somnambulism” or “magnetic sleep”. Only much later James Braid gave this condition its present name: “hypnosis.”
Another characteristic of the magnetic sleep was suggestibility and “intimate rapport” (as Puységur called it) which means a special connection between magnetizer and magnetized. The hypnotic amnesia (as we call it today) was almost universal for magnetic somnambulism at the time.
Puységur observed other feature of the sommnambulic sleep and called it “divided consciousness.” In the sommnabulic stat Victor displayed a far brighter mind than in his normal condition; he spoke about the “normal Victor” (his conscious personality) as a third person. This aspect of Race’s manifestation of an alternate personality proved vital in this context. This was the manifestation of two apparently independent parts of the personality. Not only that, Victor was different when he was in the state of magnetic sleep he was not his usual self. Puységur noticed right away a striking contrast in personality traits: “when [Victor] is in the magnetized state, he is no longer a naïve peasant who can barely speak a sentence. He is someone whom I do not know how to name (1784, p.35).”
Puységur, the educated aristocrat, even found himself turning to this strangely inspired somnambulistic peasant for advice about how to apply animal magnetism: “He is teaching me the conduct I must follow. According to him, it is not necessary that I touch everyone. One look, one gesture, one feeling of good will is enough. And it is a peasant, the narrowest and most limited in this locality, that teaches me this. When he is in crisis, I know no one as profound, prudent, or clear-cited (1784, pp. 32-3).”
De Puységur observed that once his subjects reached the state of “perfect crisis”, they were able to diagnose their own diseases, foresee its course of evolution and even tell which treatment they need. Puysegur called such abilities the “pressensation”.
Puységur described his experiences into a memoir, asserting that “the line of demarcation [in the personality during artificial somnambulism] is so complete that these two states may almost be described as two different existences”, and further that “in the magnetic state the patients have a clear recollection of all their doings in the normal state, but in the normal state, they can recall nothing of what has taken place in the magnetic condition.” Puységur assumed that artificial somnambulism resurrects otherwise disenfranchised fringes of consciousness, bequeathing to them the ephemeral gift of direct communication with external stimuli of the phenomenal world. These unprecedented propensities insinuated at an infiltration of deeper aspects of mind that are normally unconscious. He released these decisive insights to the public in 1781, roughly a year after the conclusion of his investigations with Victor Race.
The number of Puységur’s patients became soon so great that he started to magnetize several patients at once. Following an idea of Mesmer he magnetized a tree. In the park of his castle there was a spring with a large elm tree next to it. The peasants sat on the surrounding stone benches. Ropes were attached to the tree’s main branches and the peasants wound ends of the rope around the ailing parts of their bodies. The peasants/patients formed a chain holding each other’s thumbs. Later Puységur asked the patients to break the chain and to rub their hands. He chose few of them, touched them with the baguette (an iron rod) inducing the “perfect crisis.” These peasant became now ”physicians” and started to diagnose their fellow patients and prescribe the treatment. To ” wake them from their magnetic sleep, Puységur ordered them to kiss the tree. After they awoke, they were not able to remember nothing of what had happened. It was reported that within little more than one month, 62 of the 300 patients had been cured of various illnesses.
Puységur’s discovery of magnetic sleep and its psychological origin contradicted Mesmer’s concept. Messmer assumed that the connection between the healer and its object was of physical nature similar to the invisible forces of gravity or magnetism; from the later he borrowed the name: “animal magnetism”.
Victor Race appeared to have an alternate personality within him, which emerged when he was in magnetic sleep. Puységur’s discovery of magnetic sleep and the alternate personality state introduced a radically new view on the human psyche. The importance of this discovery cannot be overestimated. Magnetic sleep revealed that the psyche is divided and that there exists a deeper level of insight quite different from everyday consciousness. This second level displays personality characteristics unlike those of the conscious state in judgments and mental acuity. The second “unconscious psyche” possesses its own memory chain, with continuity of memory and identity from one episode of magnetic sleep to the next, but it is separated from the person’s ordinary consciousness by a memory barrier, and the two levels of the human psyche are often sharply distinguished as though they were, as Puységur put it, “two different existences”. The “second consciousness” described by Puységur has been rediscovered by Freud one century later under the new name: the “unconscious”.
