José Manuel Jara
Foreword to the second Italian edition, edited by Andrea Di Fiorino
Vladimir Michailovič Bekhterev: “Suggestion and its role in social life”
Clinical Psychiatry, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Хара Предисловие ко второму итальянское издание, под редакцией Андреа Ди Фиорино
Владимир Михайлович Бехтерев “Внушение и его роль в общественной жизни “
The work “Suggestion and its role in social life” is worth a new italian edition. The first Italian edition was at 1909 (Turin, Fratelli Bocca editori), ten years after the first edition in Russian. The interest of the book may be measured by three Russian editions, in 1899, 1903 and 1908. The first German edition was at 1899. The French edition was at 1910. The English translation, a very careful work of the editor Lloyd H. Strickland, was very recent, at 1998, based on the third Russian edition (Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey).
Vladimir Mikailovitch Bekhterev was an outstanding man of science, neurologist, psychiatrist and psychologist, a clinician and experimental investigator in different domains, from anatomy, physiology, to mental and nervous disorders, biology and sociology. He theorized an integrative view of nature, from physical realms to psyche, named reflexology. The conception of reflex had a much broader sense than the conception of Pavlov’s conditioned reflex. Bekhterev (1857-1927) and Pavlov (1849- 1936) lived both at St. Petersburg (Petrograd, Leningrad) in the same epoch of heroic discoveries of some fundamental laws of the activity of the brain and mind. Pavlov was Nobel Prize at 1904.
Bekhterev was a medical doctor, a neuropsychiatrist and a psychotherapist, with an intense clinical practice, but also a science investigator. The magnitude of his work can be measured by the establishment of several laboratories of investigation as the Psycho-physiological Laboratory of Kazan(1885) and the Psycho-neurological Institute of St. Petersburg (1907). The famous Institute for the study of the brain and psychic activity of Petrograd was founded under his initiative at 1918 and since then directed by him, working as an important center of teaching and investigation, from basic biological sciences, with salience to the study of the brain, to psychology, pedagogy and sociology.
He published around 600 scientific papers. The most important works are Suggestion and its Role in Social Life (1899), Consciousness and its Borders(1888), Psyche an Life (1902), Objective Psychology (1907), Subject Matter and Tasks of Social Psychology as an Objective Science (1911), Collective Reflexology (1921) and General Principles of Human Reflexology (1926). An Autobiography was published at 1928, after his death. The scientific journals founded by Bekhterev are the “Neurologic bulletin” (1893), the “Archives of psychiatry, neurology and experimental psychology” (1896) and the “Bulletin of psychology, criminal anthropology and hypnotism” (1904).
Bekhterev was a skilled hypnotist, and had a contact with French schools of hypnosis and suggestion, namely Charcot directly attending his lessons (1884) and also knowing Bernheim’s theory.
The end of the nineteen century reintroduced the problem of hypnosis, the sleeping beauty of psychology since the scientific rejection of mesmeric fluid and magnetism. The study of theses phenomena is linked with the study of hysteria with the authority of Charcot at Salpêtrière. It is here the dilemma between organogenesis and psychogenesis, between neurology, functional and anatomical, and psychiatry or psychology; the birth of psychoanalysis whose method refuses any kind of suggestion. Suggestion and its role in social life (Vnushenie i evo rol’ v obshechestvennoi zhizni) is a book of the moment, the turning of the nineteenth to the twentieth century.
Bekhterev is well acquainted with the main authors, on the matter of suggestion and hypnosis, that we will mention: Binet, Feré, Bernheim, Charcot, Lefévre, Sydis, Stoll, Ochorowitz, Vigouroux, Juquelier, Rossi, Michailovski, Forel, Lowenfeld, Wundt and P. Janet. On the question of the so calledpsychic epidemics (folie à deux, folie à millions…), the author refers Calmeil, Landel, Laségue, Falret, Legrand de Saule, Regnard, Baillarger, Moreau de Tours and Morel. Gustave Le Bon and Gabriel Tarde are also mentioned on the psychology of the crowds.