The Father of Hypnotism



Alfredo de Mello


(Abridged from his book, FROM GOA TO PATAGONIA)

Those who have read the novel "Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas will remember a name - Abbe Faria. Abbe Faria was a real-life person, immortalized by Dumas in his fiction.

Jose Custodio Faria was born on the 30th May 1756, the son of Caetano Victorino de Faria and Rosa de Souza, of Colvale, Bardez. The parents, however, had irreconcilable differences, and in common accord, decided to separate. The father went on to become a priest, whilst the mother joined the convent of Santa Monica of Goa, where she became a nun.

In 1771, father and son went to Lisbon and thence to Rome. Jose Custodio to entered the College of Propaganda Fide, under the sponsorship of Portugal's King Jose I. Upon his return to Lisbon, Jose Custodio Faria was invited to preach in the royal chapel. After climbing the pulpit and facing the Queen, the King, and the distinguished Court, young Faria started stammering timidly, but his father, hidden underneath the pulpit, uttered the Konkani injunction "KATOR RE BHAJI", ("cut the veggies") which nobody else understood except young Faria, meaning, "Go ahead, you know more than all of them". With this adrenalinic vocal shot from his father, Jose Custodio delivered an eloquent sermon which was much appreciated and applauded.

After the failed "Conjurac„o dos Pintos" or the revolt of 1787, in which both the Farias - father and son - were implicated, they fled Lisbon to seek refuge in France, early in 1788.

Then the French Revolution broke out on 14 July 1789., and Abbe Faria, as Jose Custodio became known in France, was a pro-Royalist, and headed a battalion against the National Convention (as the antiRoyalists were known), and on the 10th Vendimaire (2 October 1795) his battalion tried to seize power from the Republican Government, but was crushed by the young general Napoleon Bonaparte.

When order was established after this, he was appointed professor of Philosophy in the Academy of Marseilles. Then he was transferred to the Academy of Nimes, as an assistant professor, where he started working earnestly on hypnotic practices, but left for Paris soon after.

Abbe Faria was friendly with the Marquis Puysegur, one of the disciples of Mesmer, who initiated him in magnetic practices. Abbe Faria commenced lecturing on hypnotism in August 1813 in the rue Clichy, Paris. The theoretical presentation of his ideas was heard with annoyance, but the scenes of hypnotism that he performed with the audience, especially with women were astounding. The curiosity increased especially because of the strange figure of Abbe Faria, a tall, lean, bronze-skinned man, expounding new doctrines and the practical demonstrations of hypnotism that he carried out with amazing precision.

However, the Church condemned magnetism, and a French theologian wrote that "somnambulism and magnetism were supernatural and diabolic, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic, and anti-moral". Abbe Faria, as a priest and believer, had no doubts about confronting the ires of the theologians of his time, by affirming that there was nothing supernatural in such phenomena and that hypnotic sleep was in the end, a form of suggestion; it all depended upon the predisposition of the hypnotized. He became famous as a magnetizer, so much so that he performed his hypnotism in the vaudeville show "Magnetismemanie".

Beaten by adversity, abandoned by those who at first applauded him, a butt of ridicule, Abbe Faria lived miserably and had to accept a modest job of chaplain of a nunnery, in order to survive. It is then that he wrote his book, expounding the doctrines which immortalized him. In the year 1819 when he died, the first volume of his work was printed "De la cause du sommeil lucide, ou etude de la nature de l'homme". The second and third volumes remained unpublished.

A just recognition of Abbe Faria (Abade Faria in Portuguese) as the founder and inventor of hypnotism is one of the glories of Goa, and his memory is perpetuated by the statue erected in Panjim in 1945 in the small plaza next to the Palace of Adil Khan (see photo).

WORLD GOA DAY 2004 Souvenir

Click on Image to Enlarge



Back to Articles