Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Professor at the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute and Occasional Professor at the University of Geneva
Author of Culture de la Force morale, Symbolisms
THE dissociation of hypnotism from mysticism and superstition was efficiently begun by two investigators, Alexandre Bertrand[1] and James Braid. Bertrand (Traite du somnambulisme, Paris, 1823 ; Du magne'tisme animal en France, Paris, 1826) insisted especially upon the psychological determinants of the phenomena in question. He maintained that what we now call the hypnotic state was brought about through the influence of the imagination of the patients acting upon themselves. Herein we have the germ of Coup's theory of autosuggestion as expounded in the following pages. Braid, on the other hand (various writings, from 1841 to his death in 1860), inclined at the outset rather to the physiological explanation of what he was the first to term "hypnotism” It is interesting to note that Braid was a pioneer in the therapeutic use of reflective autosuggestion. He describes his own sufferings, in September, 1844, from a severe attack of muscular rheumatism, which had made it impossible for him to sleep for three successive nights. He then hypnotised himself in the presence of two friends.
" At the expiration of nine minutes they aroused me, and, to my agreeable surprise, I was quite free from pain, being able to move in any way with perfect ease. ... I had seen like results with many patients ; but it is one thing to hear o pain, and another to feel it. My suffering was so exquisite that I could not imagine anyone else ever suffered so intensely as myself on that occasion ; and therefore I merely expected mitigation, so that I was truly and agreeably surprised to find myself quite free from pain. ... A week thereafter I had a slight return, which I removed by hypnotising myself once more ; and I have remained quite free from rheumatism ever since, now nearly six years."
The observation is quoted by Arthur Edward Waite in his biographical introduction to Braid on Hypnotism (pp. 45-6). To the contemporary reader, and above all to students of Coue and Baudouin, it is obvious that the essential feature in the cure was not the "hypnotism" but the autosuggestion.
Yet the idea that unconscious autosuggestion is responsible for many of our troubles, moral and physical, was slow to mature. Even to-day, people fail to recognise that they are largely wrong when they speak of "the ills that flesh is heir to," and that they should rather in many cases speak of "the ills that fancy breeds." Still more slowly has come the recognition that in reflective autosuggestion, scientifically applied, we have in very truth the faith that moves mountains. Healers, official and unofficial, have at all times made use of the power of suggestion, but the use has been for the most part unconscious. James Goodhart, in his Harveian lectures on Common Neuroses (1894, p. 129), tells us that There are many conditions in which the cure must come mainly from within, our function in chief being to call out this dormant power." But for Goodhart the "rational treatment" of disease was still to be found in skilled advice as to regimen and the like ; the " dormant power "of reflective autosuggestion was not yet revealed to hisdiscerning gaze. In the most outstanding British work on psychotherapeutics, J. Milne Bramwell's Hypnotism(third edition, 1913), the word autosuggestion is not to be found in the index. Yet Bramwell inclines to accept the theory that the phenomena of hypnotism are chiefly explicable by the conception of "the subliminal consciousness," and he records as the main feature of this theory that "the essential characteristic of the hypnotic state is the subject's power over his own organism." Here we obviously verge upon Coue's teaching. But the affiliations of that teaching can be best understood in the light of a brief analysis of the development of the theory of hypnotism
subsequent to the days of Bertrand and Braid.
* * *
As for the philosophical, psychological, and ethical implications of the new doctrine, yet more interesting (to persons interested in such abstractions) than its bearings upon pedagogy and upon therapeutics, it is not for the translators to add a word here to what Baudouin writes in his eloquent Conclusion on "Suggestion and the Will." Those who like to know whither they are being led, may usefully read this brief philosophical section before approaching the preliminary problem "What is Suggestion" In our opinion the Conclusion is equally valuable as a preamble to the Introduction, and might be read first as well as last. For, after making that intimate acquaintanceship with Suggestion and Autosuggestion which is one of the privileges of a translator, we unhesitatingly endorse the author's claim that the teachings of the New Nancy School are destined, in conjunction with the teachings of psychoanalysis, to effect a renovation of psychology, medicine, and pedagogy. As supplements to Bergsonianism the two will probably achieve the renovation of philosophy as well.
LONDON, May, 1920.

[1]Alexandre Jacques François Bertrand, ( 1795 – 1831), was a French physician from Nantes, naturalist, physicist, close to Saint-Simon[2], science writer and columnist. A specialist in somnambulism and animal magnetism , he first defended  and later refuted the theory of "fluid" and became one of the instigators of modern theories of hypnosis .
He also wrote articles and books of extension on the geology , the physical and scientific issues of the day.
Bertrand began to lecture on the subject of mesmerism and conduct experiments after witnessing a public display of mesmerism in 1819. He believed that it was the strength of the patient’s imagination that bought about a cure. From  1819 to 1820 , he gave a public lecture on animal magnetism . First of partisan theories that explain the effect of magnetism by using a universal fluid, Bertrand finally becomes one of the gurus of the current that explains the magnetism by the effects of the imagination.
[2]The Saint-Simon is a doctrine socio-economic and political , whose influence was decisive in the nineteenth century .
It is named after Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon ( 1760 - 1825 ). The follower or supporter is called "Saint-Simon." It is sometimes considered the founding idea of he French industrial company.
To end the revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, wars, intolerance, selfishness, and the old regime with its privileged, its inequalities, its injustices, its obscurantism and feudalism, Saint-Simon proposes a change in society. He advocated a fraternal society whose members the most competent (industrial, scientific, artists, intellectuals, engineers ...) task would be to govern France as economically as possible, to make it a prosperous country, where there would be mind business, general interest and common good, freedom, equality and peace.
Spurred on by one of its main representatives, Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin[3] , this doctrine, at its strongest development (circa 1830), takes the form of a sect .
[3]Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin( 1796 – 1864), was one of the main leaders of the movement of Saint-Simon , but is also a writer and entrepreneur, originally including the Suez Canal and the development of railways and director of a body release.

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