Including American Impressions
by Emile Coué
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The Reality of Auto-Suggestion; The Role of the Imagination; Auto-Suggestion in Practice; Diseases that can be Cured; Moral Power of Auto-Suggestion; Auto-Suggestion in the Education of Children; Masters of our Destinies; The Future of Auto-Suggestion; I am Not a Healer; All is Suggestion; Questions I am Asked; America-Founder of a New Civilization; plus much more!
SOME OF THE FACTS OF MONSIEUR COUÉ'S LIFE
Emile Coué was born on the 26th of February, 1857, in Troyes, in the Aube, France. His mother came from Champagne. His father was a Breton and worked for the Eastern R. R. Company. He attended the town school until the age of fifteen and then went to the high school (Lycee). Here he succeeded in completing the scientific course in less than the allotted time.
At the age of nineteen he became an apprentice in a drug store in Troyes and later went to Paris to study chemistry at the Ecole de Pharmacie. In 1882 he returned to Troyes and became the proprietor of a drug store. In 1884 he married the daughter of a well-known horticulturist of Nancy in Lorraine. A year after their marriage, while they were visiting his wife's parents in Nancy, his wife suggested that he should go and hear Doctor Liebault at the Nancy School of Hypnotism. What Liebault said interested him greatly, but did not satisfy him entirely.
In 1896, having laid by enough to live upon, together with his wife's property, he decided to retire from business. Accordingly he turned the active direction of his pharmacy over to a friend.
His friend did not make a success of the business, however, and he was obliged to reassume the active management in 1901. He had by then become deeply interested in the study of hypnotism. He had found the procedure of Doctor Liebault unsatisfactory because of its lack of method. He continued the study of hypnotism and took an American correspondence course, and it was then that he became acquainted with, the hand-clasping experiment which he has used ever since as a demonstration of the dominance of the imagination over the will and around which he gradually built up his own method of conscious auto-suggestion.
His drug business automatically furnished him with subjects. He began to hold small clinics right in the store. In these he employed hypnotism. He finally discovered that only about one tenth of his hypnotized patients were in fact completely hypnotized. He also found that certain drugs had a beneficial effect which could not be explained by any medical potency in the drugs themselves. In other words, it was apparent that the benefit must have been brought about through the mind of the patient and not through the drugs. Combining these two observations he gradually came to the conclusion that hypnotism was not necessary. Also many people were afraid of hypnotism and declined to subject themselves to it. Hence its use greatly limited one's possible field of usefulness.
Working and thinking along these lines he gradually abandoned the use of hypnotism and for it substituted suggestion and finally conscious auto-suggestion. As you know the hypnotist suggests to his patient while the patient is unconscious; Monsieur Coué requires his patients to suggest to themselves while conscious.
In 1910 he retired permanently from business, and moved with his wife to Nancy where they built their present home at 186 Rue Jeanne D'Arc.
People came to him to be helped in ever-increasing numbers until by the time the war started he was treating as many as 15,000 people a year. The first circumstance which brought him any measure of what the world calls fame was the attention which the celebrated psychologist Charles Baudouin called to his work by the publication of his book, "Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion." He heard of Monsieur Coué's work while visiting his mother who lived at Nancy where he attended some of Monsieur Coué's lectures and studied his method.
During the war Monsieur Coué remained in Nancy even while the city was being shelled and divided his time between the conferences with his patients and his gardening—his hobby.
In 1921 Doctor Monier-Williams of London came to Nancy and studied Monsieur Coué's method for several weeks. He was the first British physician to pay him an extended visit. He told him he had been led to come to him by the fact that he had cured himself of insomnia by auto-suggestion and by his sense of responsibility toward his patients whom he could not help by any purely medical means.
Doctor Monier-Williams became such a convert to the method that after his return to London he opened a free clinic for the practice of conscious auto-suggestion which has been in successful operation ever since. In the same year at the invitation of Doctor Monier-Williams and many other people who had visited him at Nancy, he went to London to deliver a series of lectures and demonstrations.
