History Of Hypnosis

The very word hypnosis traditionally has caused confusion. It was coined in the 1800’s from “Hypnosis” the Greek God of sleep. The word had been accepted to describe the “sleep” like state, even though it is universally known that hypnosis is not sleep.

Various euphemisms have been used to describe the state of mind called hypnosis such as: visual or guided imagery, autogenic training, relaxation therapy, suggestive therapy, and even the word “Mesmerism”. Some similar types of therapies that also utilize this “hypnotic” state include: biofeedback, meditation, breath work, yoga, and all types of the marshal arts.

Many cultures from the beginning of time have used various rituals to induce a hypnotic state including meditation, sleep deprivation, burning incense, chanting, inhaling fumes or taking substances. This hypnotic state was thought to give access to the spiritual dimension and speed physical and emotional healing.

Hieroglyphics in the tombs of ancient Egyptians from as early as 3000 BC tell the story of “sleep temples” that people would attend to experience healing of illnesses such as blindness, headaches, wounds, baldness and more. The patients of the “sleep temples” did not actually sleep… they were in a hypnotic trance which explains the confusion between the two terms.

In more modern times Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 -1815) believed in a practice he called “animal magnetism” also known as “Mesmerism”. This included the use of magnets that aligned an invisible body fluid to create healing. In addition he used light, verbal cues, rituals and hand motions to induce trances in individuals.

During the 1800s Abbe Castodi de Faria of France began the first scientific investigation of hypnosis and John Elliotson of England began using hypnosis to reduce pain during surgery. The very famous Dr. James Braid brought hypnosis into mainstream society by studying the influence a hypnotist could have on their subject.

The use of hypnosis for surgery, dental procedures, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment, scientific research and for individual trauma and interpersonal issues catapulted during the 20th century. Ongoing studies prove over and over that hypnosis can be used to manage and relieve both physical and emotional pain and the popularity and use of hypnosis continues to grow.

Read a short research paper about this subject.