Over the centuries hypnosis has been viewed as a magical cure-all, and has a history of acceptance and rejection by the medical profession for over 200 years. Over the years many people have utilized hypnosis with great success and it has been reviewed many times over.
Friederich Anton Mesmer in the 18th Century, believed Mesmerism would hinder the development of disease and had some success in curing various illnesses as well as helping people with pain control. Then in 1834 and English surgeon John Elliotson reported on numerous operations performed painlessly using mesmerism.
In England around 1846, another surgeon James Braid revisited the phenomenon of Mesmerism and renamed it hypnosis, after the Greek god of sleep, Hypnos. He was the first person to attribute the phenomenon to psychological rather than physical variables and his findings brought a renewed interest in the subject. He had evidence on 345 major operations performed with hypnosis as the sole anesthetic.
In 1990, Evans investigated the possible ways in which hypnosis effectiveness varies according to the type of pain. He concluded that the style of hypnosis was important. For acute pain, he suggested hypnotic suggestions focusing on anxiety-reduction and emphasis on minimizing the importance of the pain; and for chronic pain, he suggested directly confronting the pain under hypnosis, dealing with both the pain's physical and psychological effects on the patient (Evans, 1990).
The American Psychology Associations examine of hypnosis for pain control came to the conclusion that hypnosis had a similar effect as the placebo effect; that the belief that the hypnotic suggestions can reduce pain had the effect of reducing pain.
The management of pain using hypnosis is in a strange position. Although hypnosis has been shown to be effective in many cases, it still tends to be overlooked. Hypnosis is an easy-to-administer procedure with no side effects, yet most doctors ignore its effectiveness in lieu of more traditional methods. Probably because no one really knows how it works, yet it still has merit.
Regardless of the various conclusions made over time, hypnosis has been shown to be a useful tool for pain management in many situations with some articles suggesting that hypnosis is one of the great misunderstood treatments of our time and hypnosis has been shown to be a relatively effective, safe, and inexpensive way in which patients can deal with their pain.