In a recent discussion of news that creationist-allied campaigners are suggesting neuroscience implies a non-materialist (e.g. soul-based) human existence, I mentioned this was old news as Nobel-prize winning physiologist John Eccles had argued much the same in the early 20th century.
However, I recently got back to reading The Discovery of the Unconscious, Ellenberger’s huge book and remarkably thorough history of psychodynamic psychiatry, and discovered this gem on p161 that mentions a similar view from 1846.
It discusses the church’s view of hypnotism, then called magnetism, and how one notable French priest was arguing that its effects were so startling that it must have been sent by God to piss off scientists.
…in 1846, the celebrated Dominican preacher Father Lacordaire declared in one of his sermons in Notre Dame Cathedral that he believed in magnetism, which, he felt consisted of “natural but irregular forces which cannot be reduced to scientific formulas and which are being used by God in order to confound contemporary materialism”.
The Catholic church has traditionally had an ambivalent relationship with hypnosis, and banned its members from the practice from the 1880s until 1955, as we discussed previously.