As always a good many cures resulted. As these cures were thought to be remarkable and even in some cases to be miracles (they were, of course, no such thing) reports of them found their way into the newspapers. Almost overnight Monsieur Coué found himself possessed of all the advantages and labouring under the burdens of what the world calls fame. As a result of this trip the Coué Institute for the Practice of Conscious Auto-Suggestion was established in London and is being conducted under the efficient leadership of Miss Richardson. They are now treating thousands of patients a year.
On the twenty-second of last October Monsieur Coué had the satisfaction of seeing an institute opened in Paris for the practice of his method. This is under the direction of his former student, Mademoiselle Anne Villneuve.
Before he left America preliminary steps had been taken for the establishment of an institute in New York City to be known as the National Coué Institute. The proceeds of his American lecture tour, less his actual expenses, have gone to the Paris institute and to help establish this American institute.
Alfred M. Murray.
THE REALITY OF AUTO-SUGGESTION
I WISH to say how glad I was to come into personal contact with the great American public on their own side of the Atlantic. And at the same time I could not help feeling just a little embarrassed. I had an idea that people on that continent expected from me some wonderful revelation, bordering on the miraculous, whereas, in reality, the message I have to give is so simple that many are tempted at first to consider it almost insignificant. Let me say right here, however, that simple as my message may be, it will teach those who consent to hear it and to give it fair thought a key to permanent physical and moral well-being which can never be lost.
Auto-suggestion disconcerting in its simplicity.
To the uninitiated, auto-suggestion or self-mastery is likely to appear disconcerting in its simplicity. But does not every discovery, every invention, seem simple and ordinary once it has become vulgarized and the details or mechanism of it known to the man in the street? Not that I am claiming auto-suggestion as my discovery. Far from it. Auto-suggestion is as old as the hills; only we had forgotten to practise it, and so we needed to learn it all over again.
Think of all the forces of the Universe ready to serve us. Yet centuries elapsed before man penetrated their secret and discovered the means of utilizing them. It is the same in the domain of thought and mind: we have at our service forces of transcendent value of which we are either completely ignorant or else only vaguely conscious.
Power of auto-suggestion known in the Middle Ages.
The power of thought, of idea, is incommensurable, is immeasur-able. The world is dominated by thought. The human being individually is also entirely governed by his own thoughts, good or bad. The powerful action of the mind over the body, which explains the effects of suggestion, was well known to the great thinkers of the Middle Ages, whose vigorous intelligence embraced the sum of human knowledge.
Every idea conceived by the mind, says Saint Thomas, is an order which the organism obeys. It can also, he adds, engender a disease or cure it.
The efficaciousness of auto-suggestion could not be more plainly stated.
Pythagoras and Aristotle taught auto-suggestion.
We know, indeed, that the whole human organism is governed by the nervous system, the centre of which is the brain—the seat of thought. In other words, the brain, or mind, controls every cell, every organ, every function of the body. That being so, is it not clear that by means of thought we are the absolute masters of our physical organism and that, as the Ancients showed centuries ago, thought—or suggestion—can and does produce disease or cure it? Pythagoras taught the principles of auto-suggestion to his disciples. He wrote: "God the Father, deliver them from their sufferings, and show them what supernatural power is at their call."
Even more definite is the doctrine of Aristotle, which taught that "a vivid imagination compels the body to obey it, for it is a natural principle of movement. Imagination, indeed, governs all the forces of sensibility, while the latter, in its turn, controls the beating of the heart, and through it sets in motion all vital functions; thus the entire organism may be rapidly modified. Nevertheless, however vivid the imagination, it cannot change the form of a hand or foot or other member."
I have particular satisfaction in recalling this element of Aristotle's teaching, because it contains two of the most important, nay, essential principles of my own method of auto-suggestion:
1. The dominating role of the imagination.
2. The results to be expected from the practice of auto-suggestion must necessarily be limited to those coming within the bounds of physical possibility.
