History of Hypnosis

“The Power of Suggestive Healing has been practiced for eons…”

Egyptian hieroglyphic
Mind altering practices date back at least to the ancient Egyptians

While there is evidence showcasing the use of hypnosis rituals during pre-historic times, you may find one of the first intriguing visual accounts through hieroglyphics decorating the early 3000 BC tombs of ancient Egyptians. It is believed that hypnotism was utilized within various “sleep temples,” which had connections to healing or religion.

Throughout ancient history, a wide range of ancient proof surrounds the fact that hypnotism was understood and practiced during numerous medicinal practices and rituals. Celtic druids to ancient Greeks to Chinese religious leaders have all shown a respect for hypnotism, as the accomplishment was also prevalent throughout Africa, Persia and South America. It is even thought that details regarding the practice of hypnosis can be found throughout the pages of the Jewish Scriptures and the Hindu Vedas.

Surrounded by spiritualism, magic and divine power, hypnotism was met with plenty of opposition for those who questioned this mysterious practice and technique. During the early years, hypnosis was a popular exercise associated with shamans, witch doctors, as well as high priests. With each passing year, there have been thousands of influences upon hypnosis, as scientific as well as unscientific approaches contributed to the advancement of this captivating entity.

Hypnosis in the 1700s

Austrian physician Franz Mesmer 1734-1815
Austrian physician Franz Mesmer 1734-1815

During the 1700s, one of the most well known figures in hypnosis history is an Austrian by the name of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815). Throughout the 18th century, he led the way in the usage of trace, which earned him the nickname, “Father of Hypnosis.” It is also through his name that we find the term “mesmerism.”

At the urging of Mozart, Mesmer purchased a space where he could perform magical “cures” on people. While many praised his healing powers, which were often accompanied with lights and other gimmicks, there were others who dismissed his results as a figment of the imagination. One notable critic was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

Hypnosis During the 1800s

Dr. James Braid "Father of Hypnosis" 1795-1860
Dr. James Braid “Father of Hypnosis” 1795-1860

In France, one of the first scientific explorations regarding hypnosis took place with the help of Abbe Castodi de Faria. He investigated the ins and outs of the practice as it related to trances and willing participants. Faria is also credited with establishing what is known as the “fixed-gaze method,” which became a rage throughout stage hypnotism shows.

Also during this time, without the effort of John Elliotson of England, the use of magnetism and hypnosis may have never found its way in easing the pain of surgery. As for the concept of autosuggestion, the thoughts and teachings of Emile Coue brought this to the public. Coue contended that all hypnosis was influenced by self-hypnotic techniques.

But during the 1800s, it was the work of Dr. James Braid that really catapulted hypnosis. Through his studies, suggestibility, as it related to trance, was thought to be an individual occurrence. Using vocal suggestion, he was able to explore the influence that hypnotists had on their subjects. Braid is also honored for discovering “waking hypnosis.”

1900s — A Time of Profound Change

American Psychologist, Dr. Clark Hull 1884-1952
American Psychologist, Dr. Clark Hull 1884-1952

In 1933, Clark Hull (1884-1952) released a landmark text. Hypnosis and Suggestibility is the first major book to compile the results of laboratory experiments in hypnosis, and the first to apply the techniques and standards of modern experimental psychology.

The 20th Century

Dr. Milton H. Erickson 1901-1980
Dr. Milton H. Erickson 1901-1980

During the 20th century, many researchers, doctors and other medical figures began to take interest in learning more about hypnosis. Important strides on the subject were then made by the likes of John Kappas, Ormond McGill, Milton Erickson and Dave Elman.

In 1958 Milton Erickson brought about the approval of hypnosis for therapeutic use by the American Medical Association. Dr. Erickson was a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist with outstanding professional credentials and theorized that hypnosis is a state of mind that all of us are normally entering spontaneously and frequently.

On the heels of Erickson’s work, hypnosis evolved into a well respected practice, used by doctors, psychologists, business and law enforcement. It’s also used for self help, and self improvement. To explore the history of hypnosis, one will encounter a wealth of personalities who have shaped the way people viewed and accepted the field.

The history of hypnotism travels throughout a vast record in time. It was used to treat trauma victims during both World Wars. Dentists utilized its power as hypnotic-anesthesia. In 1955, the British Medical Association began to consider hypnotherapy as a legitimate medical treatment. Three years later, the American Medical Association (AMA) agreed. Following these acknowledgments throughout the medical world, a host of professional associations for hypnotists started to pop up across the globe. To date, the National Guild of Hypnotists is still the oldest and largest of its kind.

Hypnotherapy is a highly effective medical tool and it is widely used to stop smoking, regulate eating habits, stress reduction, stop addictions, as well as enhancing the healing process and promoting positive changes for personal growth.

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