Background to Hypnotherapy
Today hypnotherapy enjoys a respected place within complementary medicine, and is used not only in surgery, dentistry and obstetrics as a pain reliever - but to enhance performance in fields such as sport and business - not to mention helping individuals to cope with the stresses and challenges of modern life.
Behind the apparent modernity, though, lies an ancient tradition which can trace its roots back 4000 years before the birth of Christ. Early writings show that the Sumarians like their counterparts in India, Egypt and Persia used hypnotic suggestion to treat a range of ailments, and the art was practised by specially-trained 'priest doctors'.
For centuries, it was believed that the healing power of hypnosis was the result of divine intervention. In the 18th century, however, an Austrian physician by the name of Franz Mesmer (who gave his name to 'Mesmerism') developed the theory that there was an invisible magnetic fluid ('animal magnetism') which permeated the earth and its inhabitants, and which was influenced by the planets.
Mesmer believed that human pain and disease were caused by an imbalance of this fluid's distribution within the body - the solution to which lay in the use of magnets. Accordingly, he would treat patients by getting them to hold a piece of metal to the affected area - whilst he touched their bodies with a metal rod to redistribute the fluid.
Despite successfully curing many seemingly hopeless cases, Mesmer's practices outraged the medical profession, and he was forced to flee Vienna for France - where he too was eventually banned from practising, when no scientific proof could be found to explain his cures.
Although hypnotic suggestion continued to be developed with notable results in Britain and Europe, it wasn't until Victorian times, when the eminent French neurologist Professor Berheim founded the First Institute for the Scientific Application of Hypnosis, that hypnosis began to be accepted by the medical establishment.
Now recognised by the British Medical Association as a beneficial complementary medicine, the healing power of hypnotherapy continues to help people overcome not only physical pain, but to achieve mental and emotional wellbeing within their personal lives.