Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie (French: [emil kue də la ʃɑtɛɲʁɛ]; 26 February 1857 – 2 July 1926) was a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion.
|Born||February 26, 1857|
|Died||July 2, 1926 (aged 69)|
|Spouse(s)||Lucie Lemoine (1858–1954)|
Coué's family, from the Brittany region of France and with origins in French nobility, had only modest means. A brilliant pupil in school, he initially intended to become an analytical chemist. However, he eventually abandoned these studies, as his father, who was a railroad worker, was in a precarious financial state. Coué then decided to become a pharmacist and graduated with a degree in pharmacology in 1876.
Working as an apothecary at Troyes from 1882 to 1910, Coué quickly discovered what later came to be known as the placebo effect. He became known for reassuring his clients by praising each remedy's efficiency and leaving a small positive notice with each given medication. In 1886 and 1887 he studied with Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault and Hippolyte Bernheim, two leading exponents of hypnotism, in Nancy.
In 1910, Coué sold his business and retired to Nancy, where he opened a clinic that continuously delivered some 40,000 treatment-units per annum (Baudouin, 1920, p. 14) to local, regional, and overseas patients over the next sixteen years. In 1913, Coué and his wife founded The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology (French: La Société Lorraine de Psychologie appliquée). His book Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion was published in England (1920) and in the United States (1922). Although Coué's teachings were, during his lifetime, more popular in Europe than in the United States, many Americans who adopted his ideas and methods, such as Maxwell Maltz, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert H. Schuller, and W. Clement Stone, became famous in their own right by spreading his words.
The application of his mantra-like conscious autosuggestion, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better" (French: Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux) is called Couéism or the Coué method. Some American newspapers quoted it differently, "Day by day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." The Coué method centered on a routine repetition of this particular expression according to a specified ritual—preferably as many as twenty times a day, and especially at the beginning and at the end of each day. When asked whether or not he thought of himself as a healer, Coué often stated that "I have never cured anyone in my life. All I do is show people how they can cure themselves."  Unlike a commonly held belief that a strong conscious will constitutes the best path to success, Coué maintained that curing some of our troubles requires a change in our unconscious thought, which can be achieved only by using our imagination.
Although stressing that he was not primarily a healer but one who taught others to heal themselves, Coué claimed to have effected organic changes through autosuggestion.
Coué identified two types of self-suggestion: (i) the intentional, "reflective suggestion" made by deliberate and conscious effort, and (ii) the involuntary "spontaneous suggestion", that is a “natural phenomenon of our mental life … which takes place without conscious effort [and has its effect] with an intensity proportional to the keenness of [our] attention” (Baudouin, 1920, pp. 33–34). Baudouin identified three different sources of spontaneous suggestion:
According to Yeates (2016b, p. 42), Coué shared the theoretical position that Hudson had expressed in his Law of Psychic Phenomena (1893): namely, that our "mental organization" was such that it seemed as if we had "two minds, each endowed with separate and distinct attributes and powers; [with] each capable, under certain conditions, of independent action" (Hudson, 1893, p. 25).
Further, argued Hudson (ibid., pp. 25–26), it was entirely irrelevant, for explanatory purposes, whether we actually had "two distinct minds", whether we only seemed to be "endowed with a dual mental organization", or whether we actually had "one mind [possessed of] certain attributes and powers under some conditions, and certain other attributes and powers under other conditions" .
Coué noticed that in certain cases he could improve the efficacy of a given medicine by praising its effectiveness to the patient. He realized that those patients to whom he praised the medicine had a noticeable improvement when compared to patients to whom he said nothing. This began Coué's exploration of the use of hypnosis and the power of the imagination.
His initial method for treating patients relied on hypnosis. He discovered that subjects could not be hypnotized against their will and, more importantly, that the effects of hypnosis waned when the subjects regained consciousness. He thus eventually turned to autosuggestion, which he describes as
... an instrument that we possess at birth, and with which we play unconsciously all our life, as a baby plays with its rattle. It is however a dangerous instrument; it can wound or even kill you if you handle it imprudently and unconsciously. It can on the contrary save your life when you know how to employ it consciously.
Coué believed in the effects of medication. But he also believed that our mental state is able to affect and even amplify the action of these medications. By consciously using autosuggestion, he observed that his patients could cure themselves more efficiently by replacing their "thought of illness" with a new "thought of cure". According to Coué, repeating words or images enough times causes the subconscious to absorb them. The cures were the result of using imagination or "positive autosuggestion" to the exclusion of one's own willpower.
