Charcot’s Axis

Part of the Library of the History of Psychological Theories book series (LHPT)


The modern history of dynamic theories of personality in Western science begins with Jean-Martin Charcot in 1881. 1 True, the Christian church had long before appropriated the idea of personality as a way to define the soul and to compare it to the personality of Jesus. True, mesmerism could be construed as a dynamic theory of consciousness, but it was generally rejected by the scientific establishment of the times. True, by the early 1830s the phrenologists had devised a map of characteristics defining the person according to bumps on their head which the homeopathic phreno-magnetists then fused in their system with techniques for entering altered consciousness by way of parlor entertainments such as mesmerism. 2 The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, had even included a chapter on mesmerism as an appendix to his Organon of Medicine.3 The result was a map of personality, a technique for getting below the surface of consciousness, and a total psychophysical system of mind/body healing to go along with it. And true, Emerson lectured on scientific subjects to the Boston Society of Natural History just after stepping down from his Unitarian pulpit at the First and Second Church; and true, the New England transcendentalists had articulated an intuitive, spiritual psychology of character development. Within that intuitive psychology, everything one needed to know about psychosomatic medicine could be found in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850) or his friend Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851).


Dynamic Theory Religious Experience Multiple Personality Dynamic Psychology Automatic Writing 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saybrook Graduate School and Research CenterSan FranciscoUSA

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