Hypnotherapy is the application of hypnosis as a form of treatment, usually for relieving pain or conditions related to one's state of mind. Practitioners believe that when a client enters, or believes he has entered, a state of trance, the patient is more receptive to suggestion and therapy. The most common use of hypnotherapy is to remedy obesity, smoking, pain, ego, anxiety, stress, amnesia, phobias, and performance but many others can also be treated by hypnosis, including functional disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The roots of medicine by therapy lie in ancient societies even earlier than the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Indians. Religious rituals were characterized by dancing, music, and masked peoples assuming new identities.In the nineteenth century, healers like Abbe Faria and practitioners like Franz Anton Mesmer, Scottish neurosurgeon James Braid, James Esdaile, John Elliotson, Ambroise-Auguste Liébault, Emile Coue, Jean-Martin Charcot and more recently Andrew Salter with his conditioned reflex therapy, began experimenting with the principles of what we now understand as hypnosis.
Mesmer's research into the prevalent ailment of 'hysteria' led to the theory of animal magnetism. This is comparable to modern-day stress, or in hysteria's most extreme examples, appears to bear similarity to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A contemporary of Mesmer had claimed to have discovered a physical force in all living things (people, trees, plants and animals) through which humans would reach the hysteria state instantly on contact with a specially "magnetised" tree or bush. Following an elaborate ceremony 'magnetising' trees, sufferers of hysteria or hysterical nature would touch the tree and experience something akin to a fit, after which the hysteria would usually not recur.
Mesmer staged an animal magnetism without having 'magnetised' the trees to illustrate that the ceremony was a sham. However, all of the volunteers for Mesmer's event had the same effect from the non-prepared trees. That is, the very suggestion of animal magnetism being at work was enough to create the bodily response.
Mesmer then wrote various theses on this previously unheard-of psychological effect, later termed [mermerism] as shorthand for the effect. In common parlance, we have since retermed this the Placebo Effect.
James Braid was next to develop modern hypnosis a step further. In his scientific studies of brain workings, he became driven to understand the nature and logistics of sleep, and specifically dreaming, in the brain. In his writings and studies later published on these findings, Braid referred to the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos. As such, the new branch of learning became known as "neur-hypnology".
Sigmund Freud for the first 15 or so years of his own psychological treatment in the late 1930s employed something similar to hypnosis with his own hysteria clients, upper-class Viennese women. This took the form of the svengali-esque [swinging watch] technique, to defocus the eyes before a fully authoritarian and overt induction.
Presumably not all Freud's clients found this effective, as he later abandoned the procedure in favor of his newly developed free association technique. This is often viewed as the beginning of modern [psychotherapy], in that the patient would be asked ongoing questions to 'keep them talking' from which Freud would then deduce an explanation and treatment based on his own theories and frameworks. During such procedures, various props were used to allude to the patient's own psychology and preferences... including inkspots of undetermined shape Rorschach test (pronounced 'raw-shock') and [lucid dreaming] similar to waking hypnotherapy of the modern day.
Although he showed a preference for his own home-made procedures, the principles of conscious, unconscious, dream utilisation and refinement of attention are ongoing themes throughout the majority of his work. They also predate what we nowadays refer to as hypnotherapy, although the chasm between the schools of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy has deepened as these elements of Freud's format are left aside in favour of a more [counselling]-based approach.
The Hypnotist-Subject relationship has been feared by some due to the practice of stage performers. In a book by Erica Fromm, it has been referred to as "archaic involvement", listing these responses in the "patient":