Hypnosis: Very Long ago
It’s not known for certain how long ago hypnosis even began, but it’s for sure that it was being used thousands of years ago. Shamans, witch doctors and medicine men were really using hypnosis when they employed a technique to suspend their consciousness – what we might now call trance.
Their motive for doing this was to reveal answers to any questions that they may have had. They trusted their innermost instincts and intuition and it was using their own version of hypnosis, that enabled them to tap into the deep unconscious mind.
Moving forward to the time of the ancient Egyptians, the whole process had evolved a bit and by now a healing method known as ‘incubation’, or ‘temple sleep’ was being used.
Another civilisation that used similar practices of meditation and chanting was the ancient Hebrews. These practices were similar to what we now know as self-hypnosis and produced an ecstasy-like state which the Hebrews call kavanah.
Hypnosis Long Ago
Moving forward a bit to around 500 years before Christ sleep temples were popping up everywhere. Priests would prepare their ‘patients’ and put them into a room to sleep so as to later interpret their dreams.
Indeed, the whole sense of wonder created by the priest, the solemn procedure and ritual combined with the powerful effect of the atmosphere in the temple meant that the whole process opened the mind towards suggestion – and suggestion is what modern hypnotherapists use to this day.
Hypnosis in more Modern Times
Now, if we shoot forward to the 18th Century, Franz Mesmer was hugely influential – a man that most people will have heard of. If not the man himself, most people are familiar with, or have heard the terms Mesmerism, or ‘Mesmerised’. The term ‘Mesmerised’ describes the influence on a person of Franz Mesmer’s famously penetrating stare.
Originally a medical doctor, Mesmer came to believe in the use of devices such as magnets to cure people although he did stress that magnets did not have to be used and that other substances would do such as – wood, glass, or even water. Indeed, people today still subscribe to the theory that magnets hold extra-special curative properties.
He was a very charismatic man and even by modern standards a bit of an eccentric. However, there is no doubt that whichever method he chose to practice with, what he was really indulging in would be a hypnotherapist’s use of suggestion, only he combined it with an early form of group therapy.
The person who first coined the word hypnotism was James Braid, a Scottish surgeon of very high repute. When he first witnessed hypnotism, way back in 1841, he was not very impressed and believed that some kind of trickery was involved.
He went to see a second demonstration only this time he went up to the rostrum to investigate the subject, a mesmerized girl. He tested the depth of her trance by forcing a pin beneath a finger-nail and was most impressed when she showed no pain. This led him to conduct his own experiments whereupon he finally became an ardent supporter of hypnotism.
Another influential person in the history of hypnosis is James Esdaile who successfully used hypnosis in numerous operations in two hospitals in India around the 1840’s. By the time he left India he had carried out thousands of painless operations and 300 of these were major ones, 19 being amputations.
Of course, one of the most famous places to encounter hypnosis was at the Nancy School in France. The Nancy school was founded by two medical doctors and it proved to be of the utmost importance in the establishment of hypnosis as a truly remedial agent.
There are many other notable names in hypnosis over history. Two very well known ones are Emile Coué, who in fact studied at Nancy, and brought us the well-known phrase
‘Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.’
Dr. Milton Erickson also contributed hugely to the whole field of hypnosis and suggestion in the 1930’s.
Modern day hypnotherapy, whilst still using some of the basic principles of hypnosis discovered all those years ago, is a far cry from the ancient practice of bringing many people together in order to sleep!
Modern day hypnotherapy has very strong connections not only with the science of hypnosis, but also with the worlds of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Hypnotherapy itself, was endorsed by the British Medical Association in 1955.
Whatever your problem is whether it be fear, bad habits or negative thinking, hypnosis can give you the power to bring change to your life.
While meditation clears the mind with the aim of relaxing it,
hypnosis does so with the intention of changing it.