Should Christians use hypnosis?

 

By Don Ruhl

 

One of the many dangers associated with hypnosis is that symptoms are treated rather than the real problems, such when a person has gone to a hypnotist because of guilt. The hypnotist will try to relieve the feelings of guilt, but in truth the guilt is still there because the sin is still there. Forgiveness comes only through Jesus Christ.

Another danger of hypnosis is that it gives a false of security, which can lead to avoiding the true solution. Take the example of guilt again. If a person finds relief from the feelings of guilt, but is still outside Christ, that person will not seek forgiveness from Jesus, thinking that there is no guilt to be removed. That person will then come into the Judgment bearing his guilt!

Another danger of hypnosis is that it brings a person under the control of another person. Hypnotism allows the patient to be put under the control of another person in ways that the Bible forbids. First Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” This is one of the dangers of cults; another person is being allowed to control us, and hypnosis falls under the same category. One writer said, “The hypnotized individual does not consider consequences or alternatives to the focused idea and becomes extremely open to suggestion.” 1

Two paragraphs later the writer demonstrated how easy it is to be deceived while in hypnosis when subjects were told to imagine that one of their hands felt like a helium balloon. Some received the suggestion, thus being deluded into believing a lie. Others did not receive the suggestion, showing that hypnosis is not a reliable way to discover the truth. James Braid, who invented hypnosis, shows us just how much the hypnotized individual can be controlled by the hypnotist when he noticed that, “Ideas suggested to the patient by the hypnotist, if reasonable, were carried out. Ideas suggested by another person were apparently unheard, unless the hypnotist told the patient to hear and heed them.” 2

From A Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychological and Psychoanalytical Terms, 3 “A person under hypnosis shows extreme responsiveness to any suggestion made by the hypnotist.” This susceptibility to suggestion can lead the patient to depend on the hypnotist for peace of mind rather than Jesus Christ. A supporter of hypnosis has himself said, “The greatest danger, in my view, is that if hypnotic treatments are carried on many times over long periods, hypnosis seems to induce an emotional dependence of the patient on the hypnotist” 4

John MacArthur calls hypnosis, “a form of shamanism made respectable by secular psychology…” 5

He also wrote that hypnosis offers the same promises as psychology in general, “Christian bookstores are full of books advising believers to ‘look deep within’; ‘get in touch with your inner self’; ‘explore the recesses of your past fears, hurts, and disappointments’; and ‘find the real answers to your problems within your own heart.’ Why? Because ‘the answers lie deep within.’” 6

Every student of the Bible knows that the Holy Spirit urges us to look to Jesus (Heb 12:1, 2).

Yet another danger of hypnosis is that the patient will be deceived into believing that the truth of a memory has been discovered. Leslie D. Weatherhead, who was a friend of hypnosis and used it, also tries to reassure us that any moral difficulties are not to be worried about because of the following reasons (but in saying these things he also shows the weaknesses of hypnosis),

The first is that it is inaccurate to suppose that a hypnotised patient will disclose a closely guarded secret and answer any question. 7

The second is that it is inaccurate to suppose that an indecent act could be perpetrated on a hypnotised subject if it offended his moral scruples, or that he could be induced to commit a crime. 8

The idea that by hypnotising a patient the psychologist can “get anything out of him that he wants to know” is fallacious. In the first place, only a proportion of patients are hypnotisable. The proportion of those who can be deeply hypnotised is, in my experience, very small. To attempt hypnosis and to fail to induce it sometimes gives the patient the impression either that he is difficult to cure or that the psychologist is incompetent. 9

In the second place, it is by no means true that a hypnotised patient will answer truthfully any question put to him. 10

The problem is that memory is not perfect, but can be influenced in many ways. There is a phenomenon known as False Memory Syndrome, and there is even an organization dealing with this, because many parents have been hurt by their children claiming sexual abuse and satanic ritual abuse, when these ideas were only planted in the mind of the child by a psychotherapist; sometimes suggested during hypnosis.

