The evolution of hypnosis

Hypnosis has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptian and Greek sleep temples, in the forms of faith healing and the directed use of the imagination.

The term “Mesmerism”, which means to entrance or induce trance, came from the work of Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, a Viennese physician who lived in 18th century Europe. He was discredited by a commission headed by none other than Ben Franklin in the 1780’s. Franklin concluded that the powerful effects of Mesmerism on Dr. Mesmer’s followers were real, but that Dr. Mesmer himself was a huckster because at that time in history, there was no credible scientific support for Dr. Mesmer’s theory of “animal magnetism”. Franklin attributed the very real effectiveness of “Mesmerism” to the directed use of the imagination! 

Years later, in the 1840’s, a Scottish physician named Dr. James Braid coined the term “hypnosis” and ushered in the modern era of medical hypnosis. Braid’s style of hypnosis as the sole form of surgical anesthesia was pioneered by a British surgeon named Dr. James Esdaile in India who performed major surgeries on thousands of cases with marked reductions in surgery mortalities. Sigmund Freud’s physician mentors such as Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, a noted French neurologist of the day, used James Braid’s style of hypnosis successfully in treating various neuropsychological syndromes with psychological causes. Dr. Freud tried hypnosis with his neurotic patients but he soon abandoned it due to his fears that he would not be able to control the so-called “erotic transference” after he hypnotized his female patients. Freud was a brilliant doctor and theorist, but a poor hypnotist and he was paranoid.

This paved the way for Dr. Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis and his psychosexual theories of neurosis. Dr. Braid’s and Dr. Mesmer’s forms of clinical hypnosis lost popularity in medical circles to psychoanalysis and free association, itself a form of trancework. Classical hypnosis became more popular at the turn of the 19th century in the world of stage hypnosis. However, psychologists as laboratory researchers at ivory tower universities continued to investigate hypnotic phenomena.  

Milton Erickson, MD, an innovative psychiatrist, pioneered new creative approaches to clinical hypnosis with medical and psychiatric patients. Erickson might rightfully be considered the founding father of modern medical hypnosis and he co-founded the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) in the 50’s. David Cheek, MD, an innovative Ob-Gyn, was Erickson’s contemporary, and he along with “lay hypnotist” Leslie LeCron developed unique approaches to hypnoanalysis using ideomotor techniques.

Richard Bandler and Jon Grinder were two of MHE’s many brilliant students and they invented NLP based on their conceptualization of the “deep structure” of Erickson’s work.  

In the latter half of the 20th century through the first decade of the 21st century, medical hypnosis societies such as ASCH and academic psychological hypnosis societies such as the Society for Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis (SCEH) refused to associate with or admit as members hypnosis practitioners whom they pejoratively labeled as “lay hypnotists”. At least medical psychoanalytic societies admitted non-physicians as members whom they called “lay analysts”. Lay analysts could take classes, teach, and get certified. Quite to the contrary, professional members of ASCH and SCEH were sanctioned if they were caught studying with or teaching with so-called “lay hypnotists. As a result of this ignorance, progress was stifled in the evolution of hypnosis because the cross fertilization of ideas was inhibited.

Yours truly stopped renewing his ASCH membership despite having been an elected fellow of ASCH.  He stopped renewing his SCEH membership too, and joined the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA), where he earned fellowship, and Hypnothoughts. 

Hypnothoughts Live has succeeded in bringing together from around the world the most brilliant minds in hypnosis. The result has been the creation of a great online forum on Facebook, and the annual Hypnothoughts Live (HTL) conference in Las Vegas, which is by far the best continuing education event I have ever attended.

I am 100% dedicated to supporting the growth of the HTL enterprise because the founders, Scott Sandland and Richard Clark are 100% dedicated to fostering the evolution of the science and practice of hypnosis in the 21st century, and they are fair minded, honest, and they are practicing hypnotherapists who work in the trenches just like me. 

My area of special expertise is Pain Control Hypnosis by virtue of my fortuitous clinical experiences over a period of more than 30 years in providing medical and psychiatric patients with hypnotic pain relief. Recently, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Polymyalgia Rheumatica or PMR. This condition untreated is severely disabling. With precipitously acute onset, it hits like a ton of bricks. You wake up one morning feeling as if you were beaten up by three WWE wrestlers. I have struggled with chronic back and leg pain for years following a motor vehicle accident in 1993 that left me with serious injuries. I developed Fibromyalgia. Self-hypnosis as I learned it from a hypnotist whom I saw early on worked for me. Then I added my own modifications. But this PMR was like a real test from God. I had to be put on Prednisone which is the first line treatment for PMR. Untreated all of your major joints lock up in severe pain. But you cannot remain on steroids for a long time without suffering the breakdown of your body. So, now I have been forced to walk the walk about which I have written books and talked. Good luck to me! I’ll keep you posted in my Pain Control Blog.

I will keep everyone posted. I will continue to help as many suffering individuals as I can with my brand of Pain Control Hypnosis. See I will learn from every person I work with and every challenge that I personally face in coping with my own PMR. And I will treat anyone who has been verifiably medically diagnosed with PMR for free with Pain Control Hypnosis.

I am teaching my 2-day intensive Pain Control Hypnosis Practitioner course this August at HTL2019 in Las Vegas, and I will be teaching this PCHP course all over the country this coming year.