The history of hypnosis

Although those who have mastered the art of inducing a hypnotic trance, and witnessed time and time again the positive outcomes when the appropriate suggestions are made to bring about the desired states for their clients, it is still difficult to be able to logically explain how and why this process actually works.  Studies by respected and peer-reviewed publications, such as the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis as well as the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Health Psychology, show that hypnosis measurably improves outcomes for many different types of medical or psychological interventions, regardless of whether or not one is able to logically comprehend the process.

While hypnotherapy is largely considered a more new-age treatment, the reality is that this practice has deep been around for thousands of years. There is evidence suggesting that hypnosis has been practised, in one form or another, since the beginning of recorded history, although the practice wasn’t termed hypnotism until around 1841, when Franz Mesmer, a German Physician, developed mesmerism out of his belief  of the balance of the magnetic power available within our body, using what is known as ‘animal magnetism’.

The concept of animal magnetism was rejected a decade later as it apparently had no proven scientific basis. However, many clinicians were fascinated by the fact that Mesmer did effectively cure many of the symptoms of his patients. One of the most notable clinicians that followed Mesmer was a Scottish ophthalmologist by the name of James Braid, who then coined the word ‘hypnosis’, which originated from the Greek word for ‘sleep’. Modern science later proved hypnosis was not related to sleep, but that what hypnosis and sleep do have in common, is the enhancement of our external focus, or our ability to direct our focus on the effect of movement on our environment, in other words, towards the end goal.

In the mid-19th century, Austrian physician, Josef Breuer’s work got attention for his treatment of ‘Anna O’ for hysteria. Breuer used suggestive hypnosis to trigger Anna’s childhood emotions, which resulted in the reduction of her symptoms. A good colleague of Breuer happened to be  Sigmund Freud and through his work with hypnosis, Freud discovered our ‘unconscious process’, which was a hugely significant breakthrough, especially in psychoanalysis.

The most prominent figure in modern hypnosis is American psychiatrist, Milton Erickson, who was a master of using language creatively in order to communicate with patients’ unconscious mind. What was unique in Eriksons’s approach was that he was not interested in identifying the cause of the client’s symptoms as was the most common form of therapy at the time, instead his focus was on helping patients release their symptoms by stopping the defence mechanisms.  This process allowed him to make outstanding clinical successes, and these methods are now called Ericksonian hypnosis which has also evolved, and is strongly embedded in other contemporary approaches, such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Often these days we find that practitioners try to build in a variety of different techniques into their consultations under the guise of ‘hypnotherapy’ without fully understanding the power of the unconcisous mind and the client’s ability to find their own solutions to their problems. Evidence shows that when an individual is properly inducted into a trance like hypnotic state, by a qualified and experienced hypnotist, they are able to access the internal resources reqired to make the changes necessary to enjoy the outcomes they desire.

Julie’s commitment to mastering this process has led her to continued studies in the field of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, being awarded with an Advanced Diploma in this area by the Australian Academy of Hypnosis. She is also a certified Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Time Line Therapy, which allow her to provide a multi faceted approach to a client’s presenting issues, alongwith the ability to initiate the most rapid results possible for her clients.,