Cognitive Behavioral Therapies Master of Science Program
Department of Psychology & Psychotherapy; Titu Maiorescu University

A Brief Introduction to the History and Clinical Use of Hypnosis

Hypnosis is best described as a modified state of consciousness, similar to relaxation or states specific to meditation practiced among the Oriental cultures. The possible effects of hypnosis have often been exaggerated, as true wonders were expected from the ones who applied it. Sometimes people expected the resolution of cases which medical or psychological treatment could not succeed in. On the other hand, there are as much opinions about hypnosis coming from skeptics who minimize or even deny its benefits. We may say that this has happened mostly when the individuals did not have enough information regarding the clinical scientific base of the hypnotherapeutic techniques.

We speak of modern hypnosis starting with the experience of the Austrian medical doctor Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), who has described its specific states under the title of "animal magnetism". Later on, the English professor of medicine John Elliotson (1791-1868) tried to bring to medical establishment’s attention the usefulness of hypnosis in practicing medicine. At the same time James Esdaile, a Scottish surgeon (1808-1859), has reported many successful surgery operations conducted in India under hypnotic sleep, in a period when there were no other anesthetic agents than alcohol and opium (Williamson, 2012).

Keywords: hypnosis, history of hypnosis, clinical use of hypnosis