The concept of magnetic séances was invented by Franz Anton Mesmer, a physician and 'healer'.
Considered the father of modern hypnotism, Mesmer's principle was similar to modern-day 'faith healers', i.e. the laying on of hands. In his opinion, cures were induced through 'magnetic passes' flowing from the healer's hands into the body of the afflicted. His name gave us the verb 'mesmerise'.