Almost as soon as European scientists could make a battery, they were experimenting with the effects of electricity on animals and people. They began to theorise that electricity was the ‘spark of life’.

By the late 1800s some scientists believed human bodies were akin to batteries and could be ‘nourished’ by applications of electricity – some even claimed it was the key to immortality. Animal magnetism, vitalogy and orgone theory were three such ideas.

Our electrotherapies collection shows inventions intended to nourish, resuscitate and shock human bodies into health – some were eventually discredited, despite their popularity, and others have become familiar to us.

"Cured by Lightning" is one of our curated displays.

‘Cured by Lightning!’

Electricity and the human body and mind

Electrotherapy Testimony
Electrotherapy Testimony

Electrotherapy testimony, Clinical Experiences of General Diseases, by the Freeman & Wallace Electro-Medical & Surgical Institute Consulting Staff, c 1890, Sydney

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Electric Invigorator Belt
Electric Invigorator Belt

Image of Invigorator Belt, Clinical Experiences of General Diseases, by the Freeman & Wallace Electro-Medical & Surgical Institute Consulting Staff, c 1890, Sydney

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Electric Invigorator Belt
Electric Invigorator Belt

Male User of the ‘Invigorator’ belt, Clinical Experiences of General Diseases, by the Freeman & Wallace Electro-Medical & Surgical Institute Consulting Staff, c 1890, Sydney

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Electrotherapy Testimony
Electrotherapy Testimony

Electrotherapy testimony, Clinical Experiences of General Diseases, by the Freeman & Wallace Electro-Medical & Surgical Institute Consulting Staff, c 1890, Sydney

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