The first dynamic psychiatry

Alongside this depressing static picture of mental illness, another conception of mental disorder was developing outside the asylum. In his book The Discovery of the Unconscious, Henri Ellenberger refers to the first dynamic psychiatry which he dates as lasting from 1775 to 1900; that is, from the time of Mesmer to the time of Charcot. Throughout this period, students of the mind's vagaries were predominantly concerned with the phenomena allied to, or brought about by, hypnosis. Hypnotic subjects, when aroused from the hypnotic state, commonly had no recollection of what had transpired during the period of trance. This demonstrated that the mind could not necessarily be regarded as a single entity, and might sometimes be divided against itself. Somnambulism, fugue states, multiple personality, and automatic writing all confirmed this conception of mind as a playground or battlefield of interacting or conflicting forces; and where there is conflict, there is also the possibility of resolution of conflict.

Mesmer and his successors had shown that suggestion could alter mental states and rid some subjects of disturbing symptoms. Mesmer believed that a mysterious fluid resembling the 'ether' of the physicists permeated the body, and that disease was caused by unequal distribution of this fluid. By means of what he called 'animal magnetism', equilibrium could be restored. In other words, at least some forms of mental disturbance could be modified or cured, which threw doubt on their origin being wholly genetic or degenerative.

Power Of Hypnosis

Power Of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is something most people see as being some kind of new age mumbo jumbo, but it's actually been scientifically to be effective in many people. Learn more within this guide.

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