Charles Morris, who authored a textbook on psychology, wrote, “Hypnosis can also create hallucinations that are so realistic that subjects cannot easily determine whether they are real or the products of their own minds.” 11

He went on to say that the nature of hypnosis is unresolved for two reasons, the second of which is that the reactions of hypnotized people “are necessarily subjective and varying.” 12

Martin and Deidre Bobgan have written, “Research shows that hypnosis is just as likely to dredge up false information as true accounts of past events. In addition, studies have shown that individuals can and do lie under hypnosis.” 13

Again from the Bobgans, this time quoting Bernard Diamond, a professor of law and clinical professor of psychiatry, says that hypnotized persons “graft onto their memories fantasies or suggestions deliberately or unwittingly communicated by the hypnotist.” 14

One reason that people put faith in hypnosis is that they believe that somehow memories are kept hidden in the mind unadulterated. The truth is that our memories are influenced:

• By what we want to remember

• By other people

• By lies

Jeremiah 29:8 reveals that we can even create dreams and memories of things that never took place,

For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed.

Furthermore, people turn to hypnosis for the following reasons:

• Removal of guilt

• Relief of stress

• Treatment of sexual abuse

• Personality stabilization

• Prevention of self-destructive behavior

• Relief from anxiety

If hypnosis really takes care of these things, why did God not include it in the Scriptures? Has God kept us from something that is profitable and helpful for us to live life successfully? Not according to the Jesus Christ-appointed and Holy Spirit-inspired apostle Paul, who reminded the Ephesian elders that when he preached in their city he, “kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you” (Acts 20:20).

However, hypnosis is not found in any of his preaching in the Book of Acts, nor is it taught anywhere in Paul’s writings. We do have the assurance that by knowing God and Jesus Christ fully we have all the tools that we need for life and godliness (2Pe 1:2–4); and that by knowing the Scriptures we are equipped to perform any good work (2Ti 3:16, 17); and that God by His grace makes us sufficient for every good work (2Co 9:8); and that Jesus promised the apostles the Holy Spirit would reveal to them all the truth, and they in turn would reveal it to us (John 16:13). Notwithstanding there is not a commandment, or suggestion, that we use hypnosis! Hypnosis claims to deal with the same things that Scripture deals with (mentioned above), so it would seem that God would have included it, if it truly works.

Philippians 4:6, 7 would have been the opportune time to inject hypnotism, but the silence speaks volumes,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Hypnosis is also faulty because it assumes that there is a subconscious; and that it controls our life; and that everything in our life is recorded perfectly in the so-called subconscious.

The following quote will demonstrate how our memories cannot be relied upon to give an accurate account or how they can add details:

…Americans were spellbound before their television sets, watching Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas clash over their recollections of events a decade past. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are still fresh in our minds, but how many of us remember exactly what the two adversaries said, what they wore, the expressions on their faces and the tone of their voices? And 10 years from now, when we think back, how faithful will our memories be? Will we remember Hill’s tears at one particularly painful disclosure of sexual harassment, and Thomas thumping the table as he decried the hearing as a high-tech lynching of an uppity black?

Those with sharp memories will have noticed two errors in the preceding paragraph: Hill’s voice may have sometimes wavered, but she never cried, and Thomas may have thundered with his voice but never with his fist. Even if memory fails to retain these details, how many Americans will accurately retain the essence of the events? Will our memories reflect the truth? 15

 

An interesting item was that Sigmund Freud abandoned hypnosis, in one sense. Thomas Szasz says concerning Sigmund Freud, “He switched to the ritualized repression called hypnosis, and then to the ceremonial conversation which he called ‘psychoanalysis,’ because he believed that electrotherapy and hypnosis were pretenses.” 16

Szasz also says that psychoanalysis is a reshaping of hypnosis by Sigmund Freud. 17

Szasz says that hypnosis is nothing more than “a conversation between patient and doctor, and that this simple fact was disguised by a scientific-sounding Greek term that legitimized them as therapeutic interventions.” 18

Szasz quotes Pierre Janet, who was defending hypnotism,

The relationship of a hypnotisable patient to a hypnotist does not differ in any essential way from the relationship of a lunatic to the superintendent of an asylum. By accepting this outlook, those who practice suggestion and hypnotism would escape a good many moral difficulties – difficulties which never trouble alienists. 19

Remember that only God can see the imagination and the thoughts as they really are. In a prayer to God King Solomon said, “…for You, only You, know the hearts of all the sons of men” (1Ki 8:39), which Solomon probably remembered his father David saying, “…the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts” (1Ch 28:9). These statements from David and Solomon cannot be said about any humans, including preachers, elders, parents, spouses, therapists, hypnotists, or any others.

