The Legend of Abbe Faria- Father of Hypnotherapy


Thousands of locals and tourists glide through the bustling streets of Goa’s Capital, Panaji on a daily basis. There are many fine buildings to gaze upon, but how many of us pay close attention to the statues.

One of these prominent bronze statues was sculpted to commemorate the Goan Monk, Jose Custodio de Faria, better known to the world as Abbe Faria. What’s more, the statue captures Abbe in his famous hypnotic stance. Abbe Faria is widely acclaimed as the father of hypnotism.

Early beginnings

Abbe was born in 1756 and hailed from the village of Candolim. His parents Caetano Vitorino de Faria and Rosa Maria de Sousa separated when he was just 15 years old. His father Caetano joined the seminary, while his mother Rosa moved to Old Goa to become a nun at the St Monica Convent.

Europe calling

It is written that Abbe was 25 years old when he set sail for Portugal with his father and was welcomed by the King of Portugal Joseph I. With the help of King Joseph I, Abbe got the opportunity to travel to Rome for further studies. As a gesture of thanks, Abbe dedicated his Doctorate degree to Queen Mary I of Portugal. Abbe’s early religious influence had a strong bearing on his work. This became evident when he dedicated his research of the Holy Spirit to the Pope.

Hi sogli baji; cator re baji

Abbe Faria was an avid follower of the teachings of German Physician Franz Mesmer. However, Mesmer believed hypnosis was a product of animal magnetism, while Faria hypothesized that it had more to do with the power of auto suggestion.

A story is narrated of how Abbe was supposed to preach to Queen Mary I of Portugal and the people after his return from Rome, but he felt scared after reaching the top of the pulpit.  Seeing this, his father whispered to him ‘Hi sogli baji; cator re baji’ which means in Konkani ‘they are all vegetables, cut these vegetables.’

This incident is said to have had a profound effect on Abbe and influenced his future work on hypnosis. Abbe went on to write masterpieces such as ‘Causas do Sono Lucido’, which translates in Portuguese as ‘Causes of lucid sleep.’ The study evoked a lot of academic interest.

Productive Imprisonment

While Abbe Faria is known for his contribution in the field of hypnotherapy, the later years of his life is shrouded in mystery. He was seen as a revolutionary figure in France and was also linked to the Pinto revolt in Goa.

In 1797, Abbe was locked up in the notorious Chateau d’If , which is located in the French city of Marseille. He used this time productively to develop his auto suggestion methods.

After being released from solitary confinement, Abbe went on to be a professor at the University of Nimes in 1811. He was further recognized for his work, by becoming an elected member of the Societe Medicale de Marseille.

Abbe’s work seemed to be ahead of its time, which courted a lot of controversy. This upset Abbe, who spent his last days as a Chaplain, before eventually succumbing to a stroke in 1819, in Paris. The fictional book titled ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, written by Alexandre Dumas is said to be inspired by Abbe Faria.

Abbe Faria is fondly remembered as a pioneer in hypnotherapy. So the next time you enter Panaji, take a moment to be mesmerized by the statue of Abbe Faria which is situated near the Old Secretariat.


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