I shall deal with these essential points in greater detail in another chapter.
Unfortunately, all these great truths, handed down from antiquity, have been transmitted in the cloudy garb of abstract notions, or shrouded in the mystery of esoteric secrecy, and thus have appeared inaccessible to the ordinary mortal. If I have had the privilege of discerning the hidden meaning of the old philosophers, or extracting the essence of a vital principle, and of formulating it in a manner extremely simple and comprehensible to modern humanity, I have also had the joy of seeing it practised with success by thousands of sufferers for more than a score of years.
Slaves of suggestion and masters of ourselves. Mark well, I am no healer. I can only teach others to cure themselves and to maintain perfect health.
I hope to show, moreover, that the domain of application of auto-suggestion is practically unlimited. Not only are we able to control and modify our physical functions, but we can develop in any desired direction our moral and mental faculties merely by the proper exercise of suggestion: in the field of education there is vast scope for suggestion.
From our birth to our death we are all the slaves of suggestion. Our destinies are decided by suggestion. It is an all-powerful tyrant of which, unless we take heed, we are the blind instruments. Now, it is in our power to turn the tables and to discipline suggestion, and direct it in the way we ourselves wish; then it becomes auto-sugg-estion: we have taken the reins into our own hands, and have become masters of the most marvellous instrument conceivable. Nothing is impossible to us, except, of course, that which is contrary to the laws of Nature and the Universe.
How are we to attain this command? We must first thoroughly grasp at least the elements of the mechanism of the mental portion of what constitutes the human being. The mental personality is composed of the conscious and the subconscious. It is generally believed that the power and acts of a man depend almost exclus-ively upon his conscious self. It is beginning to be understood, however, that compared with the immensity of the role of the subconscious, that of the conscious self is as a little islet in a vast ocean, subject to storm and tempest.
Dominance of the subconscious over the conscious.
The subconscious is a. permanent, ultra-sensitive photographic plate which nothing escapes. It registers all things, all thoughts, from the most insignificant to the most sublime. But it is more than that. It is the source of creation and inspiration; it is the mysterious power that germinates ideas and effects their materialization in the conscious form of action. If we agree that the point of departure of our joys, our sorrows, our ills, our well-being, our aspirations, of all our emotions, is in our subconscious self, then we may logically deduct that every idea germinated in our mind has a tendency to realization.
Hundreds of examples drawn from little incidents of everyday existence enable us to verify the truth of all this. To illustrate the action of thought on the emotive faculties we have but to remember any grave accident or harrowing spectacle of which we have been a witness immediately to feel the sensations of pain or horror, with greater or less intensity, according to our individual temperament.
Imagine you are sucking a lemon.
A simpler and perhaps even more striking example is the classic one of the lemon. Imagine that you are sucking a juicy, sour lemon, and your mouth will inevitably and instantaneously begin to water. What has happened? Simply this: under the influence of the idea the glands have gone to work and secreted an abundant quantity of saliva—almost as much, in fact, as if you had actually taken a bite at a real lemon. Again, just think of a scratching pencil being drawn perpendicularly over a slate, and you cannot avoid shuddering and screwing up your face under the shock, while contracted nerves send a shiver from the back of the head all down your spine.
Impossible to separate the physical from the mental.
We must therefore realize that it is impossible to separate the physical from the mental, the body from the mind; that they are dependent upon each other; that they are really one. The mental element, however, is always dominant. Our physical organism is governed by it. So that we actually make or mar our own health and destinies according to the ideas at work in our subconscious. I mean by this that we are absolutely free to implant whatever ideas we desire in our subconscious self, which is a never-flagging recorder, and those ideas determine the whole trend of our material, mental, and moral being. It is just as easy to whisper into our receptive subconscious self the idea of health as it is to moan over our troubles; and those who do may be certain of the result, because, as I hope I have convinced them, it is based on Nature's laws.
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