Swedenborg, Mesmer, & the Mind/Body Connection
The Roots of Complementary Medicine
By John S. Haller
Swedenborg Studies #19
Swedenborg, Mesmer, & the Mind/Body Connection illuminates a pivotal time in American history, when pioneers explored not only the boundaries of their growing nation, but the limits–and the intersection–of mind and spirit. Read more
Hardcover, paperback, and e-book, 344 pages
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Healing practices as diverse as homeopathy, chiropractic, and therapeutic touch draw their inspiration and effectiveness from an unseen world beyond the physical senses. Our view of that world is the legacy of two key thinkers: Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Anton Mesmer.
The starting point is the competing worldviews of Swedenborg, a mystic whose deep faith in God and visions of the afterlife have moved generations, and Mesmer, whose magnetic healing system required nothing but the forces of nature. Both were convinced that good health depended on properly managing one’s internal energies, whether that meant a life of biblical virtue or simply achieving balance with the universe. This book traces the influence of these two men through the nineteenth century as their ideas were embraced by utopians, psychic healers, spiritualists, mind-cure advocates, homeopaths, and ultimately by the inheritors of those traditions–modern practitioners of alternative and complementary healing.
Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the Mind/Body Connection illuminates a pivotal time in American history, when pioneers explored not only the boundaries of their growing nation, but the limits–and the intersection–of mind and spirit.
Nautilus Silver Award Winner 2011! The Nautilus Awards recognizes Books and Audio Books and E-Books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living & positive social change, while at the same time they stimulate the “imagination” and offer the reader “new possibilities” for a better life and a better world. We look for distinguished literary and heartfelt contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults.
“Subject specialist Haller (emeritus, history & medical humanities, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) has published prolifically on medical history (e.g., The History of American Homeopathy). Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) and Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) both “sought to restore harmony to the body’s systems using unseen forces as the causal agent.” Swedenborg’s scientific and philosophical writings led to the founding of the Church of the New Jerusalem, and Mesmer conceived the idea of animal magnetism, believing that he possessed such powers. Haller presents not a dual biography, despite its title, but a discussion of their places in the thinking of Mary Baker Eddy, Samuel Hahnemann, and other, lesser-known individuals whose influence is still found today, especially in self-help and “mind-cure” movements. The book includes 18 images, extensive chapter references consisting mostly of primary and secondary sources, and a lengthy bibliography.”
VERDICT: A serious and scholarly but accessible work for readers familiar with the field. Large academic libraries and research libraries will probably want to purchase.
—Library Journal, May 1, 2010, reviewed by Martha E. Stone, Massachusetts General Hosp. Lib., Boston
“Medicine can go further than simply alleviating a problem. Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the Mind/Body Connection: The Roots of Complementary Medicine delves into the philosophies and practices developed by Swedenborg and Mesmer as they developed their ideas of complementary medicine, and alternative practices such as spiritual healing, psychic ideas, and other ideas that have evolved into today’s new age and alternative medicine. Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the Mind/Body Connection is a riveting read of the pioneers of this train of medicine thought.”
—Wisconsin Bookwatch: June 2010
“Paralleling the rise of modern scientific medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe and North America have seen the development of alternative traditions of healing and medicine from beyond the physical world. John S. Haller (emer., Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale) traces the modern origins of these parallel traditions to two figures, Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Anton Mesmer. These alternative traditions of healing predicate the ability of humans to draw on and benefit from forces of energy largely invisible to the physical senses, but, it is claimed, vital to human health and well-being. Swedenborg and Mesmer differed in their own systems of understanding these forces and how one might draw on them, but they shared a common conviction that the key to health and happiness lay in the proper management of these forces. Haller draws a broad picture of the major 19th-century incarnations of these traditions, such as mesmerism, perfectionism, Owenism and various Utopian movements, spiritualism, Christian Science, Theosophy, New Thought, and many others, with a brief attempt at the end to touch on recent New Age movements.”
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.
—M. A. Granquist, Luther Seminary 5 in the September 2010 issue of CHOICE Magazine
About the Swedenborg Studies Series
Swedenborg Studies is a scholarly series published by the Swedenborg Foundation. The primary purpose of the series is to make materials available for understanding the life and thought of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) and the impact his thought has had on others. The Foundation undertakes to publish original studies and English translations and to republish primary sources that are otherwise difficult to access.
John S. Haller