The principles of hypnosis have been used throughout history. The oldest references can be found in the writings of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Even in those times, the powers of positive suggestion through heightened concentration were recognized, although not understood.
The science of hypnotism dates back centuries, but its principles were not used until Friedrich Anton Mesmer developed relaxation techniques and positive suggestions that produced remarkable results. While generally regarded as the father of hypnosis, Mesmer really didn’t understand the state of mind he created through his techniques any better than the ancients. It was his pupil, Marquis Armand de Puysequr, who actually discovered the hypnotic trance.
In 1841, Dr. James Braid, a physician, coined the word “hypnosis” from the Greek word hypnos, meaning sleep. Sometime later, Dr. Braid discovered he’d made a mistake – his patients, when “hypnotized”, were not really asleep. Although he tried to change the word to more accurately describe this state, the term “hypnosis” had already become established, and unfortunately, the idea still persists that a person is asleep when in a hypnotic state.
Over the years, there have been many theories about hypnosis, but there has never really been a truly scientific explanation of why it occurs or exactly how the mind responds to it. The following definition comes closest: “Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, characterized by extreme relaxation and heightened subconscious suggestibility.”
While hypnosis may not be understood as well as other sciences, the fact remains that people from all walks of life – including celebrities, sports personalities and entertainers – have seen real benefits from its use on a regular basis. It continues to be an excellent tool for self-improvement that can be used by anyone.