James Richard Cocke

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James Richard Cocke (1863 – April 12, 1900), who had been blind since infancy, was an American physician, homeopath, and a pioneer hypnotherapist.

Early life[edit]

He was born in the South of the United States, and had been totally blind since he was an infant.[1] His sight had been completely destroyed when acid was accidentally applied to his eyes when he was just three weeks old.[2]

He moved to Boston around 1885.[3]

He was considered to be "highly educated"; and, despite his total blindness, "was able to go around the city at will", and "could play a piano with much skill":[4]

Dr. James P.[sic] Cocke of Boston, though blind, is one of the most enthusiastic bicycle riders. He rides a duplicate with Mrs. Cocke.[5]


Once he had moved to Boston, he married a Mrs. Green of Springfield, Massachusetts:

They did not live long together, and at a subsequent court trial it was proved that before getting a divorce Cocke married a Miss Townsend of Hartford, Conn. His second wife left him, and in the resulting litigation Cocke lost all his money, his standing as a physician, and came so near losing his mind that he was confined for a time in a city institution in Boston Harbor. Four months ago [viz., December 1899] he returned to the city [of Boston] and married a Miss Carlotta Harrington of Ohio …[6]

Miss Harrington, aged 23, was a medical student, and had been acting as Cocke's amanuensis.

They had only been married for about seven weeks at the time of Cocke's suicide in April 1900.[7]

Medical career[edit]

Having moved to Boston around 1885, he graduated M.D. from Boston University in June 1892, "having completed the full course of study [including performing dissections], with an average percentage of 96 for the three years".[8] He was the first blind person to do so.[9]

He was a member of the Medico-Legal Society of New York.

Although he studied homeopathy for a time, he made his mark as a student of hypnotism, and as a successful hypnotherapist.

He wrote an important text-book on hypnotism in 1894.


He was found dead by his wife on 12 April 1900, with a pistol placed in his mouth and a bullet in the back of his head.[10]

The coroner's verdict was suicide.[11]


  • Cocke, J.R., Blind Leaders of the Blind: The Romance of a Blind Lawyer, Lee and Shepard, (Boston), 1896.
  • Cocke, J.R., Hypnotism: How it is Done; Its Uses and Dangers, Arena Publishing Co., (Boston), 1894.
  • Cocke, J.R., "Methods of Inducing Hypnotism", Current Literature, Vol.17, No.5, (May 1895), pp. 443–444.
  • Cocke, J.R., "The Power of the Mind as a Remedial Agent in the Cure of Disease", The Arena, Vol.9, No.6, (May 1894), pp. 746–757.
  • Cocke, J.R., "The Practical Application of Hypnotism in Modern Medicine", The Arena, Vol.9, No.1, (December 1893), pp. 73–80.


  1. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 30 November 1896.
  2. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 2 January 1897.
  3. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 13 April 1900.
  4. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 13 April 1900.
  5. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 6 August 1896.
  6. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 13 April 1900.
  7. ^ The New York Times, 13 April 1900.
  8. ^ The Washington Post, 12 June 1892.
  9. ^ The Washington Post, 12 June 1892.
  10. ^ The Chicago Tribune, 13 April 1900.
  11. ^ The New York Times, 14 April 1900.


  • Anon, "A Blind Graduate in Medicine; Wonderful Record of Dr. Cocke, of Boston University School", The Washington Post, No.5164, (12 June 1892), p. 16, col.B.
  • Anon, "Blind Doctor Makes an X Ray Test", The Chicago Tribune, Vol.55, No.335, (30 November 1896), p. 7, col.F.
  • Anon, "Blind Doctor's Death ", The New York Times, Vol.49, No.15682, (13 April 1900), p. 3, col.D.
  • Anon, "Dr. Cocke Unknown at Russian Embassy", The New York Times, Vol.49, No.15684, (15 April 1900), p. 5, col.B.
  • Anon, "Dr. Cocke's Case Probably Suicidal", The New York Times, Vol.49, No.15683, (14 April 1900), p. 5, col.E.
  • Anon, "Hypnotism Put on Trial: Dr. James Cocke of Boston was the Operator", The New York Times, Vol.48, No.14210, (5 March 1897), p. 4, col.G.
  • Anon, "Personal", The Chicago Tribune, Vol.55, No.223, (6 August 1896), p. 6, col.F.
  • Anon, "Personal", The Chicago Tribune, Vol.51, No.160, (8 June 1892), p. 12, col.F.
  • Anon, "Remarkable Blind Man Dead", The Chicago Tribune, Vol.59, No.103, (13 April 1900), p. 1.
  • Anon, "Wonderful X Ray Tests", The Chicago Tribune, Vol.56, No.2, (2 January 1897), p. 14, col.C.