The mesmerists inquire about \"Oriental mind powers\": West meets East in the search for the universal trance.

Author: Schmit DT.
Affiliation: Professor, Psychology, St. Catherine\'s University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Conference/Journal: J Hist Behav Sci
Date published: 2010 Jan 13
Other: Volume ID: 46 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 1-26 , Word Count: 112

Contemporary interest in Asian meditation raises questions about when Westerners began investigating these practices. A synopsis of Western-originating scientific meditation research is followed by a brief introduction to mesmerism. Next, the unappreciated ways the mesmerists explored Oriental mind powers is recounted. How the mesmerists\' cultural positioning, philosophy, and interest in mind-body practices facilitated their inquiries of Oriental medicine and Hindu contemplative practices is explored, followed by a consideration of why these investigations were unique for the era. The way this work subverted Western cultural imperialism is examined. A consideration of the historical continuities and discontinuities between the mesmerists\' inquiries and twentieth-century meditation research concludes the article. (c) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.