Although it is only in recent years that hypnotherapy has risen in popularity it has actually been around since ancient times and has been in use for thousands of years, even gaining a mention in none other than the bible! (Genesis 2:21, 1 Samuel 26:12, Job 4:13, 33:15, Acts 10:10)
Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) has been deemed the ‘father of hypnosis’. Starting out as a doctor in Austria, Franz believed that many diseases at the time were caused by blockages of magnetic fluid in the blood and nervous system. He developed a treatment known as mesmerism in which he attempted to ease the block of magnetic fluids first using magnets, then his hands, and then the eyes.
A student of Mesmer, named The Marquis de Puysegur was studying what was then known as ‘animal magnetism’. Basically this meant he was able to get the subject into a state of sleep and respond to suggestions. Upon waking up the subjects would remember nothing that took place. Puysegur believed there was a psychological connection between hypnosis and the mind.
In the 1840’s Scottish surgeon James Braid coined the term ‘hypnotism’ and ‘hypnosis’. He believed that there was a neurophysiological connection during hypnosis and found it to be helpful when treating headaches and skin problems. Research on the topic of hypnosis has continued to the present.
Since the 1950’s, hypnosis has been recognised and supported by the British Medical Association and is now used commonly in dentistry, medicine and psychology. It helps to treat many conditions and can be used alongside traditional medications to enhance treatment and is not to be confused with stage hypnosis which is purely for entertainment.
Advances in hypnosis will continue to occur as long as we continue to learn more about the human mind and its capacity. Until then, scientific research will continue to look at different ways in which hypnotherapy can help therapeutically, medicinally, and psychologically.