& Egyptian sleep temples
Hypnotism as a tool
for health seems to have originated with the
who often took their sick to sleep temples to be cured by
hypnotic suggestion as also found to be the case in Egypt
and Greece. The book the
Law of Manu,
which was the ancient
Science of the Indian people, categorized different states
of hypnosis discerning different levels of gradation: the
"Sleep-Waking" state, the "Dream-Sleep" state, and the
"Ecstasy-Sleep" state. Hypnotic-like inductions were used
to place the individual in a sleep-like state, although it
is now accepted that hypnosis is different from sleep.
and "Magnet" healing
(1493-1541), a Swiss medical doctor who is also known for
his discovery of the mercury cure for
was the first physician to utilize
in his work. Many people claimed to be healed after he
passed magnets (or
over their body.
Irishman by the name of
(1628-1666) was known as "the Great Irish Stroker" for his
ability to heal people by laying his hands on them and
passing magnets over their bodies.
Johann Joseph Gassner
(1727-1779), a Catholic priest of the time, believed that
disease was caused by evil spirits and could be exorcised
by incantations and prayer.
Around 1771, a
Viennese Jesuit named
(1720-1792) was using magnets to heal by applying steel
plates to the naked body. One of Father Hell's students
was a young medical doctor from Vienna named Franz Anton
Mesmer and "Animal Magnetism"
first became involved in hypnosis around
Dr. Franz Mesmer
(1734-1815), a physician from Austria, started
investigating an effect he called "animal
(the latter name still remaining popular today).
The use of the
(conventional) English term animal magnetism to
translate Mesmer's magnÃ©tisme animal is extremely
misleading for three reasons:
- Mesmer chose his
term to clearly distinguish his variant of magnetic
force from those which were referred to, at that time,
as mineral magnetism, cosmic magnetism and
- Mesmer felt that
this particular force/power only resided in the bodies
of humans and animals.
- Mesmer chose the
word "animal", for its root meaning (from latin
animus = "breath") specifically to identify his
force/power as a quality that belonged to all creatures
with breath; viz., the animate beings: humans and
Mesmer developed his
own theory and inspired himself also to the writings of
the English physician Richard Mead. Mesmer found that,
after opening a client's vein and letting the client
bleed for a while, by passing magnets over the wound would
make the bleeding stop. Mesmer also discovered that using
a stick instead would also make the bleeding stop.
After moving to
Paris and becoming popular with the French aristocracy for
his magnetic cures, the medical community challenged him.
The French king put together a Board of Inquiry that
and a medical doctor who was an expert in pain control
Joseph Ignace Guillotin.
Mesmer refused to cooperate with the investigation and
this fell to his disciple Dr d'Eslon. Franklin constructed
an experiment in which a blindfolded client was shown to
respond as much to a non-prepared tree as to one that had
been "magnetised" by d'Eslon. This is considered to be
perhaps the first placebo-controlled trial of a therapy
ever conducted. The commission later declared that
Mesmerism worked by the action of the imagination.
remained popular and "magnetic therapies" are still
advertised as a form of "alternative medicine" even today,
Mesmer himself retired to Switzerland in obscurity, where
he died in 1815.
in 1789 and oriental hypnosis of Abbe Faria
Many of the original
mesmerists were signatories to the first declarations
proclaiming the French revolution in 1789. Far from being
surprising, this was almost to be expected in that
mesmerism opened up the prospect that the social order was
in some sense suggested and could be overturned. Magnetism
was neglected or forgotten during the Revolution and the
revived public attention to animal magnetism. In the early
Faria came from
and gave exhibitions in 1814 and 1815 without
manipulations or the use of Mesmer's baquet.
claimed that it 'generated from within the mindâ€™ by the
power of expectancy and cooperation of the client.
