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The popular image of the hypnotist as a charismatic and mystical figure can be firmly dated to this time.

Inevitably, these magical trappings led to Mesmer’s downfall, and for a long time, hypnotism was a dangerous interest to have for anybody looking for a mainstream career.

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.

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.

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This was largely due to the work of therapists such as Milton H. 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. 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.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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