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Hypnosis in America: Hypnotic History Part 2

american hypnosis history
Every page of history has a story.

Welcome back to another installment of hypnotic news. I am Amber here to regale you with information from the world of hypnosis. In our last installment (part 1) we talked about how hypnosis has deep roots in our culture and history. From sleep temples in Egypt around 1550 BC to Braid in the late 1800s. Hypnosis has been investigated and used throughout our history. Today I want to talk about hypnosis in America.

Backtrack A Moment

Hypnosis was already commonplace by the mid-1800s. Street corner tent shows were similar to our modern stage shows. It was also, as mentioned before, used quite frequently for anesthesia until the advent of chemical anesthetics. Which were easier and quicker to administer, though likely not nearly as safe.

Part of the reason hypnosis thrived during this era was a deep interest in metaphysical, psychic, and spiritual phenomena, spanning a variety of different spiritual and mental healing movements. Being already widely known, its was common for many spiritual healers to induce trance in addition to whatever else they might do. These healers, however, did modern hypnosis a disservice, indicating that the healing came from a spiritual source, rather than the will and power of the subject’s mind.

Early 20th Century History

Despite the appropriation of hypnosis for tent shows and spiritual healing, the scientific and academic investigations continued. In the first half of the 20th century, two names come to mind. Joseph Jastrow taught hypnosis at the University of Wisconsin and his student, Clark Hull, would go on to research hypnosis. Hull’s work as an experimental psychologist would lead to Hypnosis and Suggestibility, in 1933, the first major review of hypnosis within the scope of modern experimental psychology. Others such as Ernest Hilgard and Weitzenhoffer were conducting similar research at Stanford.

The field gained even more attention when it came to be used in wartime efforts. Used in WWI, WWII, and the Korean conflict to treat hypnosis, people began to see the effectiveness of treatment without chemicals. What started as a way to treat neuroses would turn into our modern body of research into the topic. We did a post (add link) on this a while back if you’d like further information.

Hypnosis in America: Our Famous Forefathers

While not in the realm of research, the field had many influential figures during the 20th century. Dave Elman, a hypnosis performer, would popularize a rapid induction method of hypnosis. Later he would go on to teach it to many doctors and physicians. From psychology, Milton Erickson, would play a large role in furthering the field. Maybe one of the greatest influences, his theories about the unconscious mind always listening led to what we call indirect techniques of hypnosis. His theories would later lead to NLP (neurolinguistic programming) which would later be created by Richard Bandler, another hypnotist.

Bandler began research to determine the traits that made people like Elman so good at their job. The hope was to create a program to teach those same skills to others. Thus creating an army of therapist ready to cope with the woes of the world. It didn’t quite work out that way however. There was still the element of skill and ability to learn those skills as we find with any trait or knowledge. Not everyone is suited though everyone can theoretically learn.

21st Century Hypnotists

Here are just a few of the famous 21st-century Clinical Hypnotists:

  • Mark Cunningham (The Renegade Hypnotist)
  • Melissa Tiers
  • Mike Mandel
  • Igor Ledochowski
  • Jason Linett
  • To name a few…

Medical Recognition

Here are a few of the medical recognition of hypnosis in modern times. Not all of them relate to hypnosis in America, but many of them have led to developments in the US as well. :

  • 1955 – The British Medical Association approved hypnosis for the treatment of neuroses and for anesthesia during childbirth and surgery, and recommended hypnosis training for medical students and physicians.
  • 1958 – The American Medical Association approved hypnosis as a therapeutic procedure and recommended hypnosis training for medical students. In 1987 the AMA rescinded this along with all endorsements made before 1958).
  • 1958 – Canadian Medical Association endorsed hypnosis.
  • 1958 – Canadian Psychological Association endorsed hypnosis.
  • 1960 – American Psychological Association endorsed hypnosis.
  • 1961 – American Psychiatric Association endorsed hypnosis.

Hypnotic History: To Be Continued…

History is full of characters who have made what we do today possible. And there are still more to come. Despite passing fads and movements, clinical practice and scientific study have persevered and survived the ages. From hypnosis in America to hypnosis around the world, hypnotist continues to boldly pioneer our practices and procedures for the future. This alone is a testament to the power of hypnosis to help people.

We hope that as time goes on we continue to validate hypnosis through practice and research. Today if you search for hypnotherapy one can find just about anything they’d like to know. We should all be excited to see where our future hypnotic heroes take us. and what exciting new discoveries the 21st century may bring.

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