Therefore, only God knows perfectly what happened in the past. E. Fuller Torrey says, “in an altered state of consciousness the patient may incorporate the analyst’s frame of causation as self-hypnosis – ‘I do want to sleep with my mother.’” 20

He also said concerning hypnosis, “It has also been described as a therapeutic technique used by Apache Indian shamans and Washo Indian shamans.” 21

“Hypnosis is one aspect of the yoga techniques of therapeutic meditation…” 22

With these facts from Scripture and from the writings of psychologists and hypnotists themselves, why would any Christian want to trust his life to hypnosis? The Lord has blessed us with the all-sufficient Scriptures, and with prayer and the other things that we have examined. Let us learn to trust Him for peace of mind and success in life.

1 B. Bower, “Post-traumatic stress disorder: Hypnosis and the divided self,” Science News, March 26, 1988, p. 197.

2 Leslie D. Weatherhead, Psychology, Religion and Healing, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1952, p. 109.

3 Horace B. English and Ava Champney English, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1958, p. 245.

4 Weatherhead, op. cit., p. 120.

Our Sufficiency in Christ, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991, p. 93.

6 Ibid., p. 94.

7 Op. cit., p. 118.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid., p. 305.

10 Ibid.

11 Psychology, An Introduction, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1985, p. 128.

12 Ibid., p. 129.

13 Martin and Deidre Bobgan, Hypnosis and the Christian, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1984, p. 25.

14 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresies, Santa Barbara, California: EastGate Publishers, 1991, p. 156.

15 Anastasia Toufexis, “When Can Memories Be Trusted?” Time, October 28, 1991, p. 86.

16 The Myth of Psychotherapy, Syracuse University Press, 1988, p. 97.

17 Ibid., p. 107.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid., p. 185

20 The Mind Game: Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, New York, New York: Bantam Books, 1972, p. 80.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.


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22 thoughts on “Should Christians use hypnosis?

  1. I know that you think you are making a truth , but you are in area that you have not the knowledge of the what hypnosis is .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE5FUbP6z2Y
    this is just one of the uses . Please watch the full video . I am a believer in Christ , going to church to church and a small prayer group 4 out 7 days , and this does not mean that I am anyone special . Do I believe that at times that it is uses wrong ? many times just as I have watch preachers use it wrong. a good hypnotist un-hypnotizes the person , If you want to believe all that Hollywood puts out that is your choice . I would not let a shoe salesman use a scalpel in a operation 🙂

      • They may have, Don. In the book of John it is written that Jesus did so many things that if they were written down not all of the books in the whole world would contain them. Some of your facts are inaccurate and the use of some of your logic is faulty. I understand your good intentions, but remember when Aquila and Priscilla came across the young man in the new testament they stated: “He has a certain amount of zeal, but not according to knowledge. The young man who contributed a comment, John Bennett, makes a good point. Reading your article you appear to be out of your element and do not have a good grasp on what hypnosis is or how it can be used in a positive manner. Like a lot of Christians that I know, you want to throw the baby out with the bath water simply because you do not understand some aspects of a phenomenon. Please be careful. There are Christians that might benefit from hypnotherapy who will not seek it for fear of displeasing God. I understand your caution, but your blanket statements may hurt some.

  2. Thanks for your reply, and Don, I would love to meet you face to face and talk sometime . The guilt thing , you need to understand that each Hypnotist is as differ as pastors, and their methods. The popes would have us kissing their rings , the pe——-, (some) would have god running up and down the aisles, oh there are the snake handlers, so lets be fair. Besides the word hypnosis was not used until coined for that special state of mind until
    1841 , but the word that we also use when that person is in that state is ( Trance ) and we find peter in that state on the roof top.

  3. Back in bible times, not as much was known about the brain as was today. There is a scientific explanation behind hypnosis (it’s just a naturally induced state of the subconscious where the brain is more prone to suggestion, NOT some weird occult ritual that some make it out to be). Second, I have seen guided meditation CDs with Christian affirmations, so why couldn’t something similar be done with hypnosis? Like I said, there is a scientific explanation, and the human brain wasn’t understood in bible, and there are Christian meditation programs, as long as it’s only used to treat medical conditions (depression, anxiety, addictions, etc.), and it’s done from a Christian standpoint, hypnosis can’t be too bad.

