The development of concepts, beliefs and practices related to hypnosis has been documented since prehistoric to modern times. Hypnosis has a long and varied history as a means of influencing human behaviour to treat discomfort, disorder and disease. The Celts/Druids practised hypnosis. The Egyptians established "sleep temples" some 4,000 years ago dedicated to therapeutic trance states in which curative suggestions were given. The Bible contains many sections which allude to hypnotic phenomena. Primitive tribes had Shamans who practised ritual, sleep cures and healing suggestions to remove the influences responsible for illness.
In modern times, hypnosis is usually dated to Vienna in the 1700s and a young physician named Mesmer. The method Mesmer used became known as Mesmerism. In 1855, English surgeon, James Esdaile, used hypnotic skills in India on 300 patients having major surgery .He presented his findings to the Royal Academy of Physicians in London, he found his patients were more resistant to infection, less discomfort /pain and he also discovered the mortality rates dropped from 50% to 5%. His work was denounced as blasphemous because "God intended for people to suffer".
Although often viewed as one continuous history, the term hypnosis only gained widespread use in the 1880s, initially amongst those influenced by the developments in France; some twenty years after the death of James Braid who had adopted the term hypnotism in 1841.Braid adopted the term hypnotism.
During the 1st and 2nd World Wars, interest in hypnosis was heightened because hypnosis was found to be very effective in combating war neurosis. The success of hypnosis in dismissing symptoms through a reliving of the events of a traumatic experience created a wave of enthusiasm for hypnotic methods.
Each hypnosis session is a partial glimpse into our personal continuum of consciousness. If states of consciousness were on a continuum, with consciousness at one end and sleep at the other end, hypnosis and meditation would fall in the middle.