Hippolyte Bernheim (Mulhouse, 17 April 1840 – Paris, 22 February 1919) was a French physician and neurologist, born at Mülhausen, Alsace. He is chiefly known for his theory of suggestibility in relation to hypnotism.
Bernheim received his education in his native town and at the University of Strasbourg, where he was graduated as doctor of medicine in 1867. The same year he became a lecturer at the university and established himself as a physician in the city.
When, in 1871, after the Franco-Prussian war, Strasbourg passed to Germany, Bernheim moved to Nancy (where he met and later collaborated with Dr. Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault), in the university of which town he became clinical professor.
The Nancy School
When the medical faculty took up hypnotism, about 1880, Bernheim was very enthusiastic, and soon became one of the leaders of the investigation. He became a well-known authority in this new field of medicine.
Albert Moll (1862–1939), an active promoter of hypnotism in Germany, went to Nancy and studied with Bernheim; while in the United States Boris Sidis and Morton Prince were also considered part of the Nancy School.
Bernheim also had a significant influence on Sigmund Freud, who had visited Bernheim in 1889, and witnessed some of his experiments (though he was known as an antagonist of Jean-Martin Charcot with whom Freud had studied in Paris). Freud had already translated Bernheim's On Suggestion and its Applications to Therapy in 1888; and later described how "I was a spectator of Bernheim's astonishing experiments upon his hospital patients, and I received the profoundest impression of the possibility that there could be powerful mental processes which nevertheless remained hidden from the consciousness of man". He would later term himself a pupil of Bernheim, and it was out of his practice of Bernheim's suggestion/hypnosis that psychoanalysis would evolve.
Bernheim himself increasingly turned from hypnosis to the use of suggestion in a waking state, something his school began to term 'psychotherapeutics'.
Bernheim has been criticised for failing to recognise the role of what Pierre Janet called the rapport between hypnotizer and hypnotised - the element from which Freud would evolve the concept of transference.
Bernheim wrote many works, of which the following may be mentioned here:
- "Des Fièvres Typhiques en Général," Strasburg, 1868;
- "Leçon de Clinique Médicale," Paris, 1877;
- "De la Suggestion dans l'État Hypnotique et dans l'État de Veille," Paris, 1884;
- "De la Suggestion et de son Application à la Thérapeutique," Paris, 1887.
- Bernheim, H., (Herter, C.A. trans.), Suggestive Therapeutics: A Treatise on the Nature and Uses of Hypnotism, (De la Suggestion et de son Application à la Thérapeutique, [Second Edition], 1887), G.P. Putnam's Sons, (New York), 1889.
- Bernheim H., New Studies in Hypnotism, [Trans. by Sandor R.S, of Bernheim's French (1891) Hypnotisme, Suggestion, Psychothérapie: Études Nouvelles], International University's Press, (New York), 1980.
- R. Gregory ed, The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 332
- Henri Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970) p. 88
- Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for our Time (1988)p. 51
- Quoted in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 211
- Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures of Psychoanalysis (PFL 1) p. 501-2
- Ellenberger, p. 87
- Ellenberger, p. 153
- Freud, p. 502-3
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Isidore Singer & Frederick T. Haneman (1901–1906). "Bernheim, Hippolyte". Jewish Encyclopedia.
- Alexandre Klein, "Et Nancy devint la capitale de l'hypnose" http://www.estrepublicain.fr/fr/philosophie/info/5262459-Et-Nancy-devint-capitale-de-l-hypnose
- Alexandre Klein,« Nouveau regard sur l’Ecole hypnologique de Nancy à partir d’archives inédites », Le Pays Lorrain, 2010/4, p. 337-348.
- Alexandre Klein,« “Lire le corps pour percer l’âme” : outils et appareils à l’aube de la psychologie scientifique à Nancy », Guignard, L., Raggi, P., Thévenin, E., (dir.), 2011, Corps et machines à l’âge industriel, Rennes, PUR, p. 41-54.