Coué thus developed a method which relied on the principle that any idea exclusively occupying the mind turns into reality, although only to the extent that the idea is within the realm of possibility. For instance, a person without hands will not be able to make them grow back. However, if a person firmly believes that his or her asthma is disappearing, then this may actually happen, as far as the body is actually able physically to overcome or control the illness. On the other hand, thinking negatively about the illness (ex. "I am not feeling well") will encourage both mind and body to accept this thought. Likewise, when someone cannot remember a name, they will probably not be able to recall it as long as they hold onto this idea (i.e. "I can't remember") in their mind. Coué realised that it is better to focus on and imagine the desired, positive results (i.e. "I feel healthy and energetic" and "I can remember clearly").
Coué observed that the main obstacle to autosuggestion was willpower. For the method to work, the patient must refrain from making any independent judgment, meaning that he must not let his will impose its own views on positive ideas. Everything must thus be done to ensure that the positive "autosuggestive" idea is consciously accepted by the patient; otherwise, one may end up getting the opposite effect of what is desired.
For example, when a student has forgotten an answer to a question in an exam, he will likely think something such as "I have forgotten the answer". The more he or she tries to think of it, the more the answer becomes blurred and obscured. However, if this negative thought is replaced with a more positive one ("No need to worry, it will come back to me"), the chances that the student will come to remember the answer will increase.
Coué noted that young children always applied his method perfectly, as they lacked the willpower that remained present among adults. When he instructed a child by saying "clasp your hands and you can't open them", the child would thus immediately follow.
A patient's problems are likely to increase when his willpower and imagination (or mental ideas) are opposing each other, something Coué would refer to as "self-conflict". In the student's case, the will to succeed is clearly incompatible with his thought of being incapable of remembering his answers. As the conflict intensifies, so does the problem: the more the patient tries to sleep, the more he becomes awake. The more a patient tries to stop smoking, the more he smokes. The patient must thus abandon his willpower and instead put more focus on his imaginative power in order to succeed fully with his cure.
Thanks to his method, which Coué once called his "trick", patients of all sorts would come to visit him. The list of ailments included kidney problems, diabetes, memory loss, stammering, weakness, atrophy and all sorts of physical and mental illnesses. According to one of his journal entries (1916), he apparently cured a patient of a uterus prolapse as well as "violent pains in the head" (migraine).
C. (Cyrus) Harry Brooks (1890–1951), author of various books on Coué, claimed the success rate of his method was around 93%. The remaining 7% of people would include those who were too skeptical of Coué's approach and those who refused to recognize it.
The use of autosuggestion is intended to complement use of medicine, but no medication of Coué's time could save a patient from depression or tension. Coué recommended that patients take medicines with the confidence that they would be completely cured very soon, and healing would be optimal. Conversely, he contended, patients who are skeptical of a medicine would find it least effective.
"That Coué’s formula could be applied with a minimum of instruction was challenging; and the accounts of Coué’s method curing organic disease were just as threatening to the conventional medicine of the day, as they were inspiring to Coué’s devotees" (Yeates, 2016a, p. 19). "Most of us are so accustomed … to an elaborate medical ritual … in the treatment of our ills … [that] anything so simple as Coué’s autosuggestion is inclined to arouse misgivings, antagonism and a feeling of scepticism" (Duckworth 1922, pp. 3–4). According to Yeates (2016a, p. 18), although Coué never produced any empirical evidence for the efficacy of his formula and, therefore, his claims had not been scientifically evaluated, three subsequent experimental studies, conducted more than half a century later — i.e., those of Paulhus (1993) — "seem to offer some unexpected support for Coué’s claims".
According to Yeates (2016a, p. 19), the protests routinely made by those within the psychomedical establishment (e.g., Moxon, 1923; Abraham, 1926) were on one or more of the following grounds:
While most American reporters of his day seemed dazzled by Coué's accomplishments, and did not question the results attributed to his method, a handful of journalists and a few educators were skeptical. After Coué had left Boston, the Boston Herald waited six months, revisited the patients he had "cured", and found most had initially felt better but soon returned to whatever ailments they previously had.
Few of the patients would criticize Coué, saying he did seem very sincere in what he tried to do, but the Herald reporter concluded that any benefit from Coué's method seemed to be temporary and might be explained by being caught up in the moment during one of Coué's events. Whilst a number of academic psychologists looked upon his work favourably, others did not. Coué was also criticized by exponents of psychoanalysis, with Otto Fenichel concluding: "A climax of dependence masked as independent power is achieved by the methods of autosuggestion where a weak and passive ego is controlled by an immense superego with magical powers. This power is, however, borrowed and even usurped".
On 28 June 1936, a monument erected to the memory of Coué, funded by worldwide subscription, and featuring a bust of Coué created by French sculptor Eugène Gatelet, was dedicated in St Mary's Park, in Nancy. The bust was stored for safe-keeping during World War II and, post-war, was restored to its former position in 1947.
