History of Hypnosis
Where did hypnosis come from? Why don't we use it more often? Here's some answers to these and other questions.
Hypnosis has had many names and explanations over the centuries. Many of the misunderstandings of hypnosis people still have today date back to early explanations of the phenomenon. In fact, hypnosis would be a much more popular psychotherapy and counseling tool if it wasn't for all those misconceptions.
Many histories of hypnosis start with Franz Mesmer. Mesmer was practicing in Germany, Hungary, and later in France in the late 1700’s. He was a charismatic, showy character who was also secretive about his theories and often in conflict with medical establishment and legal authorities of the day. This made it hard for him to get other medical professionals to pay attention to what he was doing. Then, his ideas got mixed up with the French Revolution and King Louis XVI decided to have Benjamin Franklin test Mesmer’s ideas. Franklin did a very good scientific study that debunked Mesmer’s explanationbut not his results. Hypnosis took a detour into the back alleys and stages of France.
Later, a French doctor named Jean Martin Charcot, an emanant neurologist began studying hypnosis. His interest shocked the French medical establishment. He taught Pierre Janet who used hypnosis to develop ideas of the subconscious mind and used what we now call hypnoanalysis very effectively. Sigmund Freud studied with Charcot and Janet and developed many of his early theories based on his work with hypnosis.
In the 1840’s James Braid, an English doctor studied the phenomenon and gave it the name hypnosis. He recognized the factor of concentration and realized hypnosis was not the same as sleep. His theories are the ones that have best stood the test of time and science.
While Freud abandoned the practice of hypnosis because he was not very good at it, he did say in his later writings that he found nothing more effective than hypnosis. He found that when traumatic memories were revisited, the symptom the patient was experiencing would often disappear.
In 1954, the American Medical Association confirmed that hypnosis was effective for use in all areas of medicine. This revived interest in hypnosis and brought it main stream credibility. While it was not mainstream, the keen interest of prominent scholars and researchers such as William James, Ivan Pavlov, Clark Hull, Earnest Hilgard and others kept momentum behind our understanding of hypnosis.
In 1974, William Bryan founded the American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts (AAMH). He designed the process brilliant of hypnoanalysis we use today. AAMH continues to licensed train psychotherapists in the effective, ethical use of hypnosis.
In recent decades, neuroscience and hypnosis are combining forces to help us understand both hypnosis and neuroscience. Neuroscience has offered us compelling evidence that hypnosis happens in the brain. When the brain when it is in a state of hypnosis what happens depends on what is suggested. But, one thing that seems sure, hypnosis can influence the areas of the brain that have to do with emotional and mental problems in positive ways, ways medicines and simply talking with someone can’t. In other words, using hypnosis we are often able to help people be symptom free rather than merely manage the problem.
Jeanne Clark, MSW, DSW shares insights, clarifies mis-conceptions and provides emerging information on the effective use of Hypnosis in Counseling. Check this space often to continue to grow through continuous healing.