From: Chapter XV – July, One Summer – America 1927 (2013), by Bill Bryson:
At other times (Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England from 1920-1944) vanished with his mother to Switzerland or France to attend one of the many clinics run by a…charismatic Frenchman named Emile Coue…Coue became enormously popular in the 1920s through inventing a method of self-improvement…By the mid-1920s, Coue had clinics all over Europe and North America…”
“Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie (1857 – 1926) was a French psychologist and pharmacist who introduced a popular method of psychotherapy and self-improvement based on optimistic autosuggestion. Considered by Charles Baudouin to represent a second Nancy School, Coué treated many patients in groups and free of charge.
Coué’s family came from the Brittany region of France and traced origins in French nobility. Working as an apothecary at Troyes from 1882 to 1910, Coué quickly discovered what later came to be known as the placebo effect. He became known for reassuring his clients by praising each remedy’s efficiency and leaving a small positive notice with each given medication. In 1886 and 1887 he studied with Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault and Hippolyte Bernheim, two leading exponents of hypnotism, in Nancy.
In 1910, Coué sold his business and retired to Nancy, where he opened a clinic that continuously delivered some 40,000 treatment-units per annum to local, regional, and overseas patients over the next sixteen years. In 1913, Coué and his wife founded The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology (French: La Société Lorraine de Psychologie appliquée). His book Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion was published in England (1920) and in the United States (1922). Although Coué’s teachings were, during his lifetime, more popular in Europe than in the United States, many Americans who adopted his ideas and methods, such as Maxwell Maltz, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert H. Schuller, and W. Clement Stone, became famous in their own right by spreading his words.
The application of his mantra-like conscious autosuggestion, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” (French: Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux) is called Couéism or the Coué method. Some American newspapers quoted it differently, “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” The Coué method centered on a routine repetition of this particular expression according to a specified ritual—preferably as many as twenty times a day, and especially at the beginning and at the end of each day…
Whilst a number of academic psychologists looked upon his work favourably, others did not. Coué was also criticized by exponents of psychoanalysis, with Otto Fenichel concluding: “A climax of dependence masked as independent power is achieved by the methods of autosuggestion where a weak and passive ego is controlled by an immense superego…”.