Definition of Hypnosis

Hypnosis: A part of healing from ancient times. The induction of trance states and the use of therapeutic suggestion were a central feature of the early Greek healing temples, and variations of these techniques were practiced throughout the ancient world.

Modern hypnosis began in the eighteenth century with Franz Anton Mesmer, who used what he called "magnetic healing" to treat a variety of psychological and psychophysiological disorders, such as hysterical blindness, paralysis, headaches, and joint pains. Since then, the fortunes of hypnosis have ebbed and flowed. Freud, at first, found it extremely effective in treating hysteria and then, troubled by the sudden emergence of powerful emotions in his patients and his own difficulty with its use, abandoned it.

In the past 50 years, however, hypnosis has experienced a resurgence, first with physicians and dentists and more recently with psychologists and other mental health professionals. Today, it is widely used for addictions, such as smoking and drug use, for pain controls, and for phobias, such as the fear of flying.

Hypnosis is frequently used either independently or in concert with other treatment, including the management of pain, reduction of bleeding in hemophiliacs, stabilization of blood sugar in diabetics, reduction in severity of attacks of hay fever and asthma, increased breast size, the cure of warts, the production of skin blisters and bruises, and control of reaction to allergies such as poison ivy and certain foods.

The term hypnosis comes from the name of Hypnos, the ancient god of dreams.


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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