Where does hypnosis originate from?

You may have heard of hypnosis in movies, TV series or even from a friend. But where did this practice originate? The history and origins of hypnotism are very fascinating – let’s dive right in!

Ancient Times

Hypnotic phenomena can be traced back to ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, India and more. In fact, the power of suggestion was widely used in rites and rituals.

Sleep Temples

In ancient Greece, there were sleep temples for individuals with health issues who could not find help through traditional means such as medicine or surgery. These sleep temples proved effective because they wanted to cure people’s body diseases by healing their soul instead.

Indian Tantra

Tantra is an Indian spiritual ritual that dates back over 5 millennia ago! It is said that tantric practitioners induce altered states of consciousness by a practice known as Kundalini Awakening which leads one onto a path toward God.This differs from the modern-day idea we have about hypnosis but it reflects the early interests in reaching ecstatic experiences thorough trance state.

More Recent History

Hypnotism as we know it today has roots dating back to the 18th century when Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer began developing his ideas about “animal magnetism”.


Mesmer believed he had discovered something called “animal magnetism.” This was an invisible force that flowed between animate objects (including humans believe it or not). He believed illness was caused by blockages affecting how animal magnetism flowed throughout our bodies.The goal of mesmerizing someone would be to release these blockages… As you probably figured out already,yes,Mesmer invented this idea before discovering thoughts on true cause/source of illnesses.Moving…

James Braid

In opposition to mesmerization techniques,British surgeon James Braid began forming his own opinions about hypnotic practices….nor using/speaking of animal magnetism. Instead, Braid promoted the technique of hypnotic induction in which an individual would focus on a fixed point, very closely until they fell into trance.Based on the context by which this method emerged we can deduce that, it was discovered to be more reliable or consistent than mesmerization,since there seemed to have been some inconsistencies and ambiguity before.

Beginnings of Scientific Study

Hypnotism gradually evolved as studies from renowned neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot who played a major role in shaping hypnosis like we know today.French psychology and French medical schools gave special attention to exploring different facets/angles of mental states needed for entering deeper trances.When German psychologist Emil Kraepelin studied under Charcot during 1880s he ended up calling him ‘master’ as recognition.Even Ivan Pavlov,Russian pioneer physiologist known for his work on classical conditioning had explored these topics.

Modern Hypnosis

By the early 20th century hypnosis has become so mainstreamed into everyday medicine that doctors were able to use it when treating patients with conditions such as headaches and anxiety states though not admitted/revealed by all practitioners.There is pretty significant growth in literature about it too.Sigmund Freud (founder of psychoanalysis) made mention several times about hypnotic state being necessary precondition for unleashing unconsciousness associated with disorders .

Milton Erickson

Milton Erikson(1901-1980),an American psychiatrist,brought significant contributions towards developing modern approaches/systematic understanding towards applying hypnhosis techniques.His approach involved using indirect suggestions through storytelling.He also wanted every relaxation response used could be meaningful.While most people nowadays combine insight-oriented verbal communication /therapy coupled with suggestion based techniques,Ericksonian methods still hold relevance because they are catered mainly around each individual’s unique experience/lifestyle.


In conclusion,hypnistim has come far over time.Ancient Egyptians were practicing it for decades before western civilization started using it as alternative medicine.Some even used hypnotism for religious worship such as Indian tantric. Mesmer used a mystical method and Braid advocated the use of focusing techniques.The newest approach uses individuals experiences,lifestyles and keeps developing.It is amazing what people have achieved in discovering how little understood things like hypnosis work with mental states.We hope you now have a better understanding of where hypnosis originated.

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