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History of hypnosis

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

When we try to find details about the history of hypnosis, we have to go very far.
Traces of hypnosis are found in the early historical period. The term hypnosis came into existence in 1880 following James Braid who, around 1841, had adopted the name 'hypnotism'. When we talk about hypnotism or hypnosis, we should know the fact that Franz Anton Mesmer, an Austrian physician, has the honor to be called the 'father of hypnosis'. His period was about a century earlier than James Braid. He had his own ideas and ways to apply hypnosis.

The Scottish surgeon, James Braid, believed that hypnosis could be used in disorders with no identifiable organic origin like headaches, skin problems, etc. He discovered how the subject, or patient, could be brought into trance if he simply fix his eyes on a bright object, like a golden or silver watch or pendulum. He also found out how to re-hypnotize his subjects with a single stimulus, a word or an object.
When we look at the history of hypnosis, we can note a point that during the period though hypnosis was being used to treat certain diseases, how it actually works remained unknown for a long time. In the history of hypnosis, we find different theories and opinions on hypnosis.

History of hypnosis also shows how hypnosis was used even on the animals. Around the period of 1600, some farmers used hypnosis on chickens to calm them and to make them ready to lay eggs. They used to tie a piece of wood to the beak of the chicken in a way that the chicken was made to focus the eyes on the piece of wood which was resulting in sedating the bird. Not only chickens, hypnosis was used on different animals for entertainment and stage shows.

During 1751 - 1825, a pupil of Franz Anton Mesmer, Marquis de Puysegur, applied what it was termed 'animal magnetism' on a peasant and succeeded to bring him into trance while the subject was still able to communicate with Puysegur as he responded to his suggestions. This process clearly indicated to him that some kinds of psychological influences were extremely important in this process of hypnosis. Like Pusegur, many other experts used hypnosis in one way or the other and formed their own opinions and beliefs.

The history of hypnosis indicates the use of hypnosis in the ancient cultures where different methods of hypnosis were used in religious ceremonies. If you look at the ancient Egyptian pictures the use of hypnosis can clearly be noted. When we try to find the links for the history of hypnosis, we do not fail to note the fact that the use of hypnosis was not restricted to certain parts only; signs of its use can be traced in different cultures of the world.

While looking at the history of hypnosis, we can't fail to admire the encouraging work of another Scottish doctor, James Esdale (around 1845) who performed about 2000 operations without the patients feeling the pain as they were under the influence of hypnosis.
In the early 1900, the findings and experimental work of Milton H. Erickson helped hypnosis to flourish further. He used visualization technique as hypnosis. His techniques are now called Ecricksonian hypnosis.

The history of hypnosis also indicates how hypnosis progressed throughout the decades. In 1955, it was the British Medical Association who officially supported the teaching of the therapeutic use of hypnosis in medicine. This step was soon followed by the American Medical Association in 1958.
If we look at the status of hypnosis in our period, we find the International Society of Hypnosis coordinating and assessing standards and practices of professional hypnotist across the world. Now, hypnosis has firmly established itself as an effective alternative therapy which can reliably be used in medicine and psychology.



Mar 20, 2010 4:38pm
Hypnosis has always been an area of psychology that fascinated me. Particularly the different methods used, the types of people who are capable of being hypnotised and why exactly others are not.
Very interesting article!
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