During the summer of 1889, seeking to improve his technique and knowledge in the
field of hypnosis, Freud made a few weeks' stay in the service of Bernheim, in Nancy. This voyage will mark a significant point in the evolution of Freudian thinking, making it
possible for Freud to take a retreat from the Charcot's design, who considered hypnosis a morbid condition, artificially induced, taking advantage of hysterical subjects' particular organic components.
On the contrary, Bernheim saw hypnotic phenomena as a manifestation of human suggestibility likely to be mobilized in
any person. This design opens the way to the concept of transfer, which was to emerge later.
Hippolythe Bernheim's (1840-1919) origin lies in the
Mulhouse area, where he made his medical studies. Since the start of the 1870 war, Bernheim had settled in Nancy where he practised as an internist. He was intrigued by Doctor
Liebeault's reputation, a doctor who worked in the city, who initiated him into hypnosis. Little by little, Bernheim became the head of the school known as of Nancy, for a long time
opposed to prestigious Charcot's group.
Bernheim showed a rigor sometimes missing in this debate, and had great influence in the movement about to release the
hypnosis from hysteria and turn it into a phenomenon of suggestion.
During the years following his visit to Nancy, Freud translated two significant works by Bernheim into German.
Copyright René DesGroseillers