So Dr. Coué failed for her, as he did for many others, for which I lay no blame on him. His system was really a form of secularized, self-seeking prayer, without the human dignity that even the most modest prayer evokes. And like all attempts to command success for the chronically unsuccessful, it petered out.
Despite these apparent successes, many remained sceptical however.
M, aged 43, Rue d'Amance, 2, Malzeville, comes at the end of 1916 for violent pains in the head from which she has suffered all her life. After a few visits they vanished completely. Two months afterward she realized that she was also cured of a prolapse of the uterus which she had not mentioned to me and of which she was not thinking when she made her autosuggestion.
Events from the year 1857 in France.1926 in France
Events from the year 1926 in France.Abbé Faria
Abbé Faria (Portuguese: Abade Faria), or Abbé (Abbot) José Custódio de Faria (31 May 1756 – 20 September 1819), was a Luso-Goan Catholic monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism, following on from the work of Franz Mesmer. Unlike Mesmer, who claimed that hypnosis was mediated by "animal magnetism", Faria understood that it worked purely by the power of suggestion. In the early 19th century, Abbé Faria introduced oriental hypnosis to Paris.
He was one of the first to depart from the theory of the "magnetic fluid", to place in relief the importance of suggestion, and to demonstrate the existence of "autosuggestion"; he also established that what he termed nervous sleep belongs to the natural order. From his earliest magnetizing séances, in 1814, he boldly developed his doctrine. Nothing comes from the magnetizer; everything comes from the subject and takes place in his imagination generated from within the mind. Magnetism is only a form of sleep. Although of the moral order, the magnetic action is often aided by physical, or rather by physiological, means–fixedness of look and cerebral fatigue.
Faria changed the terminology of mesmerism. Previously, the focus was on the "concentration" of the subject. In Faria's terminology the operator became "the concentrator" and somnambulism was viewed as a lucid sleep. The method of hypnosis used by Faria is command, following expectancy. The theory of Abbé Faria is now known as Fariism.
Later, Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault (1864–1904), the founder of the Nancy School, and Émile Coué (1857–1926), father of applied conditioning, developed the theory of suggestion and autosuggestion and began using them as therapeutic tools. Johannes Schultz developed these theories as Autogenic training.Affirmative prayer
Affirmative prayer is a form of prayer or a metaphysical technique that is focused on a positive outcome rather than a negative situation. For instance, a person who is experiencing some form of illness would focus the prayer on the desired state of perfect health and affirm this desired intention "as if already happened" rather than identifying the illness and then asking God for help to eliminate it.André Muller Weitzenhoffer
André Muller Weitzenhoffer (16 January 1921 – 24 February 2004) was one of the most prolific researchers in the field of hypnosis in the latter half of the 20th century, having authored over 100 publications between 1949 and 2004. He was the recipient of several professional and academic awards, including the Distinguished Contributions to Scientific Hypnosis Award of the American Psychological Association in 1992.Autogenic training
Autogenic training is a desensitization-relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz by which a psychophysiologically determined relaxation response is obtained. The technique was first published in 1932. Studying the self-reports of people immersed in a hypnotic state, J.H. Schultz noted that physiological changes are accompanied by certain feelings. Abbé Faria and Émile Coué are the forerunners of Schultz. The technique involves repetitions of a set of visualisations that induce a state of relaxation and is based on passive concentration of bodily perceptions (e.g., heaviness and warmth of arms, legs), which are facilitated by self-suggestions. The technique is used to alleviate many stress-induced psychosomatic disorders.Biofeedback practitioners integrate basic elements of autogenic imagery and have simplified versions of parallel techniques that are used in combination with biofeedback. This was done at the Menninger Foundation by Elmer Green, Steve Fahrio, Patricia Norris, Joe Sargent, Dale Walters and others. They incorporated the hand warming imagery of autogenic training and used it as an aid to develop thermal biofeedback.Autosuggestion
Autosuggestion is a psychological technique related to the placebo effect, developed by apothecary Émile Coué at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a form of self-induced suggestion in which individuals guide their own thoughts, feelings, or behavior. The technique is often used in self-hypnosis.Barber and Calverley
Theodore Xenophon Barber (1927–2005) and David Smith Calverley (1937–2008) were American psychologists who studied "hypnotic behaviour". They measured how susceptible patients were to hypnotic induction. One result of their research was showing that the hypnotic induction was not superior to motivational instructions in producing a heightened state of suggestibility. The Barber Suggestibility Scale, a product of their research, measures hypnotic susceptibility with or without the use of a hypnotic induction.George Estabrooks
George Hoben Estabrooks (December 16, 1895 – December 30, 1973) was a Canadian-American psychologist who would die in the County of Madison, New York which was the home county for Colgate University.
