Hypnosis - A Brief History

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The word hypnosis is derived from the Greek ‘ypnos’ which translated means sleep. Hypnosis though is a trance like state and not sleep because the subject can talk and stays alert. Ancient civilizations used a type of hypnosis for many group rituals such as chanting to a steady drum beat which was used in many religious ceremonies. Back in the 1600s people experimented with animals. Chickens were calmed hypnotically by various methods such as balancing wood shavings on their beaks. Farmers learned to Hypnotize hens to make them sit on eggs which were not their own.

Volgyesi, a Hungarian hypnotist, hypnotized all the animals in the Budapest Zoo back in the late 1800s. Nobel Peace Prize winner Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov noticed , in 1904,that dogs given a signal before food would, after a time, salivate when given the signal with no food. This was due to conditioning and reconditioning. Because of this Pavlov became interested in hypnosis which he believed ran parallel to his experiments. Hypnosis gained a measure of respectability during the war where it was used to put soldiers back into action.

Although not an accepted practice many psychiatrists used the technique to help many soldiers whose illnesses were caused by wartime trauma to function again. The American Medical Association, in 1958, approved a report on the medical uses of hypnosis. Research on hypnosis was encouraged as some aspects of hypnosis are unknown and controversial. Shortly after this the British Medical Association expressed similar views and not long after that the Italian Medical Association For The Study of Hypnosis was founded.

The FBI use hypnosis in law to aid the memory and to rehabilitate criminals. Under hypnosis a school bus driver in California was able to recall a license number that led police to the kidnappers of a school bus full of school children. Today hypnosis has become very popular and even some medical doctors are referring their patients for hypnosis for habit control - weight loss, stop smoking, stress reduction etc. Hypnosis has been discussed on radio, popular TV chat shows and has been written up in many major selling magazines and is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to mainstream medicine.

About the author

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Hypnosis


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