Pedro Brandao

Hypnosis can be used to treat physical and physiological problems such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Phobias
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Pain relief

Hypnosis is said to be the oldest form of psychotherapy invented within the human consortium. I wouldn’t feel like fully endorsing this statement, but it is suggestive to think that the therapeutic value inherent in the rituals of many, ancient cultures consisted precisely in the modulation of states of consciousness.

In particular, the “incubation rite”, that magical-religious practice that consists of sleeping in the sacred area of a temple in order to receive dream revelations about the future or cures and blessings of various kinds, is already known in Sumerian times. Documented by the ancient Egyptians since the fifteenth century. BC, this practice was later formalized within the rites of Asclepius, in Greece and then in Rome.

Fall into oblivion for many centuries – at least in the western hemisphere – hypnosis was “rediscovered” in the second half of the 18th century by Franz A. Mesmer, a German doctor who practiced in Vienna from 1767 to 1777 and in Paris from 1778 to 1784. Mesmer had noticed that, by entering into empathic resonance with the patient, it was possible to alleviate and even resolve the symptoms from which he suffered. Since at the time “psychology”, understood as a science that studies mental and psychological processes, did not yet exist, Mesmer hypothesized that the therapeutic effects observed by him were attributable to a physical phenomenon: a “magnetic fluid” that ran through the bodies (human, but also astral) and that could, so to speak, suffer from obstacles; “with the help of certain techniques [for example, the application of magnets on the body of the person], the fluid can be channelled and stored […] in this way “crises” can be caused in the patient and diseases can be cured.”

One of Mesmer’s disciples, Amand-Marie-Jacques de Chastnet, Marquis of Puységur (1751-1825), observed that “magnetizing” a patient, he fell “into a strange sleep: a sleep in which he seemed more alert and more attentive than he was in his waking state”; moreover, “Once he entered that state, subjects were able to diagnose their own diseases, to predict their course, and to prescribe their treatment. Puységur systematized his discoveries in the foundation of the Société harmonique des amis réunis, whose aim was “to train magnetists and to establish centres for magnetic treatment. In 1789 it had more than two hundred members” and “It cannot be said what development the movement could have taken if it had not been abruptly interrupted by the Revolution.

About the author: Xavier Tenorio