George Estabrooks was a Harvard University graduate, a Rhodes Scholar, chairman of the Department of Psychology at Colgate University and an authority on hypnosis during World War II. He used hypnosis to help spies have split personalities to not actually know they were spies in case of capture. He stated it was easy to create and easy to cure using hypnosis.
He joined the First Canadian Division in his teens and at the age of 19 became the youngest commissioned Officer. Later in life, he became a 32nd degree Knight Templar Mason and wrote various articles and books including these four publications: The Future of the Human Mind, Hypnotism, Spiritism, and Man - The Mechanical Misfit.Getting Better (disambiguation)
"Getting Better" is a 1967 song recorded by the Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Getting Better may also refer to:
"Getting Better" (Shed Seven song), a single released in 1996
"Gettin' Better", a track from the album Mechanical Resonance by Tesla, 1986History of hypnosis
The development of concepts, beliefs and practices related to hypnosis and hypnotherapy have been documented since prehistoric to modern times.
Although often viewed as one continuous history, the term hypnosis was coined in the 1880s in France, some twenty years after the death of James Braid, who had adopted the term hypnotism in 1841.
Braid adopted the term hypnotism (which specifically applied to the state of the subject, rather than techniques applied by the operator) to contrast his own, unique, subject-centred, approach with those of the operator-centred mesmerists who preceded him.Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a human condition involving focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The term may also refer to an art, skill, or act of inducing hypnosis.There are competing theories explaining hypnosis and related phenomena. Altered state theories see hypnosis as an altered state of mind or trance, marked by a level of awareness different from the ordinary state of consciousness. In contrast, nonstate theories see hypnosis as, variously, a type of placebo effect, a redefinition of an interaction with a therapist or form of imaginative role enactment.During hypnosis, a person is said to have heightened focus and concentration. Hypnotised subjects are said to show an increased response to suggestions.
Hypnosis usually begins with a hypnotic induction involving a series of preliminary instructions and suggestion. The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as "hypnotherapy", while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as "stage hypnosis". Stage hypnosis is often performed by mentalists practicing the art form of mentalism.
The use of Hypnosis as a form of therapy to retrieve and integrate early trauma is controversial. Research indicates that hypnotizing an individual may actually aid the formation of false-memories.Isaac Gubel
Isaac Gubel (born in the 19th or 20th century) was an Argentine psychiatrist and hypnotist.List of hypnotists
Below is a list of famous hypnotists.Nancy School
The Nancy School was a French hypnosis-centered school of psychotherapy. The origins of the thoughts were brought about by Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault in 1866, in Nancy, France. Through his publications and therapy sessions he was able to gain the attention/support from Hippolyte Bernheim: another Nancy Doctor that further evolved Liébeault's thoughts and practices to form what is known as the Nancy School.
It is referred to as the Nancy School to distinguish it from the antagonistic "Paris School" that was centred on the hysteria-centred hypnotic research of Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris.Self-hypnosis
Self-hypnosis or auto-hypnosis (as distinct from hetero-hypnosis) is a form, a process, or the result of a self-induced hypnotic state.
Frequently, self-hypnosis is used as a vehicle to enhance the efficacy of self-suggestion; and, in such cases, the subject "plays the dual role of suggester and suggestee".The nature of the auto-suggestive practice may be, at one extreme, "concentrative", wherein "all attention is so totally focused on [the words of the auto-suggestive formula, e.g. "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better"] that everything else is kept out of awareness" and, at the other, "inclusive", wherein subjects "allow all kinds of thoughts, emotions, memories, and the like to drift into their consciousness".Suggestion
Suggestion is the psychological process by which one person guides the thoughts, feelings, or behavior of another person.
Nineteenth-century writers on psychology such as William James used the words "suggest" and "suggestion" in the context of a particular idea which was said to suggest another when it brought that other idea to mind. Early scientific studies of hypnosis by Clark Leonard Hull and others extended the meaning of these words in a special and technical sense (Hull, 1933).
The original neuropsychological theory of hypnotic suggestion was based upon the ideomotor reflex response that William B. Carpenter declared, in 1852, was the principle through which James Braid's hypnotic phenomena were produced.Victor Lemoine
Victor Lemoine (October 21, 1823 in Delme, Moselle - December 11, 1911) was a celebrated and prolific French flower breeder who, among other accomplishments, created many of today's lilac varieties. As a result of his accomplishments, the term French lilac has come to mean all cultivars of the common lilac that have double flowers, regardless of their origin.William Joseph Bryan
William Joseph Bryan, Jr. (1926–1977) was an American physician and a pioneering hypnotist. He was one of the founders of the modern hypnotherapy and his work notably found use in psychological warfare during the Cold War. He was a great grandson of United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan.