Chapter 5 — Animal Magnetism Unmasked
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
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For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man. – JESUS.
MESMERISM or animal magnetism was first brought into notice by Mesmer in Germany in 1775. According to the American Cyclopaedia, he regarded this so-called force, which he said could be exerted by one living organism over another, as a means of alleviating disease. His propositions were as follows:
“There exists a mutual influence between the celestial bodies, the earth, and animated things. Animal bodies are susceptible to the influence of this agent, disseminating itself through the substance of the nerves.” In 1784, the French government ordered the medical faculty of Paris to investigate Mesmer’s theory and to report upon it. Under this order a commission was appointed, and Benjamin Franklin was one of the commissioners. This commission reported to the government as follows:
“In regard to the existence and utility of animal magnetism, we have come to the unanimous conclusions that there is no proof of the existence of the animal magnetic
fluid; that the violent effects, which are observed in the public practice of magnetism, are due to manipulations, or to the excitement of the imagination and the impressions made upon the senses; and that there is one more fact to be recorded in the history of the errors of the human mind, and an important experiment upon the power of the imagination.”
In 1837, a committee of nine persons was appointed, among whom were Roux, Bouillaud, and Cloquet, which tested during several sessions the phenomena exhibited by a reputed clairvoyant. Their report stated the results as follows:
“The facts which had been promised by Monsieur Berna [the magnetizer] as conclusive, and as adapted to throw light on physiological and therapeutical questions, are certainly not conclusive in favor of the doctrine of animal magnetism, and have nothing in common with either physiology or therapeutics.”
This report was adopted by the Royal Academy of Medicine in Paris.
The author’s own observations of the workings of animal magnetism convince her that it is not a remedial agent, and that its effects upon those who practise it, and upon their subjects who do not resist it, lead to moral and to physical death.
If animal magnetism seems to alleviate or to cure disease, this appearance is deceptive, since error cannot remove the effects of error. Discomfort under error is preferable to comfort. In no instance is the effect of animal magnetism, recently called hypnotism, other than the effect of illusion. Any seeming benefit derived from it is proportional to one’s faith in esoteric magic.
Animal magnetism has no scientific foundation, for God governs all that is real, harmonious, and eternal, and His power is neither animal nor human. Its basis being a belief and this belief animal, in Science animal magnetism, mesmerism, or hypnotism is a mere negation, possessing neither intelligence, power, nor reality, and in sense it is an unreal concept of the so-called mortal mind.
There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit. The pointing of the needle to the pole symbolizes this all-embracing power or the attraction of God, divine Mind.
The planets have no more power over man than over his Maker, since God governs the universe; but man, reflecting God’s power, has dominion over all the earth and its hosts.
The mild forms of animal magnetism are disappearing, and its aggressive features are coming to the front. The looms of crime, hidden in the dark recesses of mortal thought, are every hour weaving webs more complicated and subtle. So secret are the present methods of animal magnetism that they ensnare the age into indolence, and produce the very apathy on the subject which the criminal desires. The following is an extract from the Boston Herald:
“Mesmerism is a problem not lending itself to an easy explanation and development. It implies the exercise of despotic control, and is much more likely to be abused by its possessor, than otherwise employed, for the individual or society.”
Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness. Christian Science despoils the kingdom of evil, and pre-eminently
promotes affection and virtue in families and therefore in the community. The Apostle Paul refers to the personification of evil as “the god of this world,” and further defines it as dishonesty and craftiness. Sin was the Assyrian moon-god.
Liberation of mental powers
The destruction of the claims of mortal mind through Science, by which man can escape from sin and mortality, blesses the whole human family. As in the beginning, however, this liberation does not scientifically show itself in a knowledge of both good and evil, for the latter is unreal. On the other hand, Mind-science is wholly separate from any half-way impertinent knowledge, because Mind-science is of God and demonstrates the divine Principle, working out the purposes of good only. The maximum of good is the infinite God and His idea, the All-in-all. Evil is a suppositional lie.
