A brief history of Hypnosis
The history of hypnosis is as ancient as that of sorcery, magic, and medicine; indeed, hypnosis has been used as a method in all three. Its scientific history began in the latter part of the 18th century with Franz Mesmer, a German physician who used hypnosis in the treatment of patients in Vienna and Paris. Because of his mistaken belief that hypnotism made use of an occult force (which he termed “animal magnetism”) that flowed through the hypnotist into the subject, Mesmer was soon discredited; but Mesmer’s method named mesmerism after its creator continued to interest medical practitioners. A number of clinicians made use of it without fully understanding its nature until the middle of the 19th century, when the English physician James Braid studied the phenomenon and coined the terms hypnotism and hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos.
How does Hypnosis work?
Hypnosis is usually considered an aid to psychotherapy (counselling or therapy), because the hypnotic state allows people to explore painful thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds. In addition, hypnosis enables people to perceive some things differently, such as blocking an awareness of pain.
Hypnosis can be used in two ways, as suggestion therapy or for patient analysis:
• Suggestion Therapy:
The hypnotic state makes the person better able to respond to suggestions. Therefore, hypnotherapy can help some people change certain behaviours, such as stopping smoking or nail biting. It can also help people change perceptions and sensations, and is particularly useful in treating pain.
This approach uses the relaxed state to explore a possible psychological root cause of a disorder or symptom, such as a traumatic past event that a person has hidden in his or her unconscious memory. Once the trauma is revealed, it can be addressed in psychotherapy.
The hypnotic state allows a person to be more open to discussion and suggestion. It can improve the success of other treatments for many conditions, including:
• Phobias, fears, and anxiety
• Sleep disorders
• Post-trauma anxiety
• Grief and loss