Faria's approach was significantly extended by the
and theoretical work of
Faria's theoretical position, and the subsequent
experiences of those in the Nancy School made significant
contributions to the later
PuysÃ©gur and somnambulism
A student of Mesmer,
Marquis de PuysÃ©gur
first described and coined the term
As a side note, followers of PuysÃ©gur called themselves
Experimentalists and believed in the Paracelsus-Mesmer
In 1821, RÃ©camier
was the first recorded use of
and operated on clients under mesmeric coma.
began experiments to find any scientific validity to
"mesmeric" energy, which he termed
Although his conclusions were quickly rejected in the
scientific community, they did undermine Mesmer's claims
Mesmerism in its later guise of hypnotism contained a
clear implication that many saints might be hysterics,
Roman Catholic Church
to ban hypnotism until the middle of the 20th century.
Formal Medical Research
James Braid and
The evolution of
Mesmer's ideas and practices led
(1795-1860) to coin the term and develop the procedure
in 1842. Popularly titled the "Father of Modern
Hypnotism", Braid rejected Mesmer's idea of
inducing hypnosis, and ascribed the creation of the
'mesmeric trance' to a physiological processâ€”the prolonged
attention on a bright moving object or similar object of
fixation. He postulated that "protracted ocular fixation"
fatigued certain parts of the brain and caused the trance,
At first he called
the procedure neuro-hypnosis and then, believing
sleep was involved, to hypnosis. Realizing that
hypnosis was not sleep, he later tried to change the
name to monoideaism, but the term hypnosis
Braid attempted to
use hypnotism to treat various psychological and physical
conditions. He had little success, notably in his attempts
to treat organic conditions. Other doctors had better
results, especially in the use of hypnosis in pain
control. A report in 1842 described an amputation
performed on a hypnotized participant without pain. The
report was widely dismissed and there was strong
resistance in the medical profession to hypnotism, but
other successful reports followed.
Braid is credited
for writing the first book on hypnosis in 1843 titled
(1791-1868), an English surgeon, reported numerous
painless surgical operations using mesmerism in 1834.
James Esdaile in
(1805-1859) reported on 345 major operations performed
using mesmeric sleep as the sole anesthetic in
The development of chemical anesthetics soon saw the
replacement of hypnotism in this role.
The deaths of Braid
and Esdaile curbed the interest in hypnotism.
Experimentation was revived into the 1880s, mainly in
continental Europe where new translations of Braid's work
Formal Psychological Studies
(1825-1893) endorsed hypnotism for the treatment of
La mÃ©thode numÃ©rique("The numerical method") led to
a number of systematic experimental examinations of
The process of post-hypnotic suggestion was first
described in this period. Extraordinary improvements in
sensory acuity and memory were reported under hypnosis.
From the 1880s the
examination of hypnosis passed from surgical doctors to
mental health professionals. Charcot had led the way and
his study was continued by his pupil,
Janet described the theory of
the splitting of mental aspects under hypnosis (or
hysteria) so skills and memory could be made inaccessible
or recovered. Janet provoked interest in the subconscious
and laid the framework for reintegration therapy for
Holy See of 1847
Objections had been
raised by some theologians stating that, if not applied
properly, hypnosis could deprive a person of their faculty
Saint Thomas Aquinas
specifically rebutted this, stating that "The loss of
reason is not a sin in itself but only by reason of the
act by which one is deprived of the use of reason. If the
act that deprives one of his use of reason is licit in
itself and is done for a just cause, there is no sin; if
no just cause is present, it must be considered a venial
On July 28, 1847, a
decree from the
Sacred Congregation of
the Holy office
declared that "Having removed all misconception,
foretelling of the future, explicit or implicit invocation
of the devil, the use of animal magnetism (Hypnosis) is
indeed merely an act of making use of physical media that
are otherwise licit and hence it is not morally forbidden
provided it does not tend toward an illicit end or toward
Later, in 1956,
Pope Pius XII
gave his approval of hypnosis. He stated that the use of
hypnosis by health care professionals for diagnosis and
treatment is permitted. In an address from the Vatican on
hypnosis in childbirth, the Pope gave these guidelines:
- Hypnotism is a
serious matter, and not something to be dabbled in.