Puységur’s discovery was absolutely unique in his time anticipating the future development of the psychodynamic psychiatry. The treatment of Victor Race was the first ever psychotherapy carried out in the modern way. His notion of the therapeutic bond between the psychotherapist and the patient corresponds to Freud’s theory of transference and the conduct of therapy in the state of magnetic somnambulism refers to the modern hypnotherapy.
The feeling of alienation is due in part to the memory barrier and in part to the fact that a distinct sense of identity is often present in the second layer, which may contain thoughts or emotions very different from and even opposed to those of the ordinary self. If the polarity is very high, it can cause mental disorders. These insights became later the foundation of Freudian psychoanalysis and Jung’s psychoanalytical psychology.
One century later the first patient of Freud and Breuer, a young women Anna O. (Berta Pappenheim) showed in her “hysteric state” remarkable abilities resembling the phenomena observed by Victor Race. She communicated with her therapist in fluent English (instead of her native German), which she nearly forgot in her conscious state and to which she was exposed only in her childhood having an English gouvernante.
Few years later C.G.Jung studied a mediumistic medium, Ellen Preisberg. In the trance Ellen displayed a different personality and a far brighter mind than in her conscious state. She was able to speak High German whilst in her conscious state she spoke only the local Swiss dialect. Jung described the results of the research in his doctoral dissertation “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena”. This and later observations led Jung to the conclusion, that underneath the threshold of consciousness a deeper layer of personality was hidden, which Jung called “the Self”. He observed that the individual develops symptoms according to the growing polarity between the two layers of the psyche. He called the conscious part – following Freud – the Ego-consciousness and the unconscious part the “Self”. The difference between Jung and Freud regarding their concept of the unconscious was of fundamental nature. Freud saw the unconscious in a static way, as place were the past memories and instincts are hidden. In contrary Jung’s “Self” possesses its own “personality” and it’s superior in its insight and wisdom to the Ego-Consciousness. This concept correlates with Puysegur’s observation of the alternate personality he observed in Victor Race in the magnetic sleep.
At the beginning of 1785, Puysegur took Victor to Paris where he used him for demonstrations. A worsening occurred in Victor’s condition, who explained during magnetic sleep that it resulted from him being exhibited to curious audience.
Puysegur thus learned that magnetism should be used only for therapeutic purposes and not for experimentation and demonstrations. This insight was later neglected by the French pioneer of hypnosis, Charcot, who used to demonstrate his patient in a hypnotic state to students but also to interested ley audience.
In August 1785 Puysegur was ordered to take command of his artillery regiment stationed in Strasbourg. The local Masonic society had asked him to teach the principles of animal magnetism to its members. Puysegur gave a course, which he concluded with the following words:
In Strasbourg Puysegur organized the “Societe Harmonique des Amis Reunis”, whose aim was to train magnetizers and to setup centers for magnetic treatment. By 1789 it counted more than two hundred members including the elite of Alsacian aristocracy. The treatment was offered gratuitously, and the members were obliged to write accurate reports of all their experiences, and to submit them to the society. Under its supervision a number of treatment centers were setup throughout Alsace. The Strasbourg society published annual reports listing the cures with short case histories including the names of the practitioner and the patient and the nature of illness. This was the first evidence based approach used in the depth psychology. At that time the collective treatments have been abandoned.
It’s a matter of speculation how the movement would have developed, had it not been violently interrupted by the Revolution of 1789. During the French Revolution of 1789 The Societe de I’ Harmonie was disbanded. Many of Mesmer’s aristocratic disciples emigrated; others perished on the scaffold, among them the brightest minds of French aristocracy for example Lavoisier. Being a fascinated by the revolutionary ideas of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” Marquis de Puysegur commanded the republican forces as a general. After one year, witnessing the terror of Robespierre regime, he resigned and subsequently spent two years in prison. Later he was discharged and returned to his castle at Buzancy. He continued writing literary works, and took up once again his research on magnetism.
