Hypnosis was first introduced, nearly 300 years ago in the late 1700’s, by a German doctor Franz Mesmer. He believed that all living things were surrounded by a magnetic field, and that he could transfer magnetism from his own body via rods and magnets to help his patients heal. His theory was that this flow of energy from one body to another resulted in a redistribution of the body fluids. His name is the basis for the word “mesmerize” and the term “animal magnetism”.
Most likely Dr. Mesmer instructed his patients to relax and listen to his instructions, inadvertently creating the focused state we now call hypnotic trance. This relaxation coupled with his healing instructions is what relieved his patients of their nervous disorders, a form of hypnosis.
Hypnosis – Help or Hoax?
Dr. Mesmer’s work was panned and ridiculed. It became fodder for inventive authors who had a field day describing how evil Svengali’s would hypnotize and victimize innocent young women. This dismissal, coupled with the antics of “stage hypnotists”, has deterred many people from the help and relief available to them through legitimate hypnosis.
In the early 1800’s, doctors were looking for ways to control pain during surgery other than restraining patients or getting them drunk. Hypnosis was used for this until the introduction of ether anesthesia. After that, hypnosis was abandoned, except for a few psychiatrists and counselors, and later rediscovered as a way to relieve cravings and deep trauma.
Hypnosis – A Respected Alternative
Today, hypnosis is a respected adjunct to traditional medicine. Trained health care professionals use hypnotherapy to treat a wide variety of physical and emotional disorders. Hypnosis is taught at prestigious medical schools. Clinical trials have been recently run showing that hypnosis is a benefit to people who suffer from fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure and chronic pain. It has long been known to assist in pain management, asthma, nausea, labor phobias and compulsions and many other ailments.