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The powers of suggestion: Albert Moll and the debate on hypnosis

Maehle, Andreas-Holger

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The Berlin physician Albert Moll (1862–1939) was an advocate of hypnotic suggestion therapy and a prolific contributor to the medical, legal and public discussions on hypnotism from the 1880s to the 1920s. While his work in other areas, such as sexology, medical ethics and parapsychology, has recently attracted scholarly attention, this paper for the first time comprehensively examines Moll’s numerous publications on hypnotism and places them in their contemporary context. It covers controversies over the therapeutic application of hypnosis, the reception of Moll’s monograph Der Hypnotismus (1889), his research on the rapport between hypnotizer and subject, his role as an expert on ‘hypnotic crime’, and his views on the historical influence of hypnotism on the development of psychotherapy. My findings suggest that Moll rose to prominence due to the strong late-nineteenth-century public and medical interest in the phenomena of hypnosis, but that his work was soon overshadowed by new, non-hypnotic psychotherapeutic approaches, particularly Freud’s psychoanalysis.


Maehle, A. (2014). The powers of suggestion: Albert Moll and the debate on hypnosis. History of Psychiatry, 25(1), 3-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 9, 2013
Online Publication Date Mar 1, 2014
Publication Date Mar 4, 2014
Deposit Date Mar 5, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 2, 2014
Journal History of Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0957-154X
Electronic ISSN 1740-2360
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 3-19
Keywords Albert Moll, Hypnosis, Hypnotic crime, Psychotherapy, Suggestion therapy.


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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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