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Basic History of Hypnosis and Healing

Franz Mesmer is considered by many to be the 'father' of hypnosis, though the word hypnosis was not in use at the time. In the 18th century Franz called the state Mesmerism. Mesmer believed a magnetic field surrounded the body, and if it was disturbed or broken the person became ill. He believed this field needed to be repaired or rebalanced in order to restore good health. To achieve this magnets were attached to the body. He also believed in the transmission of magnetic power, and by passing his hands around a person whose field was disturbed, he could correct any imbalance using his own magnetic field. This process was called a Mesmeric Pass.

Mesmer also treated ailments with metal rods immersed in a vat of water containing glass and iron filings. In a highly charged emotional atmosphere, with great expectation of something to happen, the patients touched the rods. Simultaneously Mesmer fixed his eye upon his patients and passed an iron wand around their body. (This is the origin of the word mesmerised).

Many people immediately went into fits and a trance like state as he passed the wand around them, whilst others seeing these changes immediately followed suit, even before Mesmer had fixed them with his eye and waved the wand.

Some remarkable cures were attributed to Mesmerism. With notoriety came many sceptical comments from the established medical profession resulting in a Royal Commission into Mesmerism. As a result of the enquiry Mesmerism was outlawed and Mesmer was forced to flee from England to France.

Later in the 19th Century Dr. Braid, a Scottish doctor, found he could induce an 'altered state of consciousness ' by asking his patients to concentrate their attention on a bright object.

Braid quickly realised that magnetic fields played no part in inducing this altered state. He claimed the phenomena was due to suggestion alone acting upon a subject whose suggestibility had been artificially increased.

It was Braid who first brought attention to the closing of the eyes. With the eyes closed it appeared as though the person was asleep, so Braid called this state hypnosis, derived from the Greek God of sleep Hypnosis.