A visitor wrote: “I just want to thank you
for writing a good and knowledgable article on hypnosis. I'm a
hypnotist and a Christian and I'm amazed at the amount of
misinformation out there. Thank you for this article.”
Hypnosis for Christians:
Good or bad?
Should Christians avoid hypnosis, or benefit from it?
Quick-read this article:
Hypnosis itself is neither good nor bad. Used wisely, it can help
Christians as much as non-Christians to break bad habits and
improve themselves. There are many accounts in the Bible of saints
of God entering trance-like states that parallel self-hypnosis.
Christians, like non-Christians, can benefit from
hypnosis. In itself, hypnosis is neither good nor bad. Neither
right nor wrong.
You can use a knife to cut your food, or to kill someone.
Similarly, you can use hypnosis to build self-confidence, lose
weight, and have a tooth out without anaesthetic and without pain.
Or you can use it in voodoo rituals to scare people and make them
susceptible to occult practices.
But you also may be taking medication that you may not know is
derived from plants that jungle shamans and medicine men have used
for centuries in non-Christian spiritual healings. Many of the
largest pharmaceutical companies have worked side by side with
shamans to find ingredients that the shamans have used in healing.
Do we refuse to take life-saving drugs because their roots are in
sorcery? Of course not.
Informed Christians rarely take a stand against hypnosis these
days (except against its use in stage shows, the occult, or
voodoo-style practices), because the benefits are so well
documented. A Harvard study showed that hypnosis helped broken
bones heal faster and also that women who had breast surgery
recovered much more quickly after hypnosis.
Those who strongly oppose it have failed to document examples to
prove their case. Some opponents even use bad logic by saying that
because we can't explain how hypnosis works then it must be bad.
Can they explain how their thought processes work? How planes fly?
How bees make honey? Perhaps they should ban thought, air travel,
honey products, and everything else they don't understand.
Myths and questions about being hypnotized
Q. Isn't hypnosis hocus-pocus? I've heard that it doesn't
A. You've heard wrongly. It is true that some people benefit
from hypnosis more than others, and a few don't benefit at all. But
most people can go into a relaxed hypnotic state within a few
sessions deep enough to cure them of bad habits or unwanted
Q. As a Christian, isn't it wrong to let someone hypnotise
me, because I would not be aware of what they are doing to me while
I'm in hypnosis?
A. Christians who say this usually have no problem allowing a
doctor, even a non-Christian doctor, to anaesthetize them if they
have to undergo surgery. Yet they don't know what the doctor is
doing while they are unconscious. In hypnosis you are usually well
aware of what is happening, so it would seem to be an advantage to
have surgery under hypnosis rather than submitting to being made
unconscious. This is especially so for those who are allergic to
medication or needles. People can have surgery under hypnosis
instead of having anaesthetic, and often recover faster. They can
remain awake during the surgery without feeling pain. Millions have
benefited from self-hypnosis, which doesn't require a
hypnotist to constantly give you suggestions. You can learn
self-hypnosis from CDs and audiotapes, and can listen to them first
to find out what the hypnotist is saying. If you don't agree with
some of it, you can make your own hypnotic recording with wording
you completely agree with. So the argument doesn't stand up to
Q. I heard a Christian say that hypnosis is wrong because
among occult practices listed in Deuteronomy 18:10-11 is “one
who casts spells”.
A. Hypnotists (hypnotherapists) do not “cast
spells”. They help you relax as you drift into a mental state
on the border of consciousness and sleep. This is the state of mind
that allows change to happen. With repetition, which may take a few
days or perhaps six weeks, positive suggestions can bring positive
change. A common misconception is that hypnotized people don't know
what is happening around them. But they almost always do
know, and that is one of the most common statements of surprise
from people when they first come out of hypnosis. In self-hypnosis
you have to remain conscious, otherwise you would fall
asleep and be unable to give yourself suggestions. Obviously that
would not benefit you. You are never under “a
Q. Does hypnosis or self-hypnosis bring permanent change? If
I use it to improve concentration while I study, will I keep this
better concentration forever?
A. It will last as long as you use hypnosis for that purpose,
and a little longer. We know Christians who have used self-hypnosis
so they could get rid of their fear of public speaking and give
speeches and sermons confidently, or to lose weight. When they have
given the speeches, or lost weight, and stopped hypnosis, within a
year they were almost back to their former state. A person who
suffered from hereditary nosebleeds learned self-hypnosis
successfully and was able to stop the nosebleeds quickly for more
than 10 years. They rarely occurred after that. Hypnosis will work
long-term if you keep practicing it occasionally. You can liken it
to a sportsperson who trains to give peak performances in running,
swimming, or tennis. While they train, they do well at their sport.
But when they stop training they get out of condition.
Q. Are there any recent examples of hypnosis being used
A. Plenty! A fascinating example was reported in Medical
News Today on April 19, 2008. Hypnotist Alex Lenkei of
Worthing, England, hypnotized himself for an operation on his hand
that lasted more than an hour. He needed no anaesthetic at any time
during the operation, and was fully conscious while doctors removed
bone in his thumb.
Q. Doesn't hypnosis shift a Christian's faith from God
and His Word to the hypnotist and his technique?
