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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Stewart, H. (1965). Hypnosis and Suggestion in Psychotherapy: By H. Bernheim. (New edition). (New York: University Books, 1963. Pp. 448. $10.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:277-278.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:277-278

Hypnosis and Suggestion in Psychotherapy: By H. Bernheim. (New edition). (New York: University Books, 1963. Pp. 448. $10.00.)

Review by:
Harold Stewart

This book, first published 75 years ago under the title, De la Suggestion et de ses applications à la thérapeutique, is a classic of medical psychology. Freud, at that time at the turning point in his development from physiological to psychological thinking, considered it sufficiently important to merit translation, adding his own introduction to the German edition.

Briefly, the work is a treatise on the nature and phenomena of hypnosis and suggestion, and includes an extensive section on therapy. It was of historic importance in powerfully reinforcing the Nancy school of hypnosis, which maintained the ubiquity and diversity of hypnotic phenomena, against the Paris view of it as a neurosis with a specific phenomenology. Bernheim realized that these phenomena were present in a rudimentary way in normal conscious states, but explicitly refused to accept the concept of 'unconscious cerebration' (p. 158), insisting instead on physiological explanations. It led him to put forward the notion of hypnosis as 'the induction of a peculiar psychical condition which increases the susceptibility to suggestion' (p. 15), yet at the same time mentioning that 'it is suggestion that rules hypnotism' (p. 15)—a circular argument, akin to that pointed out by Freud in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. But to do Bernheim justice, it is difficult to decide from the text whether he did differentiate the concept of suggestion to explain the production of phenomena during the hypnotic state from that of suggestion being the explanation of the actual state itself.

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