A Potted History Of Hypnosis
Hypnosis has been experienced to humanity for 1000s of years. Past cultures from Egypt and Greece wrote that the quickest means to connect with the sacred realm are through rites that are analogous to what is nowadays known as hypnosis. These rites occurred inside sleep temples and are considered by many as among the oldest recorded examples of hypnosis. Sleep temples were infirmaries of sorts, curing an assortment of ailments, most of them mental in nature. The cure comprised of chanting, to place the patient into a trance-like or hypnotic trance. Sleep temples also existed in the Middle East and Ancient Greece. The Grecian treatment was named to as incubation, and centered on prayers to Asclepios for curing. A analogous Hebrew treatment was known as Kavanah, and called for concentrating on letters of the Hebrew alphabet In the contemporary world, hypnotism’s initial brush with science occurred in the late 1700s, through Austrian physician doctor. Franz Anton Mesmer and the “phenomenon” that was known as animal magnetism. Franz Anton Mesmer claimed that by a mystic power conveyed through water tubs and magnetized wands flowing from him to his patients, he could cause people enter trances. He claimed this mystic power was due to magnetic waves. He lulled his subjects into a trance by fixating their attention on a single target, and by monotonous repeating of certain words. This was where the term “mesmerize,” which is still in usage today to pertain to the state of being in awe and dumbstruck to a particular person was coined. However before long in the further scientific analysis of hypnosis, the theory of animal magnetism was disregarded. In the early 19th century Abbe Faria, a man of science proclaimed that the hypnosis as applied by Franz Anton Mesmer was not ascribable to animal magnetism as Franz Anton Mesmer asserted but instead attributable to the power of suggestion. Abbe Faria began to perform public demonstrations of hypnosis in Paris as early as 1813. Stage hypnosis was born! Further scientific studies and experimentations in hypnosis followed throughout the years, but it was a research started in 1842 that has now been considered the turning point in the study of Mesmer’s ideas. Scots surgeon James Braid was among the first men of science to ascribe the process of going into hypnosis to a physiological process. He asserted that the state of hypnosis was not ascribable to the magnetic power of the hypnotist; but rather through, intent attention upon a striking, moving object over time, as in that iconic clock necklace. “Protracted ocular fixation,” Braid thought, will make the mind fatigued and will cause the subject to enter what he termed “nervous sleep.” Thus Braid coined the term “hypnotism” and “hypnosis,” based on the Greek word for “sleep.” Braid, along with his contemporaries such as Ambroise-Auguste Liebeault, Hippolyte Bernheim and J.M. Charcot, subsequently focused much more upon the affect of mental motivation in hypnosis instead of former concept of fatigue and nervous sleep. They were amongst the first people to experiment with medical hypnosis, wherein they used hypnosis to treat different mental and physical conditions. Following the paths taken by Braid et al., more experimentation on the use of hypnosis in medicine followed. Modern medicine began to cautiously experiment with the use of hypnosis as an anesthetic or painkiller. The medical community at that time held strong skepticism in this technique, even after an instance in 1842, when there took place a successful and pain-free amputation operation through hypnosis. The news of this was speedily discounted. Still, pro-hypnosis medical professionals continued with their experiments. Dr. James Esdaille, a British doctor who practiced in India, performed nearly four hundred pain-controlled surgical operations on patients under hypnosis. Acknowledged as the “Father of Hypno-anesthesia,” Esdaille also incorporated his British education with the culture in India. Along with his medical practice, he in addition performed a drugless trance therapy traditionally from Bengal, India. Esdaille’s cases listed eye, ear, and throat operations, amputations, and tumors and cancerous growth removals. Esdaille reported no pain and zero mortality rates using his so-called “Hypno-Anesthesia.” What’s more astounding is that after the operations, Esdaille additionally hypnotically suggested to his patients that their wounds would not result in any kind of infection or side effect. Subsequently, none of his patients was reported to have caught any post-operation infections. Many thought the unconscious minds of Esdaille’s patients reacted well to hypnosis. When Esdaille suggested they would not be infected, their bodily process's responded accordingly and launched antibodies that would battle infection. Due to the death of both Braid, and Esdaille coupled with the progression of chemical anesthesia, the interest in hypnotism declined. Were it not for the stage hypnotists could hypnosis have been relegated to merely a peculiar footnote in history?