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The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.

The history of hypnosis is full of contradictions. On the one hand, a history of hypnosis is a bit like a history of breathing. Like breathing, hypnosis is an inherent and universal trait, shared and experienced by all human beings since the dawn of time. On the other hand, it’s only in the last few decades that we’ve come to realise that! Hypnosis itself hasn’t changed for millennia, but our understanding of it and our ability to control it has changed quite profoundly. The history of hypnosis, then, is really the history of this change in perception.

From a Western point of view, the decisive moment in the history of hypnosis occurred in the 18th Century (coinciding with the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason). The work of Franz Mesmer , amongst others, can be seen as both the last flourish of “occult” hypnosis and the first flourish of the “scientific” viewpoint. Mesmer was the first to propose a rational basis for the effects of hypnosis. Although we now know that his notion of “animal magnetism”, transferred from healer to patient through a mysterious etheric fluid, is hopelessly wrong, it was firmly based on scientific ideas current at the time, in particular Isaac Newton’s theories of gravitation.

Mesmer was also the first to develop a consistent method for hypnosis, which was passed on to and developed by his followers. It was still a very ritualistic practice. Mesmer himself, for instance, liked to perform mass inductions by having his patients linked together by a rope, along which his “animal magnetism” could pass. He was also fond of dressing up in a cloak and playing ethereal music on the glass harmonica whilst this was happening. The popular image of the hypnotist as a charismatic and mystical figure can be firmly dated to this time.

More importantly, perhaps, hypnosis became increasingly practical, and regarded as a useful tool for easing psychological distress and bringing about profound change in a variety of situations. This theme has continued up to the present day. Advances in neurological science and brain imaging, together with the work of British psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell who linked hypnosis to the Rapid Eye Movement (REM), have also helped to resolve the “state/non-state” debate, bringing hypnosis and hypnotic trance firmly into the realm of everyday experience. At the same time, the nature of “ordinary” consciousness is better understood as a series of trance states that we go into and out of all the time.

The history of hypnosis, then, is like the search for something that was in plain view all along, and we can now see it for what it is – a universal phenomenon that’s an inextricable part of being human. The future of hypnosis will be to fully realise the incredible potential of our natural hypnotic abilities.

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The history of hypnosis is full of contradictions. On the one hand, a history of hypnosis is a bit like a history of breathing. Like breathing, hypnosis is an inherent and universal trait, shared and experienced by all human beings since the dawn of time. On the other hand, it’s only in the last few decades that we’ve come to realise that! Hypnosis itself hasn’t changed for millennia, but our understanding of it and our ability to control it has changed quite profoundly. The history of hypnosis, then, is really the history of this change in perception.

From a Western point of view, the decisive moment in the history of hypnosis occurred in the 18th Century (coinciding with the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason). The work of Franz Mesmer , amongst others, can be seen as both the last flourish of “occult” hypnosis and the first flourish of the “scientific” viewpoint. Mesmer was the first to propose a rational basis for the effects of hypnosis. Although we now know that his notion of “animal magnetism”, transferred from healer to patient through a mysterious etheric fluid, is hopelessly wrong, it was firmly based on scientific ideas current at the time, in particular Isaac Newton’s theories of gravitation.

Mesmer was also the first to develop a consistent method for hypnosis, which was passed on to and developed by his followers. It was still a very ritualistic practice. Mesmer himself, for instance, liked to perform mass inductions by having his patients linked together by a rope, along which his “animal magnetism” could pass. He was also fond of dressing up in a cloak and playing ethereal music on the glass harmonica whilst this was happening. The popular image of the hypnotist as a charismatic and mystical figure can be firmly dated to this time.

More importantly, perhaps, hypnosis became increasingly practical, and regarded as a useful tool for easing psychological distress and bringing about profound change in a variety of situations. This theme has continued up to the present day. Advances in neurological science and brain imaging, together with the work of British psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell who linked hypnosis to the Rapid Eye Movement (REM), have also helped to resolve the “state/non-state” debate, bringing hypnosis and hypnotic trance firmly into the realm of everyday experience. At the same time, the nature of “ordinary” consciousness is better understood as a series of trance states that we go into and out of all the time.

The history of hypnosis, then, is like the search for something that was in plain view all along, and we can now see it for what it is – a universal phenomenon that’s an inextricable part of being human. The future of hypnosis will be to fully realise the incredible potential of our natural hypnotic abilities.