otherwise known as Witch Doctor/Medicine Man/Woman or Healer.
When explorers, missionaries, and traders began to describe what they
had seen of tribal customs, their reports showed that tribes all over
the world employed what they variously described as shamans, witch
doctors or medicine men, chosen because of their ability. Witchdoctors
were frequently helped by the accompaniment of drum beats, chanting,
singing, or dancing, aids that could be provided by the shaman’s
companion or by the shaman himself. The accompanying activities all had
two qualities in common: They were rhythmic and monotonous. The
repetition and constancy allowed the shaman’s sub-conscious mind to
become strongly focused, seek out the sick spirit of the patent, make
it whole, and bring it back to him. The shaman actually engaged in a
powerful process of visualisation and suggestion during which he willed
the sick person to be healed.
Civilisations: Certainly the ancient Egyptian, Greek
and Persian cultures have produced the best documentation of use of
hypnosis by using things like sleep tempes. Hippocrates said that
feelings or emotions, arise from the brain. Madness and delusion,
Hippocrates concluded, dread and fear, sleeplessness and anxieties, as
well as deeds which are contrary to habit, all derive from the brain.
Here was the seat of disease and the centre which controlled the entire
body. Galen of Pergamum reckoned that there was a heavenly fluid
between mind and body, and that if people could gain control of this
fluid, they could heal all ills. Both the Old and New Testaments
contain numerous references to events seemingly magical or miraculous,
some Roman emporers healed by the laying on of hands.
Indian Yogis, after years of training, are said to be able to do
remarkable things such as sticking needles through their cheeks,
pulling out their colons to wash them in the Ganges, and develop their
tongues to such a length that they can touch their foreheads with them.
The Middle Ages In
the Middle Ages, and even now, hysterical young girls have been able to
show stigmata that is, designs written on their skins in raised weals.
There are many reports of girls having cross-shaped blotches appear on
the palms of their hands.
Pietro D’Abano (CA
1250 - 1316) was a
suggestionist 400 years before Mesmer.
(1530) Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus Paracelus Von
Honenheim said that it does not matter what you believe in, if you
believe the effect, it will come to pass.
Gassner (1727 - 1779) : Gassner
believed that most diseases were caused by evil spirits and could be
exorcised by prayer.
Fr Maximilian Hell (1720-1792): used magnets to heal by applying steel
plates to the naked body. One of Father Hell's students was a young
medical doctor from Vienna named Franz Anton Mesmer.
Mesmer (1733 1815): He had a good academic medical
background. He started off the concept of animal magnetism. Mesmer was
a spectacular dramatist who gave the world the word "Mesmerism". He
achieved some spectacular things, and the establishment of the day
discredited him. However, his work was carried on by some later day
1821 Recamier: Hypnosis
in pain control was demonstrated by Recamier who showed that operations
could be performed under Mesmeric sleep.
1840 John Elliotson (400
operations recorded using Mesmerism).
1846 Ether was introduced by Morton.
1847 Chloroform was introduced by Simpson.
1840 -1849 James
Esdaile (1805 - 1859). A Scottish surgeon
performed over 300 painless operations in India. However, on coming
back to Britain, Esdaile did not have as much success due to
skepticism. Further scientific concentration on hypnosis for surgery
was suspended due to the introduction of chemical anaesthetics.
1841 James Braid (1795
- 1860). Brtish physician and surgeon, developed the theory Mesmerism
was really ‘nervous sleep’ and hence coined the
terms hypnosis, neurohypnosis and monoideism.
1886 A. A. Liebault (1823-
1893). Physician Clinic at Nancy in France.
the concept of suggestion and suggestibility and believed symptom
removal was effective.
1878 J. M. Charcot (1825
- 1893). Viennese Physician (Regression - Guiding someone into their
past while under hypnosis). NOTE: Regression is an everyday experience,
you can be brought back into a reverie of the past by a particular
smell, clip of music etc.
1880 Sigmund Freud (Abreaction).
Freud and Joseph Breur initially
used hypnosis, but gave it up because they felt that hypnosis was a
scalpel to the unconscious, thereby stripping the patient of his
- 1936). Russian Physiologist - conditioned reflex.
Emile Coue (1857-
1926). He taught that hetrosuggestion is really auto-suggestion.
In the thirties, Milton H. Erickson
contributed massively and C. L. Hull, in 1933, published, Hypnotism
and Suggestibility, arguably the most scientific treatment
of hypnotism available, nearly fifty years later.
In recent years, thousands more articles and monographs have added to
the mountain of literature on hypnotherapy. Max Dessoir’s Bibliography
of Modem Hypnotism (first published in 1888 and its Appendix added in
1890) listed 1,182 works by 774 writers. The list now is truly
What has become known as the ‘special
state - no special state controversy’ is
not likely to be resolved until there are major advances in the
biological sciences, and perhaps not even then. (This refers to the
debate as to whether the state of hypnosis actually exists - since we
all go into different states of mind all the time, e.g. alert,
daydreaming, energetic, lethargic etc.- how do you define what hypnosis
Milton Erickson: The
father of modem day medical hypnosis and the founder of the American
Society of Clinical Hypnosis ushered in the use of Naturalistic
Techniques and started from the more permissive premise that the
hypnotherapist should start where the patient is, follow the patient’s
lead and slowly help to redirect the patient to more adaptive
behaviours. He used a blend of permissive and directive techniques and
demonstrated a special effectiveness with the resistant patient.
history of hypnosis in Ireland: Dr. Jack Gibson, FRCSI,
DTM&H (Lond.), from Naas, Co. Kildare. The experience of Dr.
Gibson illustrates the development of hypnosis in Ireland over the past
five decades. His record as a surgeon is unique. During his career, he
performed over four thousand operations without conventional
anaesthetics, only using hypno-anaesthesia. Many of these operations
were of a serious nature and all patients were relaxed and pain-free
with the use of hypnosis alone.
Linguistic Programming: In the 1970's John Grinder and
Richard Bandler created the science of NLP, also called the science of
modelling and recreating human excellence. In relation to therapy,
Grinder and Bandler modelled the language used by two outstanding
therapists - Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir. This was a way to use a
very precise use of precise language in therapy. Grinder and Bandler
also studied the methods of Milton Erickson, the above mentioned father
of modern day medical hypnosis. Modelling Milton Erickon's language
structures led to the precise use of imprecise language - the client's
unconscious mind can pick the exact meaning that will
help them from seeming vague metaphors and language
patterns which could have many interpretations.
Other 20th century
giants of hypnotherapy included Dave Elman, Ormond McGill, Harry Arons.
There are many, many eminent hynotherapists practicing today.
The World Different, Salthill, Galway
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