Ever since Franz Anton Mesmer proposed his theory of animal magnetism more than 200 years ago, though the process of hypnosis is timeless and used in all cultures throughout history, hypnosis has fought an uphill battle for scientific credibility. The establishment relegated it to the domain of stage performers and quacks for most of that time. But in the past few decades the phenomenon has enjoyed an increasing amount of scientific interest, as well as widespread clinical application for an array of medical and psychological purposes, from removing warts to retrieving memories long buried in the unconscious.
This sudden ascent to respectability began a little more than 30 years ago, when psychologist Ernest Hilgard, Ph.D., a former president of the American Psychological Association, set up the Laboratory of Hypnosis Research at Stanford University. Since then, dozens of research programs on hypnosis have sprung to life in universities and medical schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. And as the interest continues, more and more research documents the effectiveness of the use of hypnosis for natural relief of physical, emotional and behavioral issues.