Felicia Mocanu, CHt Consulting Hypnotist







A detailed history of hypnosis and its uses through the ages would be very lengthy as it is one of the oldest therapies used by Man.

Its origin goes back many millennia ago; indeed many ancient cultures and civilizations knew of hypnosis and used it as a therapeutic device. Documents from the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, Chinese, Persians and Sumerians show extensive studies in hypnosis, altered states of consciousness and parapsychology. Hypnosis was considered as a cure for many physical and emotional ailments and disorders.

Some of the first recorded information comes from the time of Egipt's Old Kingdom. The Temple of Imhotep in the ancient city of Saqqara was an important healing center in the late 3rd Century BCE. This practice eventually spread to Greece, where special "sleep temples" were build, dedicated to the god of healing, Aesclapius.  

In other words hypnosis is at least more than 6,000 years old; some scholars claim that it could be as old as Prehistory as certain cave paintings show priests apparently in state of trance as well as geometrical designs thought to depict visions seen in an altered level of consciousness.

Dr Frantz Anton Mesmer


In the 18th century the most influential figure in the development of hypnosis was Dr Frantz Anton Mesmer, an Austrian physician who was a charismatic and at times controversial personality.

He used magnets and metal frames to perform "passes" over the patient to remove "blockages" (the causes of diseases) in the magnetic forces in the body - nowadays we call such forces "life energy" - and to induce a trance-like state.

He soon discovered that he could reach equally successful results by passing his hands over the patient which he did for hours at times.

He named this fluid and its manipulation "animal magnetism" and developed an elaborated theory regarding its effect on health.

He worked in Austria, Switzerland and Germany before settling in the late 1770's, in France; although he achieved many successes he was soon derided and ostracized by the medical community; it is generally thought that his healing sessions held in front of the public and medical practitioners were such theatrical performances that the excessive showmanship displayed led to his work being ridiculed and his tangible results scorned at.

However his name survived the passing of time and was immortalized in our vocabulary by the verb "mesmerize", which means to hold someone's attention to the exclusion of anything else so as to create a trance state, in other words to hypnotize that person.

Armand de Puysegur  

Dr Recamier

Dr Cloquet

Dr Elliotson

The Marquis Armand de Puysegur, carried on his work and took it one step further. He discovered that the spoken word and direct commands induced trance easily and noticeably faster than "mesmeric passes" and that a person could be operated upon without pain and anaesthesia when in trance. This technique was used for many following decades by surgeons in France: Dr Recamier who performed the first recorded operation without anaesthesia in 1821 and Dr Cloquet, and in England: Dr Elliotson and Dr Parker who was nicknamed "Painless Parker" !.


Dr James Esdaile

However the record for surgery under trance belongs to Dr James Esdaile, an English physician, who performed his first operation without anaesthetic in India and reached an incredible tally of 300 major operations and a thousand minor operations using hypnosis or mesmerism as it was still called at the time.Soon after, chloroform was discovered and mesmerism dropped out of favour as an anaesthetic, it was much faster to inject a patient than induce a state of trance !

Dr James Braid

The next impulse in the history of hypnosis was given by the Scottish optometrist, Dr James Braid who discovered by accident that a person fixating an object could easily reach a trance state without the help of the mesmeric passes advocated by Dr Mesmer.

In 1841 he published his findings, refuted Mesmer's work and inaccurately named his discovery "hypnotism" based on the Greek word "hypnos" which means "sleep"; it was a total misnomer as hypnosis is not sleep; yet the name remained and mesmerism became hypnotism.

Another page was turned in the history of hypnosis. 

Dr Jean-Martin Charcot

Dr Liebault

By the 1870's two schools of hypnosis were created in France, one by Dr Jean-Martin Charcot, in Paris, and the other one in Nancy by Dr Jean-Martin Charcot and Dr Liebault.

Further progresses were made in refining the concept of hypnosis however it was not without heated debates and arguments !

Dr Charcot stated that hypnosis could only be the result of physical or neurological stimulation while the Nancy school's view was that hypnosis is a natural state available to everyone using free will.

Present days use of hypnosis follows the latter belief.

Dr Emile Coue

Another precursor of modern hypnosis and self development was Dr Emile Coue who, at the end of the 19th century, was a believer in auto-suggestion and in the role of the hypnotist as a facilitator of changes/healing in the client's condition by involving the total participation of the client in the hypnosis process, leading him to become one of the earliest proponents of self-Hypnosis, or as he called it "conscious autosuggestion".

