The history of hypnosis goes back a long way (thousands of years). In the 18th century the most influential figure in the development of hypnosis was Dr Frantz Anton Mesmer also known as the grandfather of hypnosis. He was an Austrian doctor who was a charismatic and at times controversial personality. He believed that the human body produced an invisible magnetic fluid and the magnets could restore the balance of magnetic fluid and this would cure the patient’s illness. He soon discovered that he could reach the same successful results by passing his hands over the patient which he did for hours at times. He named this method “animal magnetism”. He used strange mechanisms, ethereal music and created a séance-like atmosphere all of which aided in inducing trance. He was able to perform many cures using the technique that became named after him, Mesmerism. However, the medical establishment at the time, Viennese Medical Council, could find no logical reason for the results he got, and exposed him as a fraud. The continuing interest of hypnosis by names such as; Abbe Faria( who suggested that the effects of what Mesmer and his followers said to be animal magnetism were in fact due to suggestions made by the practitioners). James braid (who came up with the term “hypnosis” from the Greek word hypnos, meaning sleep. Braid, realising hypnosis is far from sleep tried to rename hypnosis but failed as it had stuck).Dr John Elliotson (who was the first to demonstrate hypnosis in British medicine). Liebeault (Who was a French doctor which provided treatments for the poor for free. He cured a patient with sciatica who was also a patient of a doctor called Bernheim. Bernheim was not happy about this and branded leibeault a quack but after meeting him found him to be a genius and decided to work with him). Jean Marie Charcot (who disagreed with Bernheim and Liebeault and revived the theory of animal magnetism) Sigmund Freud (Freud continued to support the use of hypnosis, giving talks and translating books by his tutors and attending conferences. He incorporated hypnosis in his work with the use of non-verbal inductions but was never considered to be a great hypnotist and by the mid-1890s he had given hypnosis up). Pierre Janet (A French neurologist who on discovering the relaxing effects of hypnosis and the positive healing effects kept an interest in it), and Milton Erickson (who pioneered his work in indirect suggestion and is now considered the father of hypnosis). So as you can see there has been many different people trying to understand and work with hypnosis, but there has also been many people trying to disregard it.
The way a session is conducted now has become very different to how it was in the past. The advance in science has helped us to explore the depths of the brain. What researches do know comes from the study of the people who have been hypnotized. Hypnosis is closely linked with dreaming. When a person enters into a hypnotic state they can get the same rapid eye movement (REM) that happens when a person is sleeping. We can also measure the electrical activity of the brain using a method called electroencephalography (EEG). This method is used to measure the electrical activity known as the brain waves. That being said it is still not easy to measure hypnosis as it has different effects on different people. Some people may feel relaxed but as if nothing had really changed although some people