History of Hypnosis has many contradictions. Hypnosis is an inherent and universal trait like breathing. Thus shared and experienced by all human beings since the beginning of life in this universe. The only reason we feel Hypnosis a new thing because since last few decades we come to realize it.
Hypnosis is as it is since the beginning but our understanding of it and our ability to control and use it has changed quite profoundly. Thus history of Hypnosis is in reality the history of change in our perception about it.
Hypnosis is older than recorded human history. There are several indications and evidences available to prove that Hypnosis was used in primitive human culture. The best example is a recorded reference from ancient Egypt. Over 4000 years ago an Egyptian priest who went by the alias of Imhotep, practiced hypnosis which would have seem like a divine power at that time.
Sleep or Dream Temples were built for the purpose of healing and worship.
Imhotep was involved in the construction of step pyramid, which is known as the first pyramid of the Egypt. The Sleep Temples were used frequently, by the people wishing to extinguish their physical and emotional ailments.
Sleep Temples became popular in other countries including Greece, and survived for many centuries for the purpose of healing. Hypnosis was used by village priests or “Shamans” in primitive culture and is still used today in a similar way by tribal communities all over the world.
The history of hypnosis can be traced, when man began interacting as a social being. He realized that he could reap more fruits by influencing other people to change their beliefs and actions in his favor. People in the ancient time especially during the Vedic period of the Hindus used incessant chant like “OM” and other mantras that all produce hypnotic trance to the devotees.
In short in ancient times India, Egypt and Greece were using hypnosis mainly for healing purposes in religious ceremonies. People applying hypnosis were known as witch doctors, medicine men, healers, shamans etc. In the ancient Sanskrit book called Law of Manu, different types of hypnotic states are mentioned. Those are dream sleep state, ecstasy sleep state, sleep waking state etc.
It seems from following examples that animal magnetism was the basic concept adopted by some of the healers.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037), a Persian psychologist and physician was the first who make a distinction between sleep and hypnosis. The book of healing, published in 1027, he stated that hypnosis is al-Wahm-al -Amil, in Arabic i.e. one could create conditions in another person so he accepts the reality of hypnosis. After that Hypnotism evolved out of much earlier work of magnetists1 and mesmerists.