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Title: hypnosis
Contributor(s): Jamieson, Graham  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: Practices similar to hypnosis can be found in the historical and cultural records of virtually every human community where such records are available. Individuals utilize a diverse range of culturally defined rituals to induce dramatic and abrupt alterations in their own or another's conscious experience in ways that defy the framework of everyday reality (see altered state of consciousness). This can include (without the ingestion of drugs); vivid hallucinatory experiences, deluded beliefs, behavioural compulsions, transformations in the sense of self-identity, body image or time sense, apparent failures of volitional control of mind and body, and insensibility to pain or numerous other sensory experiences. In all cultures these rituals and their associated experiences are closely tied to religion, healing, and to the social power of (either dominant or marginalized) individuals in the key roles they offer. The modern practice of hypnosis has its roots in the efforts of the 18th century German physician Franz Anton Mesmer to seek a naturalistic understanding of the apparently miraculous public cures of physical and mental suffering brought about by the religious exorcisms of his famous contemporary, the Roman Catholic priest Father Johann Gassner. Mesmer applied the leading scientific ideas of his day (based around physical fluids and magnetic forces) to develop the theory and practice of 'animal magnetism' as a system of inexpensive, effective public health interventions widely available to the general community. The French royal commission of 1784, led by Benjamin Franklin, effectively discredited Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism. However, the Franklin commission conspicuously failed to discredit the practical efficacy of Mesmerism's psychological healing techniques. The medical practice of what came to be known as hypnosis continued to grow throughout Europe, Britain, and later the United States in the 19th century while academic theories came and went as to its true nature. At the same time hypnosis fascinated the general public and rapidly became a popular pastime. Today stage hypnosis has become a multimillion pound industry which aggressively defends its financial interests against any perceived threats from the practitioners of medical and scientific hypnosis.
Publication Type: Entry In Reference Work
Source of Publication: The Oxford Companion to Consciousness, v.Oxford Reference Online
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Place of Publication: Online
ISBN: 9780198569510
Field of Research (FOR): 170205 Neurocognitive Patterns and Neural Networks
170101 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 920410 Mental Health
920401 Behaviour and Health
HERDC Category Description: N Entry In Reference Work
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School of Psychology

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