The genus of error
As named in Christian Science, animal magnetism or hypnotism is the specific term for error, or mortal mind. It is the false belief that mind is in matter, and is both evil and good; that evil is as real as good and more powerful. This belief has not one quality of Truth. It is either ignorant or malicious. The malicious form of hypnotism ultimates in moral idiocy. The truths of immortal Mind sustain man, and they annihilate the fables of mortal mind, whose flimsy and gaudy pretensions, like silly moths, singe their own wings and fall into dust.
In reality there is no mortal mind, and consequently no transference of mortal thought and will-power. Life and being are of God. In Christian Science, man can do no harm, for
scientific thoughts are true thoughts, passing from God to man.
When Christian Science and animal magnetism are both comprehended, as they will be at no distant date, it will be seen why the author of this book has been so unjustly persecuted and belied by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Agassiz, the celebrated naturalist and author, has wisely said: “Every great scientific truth goes through three stages. First, people say it conflicts with the Bible. Next, they say it has been discovered before. Lastly, they say they have always believed it.”
Perfection of divine government
Christian Science goes to the bottom of mental action, and reveals the theodicy which indicates the rightness of all divine action, as the emanation of divine Mind, and the consequent wrongness of the opposite so-called action, — evil, occultism, necromancy, mesmerism, animal magnetism, hypnotism.
Adulteration of Truth
The medicine of Science is divine Mind; and dishonesty, sensuality, falsehood, revenge, malice, are animal propensities and by no means the mental qualities which heal the sick. The hypnotizer employs one error to destroy another. If he heals sickness through a belief, and a belief originally caused the sickness, it is a case of the greater error overcoming the lesser. This greater error thereafter occupies the ground, leaving the case worse than before it was grasped by the stronger error.
Our courts recognize evidence to prove the motive as well as the commission of a crime. Is it not clear that the human mind must move the body to a wicked act? Is not mortal mind the mur-
derer? The hands, without mortal mind to direct them, could not commit a murder.
Courts and juries judge and sentence mortals in order to restrain crime, to prevent deeds of violence or to punish them. To say that these tribunals have no jurisdiction over the carnal or mortal mind, would be to contradict precedent and to admit that the power of human law is restricted to matter, while mortal mind, evil, which is the real outlaw, defies justice and is recommended to mercy. Can matter commit a crime? Can matter be punished? Can you separate the mentality from the body over which courts hold jurisdiction? Mortal mind, not matter, is the criminal in every case; and human law rightly estimates crime, and courts reasonably pass sentence, according to the motive.
When our laws eventually take cognizance of mental crime and no longer apply legal rulings wholly to physical offences, these words of Judge Parmenter of Boston will become historic: “I see no reason why metaphysics is not as important to medicine as to mechanics or mathematics.”
Evil let loose
Whoever uses his developed mental powers like an escaped felon to commit fresh atrocities as opportunity occurs is never safe. God will arrest him. Divine justice will manacle him. His sins will be millstones about his neck, weighing him down to the depths of ignominy and death. The aggravation of error foretells its doom, and confirms the ancient axiom: “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
The misuse of mental power
The distance from ordinary medical practice to Christian Science is full many a league in the line of light; but to go in healing from the use of
inanimate drugs to the criminal misuse of human willpower, is to drop from the platform of common manhood into the very mire of iniquity, to work against the free course of honesty and justice, and to push vainly against the current running heavenward.
Like our nation, Christian Science has its Declaration of Independence. God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly selfgoverned only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love.
Man’s rights are invaded when the divine order is interfered with, and the mental trespasser incurs the divine penalty due this crime.
Let this age, which sits in judgment on Christian Science, sanction only such methods as are demonstrable in Truth and known by their fruit, and classify all others as did St. Paul in his great epistle to the Galatians, when he wrote as follows:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”