An in-depth look at the Medical History of Hypnosis
Trusted and being used for over thousands of years, medical hypnosis is an acknowledged form of medical treatment. Hypnosis is regarded as one of the oldest forms of medical therapy dating back to ancient Egypt. There are writings to support that date as far back as 3000 BC describing the use of hypnosis for treating various human illnesses.
The era prior to the 15th century, the humans considered a disease as a punishment from Gods. For getting rid of that punishment, the healers of that time including the priests, shamans, and witch doctors, induced an altered state of consciousness, to help heal. They seldom did this to their patient, and sometimes to themselves or to both of them. Different techniques incorporated in ritualistic ways were used during that process like the chanting, drums, dancing, fire and drugs.
In the midst of treatment, the common element revolved around creating a suggestion that would be accepted by the patient’s conscious and subconscious mind. Hence the treatment used the patient’s power of belief. The most important use of hypnosis in that era was in the area of anesthesia as it didn’t exist at all until the mid-nineteenth century.
In the 18th century, Franz Anton Mesmer, concluded that an individual can influence the magnetic fluid to bring about healing. He also established salons wherein patients applied magnets to afflicted parts of their body.
Hypnosis is not regarded as a cure but it is a tool used for stress management, various dental and medical anxiety and anaesthesia, even in obstetrics. It can help change your subconscious programming and beliefs thus, using the power of your mind towards improving your life. As a result, this treatment can also be effectual for pain management, including pain associated with cancer; as an add-on to psychotherapy, and in the successful management of a wide range of anxiety, phobic, and other medical and psychological problems.
Hypnosis has always remained as an interesting topic for researches, therefore there has been over a century of careful scientific study related to hypnosis. The first scientists to become interested in studying about hypnosis were doctors particularly Liebault and Coue at the Nancy School, and Charcot and Janet at Salpetriere. They contributed significantly in developing theories to explain what they saw. On the other hand, modern research can be divided along academic and clinical lines.
Clinical hypnosis research involves the following:
- The conditions that can be treated effectively with hypnosis
- The way to use hypnotic techniques
- Hypnosis alongside other treatments – Is it useful?
- The kinds of patients that can be benefited most from hypnosis
The academic study of hypnosis is more related with finding out what hypnosis is and how it actually works. It can be validated with the following questions:
- How can hypnosis be defined and suggested?
- Does it affect memory recall?
- How hypnosis affects attention?
- How the brain process hypnotic suggestions?
Thus, hypnosis can also be effectively used to explore phenomenon like memory, attention, perception & hallucination, pain, and voluntary motor control. Clinical studies have looked at the degree of effectiveness of hypnosis as a clinical tool for pain management, depression, smoking cessation, weight loss, and making surgery safer, quicker, and more comfortable.