Emile Coue And The Discovery
Of Positive Affirmations

Emile Coue (1857-1926) was a pharmacist and later also a psychotherapist from Troyes in France. He is generally credited with positing the now widely accepted theory that the solution to many of the problems encountered by people lies within the ability to change subconscious thought patterns and use the imagination for your benefit, as a pose to attempting to defeat or overcome a problem by trying to use the conscious will to surmount it. Emile Coue understood that the imagination is more powerful than the "will" on its own.

Emile Coue and Autosuggestion

For example you could try to will yourself to walk across a tightrope strung between two tall buildings but unless you had a lot of training and experience in tightrope walking you would, despite your will, fall to your death because your imagination, thoughts and mental images of what could happen, would supplant the will and cause you to fall.

At some point during his career in pharmacy Coue encountered a patient who was unsure of what medication might be most effective in relieving his ailment. Coue himself wasn't sure, but decided to recommend medicine that he thought might help, but which he also privately knew might be ineffective though harmless.

A couple of days later the patient reappeared praising the medicine and saying that he'd made a full recovery. Coue investigated the medicine concerned and found that while it was harmless it had no known properties which could have relieved the man's condition. Coue had in fact just discovered the placebo effect.

He began to experiment with this, finding that when he made a point of highlighting the positive properties of a particular medicine to some patients but not to others, the patients who had heard him praise the medicine recovered much more fully and quickly than those to whom he'd said nothing.

Coue realized that all this related to the power of the imagination and of belief, and began to investigate hypnosis and the power of the mind. He never would have and never did downplay the importance of effective medication in treatment for illness, but he couldn't help noticing that patients who believed in their treatment recovered well, while those who didn't remained ill or died, despite taking the same medication/treatment.

It occurred to him that if a patient were to consistently tell him or her self that he or she was getting better, but without consciously "willing" it to be so, then the imagination would gradually build up the impression within the mind that this indeed was happening, and that the subconscious mind would gradually come to accept this as reality.

Thus began his experiments with autosuggestion. He set up a clinic and soon began to achieve remarkable results with his patients. He began to instruct patients in autosuggestion techniques, emphasizing the importance of removing the element of conscious willpower where one is simply and usually unsuccessfully trying to will something to happen, and instead letting the imagination just follow the line of the "affirmation".

Eventually Emile Coue had clinics in Europe and North America and became quite a sensation in his time. He formulated probably the first well known affirmation - "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better". At one time a whole group of patients with a wide range of mild to severe medical and nervous problems began using this affirmation, for 2 or 3 minutes first thing in the morning and again last thing at night until, sooner or later, 93% of them were independently documented as having made either complete or almost complete recoveries.

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