After Napoleon came to power Puységur continued writing literary works, and took up once again his research on magnetism. He became the leading figure for the new generation of practitioners of mesmerism interested in inducing the sleeping trance instead the original method of Mesmer.
In April 1818, the sixty seven-year-old Marquis learned that Victor Race, who was now fifty-eight, was severely ill and continually talking about him. Puysegur went to see Victor and magnetized him in the same cottage in which he had done it for the first time thirty-four years earlier. He was struck by the fact that Victor, in his magnetic sleep, remembered every detail of his previous somnambulic life. Victor’s health improved, and the Marquis returned to Paris. Shortly thereafter Victor died and was buried in the cemetery at Buzancy. The Marquis ordered an inscription to be put on his tombstone.
In 1825, seven years after Victor’s death, Marqius De Puységur become severely ill and was transported to his castle at Buzancy. He died there at the age of seventy-four leaving the reputation of a thoroughly honest and generous man.
Puységur was in every inch an extraordinary man. Despite his great achievements he never took credit for having invented the procedure of hypnotic induction portraying himself as a disciple of Anton Mesmer. Over the years his name gradually fell into oblivion; his writings became scarce.
The small village of Buzancy fall for centuries again in sleep to be violently awoken by the Great War. In July 1918 the village witnessed a violent battle between German Imperial and Allied forces. The soldiers of the 1st US Infantry Division, despite their courage and heavy losses, were not able to break through the German lines. On 28th of July 1918, the 15th Scottish Division launched an attack accompanied by a French heavy artillery and flamethrower section up the slope the chateau and the village itself. As its consequence the chateau was severely damaged.
Henri Ellenberger the author of the monumental work about the development of Dynamic Psychiatry “The Discovery of the Unconscious” visited in the late 60ties Buzancy. He wrote:
Buzancy Village Church which contains the grave of of Amand-Marie- Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puysegur.
De Puységur, “An Essay on Magnetism”
Preparing a series of articles presenting the development of the psychodynamic psychiatry I stumbled about an unique personality: Armand-Marc-Jacques Chastanet, Marquis de Puységur (1751–1825). In the previous text I described the discoveries and the biography of this extraordinary man. Searching for literature written by Puysegur I found in the library of American Congress the English translation by By J.King, M.D. from 1837: “An Essay of Instruction . Teaching the Method of Magnetizing.”
If we replace the words: “magnetism” by “hypnosis”, “magnetizing” by “hypnotizing” and “hypnotizer” by “hypnotherapist” the essay turns to be one of the most profound ever written texts about hypnosis. The excerpt of the text below has the deepness of Einstein’s statements about God and the universe… and this by an author who died nearly 2 centuries ago.
“The observation that I have made, that a ball rolls only when a hand, or agent, determines to it this movement, has brought me to the conclusion, that since the earth and all the planets roll in space, it must be, likewise, that some agent has communicated to them the impulse which determines their revolutions.
But, instead of admitting an agent, the author of the motion in matter, is it not matter itself, which is the cause and principle of all its effects? No, that is impossible; my intelligence, my senses tell me, that nothing can move of itself. From the time then, that matter is in motion, it is necessary to submit to the action of a principle, superior to it, and this principle, superior to matter is God, whom I cannot comprehend, it is true, being only one of the products of his almighty power, but of whose existence, I am certain.
Behold then two realities for me: 1st. God; 2nd his action. God, principle and cause; the existence of the universe, his action”
Link to the book stored at The Library Of The Congress:
An Essay of Instruction .
Teaching the Method of Magnetizing.
Translated from French
Of M.De Puysegur
By J.King, M.D.
Question: What do you understand by magnetism?
Answer. The touching a patient at the diseased, or most sensible parts of his body, in order to produce in such parts, a sensation of heat.
- Do you believe that this heat can penetrate into the body of a patient?
- Yes, and the production of it, ought to be our aim; if this heat were only superficial, it would produce but little effect.
- How do you consider this heat?
- As the effect of the acceleration of a tonic movement, existing in the body of a patient.
- Animal Magnetism, is, then, the art of accelerating the tonic movement in the bodies of our own species?
- It is not an art, it is a faculty.
- Have all men this faculty?
