As hard as this may be for you to believe, the actual history of hypnotherapy dates as far back as recorded history. Perhaps not as well-documented or recorded as other historical facts out there but nonetheless, shamen, witchdoctors, Hindu fakirs, tribal doctors and Indian yogis across centuries and millennia have all practised numerous forms of hypnotherapy.
The term ‘hypnosis‘ itself derived from the Greek word ‘hypnos’ which means sleep. Of course, that has led to the general misconception that both hypnosis and hypnotherapy only involve putting the patient/s to sleep, which honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure there is (or at least was) that aspect, but there is so much more to it than just that.
Even though in ancient times, it was known by a variety of names across the board, there are a certain number of similar factors that one can attribute to hypnotherapy. A powerful mind-body connection, self-improvement and healing, the abolishment of individual phobias and negative feelings, performance enhancement on the whole and an aura of general well-being are some of those attributes, to name a few. Regarding all this, clearly, the period of ancient human history would’ve been a great time to be alive just to see the slow yet fascinating proliferation of the practice of hypnosis across the globe.
Even though the true origins of hypnosis remain shrouded in mystery, the Egyptians (no surprise there) were known to have been using the healing method of “temple sleep” all the way back around 3000 BC. They were of the opinion that the person in the temple sleep was in an enlightened state and that the process itself was said to have healing powers of a particular kind.
Temples in some parts of Africa and the Middle East were also said to practice a similar sleep therapy.
Even the Hebrews practised chanting, breathing exercises and meditation to achieve a state of ecstasy and the Greeks and Romans were said to be quite the pioneering force in the field, even calling upon the interpretation of dreams as well as recognising the vital bond between emotional and physical health. Now that’s quite the leap forward from the practice of temple sleep.
When referring to hypnotherapy courses, researchers and specialists have claimed that the most surprising fact of the matter is that some of the greatest leaders of the world over the centuries have been known to practice hypnosis as well. Mohammad, Genghis Khan, Moses, Jesus and even Napoleon are reputed to have practised some form of hypnosis. Of course, one needs to keep in mind that therapy and psychotherapy are relatively new concepts so we can hardly assume that our ancestors of several hundred years ago had any idea of hypnotherapy.
Regarding modern times, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) who was an Austrian physician has been regarded as the father of hypnotherapy. He was seen as a fraud by many, who even called his methods unscientific. Even though it has been disputed whether he performed true hypnotherapy on his subjects, he did introduce a variety of unique concepts around the core idea of hypnosis such as animal magnetism and other magnetic influences as well.
However, during the middle half of the 20th Century, Milton H Erikson was hailed as one of the first psychiatrists who recommended and used hypnotherapy in his practice. Subsequently, both the American Psychological Association as well as the American Medical Association recognised and verified hypnotherapy as a proper medical procedure in 1958 which led to the National Institute of Health recommending hypnotherapy as one of the main treatments for chronic pain in 1995.