HISTORY OF HYPNOSIS
The practice of hypnosis is most often traced back to an Austrian physician
named Franz Mesmer (1734-1815). From him comes the term "mesmerism".
Mesmer discovered that individuals could be "cured" from many
diseases by having them hold onto "magnetized" rods and suggesting
to them they would be healed. This worked well until around 1782 when
an entourage, which included Benjamin Franklin, was sent to investigate
this miracle worker and determined that if the people get better it
is by their own imagination. So mesmerism lost its great following until
it reappeared in a revised form with a new term, hypnosis, derived from
Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep by a man named Dr. James Braid in 1841.
Dr. Braid used a "fixed gaze" to produce a "sleeplike"
From that time we find such names as Professor Jean Charcot, who in
1878 began experiments and revitalized hypnotism. This was done at the
School of the Salpetriere in Paris. The School of Nancy in French Lorraine
also emerged with Dr. Liebeault as its chief investigator. Hypnotism
also had its early advocates in surgery. In 1846 Dr. James Esdaile was
one of many who performed many operations using hypnosis alone.
Perhaps the most famous of these early "mind explorers" was
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who learned hypnosis from Charcot and others.
He then studied with a man named Josef Breuer who co-authored a paper
called Studies in Hysteria in which the famous Anna O. case was presented.
Together they showed how hysterical symptoms were actually repressed
memories and could be unlocked with hypnosis. Eventually Freud developed
free association because he was uncomfortable with the intimate nature
Not to leave religion out in the cold, a man name Phineas Quimby, an
early follower of magnetism was sought out by a woman named Mary Baker
who found relief from Quimbys techniques. They worked together after
that until disagreements led her to begin the Church of Christ with
revised magnetic and hypnotic techniques learned from Quimby. The history
of many modern day American churches can be traced back to the founders
dabbling with hypnotic techniques. Go figure. But such has been the
case of hypnotism from the beginning!
Around 1945 a man by the name of Milton Erickson began to incorporate
hypnosis into his MD Psychiatric practice and hypnotherapy began to
gain a reputation as a viable form of treatment. From studies of Erickson
come Ericksonian hypnosis and the foundation of study and practice called
Neuro Linguistic Programming.
In 1958 hypnosis was finally accepted by the American Medical Association.
This brings us to the creative use of hypnotism by today's practitioners.
Every major city in America and most countries will have their share
of hypnotherapists. One look in the phone book and you will find a variety
of uses for hypnosis: smoking cessation, weight loss, stress control,
elimination of fears and phobias, sports motivation, confidence building,
regression therapy, test anxiety, better concentration, sleep disorders,
pain control, inner child healing and almost any area you can imagine.
I've had clients who have come to me to relearn a foreign language they
haven't used in 20 years and walk out of my office speaking their second
language fluently! The use of hypnotism in entertainment is gaining
wide appeal. As a stage hypnotist also, I perform around the country
and travel the world amazing audiences with the spellbinding effects
of hypnotism! The uses of hypnotism are limited only by ones imagination.
Today there are dozens of professional hypnosis organizations which
are dedicated to the study and understanding of hypnotism. On one hand
we have the professional community of psychologists, doctors and so
who limit their membership to their associates. We also have the students
of professional hypnotherapy who have studied at schools of hypnotism
and have learned their craft well. They are called Certified Hypnotherapists.
Most Certified Hypnotherapists will have more precise training in the
art and science of hypnotism/hypnotherapy than their friends in the
psychological community. That is why more and more academic professionals
are receiving advanced training in hypnosis in specialized schools such
as our own Hypnotism International.
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