Inducing Hysteria and Hypnosis: TechniquesA Brief Encyclopedia

Techniques of Hypnosis
  • Establishing “transference”
    • In the Freudian sense, “transference was the repetition in the sense of a theatrical rehearsal”
  • “Provocation through tenderness”
  • Manipulation of physical contact—
    • “kneading, friction, or simple pressure”
    • Physical suggestion
      • “It is enough to abruptly place the hand on her head, and she falls as if struck by lightening” (187)
  • Surprise
    • Abrupt noises
    • Tuning forks
    • Flashes of light
    • “hyperesthesia” of the sense of sight
  • Metallotherapy

Inducing Deliria
  • Injecting with the essence of absinthe
  • Ether
  • Amyl Nitrate (Truth Serum!)
    • Induces “loquacity, involuntary confidences, hallucinations, various modification of the physiognomy, etc.”
  • Chloroform
    • Causes hystero-epileptic attacks
  • Tobacco Smoke (!)
  • “Esther”
    • A concoction of herbs

Imposing a Form on Delirious Hysterical Thought
  • Subjugation
    • “Persuaded that I had a particular power over her, she would fall into hypnosis no matter where she encountered me.” (220)
  • Fascination
    • “In this state of fascination, the hypnotized subject belongs absolutely to the fascinator and violently rejects anyone who tries to intervene, unless this person himself performs the necessary maneuvers, and, as the specialists say, takes the gaze of the subject with his eyes, beginning the fascination for himself.” (220)
  • Taking the gaze
  • Adoration/Seduction
    • “Augustine has affectionate feelings for the experimenter, whoever he may be.”
    • “An aggravated dialectic of transference—a most serious seduction.”
  • Arousal
  • Transference
  • Suggestion (Physical and Verbal)
    • “Suggestion through Gesture”
    • Improvisation
    • Torticollis (physical suggestion through massage and manipulation of the muscles, particularly the neck)
      • If you touch the muscle…it will answer, it will contract. The same is true of tendons and nerves.”
  • Catalepsy/Lethargy/Somnamblism
    • “In a subject plunged into catalepsy, the eyes remain open, and the physiognomy and gestures are already in constant and reversible relations of influence; in lethargy, the eyes close; in somnambulism, writes Charcot, invoking Azam, ‘the muscular sense…seems…to replace sight.” (196)
    • Catalepsy
      • “A nervous condition characterized by muscular rigidity and fixity of posture regardless of external stimuli, as well as decreased sensitivity to pain.”
    • Lethargy
      • “neuromuscular hyper-excitability” (196)
      • “the muscular sense seems to replace sight” (196)
    • Somnambulism
      • Hallucination
  • Display
    • “It is like a symbolic dance, almost a trance ritual”
  • Captivation
    • Eye contact
  • Solicitation

Theater, Hysteria and Therapeutic Techniques
  • Reprovoking attacks as a means of therapy
    • Reenactment
      • Reinventing the time of trauma
      • Restaging the first scene
      • Producing tableaus
      • Reprovoking attacks as a means of therapy
      • Images, animals, locations
  • The masochistic fantasy of the doctor/patient relationship
  • Charcot was a dramaturge!
    • “Theater of the Return of Memory”
    • “playing all roles”
    • “Acting bodies are the least sensitive, the least affected within themselves”
  • “Living dreams”
  • Sideshow hypnotism
    • Often used before theatrical performances
  • The Dark Stage
    • Fear of what’s inside a woman’s body
    • Spiritual questions
    • Lightness vs. Darkness
  • Duchenne’s studies of the “orthography of physiognomy in motion.” (199)
    • “He was seeking the law of relation between “the soul” and its “expression” in the most infinitesimal variations of “muscular action” (199)
    • Created synoptic tables of facial expression
    • A “syntactical catalog of the face” (199)
    • “He believed that only by electroshock and in the setting of elaborately constructed theater pieces featuring gestures and accessory symbols could he faithfully depict the complex combinatory expressions resulting from conflicting emotions and ambivalent sentiments.” (

She staggers, he assists her toward a chair, She catches her breath with difficulty.

Charcot and Blanche
Charcot and Blanche
Charcot's phases of hysteria
Clownism phase

Breathlessness and breatheing