Congrès International de L'hypnotisme expérimental et Scientifique, Premier

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Organized by Doctor Edgar Bérillon, founder and director of the Revue de l 'hypnotisme, the Premier congrès international de l'hypnotisme expérimental et scientifique (First international congress on scientific and experimental hypnotism) was held at the city hospital in Paris on August 12, 1889, and chaired by Doctor Victor Dumontpallier. The discussions were heated, especially between those who maintained the existence of a link between hypnosis and hysteria (École de la Salpêtrière) and those who saw it as a form of suggestion that could be therapeutically useful (École de Nancy). There were further disagreements between Gilles de la Tourette (École de la Salpêtrière), who felt the power of suggestion of the hypnotist presented no danger to society, since the patient would resist any orders that challenged his morality, and the lawyer Jules Liégois, who feared the consequences of such behavior. Additionally, some participants felt that hypnosis in public should be banned and hypnosis placed under medical supervision (Ladame, de Genève), and those who held a more liberal position (Joseph Delboeuf, de Liège), who believed that hypnosis should be practiced freely, although responsibly, further claiming that a medical degree was not alone sufficient (given the level of medical education at the time) to ensure competence in the area of hypnosis.

The proceedings of the congress were sent to all active members. These included "Dr. Sigmund Freud, doctor, Vienna." Early in his career Freud made use of hypnotic suggestion. He spent several weeks in Nancy to perfect his technique with Ambroise Auguste Liebeault and Hippolyte Bernheim. Freud left directly from Nancy to attend two congresses in Paristhe first on physiological psychology (August 5-10), the second on hypnotism (August 8-12). If it is true, as Ernest Jones noted, that Freud left Paris the evening of August 9, he could not have been present for the controversy between Ladame and Delboeuf during the second congress. Although he may have not been present for the discussions, he would have been able to read the various presentations in the published proceedings.

FranÇois Duyckaerts

See also: Bernheim, Hippolyte; Delboeuf, Joseph Rémi Léopold; Hypnosis.


Bérillon, Edgar. (1889). Premier Congrès international de l'hypnotisme expérimental et thérapeutique. Paris: Doin.

Duyckaerts, François. (1990). Delbœuf-Ladame: un conflit paradigmatique. Revue internationale d'histoire de la psychanalyse, 3, 25-37.

Freud, Sigmund. (1925d [1924]). An autobiographical study. SE, 20: 3-70.

Jones, Ernest. (1953). Sigmund Freud: Life and work. London: Hogarth Press.

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Congrès International de L'hypnotisme expérimental et Scientifique, Premier

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