Monday, July 4, 2016

90 years ago: The death of Émile Coué

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

On July 2, 1926, Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie died at the age of 69. Mr. Coué was a pharmacist in Troyes, France from 1882-1910 who discovered the placebo effect among his clients, leading him to become a pioneer in promoting autosuggestion for self-improvement; he and his wife Lucie founded La Société Lorraine de Psychologie appliquée (The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology) in 1913.

Mr. Coué wrote the book La Maîtrise de soi-même par l'autosuggestion consciente (Mastery of One’s Self through Conscious Autosuggestion) (1920), but is best remembered for the saying, which he encouraged people to repeat to themselves as a mantra, "Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux (Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better)." Repetition of this phrase became known as La méthode Coué (The Coué method), or Couéism.

Although Mr. Coué was more popular in Europe than in North America in his own time, he exerted a major influence on North American success/motivation speakers of the later 20th century and beyond, including W. Clement Stone, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, and Rev. Robert Schuller--some of whom, of course, have been found in high places in evangelicalism. While the success/motivation speakers proclaim a false gospel of self-improvement through self-effort, the Lord Jesus Christ said, "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

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