Straight Talk

The Question

What do you think of hypnosis?

Name and location unknown

The Answer
Part 1: What is hypnosis?
Part 2: Problems and concerns

What is hypnosis? (Part 1)

In the earlier days of television, variety shows were quite popular with hypnotists frequently booked as entertainment acts. As a child that was my introduction. I well remember watching “volunteers” from the audience make fools of themselves under the influence of the hypnotic state as they were told to cluck like chickens or walk funny etc. Then afterward, with the snap of the fingers of the hypnotist, they remembered nothing of what had happened. Everyone laughed and thought it was harmless fun, including me.

But what is hypnotism? The fact that individuals in a semi awake state can be made to forget what just occurred gives us a clue about the power of the state of hypnosis. For a definition I looked to Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs by John Ankerberg & John Weldon. They say: “Hypnosis is a deliberately induced condition of deep mental relaxation, passivity, or trance, in which a person becomes highly suggestible and flexible within a state of consciousness capable of dramatic manipulation.”

Hypnosis is an ancient practice and no one person is credited as founder but it is sometimes associated with Anton Mesmer whose name gave us the term “mesmerized.” How it works and why it works is also mostly unknown. Scientifically there still is not a clear explanation or understanding of it. We no longer see hypnotists on TV as entertainment but there is plenty of advertising to use the practice to cease smoking or lose weight. It’s big in the Self Help movement and it’s big in the New Age movement.

Does the Bible speak to it? Not specifically by name. God does forbid all occult activity and hypnosis is often associated with those practices. 2 Kings 17:17 says, “Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him.” Is hypnosis an “enchantment”? We cannot say that with certainty. But what we can say with certainty is that we are to always be controlled and under the power of the Holy Spirit. That must be taken into account in considering hypnosis.

Problems and concerns (Part 2)

You asked what I think of hypnosis. I think it is foolish at best and dangerous at worst. I personally would not get anywhere near it. Listen to some of its claimed benefits by those who promote its use: developing psychic abilities, past-life regression therapy, astral projection or travel, mind projection, chakra meditation, reading auras, visualization or guided imagery and generating higher consciousness—to name a few.

I don’t know of one legitimate goal (such as smoking cessation or needed weight loss or gain) that can’t be achieved by a number of other methods that have no “New Age” baggage attached to them. Why allow another person who may or may not have good motives and character to access your mind and control you while you have a lessened ability to resist manipulation and/or suggestions?

Rather, my suggestion is this: “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)