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Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2011 Jan;59(1):82-102. doi: 10.1080/00207144.2011.522908.

On the history of dissociative identity disorders in Germany: the doctor Justinus Kerner and the girl from Orlach, or possession as an "exchange of the self".

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University of Munich, Germany.


The history of hypnosis is closely linked to the theme of possession; one such link is that the forerunner of hypnosis, animal magnetism, replaced exorcism in 1775 when Franz Anton Mesmer testified against Father Johann Joseph Gassner's exorcism. Modern authors have noted remarkable similarities between states of possession and dissociation. The treatment of possession by animal magnetism and exorcism represents the special romantic-magnetic therapy of the German medical doctor Justinus Kerner in the early 19th century. This article describes the man, his methods, and his thinking and presents one of his most famous case studies, the girl from Orlach, which, by today's standards, was a true case of dissociative identity disorder (DID). This article describes how contemporary principles of treatment were used and controversial issues about the nature and causes of DID were discussed 175 years ago.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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