Beyond the Neuron: Ramón y Cajal and the Uses and Abuses of Hypnosis

Novillo-Corvalan, Patricia, Gray, Lesley (2015) Beyond the Neuron: Ramón y Cajal and the Uses and Abuses of Hypnosis. Anglo Saxonica (Special guest issue edited by Brian Hurwitz), 3 (10). pp. 59-76. ISSN 0873-0628. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is widely known as the ‘father of neuroscience’ for his ground-breaking scientific research in the fields of histology and neurobiology. His work in this area laid the foundations of modern neuroscience and earned him the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906. This public image of Cajal, however, only shows us the supreme scientist at work, the assiduous microscopist who revolutionised our understanding of the way that the human brain works. Cajal, in fact, is a more complex and multifaceted figure, since he was also a gifted artist, a prolific author of medical and literary works, and an indefatigable researcher whose scientific investigations include areas of study outside the field of neuroscience. As part of his diverse range of interests, Cajal became fascinated by the phenomenon of hypnotism, which ran broadly in parallel to his neuro-histological career. Cajal’s most noteworthy contribution to the field of hypnotism is a pioneering case study published in 1889 that proposes the use of hypnosis for the alleviation of pain during childbirth. The subject of hypnotism also features in Cajal’s fictional story, ‘The Fabricator of Honour’, which was included in the short story collection, Vacation Stories (written between 1885-1886; published in 1905). It is our argument that Cajal’s medical case study and his fictional story reveal not only a profound interest in the practice of hypnotism but also foreground both the benefits and the dangers of hypnotic methods. While the medical case study dispels the stigma of hypnotism as the domain of charlatans and quacks by considering its analgesic potential, the fictional story, on the other hand, is a cautionary tale on the perils of human manipulation and the potential outcomes on society and the individual.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages (inc film, TV and radio studies)
R Medicine
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R723 Medical ethics
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Patricia Novillo-Corvalan
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2015 12:28 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:06 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/50850 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Novillo-Corvalan, Patricia: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0751-1930
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