Abbé Faria

Abbé Faria


Abbé Faria (Abade Faria in Portuguese), or Abbé (Abbot) José Custódio de Faria, (May 30 1746 - September 20 1819), was a colourful Indo-Portuguese monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism, following on from the work of Franz Anton Mesmer. Unlike Mesmer, who claimed that hypnosis was mediated by "animal magnetism", [The use of the (conventional) English term "animal magnetism" to translate Mesmer's magnétisme animal is extremely misleading for three reasons:
* Mesmer chose his term to clearly distinguish his variant of "magnetic" force from those which were referred to, at that time, as "mineral magnetism", "cosmic magnetism" and "planetary magnetism".
* Mesmer felt that this particular force/power only resided in the bodies of humans and animals.
* Mesmer chose the word "animal", for its root meaning (from Latin "animus" = "soul") specifically to identify his force/power as a quality that belonged in the bodies of the animate beings (humans and animals.)
] Faria understood that it worked purely by the power of suggestion. In the early 19th century, Abbé Faria introduced oriental hypnosis to Paris.

He was one of the first to depart from the theory of the "magnetic fluid," to place in relief the importance of suggestion, and to demonstrate the existence of "autosuggestion"; he also established that what he termed "nervous sleep" belongs to the natural order. From his earliest magnetizing séances, in 1814, he boldly developed his doctrine. Nothing comes from the magnetizer; everything comes from the subject and takes place in his imagination (i.e., the Indian concept Sammohan Bhavana shakti [] ); generated from within the mind. Magnetism is only a form of sleep. Although of the moral order, the magnetic action is often aided by physical, or rather by physiological, means - fixedness of look and cerebral fatigue.

Faria changed the terminology of mesmerism. Previously focus was on the "concentration" of the subject. In Faria's terminology the operator became "the concentrator" and somnambulism was viewed as a lucid sleep. The Indian method of hypnosis used by Faria is command, following expectancy.

After-years Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault (1864-1904), the founder of the Nancy School, and Emile Coué (1857-1926) father of applied conditioning, developed the theory of suggestion and autosuggestion and made them therapeutic tools. Afterwards Johannes Schultz developed these theories as Autogenic training.


José Custódio de Faria was born in Candolim, District of Bardez in Goa, Portuguese India, on May 31, 1746. He was the son of "Caetano Vitorino de Faria", an Indian Saraswat Brahmin Christian of Colvale village, and "Rosa Maria de Sousa" of Candolim village, and had an adopted sister, "Catarina", an orphan. Caetano was in turn a descendent of Antu Shenoy of Colvale, a Hindu Saraswat Brahmin who converted to Christianity in the 16th century.

Since his parents could not get on with each other, they decided to separate and obtained the Church's dispensation. The father joining the seminary to complete his studies for the priesthood which he had interrupted to get married, while his mother became a nun, joining the St. Monica convent in Old Goa, where she rose to the position of prioress.


The father had great ambition for himself and his son. Hence, Faria reached Lisbon on December 23, 1771 with his father at the age of 25. After a year they managed to convince the King of Portugal, Joseph I, to send them to Rome for Faria Sr. to earn a doctorate in theology, and the son to pursue his studies for the priesthood.

Eventually, the son too earned his doctorate, dedicating his doctoral thesis to the Portuguese Queen, Mary I of Portugal, and another study, on the Holy Spirit to the Pope. Apparently His Holiness was sufficiently impressed to invite José Custódio to preach a sermon in the Sistine Chapel, which he himself attended.

On his return to Lisbon, the Queen was informed by the Nuncio of the Pope's honour to Faria Jr. So, she too invited the young priest to preach to her as well, in her chapel. But Faria, climbing the pulpit, and seeing the august assembly felt tongue tied. At that moment his father, who sat below the pulpit, whispered to him in Konkani: "Hi sogli baji; cator re baji" (they are all vegetables, cut the vegetables). Jolted, the son lost his fear and preached fluently.

Faria Jr., from then on, often wondered how a mere phrase from his father could alter his state of mind so radically as to wipe off his stage fright in a second. The question would have far reaching consequences in his life.

Participation in conspiracy

He was implicated in the "Conspiracy Of The Pintos" during 1787, and left for France in 1788. He stayed in Paris residing at Rue de Ponceau.


In Paris, he became a leader of one of the revolutionary battalions in 1795, taking command of one of the sections of the infamous "10 of the Vendémiaire", which attacked the French Convention, taking an active part in its fall. As a result, he established contacts with personalities like Chateaubriand, the Marquise of Coustine, and was also friend of Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marques of Puységur, (a disciple of Franz Anton Mesmer) to whom he dedicated his book "Causas do Sono Lúcido" ("On the Causes of Deep Sleep").

