Emile Coue, the creator of a method of healing by autosuggestion.

Many American, German and Russian doctors today treat people according to the principles of the famous Nancy pharmacist, Emile Coue, and obtain astounding results.  Without counting the disciples of a Swiss psychiatrist, the inventor of a psychotherapy where the bases of the Coue Method are to be found.


Emile Coue is born Emile Coue de la Chataigneraie, in Troyes, on 26 February 1857, into an old Breton family.  In 1882, he becomes a pharmacist in the town of his birth.  One day, he receives the visit of a patient who asks him insistently for a medication, the deliverance of which is forbidden without a doctor’s prescription.  To get rid of him, Coue gives his customer a little bottle of distilled water and warns him not to take more than the doses indicated on a paper.  One week later, the man returns to thank him:  he is cured.

This incident is significant in the life of Emile Coue, for it leads him to conclude that the imagination can act on the organism.  So, from 1885, he undertakes studies in Applied Psychology.  Then he follows the works of a Nancy doctor, Doctor Liebault, who practises suggestion and the treatment of patients by sleep.  He also meets Doctor Bernheim, a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Nancy, who is trying to act on the Subconcious of his patients, too.

In 1902, Coue leaves Troyes and abandons Pharmacy to settle in Nancy where there is research being done which is so close to his own.  This is where he perfects his autosuggestion method.  He dies in 1926 after having suscitated disciples in the medical milieux of the whole world, France being the only country where his works are still mocked…


Emile Coue discovered that our Subconscious is credulous and that it is possible, through words, to bring it, among other things, to replace an organ that is deficient, in optimal conditions, by making it believe that the said organ functions well.

This might seem a bit simplistic, but the fact is that people are cured.  Which once more proves the strange powers of our mind…


Doctor Joseph Murphy, of Los Angeles, who has successfully prescribed  the Coue Method to his patients and studied its benefits, writes in The Miracles of the Mind [Les Miracles de l’Esprit]:

“The Subconscious is constantly docile to the power of suggestion;  on top of that, it exercises an absolute domination over the functions, the states and the sensations of our body.”

“Our Conscious is the Captain, the master aboard our ship;  the Subconscious is the crew which obeys without discussion…  If you repeat ‘I don’t like mushrooms’, when you eat them, you have an indigestion because your Subconscious is saying:  ‘the Captain doesn’t like mushrooms!’…  If someone says:  ‘When I drink coffee in the evening, I wake up at three o’clock in the morning’, each time that he drinks it, his Subconscious, thinking that it is doing the right thing, wakes him in the middle of the night…  But, if you are careful about not pronouncing imprudent words, you can use your Subconscious like a docile servant.  For example, if you need to wake up at seven o’clock in the morning and you give it the order, it will wake you at seven o’clock precisely.  Everyone has observed this phenomenon… “


Emile Coue, who identified the Subconscious with Imagination, had edicted a law which Professor Charles Baudoin, of the University of Geneva, has called the law of converted effort [loi de l’effort converti].  It goes like this:

“Each time that there is conflict between the Imagination and the Will, it is always the Imagination which wins and, in this case, not only do we not do what we want to do, but we do precisely the opposite to what we want to do;  and the more that we make voluntary efforts, the more we do the opposite to what we want to do.”

And Andre Dumas, the President of the Coue Institute in Paris, who has prefaced the Complete Works [Oeuvres completes] by Emile Coue [Editions Astra] adds:

“In the conflict between the Imagination and the voluntary effort, the voluntary effort is always vanquished and converted into powerlessness and into contradiction.”


Here is an example of the superiority of the Imagination over Willpower.  It is very simple.  If you place a plank ten metres long by twenty-five centimetres wide on the ground, everyone is capable of going from one end of it to the other without putting a foot off it.  But if this plank is fifty centimetres from the ground, few people are capable of taking one step over the void, in spite of all the efforts of their Will.  Why?  Because, Emile Coue tells us, in the first case, we imagine that it is easy to go to the end of the plank, while in the second case, we imagine that we can’t do it.  Vertigo has no other cause than this image of a possible fall.  Pascal had already told us:

“The idea of a fall determines the fall”…

In the same way, it is because we imagine that a suffering is inevitable or incurable that we can’t, in spite of medication, prevent it or make it disappear.  Coue said:

“To fear an illness is to determine it.”

We imagine, for example, that a toothache is normal, therefore we accept it.  Why, in this case, would the Subconscious use the anaesthetics which we have in us, and which it is perfectly capable of using?  If we have not shown it that the absence of suffering, in this precise case, is a natural thing, it won’t intervene to stop it.

The role of autosuggestion is therefore to force the Imagination – since all our gestures and all our comportment depend on it – to put the Subconscious into the necessity of making us execute certain acts or to make certain pains cease.


To be continued.