A BRIEF HISTORY OF HYPNOSIS
Hypnotic or suggestive therapy is one of the oldest of all healing techniques. In ancient Egypt, there were ‘sleep’ temples, and some form of hypnosis was used in ancient Greek and Roman cultures.
In the 18th century, Anton Mesmer, a Viennese physician, was achieving therapeutic effects by a process he termed ‘animal magnetism’. He believed there was a kind of fluid which permeated the universe to which the human nervous system was attuned. He thought much illness resulted from an imbalance between this force within the patient and that found in the rest of the universe, and that this imbalance could be redressed by human intervention.
Mesmer was subsequently discredited, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that his work was re-examined by the physician and surgeon James Braid. He realised that Mesmer had in fact been inducing altered states of consciousness in his subjects and that Mesmer had been achieving results because of the subsequently increased suggestibility of his patients.
Braid experimented extensively, developing his own methods. He named the techniques Hypnosis, and used them widely in his medical practice.
In the early part of the twentieth century, hypnosis was used almost exclusively by stage hypnotists, giving a very distorted view of this therapeutic tool. However, in 1955 the British Medical Association endorsed the practice of hypnosis in medical school education and it has become a valuable addition to conventional medical treatment.
Milton Erickson is widely regarded as the father of modern hypnotherapy practice. Here is an article about this amazing man.