The History Of Hypnosis
The idea of practicing hypnosis has been around for centuries and dates as far back to 950 AD used by the Persian doctors.
For centuries after that people came very close to discovering hypnotherapy with the help of magnets, scientists observed people in a particular mesmerized state. However, all these studies were carried out without success.
It wasn’t until the 1840s when a Scottish surgeon named James Braid first theorized from his observations that people could be talked into a sleep, trance-like state.
Although he noticed that people who were guided into this state seemed to be asleep. They were, in fact, still awake and very alert.
It has since been developed as a form of therapy to project messages of importance, especially positive messages across to the subconscious as a way of treating mental health.
Who Founded The Idea Of Hypnosis
It was James Braid that made the first recorded observation and considered the idea of hypnosis as a form of psychological therapy. He studied the idea of a “mesmeric trance,” that the Viennese had touched upon in the 1770s.
In the late 16th century, a Viennese scientist called Mesmer studied subjects, mainly animals and noted that they took on a specific mesmerized state. However, his method of experimenting on animals with magnets where he documented results about paranormal forces and telepathy, also meant that his findings received a lot of criticism. Scientists later questioned his religious views in his conclusion.
However, the idea of magnetism or mesmerization was there, as a way to treat mental illness. James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, took interest in Mesmer’s experiments, although he did not agree with the results and method he used. It gave him a reason to explore the idea and come up with his own findings, which he did — making way for the first studies to be made into the method of hypnotherapy as a form of therapeutic treatment.
In 1842, Braid released a paper called Practical Essay on the curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism. This is where he first used the shortened term — hypnotism, which he referred to as the “sleep of the nerves.” The collective term, which describes the method called hypnosis comes from the Greek word ‘hypnos,’ which means sleep.
However, later studies went on to show that people are awake still and in a mediated sleep-like state. This led psychologists, such as Freud and others to adopt another term called abreaction therapy amongst other names. However, the term hypnosis was reinstated again by Dave Elman in the 1950s where it remained the term we use today.
Early Uses of Hypnosis
Braid was one of the first people to start writing on the theory of hypnosis in his book Neurypnology (1948). He also looked into the meditative qualities of certain exercises, which calm nerves that went on to develop into Yoga. So, Braid was very inspirational in his findings towards positive mental health overall.
Studies on hypnosis moved overseas from the UK to France when Braid died in 1860. Jean-Martin Charcot developed Braid’s ideas and used what was considered to be one of the earliest forms of hypnotherapeutic techniques to treat hysteria. He called it “The numerical method.”
It was with this method he used to improve sensory acuity, as well as memory. It was at this time that we first started to distinguish doctors of mental health. Hypnosis was passed on from a trade used by surgeons to the first hypnotherapists, such as Jean-Martin Charcot.
A popular interest rose out of Charcot’s practices with hypnotherapy that he carried out in public sessions. He would arrange gatherings and shows, which were like early seminars. It was during these ‘public shows of hypnosis’ that Charcot carried out hypnotherapy on random spectators.
At this time people were completely breath taken by these first encounters of people being hypnotized and observing changes to people's behavior under hypnosis. In a world that had been explained through theories of phenomena and God, there was no doubt that the first scientific experiments carried out in public came as a great shock to most people. This was at the very beginning when people first started talking about ideas of science, psychology and hypnotherapy.
One person who took particular interest during one of Charcot’s public sessions then became one of his pupils. This pupil became one of the most famous names in psychology with groundbreaking work that produced findings, which then gave this important subject of studying the mind importance as a trade for therapy.
Sigmund Freud studied for many years into the subconscious and the meanings of dreams.
His theories on PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were also very influential. He carried out many studies surrounding PTSD and connected his findings to certain behaviors and fears that we often dispose of when we experience trauma during childhood.
Freud also used hypnosis in his psychiatric work as a way of relaxing his patients, but also to retrieve information from their memory on dreams and experiences that they had as children. These memories were often attached to his findings where the patient suffered PTSD and were, in fact, very damaging to the person’s mental state. It was these memories he found that he would intend to change through effectively hypnotizing his patients.
However, Freud refused to use the term hypnosis because he believed that people were not asleep, but instead in a trance when they were being treated this way. He termed this form of therapy as abreaction therapy.
Hypnosis Into The Early 20th Century.
In the early 1920s, a Russian doctor called Platanov who worked for Stalin studied the use of hypnosis as a therapy to overcome intense pain. This was especially helpful and effective as painkillers and medicine were still basic then. Platanov’s findings were discovered and studied further by the psychologist Clark L. Hull brought his theories to Yale University, so that it could be studied and practiced as a proper, modern study of psychotherapy.
Hull’s experiments into hypnosis as a mental health treatment went on to explore further the idea of pain reduction and recalling memory loss, but also as a way of improving our cognitive state. Hull claimed that hypnosis was especially good for treating mental illness like anxiety and depression.
After Hull and Platanov’s findings revealed hypnosis to be a good way of overcoming intense and chronic pain, it was used a lot for this. It became a popular form of calming women to cope with pain management during childbirth, before the epidural was discovered. It was also used considerably during WW1 and WW2, as well as other civil wars to treat patients with chronic injury pain.
Modern Day Hypnotherapy
Dave Elman was a great personality in the promotion of hypnotherapy as a beneficial medical treatment for mental health in our modern day. This is quite considerable as he never studied or received medical training. However, he was extremely passionate and discovered a lot.
Elman reinstated the name hypnotherapy or hypnosis to define this specific study of the mind. He also introduced rapid inductions, which is used in the technique to put the patient into a meditative trance-like or hypnotic state. His technique is still used by practitioners today.
Since then, the definition of a hypnotherapist reads like this:
“Hypnotherapist — Is someone who is medically trained to be able to induce a hypnotic state on their patient / client to increase motivation and change certain behavioral characteristics, which are imposing negative thoughts on their mental wellbeing. First of all, a hypnotherapist will consult their patient to determine the nature of their problem and then apply the correct information and method. Hypnotherapists will prepare a client for their hypnosis by explaining how it works and what they are likely to experience. They may test or imply certain questions, which leads them to determine certain degrees of physical and emotional suggestibility. Then they will use individualised methods and techniques based on interpretation of analysing the client’s problem to induce their client into a hypnotic state. Hypnotherapists can train a client in self-hypnosis conditioning. In most places the term “therapist” is given to professionals and practitioners of hypnotherapy, thereby they must hold a license and have dedicated medical training to carry hypnosis on patients.”
Although, this is recognized as the documented definition for a person who holds and practices his trade as a hypnotherapist. It is ironic that the person who gave it meaning, in fact, did not have any medical training.
However, it is important that today if you are going to provide services to the public treating them with hypnotherapy that you hold a license for it.
This can, of course, have its legal consequences if you decide to sell such services without a license. Not only would you face a hefty fine, but you could face a prison sentence as a form of fraudulent penalization.
Look out for our blog this week on How To Become A Hypnotherapist to find out more. And now that you know a little more about the history of hypnotherapy you should check out what hypnotherapy packs we offer following this link.
I can imagine you’re feeling much more reassured now that you know a little more about hypnotherapy as a form of medical treatment to improve your mental wellbeing. Find your guidance today to a healthier frame of mind with Clear Minds hypnotherapy audios.