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Sleep temples (also known as dream temples or Egyptian sleep temples) are regarded by some as an early instance of hypnosis over 4000 years ago, under the influence of Imhotep. Imhotep served as Chancellor, and High Priest of the sun god Ra at Heliopolis. He was said to be a son of Ptah, his mother being a mortal named Khredu-ankh.

Sleep temples were hospitals of sorts, healing a variety of ailments, perhaps many of them psychological in nature. The treatment involved chanting, placing the patient into a trance-like or hypnotic state, and analysing their dreams in order to determine treatment. Meditation, fasting, baths and sacrifices to the patron deity or other spirits were often involved as well. This can be seen as early psychotherapy.

Sleep temples also existed in the Middle East and Ancient Greece. In Greece, they were built in honour of Asclepios, the Greek God of Medicine and were called Asclepieion. The Greek treatment was referred to as incubation, and focused on prayers to Asclepios for healing. A similar Hebrew treatment was referred to as Kavanah, and involved focusing on letters of the Hebrew alphabet spelling the name of God. Sir Mortimer Wheeler unearthed a Roman Sleep temple at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire in 1928, with the assistance of a young J.R.R. Tolkien.


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de:Asklepieion
nl:Asklepieion
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