- They all possess more or less of it, according to the degree of energy of their strength and health.
- All men, then, are able to magnetize?
- Without doubt, when they have the will.
- Why do you add, “When they have the will?”
- Because, men cannot resolve to do any act whatever, except, when they have the will to do it.
- Is magnetizing, then, an action?
- It is an act as physical, as striking, caressing, pounding any article in a mortar, working at a difficult trade, or composing works, requiring industry, fortitude, energy, and application; as all acts, whatever may be their motives, inspire in us, the will to produce them.
- lf all men have the faculty of magnetizing, how does it happen, that it has not been sooner discovered?
- Everything certifies that formerly, men were fully in possession of their magnetic power. The fables, mysteries, and ceremonies of the ancients, show traces of it; but probably, the forms, the exterior proceedings for magnetizing, suppressed very soon the spirit which had instituted them. The use of this faculty once gone, ignorance and superstition have constantly persecuted those, who at different period have announced its recovery.
- Once persuaded that we have the magnetic power; the question is then, that we must have, and exercise the will, in order to produce any effects?
- Yes, in order to produce any effects, nothing else is required; but, to produce useful effects, and never injurious, it is necessary to act in a constant and regular manner.
- What do you mean, by acting in a constant and regular manner?
- A comparison will explain it. It is by the action of the air on the wings of a mill, that its mechanism is moved; as this action lessens, or ceases, the stone of the mill slackens its motion, or stops on the instant; as the wind changes, or becomes too violent, the mechanism of the mill is immediately disturbed. Our magnetic action, is the wind which gives, or rather, accelerates the tonic movement in a patient; our will, is that, which gives to our action, its necessary and proper direction.
- Can we produce injury, by magnetizing?
- Undoubtedly. If we touch a patient, without attention or intention, we produce neither benefit, nor injury; but if after having produced an effect upon him, we follow the first given impression, by another to the contrary, we necessarily, occasion trouble and disorder. If, by indifference, or fear, we do not remedy this disorder, the most grievous results will follow. There is but one method of always magnetizing for useful purposes; it is, to will constantly, and strongly, the good, and the advantage of a patient, and never to change, or varies the direction of the will.
- But with a firm and constant will, to procure the most possible good to a patient, will we not sometimes, produce too much action in him?
- What, never? Yet the best medicines often injure, when they are administered without circumspection and discernment.
- We ought never to compare the effect of medicines, to that of the magnetic action, as,
the former acts immediately upon the organs, while the latter acts, always, immediately on the vital principle, to which it communicates the impression of a motion which is analogous to it, and which adds to the efforts that are unceasingly made to preserve the equilibrium, or health.
- Although all men have more or less of the magnetic power, do you not believe, however, that physicians may use it, in all cases, with more discernment than others?
- That would be true, if animal magnetism was a science, or an art; but, as it is only a faculty, all men, without distinction, can equally use it to produce good.
- But are there not cases, where it is necessary to increase, or diminish the action of the vital principle in a patient.
- Yes, certainly.
- In such cases, would it not be better to employ a physician, that he might judge of the progress and whether it is necessary to increase or diminish the action of the vital principle in a patient?
- The science of observing the state of the vital principle in patients, joined to the knowledge of proper medicines, in order to procure the tone of movement necessary, is in reality the art of ordinary physic; for this reason, physicians cure many diseases; but the most learned, and experienced among them, agree, that nature knows more than they. Now, animal magnetism, being the agent of nature, it is very natural that it always acts more knowingly than they.
- Then is it not necessary to know the kind, or cause of diseases, in order to cure them by animal magnetism.
- By no means; the magnetic action directed and sustained by a firm will, or determination to relieve the sufferings of a patient, will always give to his vital principle, that action which will be the most favorable for his disease,
- You do not speak about the universal fluid?
- It is useless.
- Do you believe that there is an universal fluid?
- I have never said that there was, or was not, an universal fluid; I know not, moreover, whether there are magnetic fluids, electric, galvanic. One thing of which I am very certain, is, that in order to magnetize well, it is absolutely useless to know whether or not there does exist a single one of these fluids.
- How do you admit the effect of the action of one body on another, without an intertermedial, which communicates and transmits to it, its impulse?
