A basic history of hypnotherapy.
The origins of hypnosis are unknown, but there is no doubt that it has been in use since ancient times – “professionals,” such as witch doctors and medicine men used it to go in a trance state to find answers to questions.
Ancient Egyptians used an evolved form of hypnosis called “incubation” or “temple sleep.” The Hebrew were also using similar rites of meditation and chanting; the state of mind that resulted was known as kavanah. Both these ancient civilizations were practicing something similar to what we call self-hypnosis today.
About 500 years before Christ, places known as Aesculapian Sleep Temples were present everywhere. In these temples, the priests kept their “patients” in a room where they would sleep. The purpose of this exercise was to interpret the dreams of their patients.
Hypnosis in the 18th Century
Fast forwarding to the 18th century, Franz Mesmer appears on the scene. Originally a doctor of medicine, Mesmer believed in the use magnets for curing people; however, he did stress that other substances, such as wood and glass, can work as well. People to this day believe in the curative properties of magnets. The terms “Mesmerism”/”Mesmerized” are associated with Mesmer. These terms were used to describe the influence that his stares had on people. Franz Mesmer was a very charismatic man and a bit of an eccentric. He combined a hypnotherapist’s use of suggestion with an early type of group therapy.
James Braid was the first person to use the term Hypnotism. He was a highly reputed surgeon from Scotland and was not impressed by hypnotism when he first saw it in 1841. In the second demonstration he saw, he went up to the subject to investigate. He tested the “Mesmerized” subject by inserting a pin beneath her nail and was most impressed to see that the girl didn’t feel anything. After this incident, he experimented with hypnotism himself and became an ardent supporter.
James Esdaile is another famous hypnotist of the past. Around the 1840’s he carried out several operations using hypnosis in two hospitals in India. At the time of his departure from India, he had carried out 300 major operations and 19 amputations.
Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy in the Present Day
The Nancy School of Hypnosis
Nancy School of Hypnosis in France was founded by two medical doctors and played the most crucial role in establishing hypnosis as a true method of remedy.
Emile Coue and Dr. Milton Erickson
Emile Coue and Dr. Milton Erickson are very well known due to their association with hypnosis. Emile Coue studied at Nancy. He coined the phrase “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” Dr. Milton Erickson, in the 1930’s, made a big contribution to the entire field of hypnosis and suggestion.
Modern Day Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy in the present day is based on the same principles discovered in the distant past, but it’s very different from the ancient practice of gathering large number of people in a group in order to sleep!
Modern day hypnotherapy is not only connected strongly with hypnosis, but also with the fields of psychotherapy such as solution focused therapy