A. Of course not. Christians take aspirin to relieve headaches,
blood pressure tablets to relieve hypertension, and antiseptics to
fight infection from a wound. This doesn't mean they give up their
faith in God for faith in pharmaceutical companies. Likewise with
hypnosis. God has given us a mind that is able to cure many
ailments without drugs, and praise Him for giving this to us. If we
choose to ignore a power of the mind that our Creator has given us,
that is a choice we are free to make. But it is not the only
choice, and is not necessarily the right one.
Q. What is the difference between hypnosis and other
types of trances, such as Transcendental Meditation, yoga, or Zen
A. The state is similar for all non-drug, trance-like states.
The trance state is around the point where your consciousness
borders on sleep. We all pass through this point every night as we
relax and drift into sleep. But the reason for staying in this
state a little longer differs in its purpose.
Transcendental Meditation may calm people down, but it
requires them to repeat the name of a Hindu god while they are
meditating, so it is unsuitable for Christians. In deep
Christian meditation and intense prayer, your thoughts usually
focus on some aspect of God or the Bible, and you allow God to
refresh your mind or show you some insight into Him or His Word.
The purpose of hypnosis is usually to improve you in some
way — such as curing asthma, helping you stop gambling,
improving your sport skills, or helping you overcome fears. But it
has also been greatly helpful in other ways, such as in court cases
to extract forgotten information from a witness. Dr. Nicolai Dahl
used hypnosis successfully to cure the great Russian composer
Sergei Rachmaninoff of writer's block when Rachmaninoff suddenly
lost his ability to compose music.
What does the Bible say about hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a modern word, so you won't find it in the Bible.
(It used to be called hypnotism, and a form
of it was known even earlier as mesmerism, but the Bible was written
long before even those words were invented.) The trance-like state
you enter in self-hypnosis seems to parallel some of the trances
and visionary states in the Bible (for example Numbers 24:4; Daniel
2:19; Acts 10:10, 11:5, 22:17; Revelation 1:10). In strongly
focused deep prayer and meditation you may drift into a hypnotic
trance. The Apostle Peter said he was praying and in a trance when
he saw a vision (Acts 11:5; 10:10).
The common negative Bible verse opponents raise against hypnosis
is Deuteronomy 18:10–11, but as we saw earlier, this doesn't
refer to hypnosis because the description is wrong.
Christians who say hypnosis may lead to demon possession, or may
seduce Christians into the occult, are confusing practice
with purpose. Voodoo priests in Africa have a different
purpose for using hypnosis than do doctors in London and New York
treating patients for allergies or stage fright.
It is unfortunate that some Christians who have had no
experience with hypnosis bear false witness on the subject by
ignoring the purpose and implying that all hypnosis is of the
voodoo style. They instil fear in people who may greatly benefit
from hypnosis. If they really believe hypnosis is always wrong
because it has occult roots, they certainly should also protest
against medications that have come from ancient jungle shaman
knowledge. And where are the documented cases of demon possession
in someone who has used hypnosis to cure something like nailbiting
or nervousness before exams? There is more evidence of priests and
pastors leading people astray than professionally administered
hypnosis doing harm.
In Genesis 3:21 we read that God “caused a deep sleep to
fall upon Adam” while He created Eve. Of course we can trust
God to look after us if he puts us into a deep sleep. So we would
also want to be able to trust any hypnotist who was going to lead
us into hypnosis. But you can learn self-hypnosis from CDs
and tapes, so you can hypnotize yourself each day or every few days
to make the changes you want.
It may not be wise to have someone hypnotise you when there are
no witnesses present if you have doubts about hypnosis or the
hypnotist. And it is not wise to let amateurs hypnotize you,
because they may not give you suggestions effectively.
And it would not be wise to let a stage hypnotist hypnotise you
at any time, because he or she may suggest you perform unChristian
acts, such as acting drunk, pretending you are having an affair, or
undressing down to your underwear. Many stage hypnotists do not
have the ethical standards required of registered hypnotherapists
(whose reputation and profession depend on their ethics and
effectiveness). The main objective of a stage hypnotist is to put
on a good show, not to look after volunteers from the audience.
There are dangers also in using hypnosis to evoke
“repressed memories”. Hypnotized subjects can make up
elaborate and convincing stories if they think that's what the
hypnotist wants. And this could shatter someone's life if people
think these stories are true.
But as far as helping you get rid of phobias, bad habits, and
perhaps having pain-free surgery, a reputable hypnotherapist
(particularly a mature Christian if you are concerned about the
hypnotist's religious beliefs) may be able to help you
A sensible and well-documented book on hypnosis by
a Christian counselor with first-hand knowledge of the subject is
Hypnosis, Healing and the Christian, by John H. Court,
Paternoster Press (UK), 1997.
Another interesting book, although not as well
documented as the previous one, and the writing style is rather
dated, by a Christian pastor who taught self-hypnosis for many
years is The New Self-Hypnosis, by Paul Adams, Melvin
Powers Wilshire Book Company, Hollywood, 1967.
A (non-Christian) book with a wealth of case
studies showing how hypnosis has helped people with a wide range of
ailments is Hypnosis and the Art of Self-Therapy, by
highly respected Australian clinical hypnotherapist Dr. Gordon
Milne, Lothian, Port Melbourne, 1994. The author also gives
fascinating accounts of famous courtroom cases in Australia and the
U.S. in which hypnosis has been used.
Hypnosis has “real” brain effect | BBC News
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