Wednesday, 3 August 2011

History of Hypnosis

Hypnotherapy is not a new method of treatment by any stretch of the imagination, and much like many ‘new age’ methods of treatment it is in fact thousands of years old and easily predates many forms of so called ‘traditional’ medicine.

Findings report that in cultures such as ancient Egypt and Greece hypnotic healing houses were already in use, although no one knows for sure exactly how far back in time this practise goes as there are simply not the available records for such dating. During these ancient times the injured would be placed inside ‘sleep temples’ where shaman-like practitioners would induce them into a state of deep hypnotic trance. The injured would then be left to ‘rest’ as chants and music surrounded them, encouraging the ‘spirits’ to aid their healing process.

A more modern explanation of this remedy would be somewhat different of course! In trance state heart rate and other bodily functions decrease to near that of sleeping, where the body is able to concentrate it’s energies more fully on rehabilitation, in itself sometimes producing near miraculous results. It may not necessarily be the spirits or the Gods summoning such healing but rather the sub-conscious mind working nearer to it’s full capacity and demonstrating just what the human brain can achieve. But nonetheless the principles of hypnotic healing are still the same.

Since those ancient times Hypnotherapy had its bursts of popularity and decline, but fully came to the fore again famously in the 18th century due largely to an Austrian named Franz Mesmer and his ‘Mesmerism’, famed for the idea that human illnesses were caused by magnetic blockages in the body. Mesmer went about successfully healing people by getting them first to drink a magnetic fluid and then making a series of passes over their body with either a metal bar or his own hands to bring about a cure to these blockages. Mesmerism was at odds with the mainstream science of the times, but no one could explain his level of success. Mesmer’s healing processes became so famous at the time that even the French royalty took a great interest in him before he was eventually embroiled in scandal and disappeared from public view.

Another leading figure soon after Mesmer was Britain’s James Braid, the ‘father of modern hypnotism’ the person who first coined the term ‘Hypnosis’ in his writing. Braid rejected Mesmer’s explanation of magnetism as the cause of his phenomena, instead attributing it to a physiological process resulting from a prolonged focus to an object of fixation. Braid had discovered that getting a patient to fixate their eyes onto an object was a key component in successfully inducing a trance state and therefore healing. The famous pocket watch was often used as this object in Hypnotism’s early beginnings, thus explaining the strong stereotype aligned with the object.

At a similar time surgeons and physicians such as John Elliotson and James Esdaile found that Hypnosis could successfully be used in medical practice for pain control. Esdaile reported that he had conducted some 345 major operations while serving for the British army in India using only hypnotic sleep as an anaesthetic.  Chemical anaesthetic later become popularised and Hypnotherapy was not used so much in surgery, and from that time on hypnosis’ use was focused upon mental health.

In the late 19th century Emile Coue of France came up with the idea that hypnosis only existed in the subject rather than in the practitioner, who was there only to facilitate the hypnotic process instead of actually producing it. Coue was one of the first to understand the power of the human imagination and the effect it could have on the mind and body, and that belief in recovery from injury or illness is as much important as the physical recovery process itself. Importantly Coue discovered that prescribed medicines only worked when the patient had confidence in them and did not work when the patient was sceptical. This research lead to the creation of the term ‘Auto-suggestion’. Auto-suggestions are repeated mantras that have a significant effect on the body, if you tell yourself continually that you will be physically well again very soon from illness the chances are that you will make just that recovery, in much the same way that self fulfilling prophecy works. ‘Every day in every way I’m getting better and better’ was the famous auto-suggestion from Coue that inspired many others.

Hypnotherapy went through a period of wane after Sigmund Freud dismissed the practice in favour of his more preferable Psychoanalysis techniques, but Hypnotherapy was not dead. Instead it was brought back to life once more through the art of stage hypnosis thanks to the likes of Ormond McGill in the USA, bringing Hypnosis firmly back into the public eye. Ormond McGill, Charles Tebbets, Dave Elman and Milton Erikson were around at the same time in the early to mid 20th century, and through their pioneering work brought about Hypnotherapy being accepted by modern medical science due mainly to the great results they consistently achieved. Erikson himself was a well-recognised psychiatrist and thus drew respect from the medical community who could not ignore his demonstrations of hypnosis and what it could achieve so rapidly.

All the aforementioned names, as well as countless many others, have played key roles in propelling Hypnotherapy from the ancient world into the 21st century. Hypnotherapy has been transported from being a mysterious art form to where it stands today as a respected technique of modern medical care, used successfully in treating an ever widening list of personal issues right the way around the globe.

This blog will show you exactly how to utilise the pioneering work of these great men for your own personal growth and benefit…

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