- In its scientific
use, the precautions dictated by both science and
morality are to be followed.
- Under the aspect
of anaesthesia, it is governed by the same principles as
other forms of anaesthesia.
Hypnosis was used by
field doctors in the
American Civil War
and was the first extensive medical application of
hypnosis. Although hypnosis seemed to be very effective in
with the introduction of the
and the general chemical anesthetics of
in 1846 and
in 1847 to America, it was much easier for the war's
medical community to use chemical anesthesia than
(1864-1904), the founder of the
first wrote of the necessity for cooperation between the
hypnotizer and the participant, for
He also emphasized, with Bernheim, the importance of
International Congress, 1889
Congress for Experimental and Therapeutic Hypnotism was in
Paris, France August 8-12, 1889. Attendees included
The second was in August 12-16, 1900.
Association Approval, 1892
The Annual Meeting
of the BMA, in 1892, unanimously endorsed the therapeutic
use of hypnosis and rejects the theory of Mesmerism
(animal magnetism). Even though the BMA recognized the
validity of hypnosis, Medical Schools and Universities
largely ignored the subject.
Boris Sidis and
the Law of Suggestion
(1867-1923), a Ukraine-born American psychologist and
psychiatrist who studied under William James at Harvard
formulated this law of suggestion:
varies as the amount of desegregation, and inversely
as the unification of consciousness
refers to the split between the normal waking
consciousness and the subconscious.
Emile CouÃ© and
the Laws of Suggestion
(1857-1926), a French pharmacist, popularized the
following laws of suggestion:
- The Law of
attention is concentrated on an idea over and over
again, it spontaneously tends to realize itself.
- The Law of
- The harder one
tries to do something, the less chance one has of
- The Law of
- A strong
emotion/suggestion tends to replace a weaker one.
adapted the theories of
and identifying certain parallels to techniques in
He called his system of self-hypnosis
compared the effects of a
of a group to hypnosis. Le Bon made use of the
Hypnosis, which at
the end of the 19th century had became a popular
phenomenon, in particular due to Charcot's public
hypnotism sessions, was crucial in the invention of
a student of Charcot. Freud later met
Back in Vienna he developed
using hypnosis with
When Sigmund Freud discounted its use in psychiatry, in
the first half of the last century, stage hypnotists kept
it alive more than physicians.
and Russian Applications
Russian medicine has
had extensive experience with obstetric hypnosis. Platanov,
in the 1920s, became well known for his hypno-obstetric
successes. Impressed by this approach, Stalin later set up
a nationwide program headed by Velvoski, who originally
combined hypnosis with
techniques but eventually used the later almost
exclusively. Ferdinand Lamaze, having visited Russia,
brought back to France "childbirth without pain through
the psychological method," which in turn showed more
reflexologic than hypnotic inspiration.
Hypnosis in World
War I, World War II, and the Korean War
The use of hypnosis
in the treatment of neuroses flourished in
World War I,
World War II
Hypnosis techniques were merged with psychiatry and was
especially useful in the treatment of what is known today
Post Traumatic Stress
(1871-1944), an English psychologist, treated soldiers
with "shell shock".
The modern study of
hypnotism is usually considered to have begun in the 1930s
Clark Leonard Hull
An experimental psychologist, his work Hypnosis and
Suggestibility (1933) was a rigorous study of the
phenomenon, using statistical and experimental analysis.
Hull's studies emphatically demonstrated once and for all
that hypnosis had no connection with sleep ("hypnosis is
not sleep, â€¦ it has no special relationship to sleep, and
the whole concept of sleep when applied to hypnosis
obscures the situation").
main result of Hull's study was to rein in the extravagant
claims of hypnotists, especially regarding extraordinary
improvements in cognition or the senses under hypnosis.
