BETWEEN CHARCOT AND BERNHEIM: THE DEBATE ON HYPNOTISM IN FIN-DE-SIECLE ITALY

Maria Teresa Brancaccio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

In the late 1870s, a small group of Italian psychiatrists became interested in hypnotism in the wake of the studies conducted by the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Eager to engage in hypnotic research, these physicians referred to the scientific authority of French and German scientists in order to overcome the scepticism of the Italian medical community and establish hypnotism as a research subject based on Charcot's neuropathological model. In the following years, French studies on hypnotism continued to exert a strong influence in Italy. In the mid 1880s, studies on hypnotic suggestion by the Salpetriere and Nancy Schools of hypnotism gave further impetus to research and therapeutic experimentation and inspired the emergence of an interpretative framework that combined theories by both hypnotic schools. By the end of the decade, however, uncertainties had arisen around both hypnotic theory and the therapeutic use of hypnotism. These uncertainties, which were linked to the crisis of the neuropathological paradigm that had to a large extent framed the understanding of hypnotism in Italy and the theoretical disagreements among the psychiatrists engaged in hypnotic research, ultimately led to a decline in interest in hypnotism in Italy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-177
Number of pages21
JournalNotes and Records of the Royal Society
Volume71
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017

Keywords

  • hypnosis
  • hypnotic suggestion
  • Italy
  • magnetism
  • psychiatry

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