- Animal Magnetism is not the action of one body on another, but the action of thought on the vital principle of the body.
- It is exactly that, which makes it less comprehensive still.
- I agree to that; besides, we need not seek an explanation; it is, because it is; thought moves the matter. It is this truth, that Virgil has so well expressed, by this fine verse of Eneid :
“Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet.”
Translation: “The eternal mind diffused through all the part of nature, actuates the whole stupendous frame, and mingles with the whole body of the universe. “
The Works of Vergil: Translated Into English Prose, Volume 2, 1926
- If thought moves matter, it is then of a superior nature to matter?
- I will not reply to this question, as it will merely give you my particular opinion; every one ought to be free, to conclude, according to the measure and perception of his intelligence.
To end this first part of instruction for beginners, it will be sufficient to repeat that which concerns the mode of expressing the reason of the principle of all our wills and actions; every man, who, with a wise mind, and compassionate heart, will believe in his magnetic power, and wishes to exercise it, will procure the sweetest enjoyments that he will possibly be able to relish.
- de Puysegur’s opinion on the cause of the magnetic action of man.
The observation that I have made, that a ball rolls only when a hand, or agent, determines to it this movement, has brought me to the con conclusion, that since the earth and all the planets roll in space, it must be, likewise, that some agent has communicated to them the impulse which determines their revolutions. But a rolling ball stops at the moment, when the action of the impelling force which it has received, ceases; then, as the planets do not stop, it is proof to my mind, that the impulse of the principal agent of their movement, does not discontinue. I see, at the most, a tonic or internal movement, as much in the whole mass of the earth, as in the different parts which compose it; winds, storms, tides, in temperatures, subterranean fires, meteors, etc., on one part; crystallization of minerals, vegetation of planets, generation of beings, etc., on the other, are to me sufficient proof; finally, everything announces to me, a motion impressed upon matter, and the continuance of the principle action of this motion. But, instead of admitting an agent, the author of the motion in matter, is it not matter itself, which is the cause and principle of all its effects? No, that is impossible; my intelligence, my senses tell me, that nothing can move of itself. From the time then, that matter is in motion, it is necessary to submit to the action of a principle, superior to it, and this principle, superior to matter is God, whom I cannot comprehend, it is true, being only one of the products of his almighty power, but of whose existence, I am certain.
Behold then two realities for me: 1st. God; 2nd his action. God, principle and cause; the existence of the universe, his action.
Let us see, at this place, what passes when I magnetize; the compassion which a patient inspires in me, creates the desire, or the thought of being useful to him, and the moment that I determine to attempt to relieve him, his vital principle receives the impression of the action of my will. Here are two realities: 1st, the principle of my will; 2nd, its action; the principle of my will, otherwise, called my soul, cause of my action; the effect felt by the patient, is the result of this action. The effect of the action of God, is motion in matter, unlimited. The effect of the action of my soul is motion in matter, limited. From the similitude in the effects, I conclude that there is a similarity in the causes. Then, God and my soul are of the same nature. Now, God is superior to matter, in consequence of immateriality; then, my soul is also immaterial. God, first cause, whose immaterial sense, is not enclosed in the limits of form, space, and time, having created, and formed, may also destroy, or preserve all.
My soul, second cause, of which the immaterial nature is enclosed in the limits of form, space, and time, can neither create nor form anything, and can only preserve, and restore. I stop at this last observation of a metaphysical theory, which not only agrees with those I have heretofore given of the action and physical effects of Animal Magnetism, but which is, moreover, truly the proof and complement of it.
I leave it to minds more enlightened than mine, to deduct the certainty of the existence of God, and of our soul, the rules of our moral duties, political and religious; my aim is only to prove the reality of Animal Magnetism, and I will not depart from the bounds which I have prescribed.
Of the proceeding necessary to magnetize.
Question: What is the method to be pursued, in order to magnetize?
Answer: I told you, in the first part of this instruction, that, in order to magnetize, it is by no means, necessary to know whether or not there exists a magnetic fluid ; I repeat again, it is perfectly useless; nevertheless, the better to fix the attention in magnetizing, we may admit the hypothesis.
