Abbé Faria

Abbé Faria (Portuguese: Abade Faria), or Abbé (Abbot) José Custódio de Faria (31 May 1756 – 20 September 1819), was a Luso-Goan Catholic monk who was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of hypnotism, following on from the work of Franz Mesmer. Unlike Mesmer, who claimed that hypnosis was mediated by "animal magnetism", Faria understood that it worked purely by the power of suggestion. In the early 19th century, Abbé Faria introduced oriental hypnosis to Paris.

Abbé (Abbot)

José Custódio de Faria
Native name
Abade José Custódio de Faria
Born(1756-05-31)31 May 1756
Died20 September 1819(1819-09-20) (aged 63)
Montmartre, France
MonumentsStatue in Panjim, Goa
OccupationCatholic monk
Known forScientific study of hypnotism
Notable work
"Da Causa do Sono Lúcido no Estudo da Natureza do Homem" ("On the cause of Lucid Sleep in the Study of the Nature of Man")
Parent(s)Rosa Maria de Sousa (mother)
Caetano Vitorino de Faria (father)

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 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, the 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 method of hypnosis used by Faria is command, following expectancy. The theory of Abbé Faria is now known as Fariism.

Later, Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault (1864–1904), the founder of the Nancy School, and Émile Coué (1857–1926), father of applied conditioning, developed the theory of suggestion and autosuggestion and began using them as therapeutic tools. Johannes Schultz developed these theories as Autogenic training.


José Custódio de Faria was born in Candolim, Bardez in the erstwhile territory of Portuguese Goa, on 31 May 1756. He was the son of Caetano Vitorino de Faria of Colvale, and Rosa Maria de Sousa of Candolim. He also had an adopted sister, Catarina who was an orphan. Caetano was in turn a descendant of Anantha Shenoy, a Goud Saraswat Brahmin, village clerk and Patil of the same village who converted to Christianity in the 16th century.[1] He was a Goan Catholic of the Bamonn caste,[2][3] and was also of partial African descent.[4]

Since his parents had irreconcilable differences, they decided to separate and obtained the Church's dispensation. Caetano Vitorino joined the seminary to complete his studies for the priesthood (which he had interrupted to get married), and Rosa Maria 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 23 December 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 infamous French Convention, taking an active part in its fall. As a result, he established links with individuals like Chateaubriand, the Marquise of Coustine. He was also a 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 Lucid Sleep").

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

After a long imprisonment 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 promoting a new doctrine. He provoked unending controversies with his work Da Causa do Sono Lúcido no Estudo da Natureza do Homem (On the cause of Lucid Sleep in the Study of the 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 30 September 1819. He left behind no addresses and his grave remains unmarked and unknown, somewhere in Montmartre.


  • There is a bronze statue in central Panjim, Goa (next to the former Government Secretariat or Idalçao palace) of Abbé Faria trying to hypnotise a woman. It was sculpted in 1945 by Ramchandra Pandurang Kamat. According to lettriste late Prof. Nora Secco De Souza, the statue was sculpted by Goan sculptor Constâncio Fernandes. This claim is based on an article titled "On the Abbe's Trail" written by Frederick Noronha, writer, journalist and book publisher. The article is included in the book Reflected in Water edited by Jerry Pinto, published by Penguin Books India 2006. There is indirect evidence that the statue was executed by Constancio, because in 1939 he exhibited in the Town Hall, Bombay, a somewhat similar sculpture of Abbe Faria, "Idealising Le Sommeil Lucide", and was awarded the Bombay Art Society Prize.
  • Portugal commemorated the 250th anniversary of the Abbé's birth in May 2006 by releasing a postcard of his statue in Panjim, Goa.
  • A city road in the Areeiro zone of Lisbon is also named in his honour.
  • An authentic caricature of him is preserved in the National Library of Paris.[5]
  • A prominent thoroughfare in the southern Goan city of Margao is named 'Rua Abade Faria' (Abbé Faria Street) in his honour.
  • On Abbe Faria Street in Margao, there was an educational institution called Instituto Abade Faria which imparted Portuguese language secondary school education known as "Lyceum studies", consisting of First Year To Fifth Year classes. It ceased to function after the liberation of Goa.
  • Alexandre Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo features a prominent character named Abbé Faria, although the character has only a passing resemblance to his historical analogue.
  • Asif Currimbhoy in his play Abbé Faria dramatizes Faria's life and views as a revolutionary priest and premier hypnotist. The play was published by Writers Workshop.[6]
  • The Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and Counselling established in the Indian state of Kerala is a memorial to Abbé 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.


  1. Moniz, A. Egas, O Padre Faria na história do hipnotismo (Abbé Faria in the history of hypnotism), Lisbon: Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, 1925.
  2. Dalgado, D.G., Memoire sur la vie de l'Abbé Faria, Paris, 1906.
  3. Charles. J. Borges, Goa and the revolt of 1787.
  4. Digitised 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."


  1. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 16, 1974, University of California, p. 307
  2. ABBÉ FARIA and the CONSPIRACY of 1787 – Prof. Alfredo de Mello,, "Caetano Victorino de Faria, a Brahmin Christian, born in Colvale, in the north of Bardez district, just on the south bank of the river Chapora, devoted himself to ecclesiastical studies when young."
  3. Robert Bradnock, Roma Bradnock, Footprint Goa Handbook: The Travel Guide, Footprint Travel Guides, 2002, ISBN 978-1-903471-22-7, Google Print, p. 57 "Abbé José Custodio Faria was born on May 30, 1756, in Candolim, just inland of Calangute. His family claimed descent from Brahmins in Colvale, but his parents separated after his birth, his mother becoming a nun and his father a priest."
  4. Pearson 1994, p. 149
  5. Britto, Nigel; Menezes, Vivek, eds. (2014). Mundo Goa. Goa: Singbal's book house.
  6. ISBN 81-7189-441-0 / 9788171894413 / 81-7189-441-0
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