History of Hypnotherapy as a Psychological Intervention

History of Hypnotherapy as a Psychological Intervention

July 23, 2020 by Prasad Amore0

In ancient times also People have used hypnosis to cure the disorder as well as the diseases. Almost all the ancient cultures, the Sumerian, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, have used some hypnotism. In India, there was a practice, called “Nidra”, or “Temple Sleep”, in which the patients were brought to the temple and allowed to stay there for a meditational sleep and communication with God overnight.

A Persian psychologist Avicenna (980-1037) was the first person distinguished sleep and hypnosis. He named hypnosis in Arabic as al-Wahm al-Amil.

Hypnosis with the Aid of Magnets

Magnets were used by Paracelsus (1493-1541) for hypnosis. He had the belief that the power of magnet induced the state of hypnosis. Valentine Greatrakes (1628-1682), Maximillian Hell (1720-1792) and Franz Anton Mesmer also used magnets to make the subjects to be hypnotized and for treatment. That means before revealing the scientific base of hypnotism, the phenomena of hypnosis was used for the treatment of depressive disorders and other mental disorders.

In the early 19th century, an Indo-Portuguese priest, Abbe Faria objected the concept of magnetic hypnotism and animal magnetism. He described that hypnosis is a state of trance and verbal suggestions induced it. He described the effect of recommendations and language on a human being. He is considered as the father of modern hypnotism.

James Braid, a Scottish surgeon, had done more researches in hypnotism and its applications. He first used the term “Hypnotism” in his unpublished writings, Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism (1842) as an abbreviation for “neuro-hypnotism”. James Brade also opposed the theory of animal magnetism. Braid is the first person, writing a book on hypnotism, Neurypnology (1843). After braid, Hippolyte Bernheim and Jean-Martin Charcot have conducted more researches on hypnotism and its applications.

The Medical Application of Hypnotism before 20th Century

In the American civil war, doctors used first the therapeutic form of hypnotism. Before the invention of chloroform, hypnotism had been used widely as anaesthesia for pain relief.

Before 19th-century hypnotism was used widely as the treatment for hysteria. A famous neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, used hypnosis to treat hysteria. He used the benefit of post-hypnotic suggestions. In his studies, it is found that under hypnosis, some cognitive functions, including memory, were improved. Pierre Janet continued the research of Jean-Martin. Pierre Janet put forward the theory of dissociation, the splitting up of mental process under the hypnotic stage.

Ambroise-Auguste Liebeault (1864-1904), explained first the importance of cooperation of the subject with hypnotizer to develop rapport. Hippolyte Bernheim stated that the ability to receiving suggestions is an essential matter for a successful hypnotherapy process. Individuals are different in suggestibility. Hippolyte Bernheim and Ambroise-Auguste Liebeault founded the Nancy School, for the study and research of hypnotism.

American psychologist William James researched hypnosis in much detail and included his findings in his principles of psychology. In 1889, the first international congress was conducted in Paris. In August 1900, the second international congress was held. In 1892, the British Medical Association (IBM) authorized the use of hypnosis for therapeutic. Also, IBM rejected the theory of mesmerism and animal magnetism.

20th Century Scientific Application of Hypnotism

At the beginning of the 20th-century hypnosis became very popular in the world. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, was attracted by the phenomenon of hypnosis. His psychoanalysis theory was mainly focused on the conscious mind, subconscious mind and unconscious mind. That time the process of hypnotism was also explained based on the subconscious mind. Sigmund Freud had developed abreaction therapy based on the phenomenon of hypnosis. He used hypnosis to treat depression and other mental disorders. Later he had discouraged the use of hypnosis in psychiatry.

In 1920 Ivan Pavlov brought out the theory of condition learning theory. Condition learning theory completely opposed the concept of subconscious mind regarding hypnosis. He explained the actions of the subconscious mind as the conditioned reflex actions.

To conclude, hypnosis has gained ground and recognition within the medical community over the years. Hypnosis and medicine are not the same, but now they are recognized as related. So it is only a matter of time before the practice of hypnosis becomes common.

Prasad Amore

Prasad Amore is a Licensed Rehab. Psychologist by RCI, Govt. of India. The 2nd Indian who has achieved the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma through National Qualification Framework of British Government. He is a psychological consultant and trainer helping individuals suffering with mental health issues and other psychological problems. He is a freelance writer and authored 5 books in Psychology and Social Science.

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