All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated


Autosuggestion was popularized by the French "Nancy school." By the first half of the nineteenth century, methods of self-medication and self-healing known as "automagnetization" had reinforced (or supplanted) various forms of "magnetism."

At the end of the century, a theoretical and practical debate ensued that both galvanized and divided the various schools of hypnotism. What was the real agent in the process of suggestion: the hypnotist, or the subject, who often relinquishes power to him without realizing it? For those who believed the latter, the effectiveness of the suggestion was thought to depend on a self-suggestibility associated with hysterical tendencies (Jean Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet), or the "will" of the subject (a position put forward by Joseph Delboeuf [1831-1896], an independent disciple of Hippolyte Bernheim). In 1888-1889, basing his theory on the work of Charcot, Freud showed that some suggestive experiences could be interpreted in terms of an "encouragement to autosuggestion." In 1892-93, he proposed the notion of a "counter-will." In 1895 Joseph Breuer insisted that self-hypnotic states were a symptom of hysteria and a process of self-medication and self-healing carried out in the presence of the therapist. The cathartic talking cure occurred during these states of self-hypnosis.

Following in the tradition of Nancy school, the pharmacistÉmile Coué (1857-1926) popularized the use of autosuggestion to govern one's own behavior. His disciple Charles Baudouin suggested that a synthesis be attempted between Coué's theories and psychoanalysis.

Jacqueline Carroy

See also: Baudouin, Charles; Qu'est-ce que la suggestion? (What is the suggestion?); Suggestion.


Cuvelier, André. (1987). Hypnose et suggestion: De Liébeault à Coué. Nancy, France: Presses Universitaires de Nancy.

Delboeuf, Joseph. (1993). Le sommeil et les Rêves et autres textes. Paris: Fayard. (Originally published in 1885)

Duyckaerts, François. (1992). Joseph Delboeuf, philosophe et hypnotiseur. Paris: Synthélabo.

Freud, Sigmund. (1888-1889a). Preface to the translation of Bernheim's Suggestion. SE : 1: 71-85.

. (1892-1893a). A case of successful treatment by hypnotism. SE : 1: 115-128.

views updated


System of healing developed by Emile Coué (1857-1926), in which some of the remarkable effects of hypnotism can be achieved through conscious suggestion employed by the subject. Coué's methods have since become the basis for many popular systems of healing, self-improvement, and mysticism and an integral part of New Thought metaphysics.

views updated

au·to·sug·ges·tion / ˌôtōsə(g)ˈjeschən/ • n. the hypnotic or subconscious adoption of an idea that one has originated oneself, e.g. through repetition of verbal statements to oneself in order to change behavior.

views updated

autosuggestion (aw-toh-sŭ-jes-chŏn) n. self-suggestion or self-conditioning that involves repeating ideas to oneself in order to change psychological or physiological states. See suggestion.