In 1797 he was arrested in Marseille for unknown reasons, and taken in a barred police carriage to the infamous Chateau d'If by a law court. He was shut up in solitary confinement in the Chateau. While imprisoned he steadily trained himself using techniques of self-suggestion.

After a long stint in the Chateau, Faria was released and returned to Paris.

In 1811, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of France at Nîmes, and was elected member of the "Société Medicale de Marseille" at Marseille.

In 1813 Abbé Faria realising that animal magnetism was gaining importance in Paris returned to Paris, and started lecturing a new doctrine, which contributed further to his fame. He provoked unending controversies with his work "Da Causa do Sono Lúcido no Estudo da Natureza do Homem" (On the cause of Deep Sleep in the Study of Nature of Man), published in Paris in 1819 and was soon accused of being a charlatan.

He retired as chaplain to an obscure religious establishment, and died of a stroke in Paris on September 30, 1819. He left behind no addresses and his grave remains unmarked and unknown, somewhere in Montmartre.

In 2005, Abbé Faria was posthumously conferred the Vincent Xavier Verodiano Award in recognition of "his pioneering research in the field of hypnotism, the outcome of which led to the revelation of new avenues of therapeutic hope and relief in the emancipation of human need, anxiety and suffering".


*There is a striking bronze [ statue] of the Abbé Faria trying to hypnotize a woman in central Panjim, in the state of Goa, India, next to the Government Secretariat that was sculpted in 1945 by famous sculptor Ramchandra Pandurang Kamat of Madkai.
* [ Abbe Faria Portrait, 2005]
* Portugal commemorated the 250th anniversary of the Abbé's birth in May, 2006 by releasing a [ postcard] containing a photograph of his statue in Panjim, Goa.
*A prominent thoroughfare in the southern Goan city of Madgaon is named "Rua do Abade Faria" (Street of Abbé Faria) in his honour.
*Alexandre Dumas, père used a fictionalised version of the Abbé in his famous novel "The Count of Monte Cristo". In the novel, Faria is a prisoner of the Château d'If who instructs Edmond Dantès, the protagonist and a fellow prisoner, in a number of fields including mathematics, the sciences, and foreign languages, and eventually helps him to escape from the island prison. He also discloses to Dantès the whereabouts of a hoard of jewels at Monte Cristo, a small island near the Italian coast.
*The Institute of Clinical Hypnosis & Counselling established in Kerala state of India is a memorial to Abbot Faria.
* The Mustard Seed Art Company, a theater group from Goa, celebrated the 250th anniversary of Faria's birth by staging a play entitled "Kator Re Bhaji", which was written and directed by Isabel de Santa Rita Vaz.
* Laurent Carrer included the first English translation of Faria's single tome, originally written in French as “De la cause du sommeil lucide ou Etude de la nature de l’homme” (On the Cause of Lucid Sleep or Study On The Nature of Man) in his 2004 "José Custódio de Faria: Hypnotist, Priest and Revolutionary" (see reference).


*" [Faria was] great, because he had no fear and fought for truth rather than for his place at the vanity fair. The Abbot de Faria's mystery does not lie in the circumstances of his life that are unknown to historians and lost forever; his mystery lies in his talent, courage, and quest for truth. His mystery was the mystery of someone who was ahead of his time and who blazed a trail for his descendants due to his sacrifice." - Dr. Mikhail Buyanov, President of the Moscow Psychotherapeutic Academy, and author of "A Man Ahead of His Times", a study in Russian of Abbe Faria.
*"There was a man in Paris who made the experience of hypnotism public. Every day, some 60 people used to gather at his residence and it was rare among these, that there were not at least five or six people who were susceptible to fall into a hypnotic trance. He would openly declare that he did not possess any secrets nor any extraordinary powers, and that everything he achieved was dependent on the will of the persons he was performing upon." - French General Francois Joseph Noizet.

External links

* [ Abbe Faria website]
* [ Testimonials]
* []



# [ Eye Witness Accounts]
#Moniz, A. Egas, "O Padre Faria na história do hipnotismo" (Abbé Faria in the history of hypnotism), Lisbon: Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, 1925.
#Dalgado, D.G., "Memoire sur la vie de l'Abbé Faria", Paris, 1906.
# [ Hypnotism - Catholic Encyclopedia]
#Charles. J. Borges, "Goa and the revolt of 1787".
#Carrer, L. [ "José Custódio de Faria: Hypnotist, Priest and Revolutionary"] 2004.
# [ digitized copy of Abbé Faria's original manuscript "De la cause du sommeil lucide"] (original version - in French) - Preface by D.G. Dalgado - Paris 1906 - courtesy of Dr. Paret. An English translation of this work, including Dalgado's preface, can be found in Carrer's "José Custódio de Faria: Hypnotist, Priest and Revolutionary."
# [ De la cause du sommeil lucide] - Digitized copy with illustrations.
# [ 2006 Portuguese Postcard celebrating Abbe Faria's 250th Birth anniversary]

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