Hypnotic or suggestive therapy is the oldest of all healing techniques. From the Sleep Temples of Egypt through the histories of ancient Greece and Rome, some form of hypnosis has always been an intimate part of all cultures.
In the Middle Ages, healing through touch and prayer became the major way of treating disease. In the 18th Century – when it was believed that illness was caused by the magnetic influence of astral bodies – Franz Anton Mesmer would induce people into a trance like state by what he (erroneously) believed to be Animal Magnetism. Although Mesmerism was soon discredited it continued to be used even after the death of Mesmer as it often produced ‘miracle cures’. When James Braid re-examined Mesmerism in the 19th Century he discovered that simple suggestion was just as effective as Mesmerism or any other method to induce trance like states. He it was who coined the phrase hypnosis and for a time hypnosis became a scientific technique with scientific respectability.
In the early part of the 20th Century hypnosis was used almost exclusively by stage hypnotists, thereby projecting a hopelessly distorted view of this very powerful therapeutic tool. However, in 1955 the British Medical Association endorsed the practice of hypnosis in Medical School education, since when it has become a valuable addition to conventional medical treatment.