Hull's experiments did show the reality of some classical
phenomena such as hypnotic
Hypnosis could also induce moderate increases in certain
physical capacities and change the threshold of sensory
stimulation; attenuation effects could be especially
In the 1940s,
(1914-1996) introduced to American therapy the
method of contradicting, opposing, and attacking beliefs.
In the conditioned reflex, he has found what he saw as the
essence of hypnosis. He thus gave a rebirth to hypnotism
by combining it with
had himself induced an altered state in pigeons, that he
referred to as "Cortical Inhibition", which some later
theorists believe to be some form of hypnotic state.
Hypnotism Act of 1952
In 1952, the
Hypnotism Act was brought by United Kingdom government to
regulate the public demonstrations of stage hypnotists for
Association Approval, 1955
On April 23, 1955,
the British Medical Association (BMA) approved the use of
hypnosis in the areas of psychoneuroses and
hypnoanesthesia in pain management in childbirth and
surgery. At this time, the BMA also advised all physicians
and medical students to receive fundamental training in
Association Approval, 1958
In 1958, the
American Medical Association approved a report on the
medical uses of hypnosis. It encouraged research on
hypnosis although pointing out that some aspects of
hypnosis are unknown and controversial.
Psychological Association Approval, 1960
Two years after AMA
approval, the American Psychological Association endorsed
hypnosis as a branch of psychology.
and Current Applications
Weitzenhoffer and Ernest Hilgard
after the Second World War. Barber, Hilgard, Orne and
Sarbin also produced substantial studies.
in 1961, a standardized scale for susceptibility to
hypnosis, and properly examined susceptibility across
age-groups and sex. Hilgard went on to study
(1965) and induced anesthesia and
Permissive style vs. Authoritarian style
(1901-1980) developed many ideas and techniques in
hypnosis that were very different from what was commonly
practiced. His style is commonly referred to as
and it has greatly influenced many modern schools of
In 1967, Harry Arons,
a self-taught professional hypnotist, wrote a textbook,
Hypnosis in Criminal Investigation, dedicated to the
application of hypnosis in the judicial system. Chapters
include such applications such as memory, age regression,
induction techniques and confabulation. Arons also
traveled the country training law enforcement agencies.
His teaching created national acceptance in the legal
community and increased positive awareness to the practice
of hypnosis for trial applications.
Arons is best known
today for introducing a scale that is used for measuring
the 'depth' of trance in hypnosis, called the Arons
scale, which recognizes six levels of trance depth:
- 2.Light trance
- 3.Medium trance
- 4.Profound trance
(1900-1967) was one of the pioneers of the medical use of
hypnosis. Elman's definition of hypnosis is still widely
used today among many professional Hypnotherapists.
Although Elman had no medical training, he is known for
having trained the most physicians and psychotherapists in
America, in the use of hypnotism.
He is also known for
introducing rapid inductions to the field of hypnotism.
One method of induction which he introduced more than
fifty years ago, is still one of the favored inductions
used by many of today's masters.
He placed great
stress on what he termed "the Esdaile state" or the
"hypnotic coma", which, according to Elman, had not been
deliberately induced since Scottish surgeon
last attained it. This was an unfortunate and historically
inaccurate choice of terminology on Elman's part.
never used what we now call hypnosis even on
a single occasion; he always used
(also known as
According to his
book Hypnotherapy (Westwood, 1964), Elman was able
to guide a subject into the state within minutes, and
taught his students to do the same. According to Elman's
supporters, such a deep state of hypnosis had not been
seen for a century.
(1913-2005), stage hypnotist and Hypnotherapist, was the
"Dean of American Hypnotists and writer of the seminal
"Encyclopedia of Genuine Stage Hypnotism" (1947). McGill
(1925-2004), author of the Professional Hypnotism
Manual (1975) and founder of the first nationally
accredited school of hypnotherapy in the U.S, literally
defined the profession of hypnotherapy
when he founded the Hypnotherapists
AFL/CIO and authored the definition of
Hypnotherapist in the Federal Dictionary of Occupational