The History of Hypnosis

We sometimes think that using Hypnosis to resolve our problems is a modern approach, but hypnosis has roots in ancient history.

The trance like state has been used for thousands of years since the earliest times.

The religious and healing ceremonies of ancient people often used repetitive drum beats, rhythmic chanting and other trance inducing methods such as eye fixation. In those age-old ceremonies the shaman or priest appeared to have magical or mystical powers that could induce a cataleptic state, perhaps though the power of suggestion.

Egyptian Sleep Temples

Over 4000 years ago, ancient Egyptians dedicated sleep temples to the priest, Imhotep, This was the start of the tradition of temple sleep that was continued through the Egyptian, Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations.ancient-hypnosis-1

These healing sanctuaries were used to drive out bad spirits. People suffering from mental or physical problems would be prepared by means of ritual and incantation for a hypnotic state and given suggestions to induce dreams, thought to be sent by the gods. The priest would interpret their dreams and cast out evil spirits from the body and mind.

The Greeks – Healing Dreams

In Greece the sleep temples became great centres of healing.

The concept of a healing dream came from Ancient Greece. The philosopher Aristotle believed that a dreamer would unconsciously recognise signs of sickness, unknown to the conscious mind. Thus a dream was a message from the unconscious breaking out into our every day life, a premonition of illness coming from within the body.

Since dreams were considered so powerful, the Ancient Greeks would follow a special sleep ritual to incubate good dreams. A patient would first undergo a ritual purification, then spend the night in a classical temple dedicated to the healing god Aeslepius. A lucky patient might receive a dream from the sons of Hypnos, the god of sleep, to be interpreted by a therapute – an early form of therapist who made a diagnosis.

There is another meaning to the healing dream. It can be a form of waking dream or daydream which, by the use of imagery and metaphor, can induce healing for both the body and mind.

Hypnosis can help you to create those dreams, harnessing your imagination to work in harmony with your will power to create beneficial changes in your life.


In the 18th century an Austrian doctor Franz Anton Mesmer found that he could cure people without medical intervention by using eye fixation to induce a hypnotic state. He believed these ‘cures’ to be due to a magnetic force that regulated the flow of fluids through channels in the body. This method of healing became known as Mesmerism.

Followers of Mesmer received his magnetic therapy. In 1784, King Louis XV1 of France appointed a commission of medical doctors to investigate mesmerism. It concluded that animal magnetism and the magnetic field were worthless.

James Braid

The name Hypnosis came from a mid 19th century Scottish doctor, James Braid, usually named as the ‘father of modern hypnosis’. He had experimented with hypnotic techniques and decided that the state involved was a form of sleep, so named it after Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep and master of dreams.

He invented the word neurhypnosis from which the word hypnosis is derived.