On the one hand, a history of hypnosis is a bit like a history of breathing.
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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.
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He reached a pinnacle however, in February of 2014, when he showed the world what a terrific performer he is in an amazing performance during the Super Bowl halftime show.Mesmer was also the first to develop a consistent method for hypnosis, which was passed on to and developed by his followers. 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 history of hypnosis, then, is really the history of this change in perception.In the 21st century, there are still those who see hypnosis as some form of occult power.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).