His well known self-help statement: "Day by day in every way I am getting better and better", is still used in most self improvement therapies.

Sigmund Freud

Around the same period Sigmund Freud, the father of psycho-analysis, used hypnosis in his early work but soon became disillusioned by the concept. It is believed he did not have the patience necessary for hypnosis and was not a good hypnotist !.

As we know he focused his attention on analysis and free association. In many ways his "defection" was damaging to hypnosis particularly in the context of psychology as it created enduring prejudices and misconceptions which have only started to fade in recent times.

Ivan P. Pavlov

With the development of psychoanalysis and the use of anaesthetics, the interest in hypnosis somewhat declined; however in the beginning of the 20th century Russian scientists worked on the concept and mechanisms of hypnosis.

The most illustrious one, Ivan P. Pavlov, is best known for his discovery of the conditioned reflex, in spite of the fact he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on digestion!


M.H. Erickson      

Dr William J.Bryan Jr

M.H.Erickson was a psychotherapist who made intensive use of hypnosis in his work. He was a great and fast observer of people and could rapidly build rapport with his clients. Metaphors, imagery, confusing statements, surprise and humour were part of his arsenal of therapeutic tools. His hypnotic methods, nowadays called ericksonian hypnosis, have, without a doubt, added another dimension to modern hypnotherapy.

There are many therapists, researchers and scientists - far too many to mention here - who made significant contributions to hypnosis. It is widely believed that in the 20th century, the two main figures in the field were Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980) and Dr William J.Bryan Jr (1924-1977).William J. Bryan Jr. was the first full time US medical practitioner of hypnosis and created the American Institute of Hypnosis.

Dr. Bruce Lipton

However in light of the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton, hypnosis finally begins to make some sense. Lipton writes that the subconscious mind has about a million times the data processing power of the conscious mind and is in charge almost all of the time. He describes the subconscious as being like a powerful tape recorder or computer program that governs almost all of human behavior.  He further says that DNA is only a blueprint for cells to use for a pattern of growth. But it is a signal from the subconscious actually switches on stem cells and determines whether they will become skin, hair, teeth, nerve tissue or whatever is needed for normal growth and maintenance of the body.

This subconscious programming happens very early in life, during which time the brainwaves are similar to what would be seed in a hypnotic trance. And this programming is not directly accessible consciously. Respiration, digestion and blood circulation are also beyond our conscious control so these processes are ongoing without needing to be aware of them. Once the body knows how to walk, ride a bicycle, swim, or even drive a car, consciousness is free to be otherwise engaged.

Richard Brandler John Grindler


In the 1970's a discovery was made in the field of self improvement and the harnessing of inner resources. Although it is not directly related to hypnosis, many of its techniques can be used with hypnosis or as an aid to hypnotic therapy.

It is a simple but brilliant technique created by Richard Brandler, an information scientist, and John Grindler, a linguistic professor; they named it : NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

It came about, in large part, by its two founders studying, understanding and developing the methods used by Milton H. Erickson in psychotherapy. NLP is a tool for improvement, using our neurology and thinking patterns (neuro), our way of expressing our thoughts and their influence on us (linguistic) and our patterns of behavior and goals setting (programming).

It has been described as the ultimate software for the brain.

Hypnotism has long been shrouded in mystery. Understanding it or even getting consistent information about it has been elusive at best.

The word hypnotism comes from a Greek root meaning “putting to sleep.”  A hypnotist is said to be able  to induce an altered state of consciousness characterized by deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility. The term was originally coined by James Braid in 1842 to describe a phenomenon previously known as animal magnetism or mesmerism (see Mesmer, Friedrich Anton). Superficially resembling sleep, it is generally induced by the monotonous repetition of words and gestures while the subject is completely relaxed. Although almost everyone can be hypnotized, individuals vary greatly in susceptibility.

During that revival a deep understanding of human psychology was achieved and therapeutic processes such as analysis, altered states of consciousness and hypnosis were used to alleviate emotional distress and sufferings; thus preceding psychotherapy and hypnotherapy as we know them today by quite a few centuries.

After World War I, hypnosis and its therapeutic uses experienced a revival when psychiatrists realized that soldiers suffering traumas (paralysis and amnesia) of a psychological rather than physical origin, were responding well to hypnosis and were rapidly cured.

