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A Brief History of Hypnosis

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Franz Mesmer

The origins of hypnosis go back many Millenia. The oldest recorded examples date back to ancient India where hypnotic techniques were used in "Sleep Temples" where it appears rituals representing hypnotic inductions were used to place individuals into a sleep like state.
Archeologists have found similar sleep temples in ancient Egypt where they were seen as "dream incubators" where people would seek spiritual guidance.
In western terms the decisive moment in the history of hypnosis in the 18th century with the work of Franz Mesmer. He represents the turning point between what could be considered "occult" hypnosis and a more scientific approach. His approach was nothing if not theatrical and his habit of wearing a long cloak and playing music on a glass harmonica led to his downfall, nevertheless the stubborn fact still remained that hypnotism worked and the 19th Century is marked by a multitude of individuals seeking to explain and apply its effects
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James Braid

was a Scottish surgeon and he coined the term "hypnotism" in his unpublished Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism (1842) as an abbreviation for "neuro-hypnotism," meaning "sleep of the nerves." Braid fiercely opposed the views of the Mesmerists, especially the claim that their effects were due to an invisible force called "animal magnetism," and the claim that their subjects developed paranormal powers such as telepathy. Instead, Braid adopted a skeptical position, influenced by the philosophical school of Scottish Common Sense Realism, attempting to explain the Mesmeric phenomena on the basis of well-established laws of psychology and physiology. Hence, Braid is regarded by many as the first true "hypnotist" as opposed to the Mesmerists and other magnetists who preceded him.
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Jean-Martin Charcot

was a neurologist Jean-Martin an he strongly endorsed hypnotism and this finally led to a number of systematic experimental examinations of hypnosis in France, Germany, and Switzerland. The process of post-hypnotic suggestion was first described in this period. Post hypnotic suggestion is when the hypnotised person can be given instructions that that they act upon later when a certain stimulus or cue is given. Extraordinary improvements in sensory acuity and memory were reported under hypnosis. From the 1880s the examination of hypnosis passed from surgical doctors to mental health professionals. Charcot had led the way and his study was continued by his pupil, Pierre Janet.
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Ormond Dale McGill

Is perhaps the most famous of modern day hypnotists - and to him stage hypnotism owes a great debt of gratitude. He was a stage hypnotist, magician and instructor who was considered to be the "Dean of American Hypnotists". He was also a writer and author of many books including Hypnotism and Mysticism of India and The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism which is the seminal work on the subject.He has performed in several stage shows all over the globe in the 20th century. Ormond McGill also trained students for therapeutic applications through hypnotism.McGill continued to collaborate with other colleagues and to teach hypnotherapy until his death in 2005
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