This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
The word "hypnosis" is derived from the Greek hypnos meaning "sleep." Actually, you're not asleep when hypnotized, but rather are in a trancelike state of restful alertness. This is accompanied by an extreme openness and receptivity to suggestion. Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for self-improvement and/or healing. All hynotherapy employs hypnosis, but not all hypnosis is hypnotherapy.
The origins of hypnosis date back to the ancient Chinese and Egyptians, who used it in religious rituals and as a medical treatment. The first modern-day medical uses of the therapy weren't recorded until the late 18th century, however, when the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer, who was working in France, introduced what he called Mesmerism (the origin of the modern word "mesmerize").
Mesmer believed the body contained "animal magnetism" and that imbalances in "magnetic fluids" through the bodycould cause a variety of diseases. He claimed he had the ability to cure certain ailments by manipulating these subtle energies using iron filings and magnets, as well as soothing words and gestures. Not surprisingly, Mesmerism was rapidly discredited by a panel of physicians and academics, including Benjamin Franklin, who happened to be in France at the time.
Probably because Mesmer was such a showman, his theory was relegated to the realm of parlor tricks and stage shows. However, a number of physicians in both France and England did not totally dismiss his work. To avoid any negative associations with Mesmerism, however, they introduced instead the terms hypnosis and hypnotherapy. In the 1890's, the British Medical Association approved hypnotherapy as an appropriate adjunct therapy for several conditions. Research papers documenting the benefits of hypnotherapy and even a clinical textbook appeared in the 1930's. However, it took until the 1950's before both the American and British Medical Associations actually recommended hypnotherapy for a variety of both physical and emotional conditions.
Hypnosis reached a new level of acceptance by the scientific world in 1995, when a National Institutes of Health (NIH) assessment panel recommended that it be considered an element of the medical protocol for chronic pain. The assessment panel also recommended that hypnosis patients be reimbursed by insurance companies.