    • If we believe that God created us, and that He knows us inside and out, and that He knows how we operate best, and how to fix our problems, then we also believe that He gave His word as a sufficient guide for all time. He knows everything there is to know about the brain, yet, He gave us the Scriptures that have all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1.2-4 and 2 Timothy 3.16-17). If He did not give us hypnosis in the Scriptures for our spiritual well-being, why do we think we need it?

      • Under your logic we should never go to doctors either, Don, because the woman with the issue of blood had spent all of her living on doctors and they couldn’t heal her.

  4. i agree, hypnotist is not what Jesus teach to us, but He teach us to PRAY and that is our true power. 😀 remember Saul at endor

    • We cannot overestimate the power of prayer, because it puts in connection with the Creator of the universe, who is also the Creator of our bodies, minds, souls, hearts, and spirits!

      • the car is not used or said in the bible or all the medical devices we use . DUD so don’t use them or you will become that hypocrite oops maybe it’s to late

      • John,

        We had been having an intelligent discussion until you added that remark about hypocrisy.

        The difference between using hypnosis and driving a car is great. Hypnosis deals with the inner man, and the Bible was written perfectly from the beginning to deal with man’s inward issues.

        Whether we drive a car, walk, or whatever, is out of the realm of spiritual healing.

        Don

      • well lets take case by case . I have used hypnosis to cure a headache is that the inner man ? I have used hypnosis with the help of child birth is that the inner person ?

      • I go back to my original point, What place does hypnosis have in the spiritual work of the church and the Christian? Did the Lord not know about hypnosis? Did He leave something out of His word?

      • I did not say that it should be used for spiritual work, for it is an impossibly . if you want me to explain why to you I will , if you just ask , and I will tell you why

  5. a note to the person Theofilus prayer is one thing that we should do, but it is not the only power he( God) gives us. there other powers that he gives and we can use them for good or evil, and he tells us so . the very thing the hypnotist uses and I am not referring to a watch. It is the spoken word . there godly preachers out there , and ungodly preachers.
    the same with hypnotist . you might say that a hypnotist takes the credit, not one that know where is power comes from . just like some preachers ( the great xxxxxx whoever , but we should honor a preacher that uses his gift and walks upright . I know that the gift was given by grace and he will be accountable how and if he uses it . that power of the tongue is why it says we shall give account for every idle word spoken. I know you have seen how much damage people have done to their loved ones with words .

  6. The Conscious = the here and now
    Subconscious= Dreams, controls body functions ( breathing , heart , skin reactions, consider someone says something off color the person blushes in a second, and other stuff you can look it up
    Super Conscious = the that deals with your beliefs , God , Jesus , right and wrong
    After 50,000 plus experiments with Hypnotized subjects the scientist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov
    Said it was and is impossible to change

  7. The good Lord blessed us with our subconscious mind and made our brain so we use less than 10% of our conscious mind for a reason. We are meant to use our subconscious mind to better our life. Hypnosis does that! It is medically proven we all go into hypnosis every day while reading, watching TV, driving and even right before we fall asleep and wake in the morning. God made us perfectly and would not have made us to go into hypnosis if we were not meant to do so. As a hypnotherapist I cannot make you do anything while in hypnosis that you wouldn’t do not in hypnosis and if I could I it would be unethical and I would loose my license. I am a professional and saying I would do such things is like saying you wouldn’t have your MD operate on you for fear he/she would purposely harm you. I don’t know where you got these ridiculous so called facts but you should contact the right organizations such as the American Medical Association who approved hypnosis many many years ago as a tool to help people heal from trauma abuse and much more. What you are saying is absolutely absurd hypnotherapist Help people such as rape victims with regression to take them back to the night they were harmed and be able to recall those repressed memories so they’re attacker can be prosecuted. hypnosis can help cure depression so that people to not commit suicide, can help with quitting smoking weight loss pain management and so much more the list just goes on and on there is no way that God would have created such a wonderful thing as I subconsciously mind if he did not want us to use it to heal ourselves you really need to do some research and learn more about what you’re running your mouth about before you do. You are truly having a wonderful profession that helps Falcons if not millions of people worldwide I am very glad that my minutes to not believe the way that you do.

