When Freud Found Hypnosis
Quite early in his study, Sigmund Freud came in contact with the cathartic procedure of Joseph Breur
which was commonly referred to as “hypnosis”. With his discovery of hypnosis, Freud depended on it to resurrect a state of consciousness which makes the production of spontaneous phantasies that are capable of revealing hidden facts from consciousness.
The idea behind Breur’s hypnosis was that the symptoms he saw in his patients were based on what he
referred to as “traumata” which means that there are a number of traumatic experiences in their lives that they have had to repress for a number of reasons. Breur went further to state that the application or use of a cathartic procedure while being under the state of hypnosis will make the patient attain or gain a higher consciousness which would offer them the opportunity to relieve the repressed experiences, thus, leading to the recollection of an experience. Freud, on the other hand, believed that when one is under hypnosis, he or she would not be brought into the deep desire of a provoked sleep.
With this opinion, Freud rejected the idea of hypnosis and had it replaced with what he referred to as
“free association”. Freud’s idea behind free association happens to be in line with Breur’s spontaneous phantasies as they both claim that emotions or feelings that are associated with an element of a dream are reserved in the unconscious mind.
Sigmund’s desire to perfect psychoanalysis is one of the main reasons why he had a great appreciation for a wide range of verbal treatments hypnosis being one of them. During his early days, Freud applied the “hypnotic suggestions”. According to Freud, each time hypnotic suggestions are used to treat a patient or client suffering from any form of anxiety-related issues, the patient or client is introduced to a fresh idea from outside with the intention of replacing the morose ideas that cause the destructive symptoms the patient experiences. It works in such a way that it induces sleep, silences fear, and also the abolition of functional disturbances. Since it is capable of doing these, hypnotic suggestions should be applied only when there is a need for quick comprehension.
Freud felt that instead of settling for hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions, psychoanalysis is the ideal
technique when it comes to removing destructive behaviors in all entirety. He felt that for humans to
achieve a higher level of psychoneurosis, psychoanalysis is the ideal technique to do so. According to
Van Rentarghem (1915), Freud described psychoanalysis to be a technique that targets the root of a
problem then uproots it.
For a period of time after listening to lectures from Jean Charcot, Freud who was then a young medical
graduate practiced hypnosis for a long period of time. While he practiced he had one major obstacle
which was that of making his patients fall into a trance-like state. To solve this problem, Freud went
further to research and in that period of time, he discovered that like hypnosis sleep is an altered state of consciousness and that since dreams occur during sleep, it is possible to get an idea of the
unconscious through sleep. He firmly believed that through sleep one was able to effect change in the
life of a patient. This new-found knowledge led to the writing of his book titled “Interpretation of dreams”. This book became a foundation for psychoanalysis.
In his book, Freud maintained that instead of hypnotic suggestions that psychoanalysis is the ideal way
to effect a change in human behavior. Most of his scholars still argue in favor of this premise.