Hypnoid state

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The hypnoid state is a theory of the origins of hysteria published jointly by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud in their Preliminary communication [1] of 1893, subsequently reprinted as the first chapter of Studies on Hysteria (1895).[2]

For Breuer and Freud, who characterised the hypnoid state as a state of absence of mind/consciousness produced by intense daydreams of a mournful or sexual nature, "the existence of hypnoid states forms the foundation and condition of hysteria".[3]


The hypnoid state was seen as one resembling but not identical with hypnosis.[4] In the hypnoid state, one may have dream-like experiences.[4] One enters the hypnoid state by either hypnosis or by voluntary amnesia.[4]

Breuer credited Paul Julius Möbius as a forerunner in the development of the idea.[5]


Freud was shortly to repudiate the causative notion of hypnoid states, in favour of his theory of psychological repression.[6] As he would put it later, "Breuer's theory of 'hypnoid states' turned out to be impeding and unnecessary, and it has been dropped by psycho-analysis today...the screen of hypnoid states erected by Breuer".[7]

Nevertheless he continued to recognise the importance of such states of absent consciousness in the symptomatology of the hysterical subject.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Selected Papers on Hysteria and Other Psychoneuroses
  2. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 63
  3. ^ Quoted in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 240
  4. ^ a b c Freud, Sigmund; Breuer, Josef; Luckhurst, Nicola (2004). Studies in Hysteria. London; New York City: Penguin Modern Classics (via Google Books). ISBN 978-0-14-243749-0. Retrieved December 7, 2011.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ J. Laplanche/J.-B. Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis (2012) p. 193
  6. ^ Jones, p. 240
  7. ^ S. Freud, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1995) p. 22-3
  8. ^ S. Freud, On Psychopathology (PFL 10) p. 101

External links[edit]

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