- Why do you say, admit the hypothesis?
- Because, I am not certain of the existence of a magnetic fluid; it is therefore, for me, only a hypothesis, and not a reality.
- The general opinion is, that there exists a magnetic fluid.
- You may believe it also, if you please, there is no inconvenience from it. This conviction will likewise serve much, to fix your attention the better, when you magnetize.
- How so?
- Consider yourself a loadstone, of which your arms, and hands especially, are the two poles; touch then, a patient, by placing one hand on the back, and the other in opposition on the stomach; figure to yourself, then, that a magnetic fluid tends to circulate from one hand to the other, in crossing the body of the patient.
- May we not vary this position?
- Yes, we may place one hand on the head, without deranging the other hand and continue to pay the same attention and have the same will of doing good. The circulation of one hand to the other will continue; the head and the lower portion of the stomach, being the parts of the body where the most nerve are placed, consequently, these are the two places, where it is necessary to carry the most action.
- Is it necessary to rub these parts strongly?
- That is not necessary; it is sufficient to touch them with attention, endeavoring at the same time, to observe a sensation of heat, in the hollow of the hand, which is always the proof, that an effect is produced.
- What is the most desirable effect to obtain, in magnetizing?
- All the effects are equally salutary, one of the most satisfactory, is somnambulism; but it is not the most frequent, and patients can be equally cured, without entering into this state.
- Ought we always to have the will of producing somnambulism?
- No, for the desire of producing any effect whatever, is almost always a reason for not producing it. A magnetizer ought blindly to place his confidence in nature, that she may rule and direct the effects of his magnetic action.
- What are the indications, by which we may discover that a patient is susceptible of entering into the state of somnambulism?
- When in magnetizing a patient, we perceive that he experiences a numbness, or light spasms, accompanied with nervous fits or starts; if then, we see him shut his eyes; it is necessary to touch him lightly with the thumbs on the eyebrows, to prevent winking. Sometimes, it is not even necessary to touch the eyes, as the action penetrates with as much activity, at a little distance.
- What, is there nothing else to do, to put a patient in the state of somnambulism?
- No. In touching a patient in the manner I have indicated, with much attention, and with a firm will to do good, you will often obtain this satisfactory result.
- How may I be able to ascertain that a patient is in the magnetic state?
- When you see him sensible, at a distance; to your emanations, whether in presenting the thumb before the pit of the stomach, or in carrying it before the nose.
- Are there no stronger indications?
- A patient in the magnetic crisis, ought only to reply to his magnetizer, and ought to suffer no other person to touch him; the approach of dogs, and all animated beings, ought to be to him insupportable; and when by chance he has been touched, the magnetizer alone will be able to calm the pain which it has occasioned.
- Has the magnetizer an absolute empire over his patient, in a magnetic crisis?
- This empire is absolute in all which concerns the wellbeing and health of the patient; he may also be able to obtain from him, things indifferent in themselves, as to make him walk, drink, eat, write, etc., even all that we could obtain by complaisance from a person in the natural state; but if we wish to exact things which will displease him, then we counteract much, and he will not obey.
- If we are obstinate in wishing him to do those things which do not agree with him, what is the result?
- After much suffering, the patient suddenly leaves the magnetic state, and the evil which it will cause to him, will be very troublesome for his magnetizer to repair.
- The magnetic state, otherwise called somnambulism, is state, then, which demands the greatest discretion?
- It is necessary to consider man in the magnetic state, as a being the most interesting, who exists by affinity to his magnetizer; it is the confidence he places in you, that has allowed you to be the master; it is only for his good that you will be able to enjoy your power; deceit in this state, to wish to abuse his confidence, is an act of dishonesty; thus, by acting in a sense opposed to his welfare, we produce consequently, a contrary effect to that first given him.
- Are there different degrees of somnambulism?
- Yes; sometimes, we procure from a patient, only a simple sigh; in another, the effect of magnetism is to cause him to shut his eyes, without the power of opening them himself; then he understands everything, but is not completely in the magnetic state. This state of half crisis is very common.
- Are these two effects as salutary, as complete somnambulism?