Although hypnosis was officially approved as a tool in medicine by the British Medical Association in 1955, most of the furthering in therapeutic hypnosis in the 20th century, took place in the United States. In 1958, only 3 years after the BMA, the American Medical Association recognized the therapeutic use of hypnosis.

The hypnotic state is characterized by heightened suggestibility and represents an altered state of consciousness as recent research has shown electrical changes occur in brain activity when a person is hypnotized. Ernest Hilgard's neodissociation theory (1977) has been influential in the explanation of hypnosis. Hilgard's theory asserts that several distinct states of consciousness can be present during hypnosis, such that certain actions may become dissociated from the conscious mind. In the late 19th century, it was used by a number of medical practitioners, who found that individuals susceptible to hysteria are highly suggestible and can be put into deep hypnosis, sometimes leading to a cure. Sigmund Freud used the method in psychoanalysis. In recent years, hypnosis has been widely used by practitioners as an aid in medical practice and psychotherapy and pain management. Hypnosis is also used in some criminal investigations, to help defendants to recall events they might otherwise not remember.

But if there is too much data, or trauma, the whole system goes into a protection mode and prepares to fight or flee. And the chemicals normally used for growth and maintenance are converted to those necessary for physical strength and healing wounds. In ancient times these stressors were more likely to be short-lived. Running away or directly engaging a hostile treat likely brought relatively swift resolution of conflicts.

However modern life involves a greater variety of sustained stress. Machines and pollution of all sorts, together with greater competition, often leaves us with inadequate means to cope. Most people seem unaware of even the need to even develop a strategy to deal with sustained stress levels, and are falling victim to various stress related illnesses.

The best tools for this are apparently more down time, sleep and relaxation, recreation. Meditation, and guided imagery, and the like are very successful because they deal directly with the subconscious. All forms of meditation involve some level of hypnosis. Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are examples of fairly recently developed healing practices that engage the subconscious.

Attempting to change bad habits using only the conscious mind has a much lower success rate than a more subliminal approach. The brain has a reward center or circuitry that reinforces addiction of any kind. Impulsiveness, promiscuity, smoking or eating/drinking too much are examples of someone with a flawed self-image (I am not good enough). Deep seated shame or guilt expects punishment on some level. And whatever the subconscious expects is what the cells will deliver.

In the last 3 to 4 decades of the last century we have witnessed an abundance of self-help and positive thinking therapies and methods, some of them openly using hypnosis, others more covertly.

Technological advancements, such as television, cassette recorders and tapes, video tapes and the globalisation of information through the Internet, have made the various uses of hypnosis - from hypnotherapy to stage hypnotism - better known, more accessible and popular.

The benefits of hypnotherapy are more and more recognized and for those who search for betterment of themselves and of their lives, hypnotherapy is available and very effective.

The theory of  mind explains what hypnosis is and how your conscious and subconscious mind works.

When an infant is first brought into the world, he/she does not have the LOGIC, REASON or inhibitory process. To make their needs KNOWN, the child uses more primitive mechanisms. The child has more PRIMITIVE MIND. Included in the primitive mind are the FIGHT/FLIGHT mechanisms. The child learn by ASSOCIATION and IDENTIFICATION. From age 0-8, the child develops a library of this associations and identifications that can be good or bad. These positive and negative associations form what is referred to as our LIFE SCRIPT. Between the ages 8-12, we start to develop logic and reason. We are capable of making DECISIONS, ANALYSES and  developing WILL power. This becomes our CONSCIOUS MIND, which represent 12% of our total mind. The SUBCONSCIOUS MIND is made up of the remaining 88% of our total mind power. As we get older we develop the CRITICAL MIND which acts as a filter and a protection for these known associations.

When you make a decision to change something in your life, here's what happens...

That thought (I want to change...) goes from the conscious mind all the way down to the critical area of the mind where it gets filtered and then it checks your subconscious programming.  If your subconscious mind is resistant to making the change, the critical mind will then block your thought and you will continue to have the same behavior patterns.

What hypnosis does is takes that same thought and bypasses the critical mind.  Hypnosis opens a door to have direct access to the subconscious.  What we do then is use hypnotic suggestions to make the changes you want in your life.

I'm going to work with the 88%...you are going to work with the 12%...so together we will have a 100% effective rate!  And how we do this is by testing your suggestibility...


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