"Induced nervous sleep or experimental hypnotism": an unpublished text from Dr. Manuel Martinez Solórzano (Mexico, 1889)

1Academic Section of the History of Psychiatry, Mexican Psychiatry Association, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.  nocup AT hotmail.com
2"José Torres Orozco" Psychiatric Hospital at Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico.  rubbucio AT hotmail.com

On August 20th, 1889, in the Internal Pathology class, at the Medical School of Morelia, Mexico, a young student of 4th year: Manuel Martínez Solórzano, read the dissertation titled "Induced nervous sleep or experimental hypnotism". In this document of 83 hand-written pages, signed the 8th of previous July, (as it is indicated by its author), trying to continue with the study of Hysteria phenomenon, he assumes the task of extending, and explaining the scientific nature of Experimental Hypnotism in agreement with the theories exposed years ago by Jean-Martin Charcot and Hyppolyte Bernheim, distinguishing it, according to his words, "from the hypnotism of hall, fair, and prestidigitation, that is nothing different from the so-called animal magnetism of the prattlers". His work is divided into six sections as well, and they’re about the historical origin of hypnotism, the proven facts that confirm its true existence, the procedures to induce it, its definition and phases involving and integrating the whole procedure, phenomenon of hypnotism itself, and finally its physiology. Although publications on this subject were not new in the country, because in 1887, Labadie had published the article: "Contribution for the study of hypnotism in Mexico", the great quality and deep seriousness of the work of Martinez Solórzano, that in addition remarks his own experience with this technique, surpasses by much to any other work of the time.

By unknown circumstances this paper was not published at that time and has remained unpublished until now. Thus, the document acquires great historical value, since it allows us to analyze the effects that had in our country, (strongly influenced by the French medicine), the postulates which made famous the creator of Neurology as science, in his useless search to find, first of all, the anatomopathological substrate of Hysteria and, later on, his goal to cause the hysterical symptoms by means of suggestion or hypnosis in normal people; and in hystericals, facing lack of a demonstrable structural injury, to alleviate the symptoms. He made an effort to grant a scientific connotation (neurophysiological) to his procedure. The inform Charcot gave to the Academy of Sciences in 1882, strongly attracted the attention of Bernheim, that soon was against Charcot, arguing that the hypnosis was not exclusive to hysteria, and mentioned that the modification of consciousness state was possible to obtain in any individual by suggestion at wide-awake status, "Which implied to leave hypnosis. To this method he gave the name of Psychotherapy ".

Shortly before dying, Charcot had the strength to express the necessity o f "May it be known: [that] hysteria is a psychical disease of absolute way". Later to his decease, Charcot was acknowledged by his contributions in the medical and neurological field, forgetting, for a long time, his works on hypnosis and hysteria. Despite his errors, and in accordance to Pérez-Rincón, "the Charcotian conception of hysteria gave light to psychoanalysis" being "psychologization of the hysterical phenomenon the inheritance that he left to [Pierre] Janet and [Sigmund] Freud". On the other hand, the works of Bernheim and Liébeault, creators of the Psychological School of Nancy, mainly the publications of Bernheim, were prior to modern psychosomatic medicine, and using a different hypnotic method from the one used at La Salpêtrière hospital, they treated this kind of diseases. Could this be the answer to the darkness that covered the writing of Martinez Solórzano? Seeing himself disappointed by the failure of the theories he defended with erudite vehemence at the historical Colegio de San Nicolás (or Civil Hospital), where the Medical School was lodged?

Martinez Solórzano (1862-1924) had an extraordinary scientific and political career, reaching his fame beyond Mexican borders. He is remembered as a great teacher, botanist and naturalist. He never published, and it’s never known of another medical work of his again.


  1. MARTÍNEZ SOLÓRZANO, M. (1889). El Sueño nervioso provocado o hipnotismo experimental. Manuscrito inédito de 83 pp. Fotocopia cortesía del Mtro. José Napoleón Guzmán Ávila de la Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo.
  2. LABADIE, F. (1887). Contribución para el estudio del hipnotismo en México. Gac Med Mex, XXII(21): 450-461.
  3. PÉREZ-RINCÓN, H. (1998). El teatro de las histéricas. De cómo Charcot descubrió, entre otras cosas, que también había histéricos. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica (Colección: La ciencia para todos/162), 125 pp.

Session XI.  Trance and Hypnosis
Saturday, 23 June 2007, 2:00 - 2:30 pm

12th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences   (ISHN)
Los Angeles, California, USA, 19-23 June 2007