- They are not a satisfactory, for the magnetizer, as he can learn nothing from his patient; but they are also very salutary.
- Are there any precautions to take, towards a patient who enters into the state of magnetic somnambulism?
- As soon as you perceive that a patient shuts his eyes, and has manifested the sensibility to the magnetic emanations, it is not necessary at first to overwhelm him with questions, still less to wish to make him act, in any manner. The state in which he finds himself is new for him, and it is necessary, so to speak, to let him be aware of it. The question ought to be, How do you find yourself? then, Do you feel that I have done to any good? Then express the pleasure you feel in procuring it for him, and gradually come to the details of his disease, and the object of your first questions ought not to extend beyond his health.
- Why so.
- It is your aim, in magnetizing, to cure; all the faculties of the patient, turn towards the object, which has interested you in magnetizing him. His health alone, then, occupies his faculties; and being possessed of more or less sensibility, he is more or less clear-sighted his present state, as on his future cure.
- What conduct is necessary to observe towards a magnetic somnambulist?
- To do everything with safety, and not to contradict him; also, to consult him on the hours when he wishes to be magnetized, the time he wishes to remain in the crisis, what medicines he will need, and to follow his indications, exactly, without missing even one minute.
- May not a person in a magnetic state, prescribe medicines, contrary to his health ?
- That can never be. AIIthough the prescription of a somnambulist, may be different from the ideas that we may have received in medicine, yet, his sensations are surer than all the given results of observation; Nature expresses herself, if we may thus speak, by his mouth; it is a clear instinct, which dictates to him, his demands, and not to obey them to the letter, will be to miss the end proposed, namely, to cure him.
- How do we get a person out of the magnetic state?
- When you magnetized him, your aim was to put him to sleep, and you have succeeded, solely, by the act of your will; it is also, by another act of the will, that you awaken him.
- What, is it only necessary, that he opens his eyes to perform his awakening?
- It is the principal operation; but, the better to fix your ideas upon the object which occupies your mind, you may lightly touch the eyes, willing at the same time, that he opens them and awakes, and this effect never fails to follow.
- Are there any other signs to observe in the conduct of magnetism?
- It may sometimes happen that a patient has tremblings, or light convulsive motions, the first time that he is magnetized; in this case, it is necessary for the magnetizer to cease his first action, and occupy himself in calming the sufferings of the patient.
- What means must be employed for that?
- At first, will that his evils are quieted, and that he suffers no more; then, direct all your attention, your touches to the suffering parts; spread, as it were, the fluid throughout the whole extent of his body, and do not abandon him, until he is in a calm and tranquil state.
- Can we always control these convulsions or sufferings of a patient?
- Yes, when they are caused by our magnetism, for you may recollect we have said, that Animal Magnetism taking always the character of the will of the magnetizer, ought to calm the accidental evils, proceeding from the first impression that we have given.
- And the habitual sufferings of a patient are they also capable of being removed by the influence of magnetism?
- No, because, sometimes the disease has made so great progress, and has taken such deep root, that the influence of magnetism, cannot destroy the symptoms, but by dint of time and care.
- If, after having made all efforts to arrest the convulsions which magnetism produces, we do not put an end to them, what must we do?
- We must not become alarmed, but believe that the nature of the disease demands such a crisis, in order that the patient may be entirely cured; but this tranquility ought to be entire, only when we feel innocent with regard to the conduct we have pursued towards the patient. In general, the case where a patient preserves his grievous impressions, not withstanding his magnetizer, is very rare; it has only happened but once to myself; and when several times in succession a magnetizer is not able to arrest the convulsions which have shown themselves, we would always be in doubt with regard to his good disposition.
- Have you anything further to teach me concerning the practice of Animal Magnetism?
- No; it is sufficient for you to remember, the grand base on which is founded the doctrine of animal magnetism, as I have conceived it, and as I have taught you. Remember, that man always acts for his best interest; and rarely for good, if he does not find a great interest in it; and this is only a spiritual principle, emanating immediately from the creator of the universe, that he may feel the necessity of satisfying the continual cravings of his soul, which delights only in good, order, and truth.
(End of Puysegur’s Essay.)