  8. I would like to intervene if I may…I am a very strong follower of Jesus Christ and I steer clear of hypnotism but am investigating hypnotherapy which is much different if done correctly. It is a proven form of healing. I agree with Don in many respects, but Don sometimes people need help, even with prayer. They don’t know how to pray or their faith is not strong enough or they are such a mess emotionally, they get no where, we have all seen it. My understanding of hypnotherapy and what my experience was is that it can be used to help and heal. You never get into a state of unconsciousness or anywhere close to that. The therapist is only helping you to think on positive things or healing things, using positive words. Some with cancer can be helped by seeing the cells in their body become well. Much harder to do on your own. The therapist speaks in a calm manner and is only a guide. I would rather see hypnotherapy done to help someone than to see them suffer. And if you are a follower of Jesus, you can add scripture to your “script”. People do not understand that some people need help, that relying fully on Jesus grows when you are listening to a pastor, etc. Is it ok to listen to and believe a pastor to help you grow? Of course, most people only grow with the help of pastors and strong Christian friends…try doing it solely by yourself, bet it would be hard. Pastors go to school and learn from teachers to help them go into ministry. Why is it wrong for people to get help with diseases with a proven method?

    • Debbie, I concur with you wholeheartedly. I hear Pastors over and over say that God uses physicians to heal, but I never hear them say that doctors are wrong a lot of the time or that the side effects of medicine can be horrific and sometimes have devastating side effects that alter a person’s life forever. You bought out a good point about the difference between hypnosis and hypnotherapy. There is now excellent evidence that both hypnotherapy and meditation have been used to heal people who were in the last stages of cancer or other advanced stages of a degenerative disease. These people, for the most part, sought out these therapies when they had tried modern Western medicine and the doctors had concluded that there was not hope for them. While I agree that in some cases doctors can and do some good, I do not put as much hope in them as I do Jesus Christ and his Word. However, I am using hypnotherapy to heal myself. I have what is known as “persistent hypertension” and also have a breathing problem that is getting progressively worse. In both cases the doctors neither know what is causing the problem nor do they know how to treat it. Every medicine that I have been given, and that has been between 30-40, has not helped either problem but have affected me with horrible side effects. We have prayed, I have confessed sins and had a laying on of the hands with righteous men, and have not been healed. I am using self hypnosis. I must confess that I have a Master’s degree in Counseling and was exposed to hypnosis, but never used it. My medical condition has interfered with my life and I am now composing my own scripts and using them along with binaural beats on a daily basis. I truly believe that my body has the capability to heal its own self and will do so. I not lonely am a strong Christian, I am asking God’s direction in this and He has not shown me yet that I am on the wrong track. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit will speak to my inner man if I am engaging in something that will be detrimental to myself or spiritual life. Just saying. You need to decide for yourself.

  9. As of today, I am now a believer in Christ. It’s a very new journey for myself, so lot of changes will come. I am also studying Hypnotherapy and was sure on if I would be able to use it and follow Christ, but logic and reason took over. How can it “not” be okay or how is it “unbiblical to practice such therapies. I mean you have people do nothing but watch movies and the news, taking medications, eating tainted foods; basically poisoning their bodies.?.?.? How is that biblical, but to help humanity is unbiblical? I wonder which Jesus/God would recommend, taking medications, depression meds, pain medication, eat poison, stay depressed, etc.. Or take responsibility and action and seek out the better methods? Sure, prayer is very important and powerful. Think about it? It’s a gift from God. I think it’s more unbiblical to go to the freezer aisle in the grocery store, grab a prepackaged diner that contains carcinogens, GMOs because God created plants, veggies and wild life for the benefit of humanity. It’s obvious and common sense to know that fresh food, God’s gift to us has many healing and preventative properties. Again, how can you say that Hypnotherapy is against scriptures while you warm up you cancer causing foods in the microwave to feed yourself and possible your kids? God does want us to take care of ourselves because the body is a temple, right? With that being said, God does leave us responsibilities for self care, am I right or am I wrong? Again… We are told to pray, God is the power of all, the creator of everything.. Just because we are suppose to pray about things does not mean he wants us to sit down and do nothing about it..

    We can pray for peace in our communities, maybe God will work that miracle, maybe God will give us the strength and inspiration to make that change, maybe he wants us to get up and go make that change happen. “Love thy neighbor.” To me that’s showing care, compassion and actually going out to love others, help other and to support others. We can pray all day about “Loving thy neighbor”, but how can we actually love another if we don’t do something?

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