Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy Today

By: Robert G. Sieveking, CHT (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist)


Thank you for your questions and comments.  In reference to your’ question, “How long has hypnotism been around?” Here is a short history of Hypnotism.

2000BC – Ancient Sanskrit writings offer information on the healing trances performed in temples in India.  Egyptian papyrus scrolls and glyphs depict the story of “sleep temples,” where priests in mystical robes would perform and chant in such a way as to effect healings on individuals that slept.  Repetitive and monotonous chants induced a special “sleep,” which allowed the priests to whisper healing affirmations in their ears of those that slept. 

1500AD – Parcelsus began healing by the use of lodestones or magnets.  Again, sleep or trance states were induced.  The use of magnetic stones and magnets was a new discovery of the time.

1600 – Valentine Greatrakes, born in Waterford Ireland, Feb 14, 1628, was called the “Stroker,” because of his healings by laying on of hands or “stroking” of the client.  Healings are recorded and endorsed by Robert Doyle, President of the Royal Society of London. 

1725 – Father Maximilian Hall, a Jesuit priest, used magnets and “laying on of hands” to perform healings.  Franz Mesmer was a student of Fr. Hall.

Text Box: Valentine Greatrakes, 1628-16831734-1815 – Franz Anton Mesmer, in a time that medical history will record the use of bleeding as a curative measure, used magnetic passes over a wound to staunch (stop) bleeding.  Mesmer joined his historic predecessors in the discovery of “positive suggestion,” though he attributed his cures to magnetic phenomenon.  Mesmer used this same autosuggestive procedure in Paris, attributing the power to magnetism and later animal magnetism, to effect cures.  He established a flourishing practice among the French aristocracy for cures of Female Hysteria.  His controversial methods drew the attention of the King, and a board of inquiry was convened, which included noted scientists of the day, such as chemist Lavoisier, Benjamin Franklin, and medical doctor and pain control authority Joseph Ignace Guillotin.  The commission concluded that Mesmers’ work was the result of “imagination,” on the part of the client.  A rule of the mind states that, “Imagination is more powerful than reason.”

1800 – Abbé Faria a Portuguesse priest introduced oriental hypnosis, emphasizing that it operated on the principles of expectancy and cooperation on the part of the client.  He coined, or first used the term “suggestion,” in connection with the technique.

1795-1860 – James Braid, popularly titled as the “Father of Modern Hypnotism,” coined the term “neuro-hypnosis” and later more simply “hypnosis.”  Braid discovered that hypnosis was not sleep or mental fixation, but a “relaxed focused state of concentration.” 

1791-1868 – Dr. John Elliotson, an English surgeon reported numerous painless surgical procedures using hypnotic anesthethesia (suggestion / mesmerism).

1805-1859 – Dr James Esdaile reported 345 major operations performed using mesmeric sleep as the “sole” anesthetic in British India.

1860 - American Civil War – Hypnosis was used extensively, by military doctors in the field.  Although Hypnosis seemed to be very effective, the introduction of the hypodermic syringe and chemical anesthesia was faster and easier for most procedures.  Ether (1846) and Chloroform (1847) quickly found favor among the medical community as the anesthetic of choice. 

1892 – The British Medical Association unanimously endorsed the therapeutic use of hypnosis.

Next Week; “Hypnosis comes of age in the Twentieth Century.”


Robert Sieveking is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist.  He is the owner of Hypnotherapy Resolutions, at 4249 E.State St. in Rockford.  Ph: 815-226-3800.  See him on the web, at http://hypnotherapyresolutions.com/  

Please send your questions and comments to the editor of the Rock River Times, 128 North Church Street, Rockford, IL 61101.


Illustration is from the Waterford County Museum. Waterford Ireland

In 1666 Greatrakes published an account of his life and cures titled 'A Brief Account of Mr. Valentine Greatrakes and Divers of the Strange Cures by him lately performed. Written by himself in a letter Addressed to the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq.,' This publication gives us a valuable insight into Greatrakes life and healing methods. It includes an etching of Greatrakes curing William Maher of Salterbridge.


Greatrakes returned to England for further visits but it is not known when he stopped his healing sessions.


His funeral entry at the Herald's Office, Dublin recorded that he died on 28 November 1682 at Affane, Co. Waterford and was buried in Lismore Church. However, the Rev. Samuel Hayman writing in the 1860's stated that he is buried in the aisle of the old Affane Church near to his father.

See:  <http://www.waterfordcountymuseum.org/exhibit/web/Display/article/45/?lang=en>


1. I believe the etching / illustration to be copyright free.

     If there is a doubt, don’t use it.

2. If editorial length requires, edit 1725 – Fr. Maxmillion Hall, he was only included because he was the teacher of Mesmer. It’s 25 words. 


This is Part one, of a two part series.