History of Hypnosis

What follows is a potted history of hypnosis which has been considerably shortened to make the salient point that it is a tried and tested procedure which has stood the test of time.

Even now as more scientific discoveries are made hypnosis is gaining greater credibility and aspects of the original ancient practices are being validated.

I have referred to three books for this information and credit the authors on a more thorough working than this page portrays. I strongly recommend these books not only for the historical background but for details of the use and practice of clinical hypnosis.

1. Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis – W.S.Kroger MD

2. Medical and Dental Hypnosis – D.Waxman

3. Ericksonian Approaches, A Comprehensive Manual – R.Battino MS and T.L.South Phd.

The History of Hypnosis links back as far as we can remember :

Tribal Medicine Men, Witch Doctors, Ancient Egyptians (Ebers Papyrus over 3000 years old describe soothsayers using hypnotic procedures similar to those practiced today.), Greeks (Greek oracles) and religious leader’s hall all practiced the rudimentary procedures of hypnosis.

The hypnotic trance state and subsequent healing is said to be achieved as a result of focused attention, belief, and suggestion and as a result is associated with many forms of healing.

As hypnosis advocates fought for approval and accreditation using scientific research as its method of choice it has to a large extent left behind one of the original theories of illness. That is of a healing energy within and outside the body being enhanced or redirected to achieve healing.

Galen of Pergamum (ca130 – ca200) proposed the first scientific theory of illness suggesting that an invisible fluid filled the universe and flowed through the body and mind of every person, the imbalance of this fluid causing illness.

(If we replace the word fluid with energy, this theory is being proved correct by science today. Ed.) For more information look at our web page Hypnosis and Healing…

Healing and Hypnosis: Select for more information...

Modern Hypnosis largely separates itself from energy healing, such as the laying on of hands, as satisfactory results have been achieved for many conditions over many years and the scientific proof of the existence of an unknown energy source has not been available until very recently.

Earliest medical records describe miraculous healing by priests or demigods who induced sleep like states by ceremonial rites.

English and French monarchs dating back to 466 -511 held remarkable healing powers by laying on of hands.

Paracelsus (1493 -1541) theorised the healing affects of astral bodies and magnets.

The 17th century spawned a number of healers who had large followings. Valentine Greatrakes (1628-1666) and Francisco Bagnone to name just two.

Franz Anton Mesmer 1734 - 1815 was probably one of the most well known practitioners of what was called at the time magnetism or animal magnetism. Mesmer initially used magnets, ceremony and suggestion. He later found that the use of magnets was not necessary. Although Mesmer was the most famous he is reputed to have borrowed his ideas and theories from others such as Maxamilian Hell (1771).

James Braid (1795 – 1860) began research and got hypnosis accepted by the British medical profession.

James Esdaile (1840 – 1850) took the practice of hypnosis to a different level when using anaesthesia in a British built hospital in Calcutta India for over 300 major surgical operations.

Ambroise – Auguste Liebault of Nancy (1889) joined forces with Hippolyte – Marie Berheim (1840-1919) who are reputed to be the founders of modern psychiatry utilising hypnosis. They considered hypnosis as a normal everyday behaviour and introduced the concept of suggestion and suggestibility. They also stated that symptom removal was effective and harmless.

The first and second world wars and Korean war sparked renewed interest in the use of hypnosis within psychiatry and was one of the most important advances resulting from these wars. Many medical fads have passed into the history books never to be heard of again but hypnosis has survived and as new scientific discoveries are made we are proving that it is found on solid scientific evidential principles.

April 23rd 1955 BMA approved the use of hypnosis for treatment of psychoneuroses and pain relief in childbirth and surgery.

September 13th 1968 The Council of Mental Health of the American Medical Association Recommended that instruction of hypnosis is included in curricula for medical schools and post graduate training centres. Very few however integrated the recommendation.

The American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and International Society of Clinical & Experimental hypnosis established sections in many countries to maintain high ethical and training standards.

Milton H.Erickson MD (1901 – 1980) made hypnosis a respectable practice worthy of study. He wrote numerous papers and lectured tirelessly. Erickson and colleagues founded the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Erickson introduced the non authoritarian approach to hypnosis along with many other methods in the practice of hypnosis.

NLP: Bandler and Grinder studied numerous practitioners including Erickson and developed the practice of Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP for short. The methodologies of NLP may be practiced with or without formal hypnosis.

As I said this is a short praises of what is a very detailed subject that involves many more notable characters. Many have played there part over the years ensuring that hypnosis survived as a medical procedure and is available for mankind to benefit.

Recent year's has seen a number of advances in the field and many subsidiary processes have gained acceptance with remarkable healing results.