History of Hypnosis


Within hypnosis, Franz Anton Mesmer is considered to be the first real hypnotist. Franz believed that there is a magnetic fluid that flows through peoples bodies, and that when this fluid does not flow correctly, people become ill. Mesmer 'cured' his patients through passing magnets over them. Mesmer's form of therapy was delivered in a style reminiscent of a mix of the 'surgeons' who turn up on late night tv, removing tumors with their bare hands, and evangelical preachers who's congregations end up in convulsions. Mesmer was highly theatrical, using iron filings, baths, and large iron rods in his interventions.

In 1819, Jose Custudio di Faria took Mesmer's concepts further. While dropping the magnets and theatrics, Jose realized that the influence that Mesmer had was based on suggestion rather than the other elements of his therapy/act.

James Braid, a Manchester surgeon, coined the term 'hypnotism', in 1841. Braid's method consistent of having his patients concentrate their gaze on bright lights.

Next, in the history of hypnosis, came the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Jean-Martin believed that trance was somehow related to epilepsy. Jean-Martins work with female epileptics lives on through the cataleptic suggestibility tests still used by stage hypnotists today.

Bringing our history of hypnosis up to date, Milton Erickson is considered to be the founder of modern hypnosis, and without Milton, hypnosis would probably have become a forgotten curiosity.

Almost all the current language patterns, use of rapport, and metaphor come from the study of Milton's work.

Much of Bandler and Grinders early NLP developments are based upon their study of Milton, published in their books 'Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.' volumes 1 and 2, and Richard Bandler's 'The Structure of Magic', which is often mistakenly placed in the occult sections in book shops.

Bandler and Grinder will surely take their places in the history of hypnosis in the years ahead.


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