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Charles Lafontaine

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Subject: Stage hypnosis, 1841, 1892, 1840s
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Charles Lafontaine

Charles Lafontaine
Born 1803
Died 1892
Nationality France
Known for mesmerism

Charles Lafontaine (1803 – 1892) was an early French mesmerist.

He eventually lived in Geneva and published a journal called Le magnétiseur. Although he had failed as an actor, he became wealthy as a traveling mesmerist, or animal magnetiser, as it was then known.

He wrote an autobiography, which may have influenced Trilby.

He stayed in London for a couple of years 1840–1841, where according to the locale newspapers and magazines of London, he created a great sensation in the city magnetizing a lion in the Zoological Gardens, London, in which he succeeded.[1] Followed by his successful magnetizing on animals, he repeated the performances in various other cities of England. He had a practice of calling one of his audiences to get magnetized and it worked great.[2] "When he magnetised he looked like personified concentration. It was often remarked that when a person on being introduced to Lafontaine had talked with him for a little while, he felt as if he had known him for ever so long, which feeling of 'old acquaintance' shows that he had an eminently sympathetic nature" (Richard Harte - Hypnotism and the doctors)

His stage demonstrations of animal magnetism in Manchester influenced surgeon James Braid to pursue the study of what came to be known as hypnotism (N.B. Braid's "hypnotism" was significantly different from Lafontaine's "magnetism"). Braid first saw Lafontaine in Manchester on November 13, 1841.[3]


  1. ^ Richard Harte - Hypnotism and the doctors- 1902
  2. ^ Charles Lafontaine - Memoires.
  3. ^ See Yeates (2013), passim.

Further reading

  • , Ph.D. Dissertation, School of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, January 2013.James Braid: Surgeon, Gentleman Scientist, and HypnotistYeates, L.B.,

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