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A Brief History Of Medical Hypnotherapy

No one knows who the first hypnotherapist was. Most likely, he or she was a shaman or shamaness who used the power of hypnosis in order to help the physical, emotional and spiritual problems of his or her patient. Descriptions of ancient shamanistic healing rituals tend to include trance-inducing activities such as sleep deprivation, drumming, psychotropic drugs or meditation. Sadly, medical hypnotherapy is not so dramatic today.

Franz Mesmer

The first person known to widely support pairing health and hypnotherapy was the German doctor Franz Mesmer (1734 – 1815), who's teachings even influenced Sigmund Freud. He was one of the wealthy patrons of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If the name Mesmer sounds familiar, it should – it is from Dr. Mesmer that we get the modern word "mesmerize".

Franz Mesmer called his practice "animal magnetism" and believed in the use of electrically charged magnets to help healing, with and without medical hypnotherapy. Back then, there weren't any movies or television, so going to lectures or the theater were your only entertainment options. Mesmer's medical lectures were so popular that they were often held in theaters.

James Braid

Although Mesmer is often given credit as being the world's first known medical hypnotherapy practitioner, Mesmer didn’t really know what he was doing and never used the word "hypnosis". The first person who did use the word hypnosis was James Braid (1795-1860), a student of Mesmer's and a brilliant neurosurgeon.

He took medical hypnotherapy from the stage to the physician's office. He was basically mocked throughout his lifetime for his promotion of medical hypnosis, although he was not mocked for his skill as a surgeon.

To Legit To Quit

It is unknown who came up with the term "hypnotherapy" but it was in use by the end of the 1800's. With trial and error and tenacious medical hypnotherapy practitioners who dared to let their work be scrutinized, the British Medical Association finally recognized hypnotherapy as a legitimate form of medical therapy. They were followed in 1958 but the American Medical Association.

Today, being a medical hypnotherapist is a serious business and not an evening's entertainment. There are stringent licensing requirements in many countries, including Canada, England, America and parts of Europe. Some health insurance companies will pay or reimburse for some medical hypnotherapy treatments. The NHS in Great Britain provides some low cost to free medical hypnotherapy, depending on the situation.

People who should avoid medical hypnotherapy are those with severe mental disorders such as dementia or epileptics.


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