Vol 22 (2019)
Articles

Deaf-Mutism and Savagery Through the Lens of Animal Magnetism in France During the Early Nineteenth-Century

Andrea Ceci
Università di Bologna
Published May 29, 2020
Keywords
  • Animal magnetism,
  • deaf-mutism,
  • mesmerism,
  • savagery,
  • somnambulism
How to Cite
Ceci, A. (2020). Deaf-Mutism and Savagery Through the Lens of Animal Magnetism in France During the Early Nineteenth-Century. Cromohs - Cyber Review of Modern Historiography, 22, 61-75. https://doi.org/10.13128/cromohs-11704

Abstract

The scope of the paper is to examine the role that deaf-mutism and savagery had in the debate on animal magnetism, which occurred in France in the Early Nineteenth century. In order to legitimise artificial somnambulism, magnetisers turned their attention to the deaf-mutes claiming to be able to communicate with them through the somnambulic faculty of reading the mind. The successors of Mesmer did not develop a coherent medical theory concerning deaf-mutism and most of them aimed to extend research to the origins of magnetic healing by comparing deaf-mute subjects with savages. The paper also aims to show how the travel literature integrated this association and interpreted animal magnetism as a marker of the level of civilisation of the savage populations.