Hypnosis has been documented for over 4000 years, firstly with the founder of Chinese medicine Wang Tai, and later with the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician said “the soul sees quite well with the eyes shut.”
The word “hypnosis” derives from the Greek root word meaning sleep because ancient pioneers were not able to differentiate between the beta waves of hypnosis and the delta waves of sleep. Today, we can easily demonstrate the different brain waves on an electro-graphing device.
Modern hypnosis was “rediscovered” by an Austrian physician named Franz Anton Mesmer in the 18th century. The scientific community in Europe soon began investigation in earnest. At the end of the 19th century Freud witnessed many mentally ill patients, in Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, being hypnotized. Although intrigued with the therapeutic value he personally discarded hypnosis as a treatment choice because he himself stuttered and could not hypnotize patients effectively.
Regardless of that snub, hypnosis was used extensively in the battle fields of World War One to provide anesthesia for field surgeries because pharmaceutical anesthesia had not yet been developed. Hypnosis was also used to successfully treat post-traumatic syndrome then, and is still used today.
Hypnosis experienced a renewal in the 1960’s with the evolution of Freud’s Behaviour Theory giving way to the Humanistic movement in psychology. The work of American psychiatrist and psychologist, Dr. Milton Erickson, opened up a whole new therapeutic field for the application of hypnosis. Today hypnosis is practiced around the world by tens of thousands of practioners. Millions benefit from its application every year.