Mind-body medicine addresses the most complex forces in healing. These techniques are included in the field of psychology. In Western medicine, its origin is connected with attempts to find the source of the vital and healing energy. The physician Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) postulated that this vital energy is a mysterious fluid. In 1843, the physician James Braid (1795-1860) argued that healing effects were due to a mental force, not a mysterious fluid. He changed the name to hypnosis. Hypnosis became a crucial ingredient of Sigmund Freud’s (1856-1939) early development of psychodynamic psychotherapy (one of many psychological interventions). Observations in the last decade of the 19th century documented that people who had previously undergone hypnotic sessions were able to easily put themselves into a state of auto-hypnosis.
In the 1930’s, Schultz, after studying hypnosis, added autosuggestion leading to the development of Autogenic training. Many people presently understand that they unconsciously prepared themselves, way in advance, to utilize various forms of suggestion in a variety of therapies. This includes volunteering as a subject at a theater performance. The regular use of this state reduces stress and improves efficiency.
Another relaxation technique, pioneered in 1930 by Dr. Edmund Jacobson, an American physician, is progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is based on the notion that it is impossible to be tense in any part of the body when all of the muscles are completely relaxed. Tension of involuntary muscles and organs can be reduced if the associated skeletal muscles are relaxed. Other relaxation techniques involve passive muscle relaxation, refocusing, and breathing control. Imagery is a form of Ericksonian self-hypnosis.
Hypnosis and such forms of volitional intention (as Autogenic training and guided imagery) also later join with academic behavioral psychology developed by I.P. Pavlov (1849-1936), J. Watson’s (1878-1958) rigorous investigations of classic conditioning, and E.L. Thorndike’s (1874-1949) work on operant conditioning. This cross-fertilization of disciplines and ideas has contributed to the formation of such cognitive behavioral mind-body interventions as biofeedback, modern autogenic training, visualization and guided imagery, the relaxation response, and the reexamination of older self-control practices such as the practice of meditation and yoga. These techniques were utilized to facilitate relaxation which alone may act therapeutically for body disturbances and diseases. Alternative forms of psychotherapy are different from the conventional in that sense that they pay more attention to mind-body interactions.