You’ve most likely experienced different states of awareness, whether having been lost in thought while driving a familiar route, singularly focusing on a project, or watching a movie with rapt attention. These scenarios all have the hallmarks of a hypnotic trance–slight amnesia, time distortion, and loss of awareness of your surroundings and of your body. It’s probably happening now to some extent, or did you realize your tongue was touching the back of your teeth?
While these altered states of awareness are a normal everyday part of being human, I must underline that the act of inducing trance states– regardless of the purpose and person doing it–is abnormal.
What is Hypnosis?
There are many definitions; however, this one from freedictionary.com explains it well: “An artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible”.
Generally, hypnosis is used for pain relief in place of anaesthesia, to cause psychological change, and in occult practices.
How Hypnosis is Induced
When I was a practicing hypnotherapist, and upon meeting clients for the first time, I would begin to build rapport by matching how they spoke, breathed, and positioned themselves; furthermore, I’d used various other methods, which I’ll discuss in a future post. My point is that I used techniques outside the awareness levels of my clients–all for the sole purpose of affecting and building agreement with their subconscious minds.
Fun fact: Who hasn’t seen a hypnotist swinging a watch in front of someone’s eyes? The deft practitioner would then tell the client, “You are getting sleepy”, or “Your eyelids are getting heavy”. Well, this procedure aids in inducing a hypnotic trance: As the client keeps his or her head level and following the pendulum-like movements of the watch, the client’s eyelids do get heavy. Go ahead…try it! While keeping your head level and still, gaze up and pretend to follow an imaginary watch that is swinging a few inches in front of your forehead. I’ll wait.
Exhausting, isn’t it? When the hypnotist remarks how tiring it is, the subconscious mind agrees and is primed for further agreement.
Next, as I instructed my clients to relax, I would use manipulative language patterns to help them go into a trance, and then to bypass the “critical mind”. Every waking second, we are being fed tons of information–from sights and sounds to words and thoughts. Once someone is in a trance, the hypnotist can bypass the factor that judges information and may then implant suggestions for change.
(Note: No, a person will not go rob a bank if that particular suggestion is planted nor will someone be able to recall the information in a set of encyclopedias should one be read to that person while under hypnosis.)
Outside of my practice, I consulted for a chain of hypnosis centers that used a light and sound machine to affect the brain waves of clients. The machine looked much like this one:
I don’t recall receiving any specific knowledge regarding this machine. My instructions were simply to make sure the lights and sounds were not loud and to be careful not to use the machine on epileptics, as it could cause seizures. Scary, eh?
The majority of my clients wanted relief from addictions, phobias, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Astonishingly, my certification to become a hypnosis practitioner and master practitioner took only about one month; the training for the chain of hypnosis centers was much shorter.
And then this revealing piece from a decades–long practicing veteran and one of the leading hypnotists in the world: “Right now, our view is that most certifications mean nothing anyway. The certifying bodies are usually owned by the trainer, and some of the larger certification bodies provide what we consider garbage training.”
Garbage training; I agree. Truth be told: not a single hypnosis practitioner, despite reputation, has the right to dig around in the minds of others.
Is Hypnosis Mind Control?
This is a common question. Naturally, opponents of hypnosis say it is mind control while defenders claim it is not.
This site claims that hypnosis is not mind control. It says:
Hypnosis is no more mind control than watching TV, listening to a political speech, or attending a worship service. It is my belief that a person will not do anything under hypnosis that is against his/her will.”
This statement makes hypnosis seem like an innocent and non-invasive technique. Don’t people go to a hypnotherapist so that another person (the therapist) can control their minds in order to bring about therapeutic change? These defenders can’t sit on the fence by claiming their technique is as innocent as watching TV, and yet attempt to attract clients by proclaiming hypnosis is powerful enough to help people overcome their battles. A little logic, please.
While people will not do anything while under hypnosis that is against their will, the clients certainly are seeking techniques that will override their will. For instance, people without the willpower to stop smoking are seeking another person to change their wills for them in order to quit.
The Arguments from Professing Christians Who Defend Hypnosis
Look at the last sentence in this quote from a United Methodist pastor (bold is mine):
I’ve been a hypnotist for 17 years. And for 17 years I’ve had to deal with people who think hypnosis is of the devil. Where do they get such a notion? Usually, it comes from the non-expert, expert. People who think they know, but they don’t know. People who make blanket statements without researching the facts. People whom you would think know better, but they don‘t. Usually, most objections come from Evangelical Christians who believe the Bible is inerrant [without error]. If the Bible says it, it must be true.”
Exactly, John MacArthur! There’s the problem right there. Anyone who believes the Bible is errant can make up the rules as he or she goes along.
Oddly, the Methodist pastor then goes on to teach us exegesis and attempts to defend his practice of hypnosis; he states there are no verses in the Bible that prohibit hypnosis. There are also no verses in the Bible that prohibit eating sand, but guess what’s not on the menu tonight?
This pastor also brings out the overused “people fear what they do not understand” defense. Well, many others and I perfectly understand. May I respond with, “people promote the evil that they do not discern”?
Then there’s this minister and director of hypnotherapy who says,
Some would say that there is no place in religion for hypnosis. I believe that hypnosis and religious faith can work hand in hand to bring about a better life. Jesus said in St. John 10:10, “I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”
Well, in that case, if a better and abundant life is what we’re after, then anything goes.
I think he is, Joel!
This minister goes on to say,
There are certainly some strong prohibitions in some Christian books, but the readership is, I think, restricted to fundamentalists.”
So it’s all occult fun and games until those pesky “fundamentalists” show up–you know, the ones who believe the Bible is inerrant and authoritative.
He continues, “Hypnosis is one of the gifts of God which help people experience the ‘more abundant life'”. Really? What’s the chapter and verse for that?
There I go, getting all “fundamentalist” again.
What Do the Fundamentalists Say?
In Occult Invasion, Dave Hunt says,
Spontaneous “memories” of past and future lives (about one-fifth involving existence on other planets) often surface. Hypnotic trance also duplicates the experiences common under the stimulation of psychedelic drugs, TM and other forms of yoga and Eastern meditation. Moreover, hypnotized subjects spontaneously manifest psychic powers, clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, and the whole range of occult phenomena (p.454)”.
Hunt also says,
“If the human spirit operates the brain, which in turn operates the body, then…hypnosis…and any other technique for altering consciousness could very well loosen the normal connection between the spirit and the brain. That temporary disconnection could allow another spirit to operate the brain and thereby subject that person to occult bondage and delusion (p. 67)”.
In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin gives an example of another spirit operating the brain in this chilling account of Hollywood star Glenn Ford, who submitted to hypnosis to explore his “previous lives”:
He [Ford] discovered he had been killed in a duel in one of his past lives. A sword penetrated his body, and Ford described the pain under hypnosis. But as real as this sword wound seemed to be, the whole story was nothing but a clever occult farce.
When Glenn Ford awoke, the hypnotist pointed to a birthmark as the exact spot where his wound occurred in a previous incarnation, and Ford believed it after listening to himself speak fluent French on audiotape – a language he had never learned. And it was not modern French. UCLA experts analyzed the tape and determined that Ford was speaking a Parisian dialect common in seventeenth-century France (p.254-255)”.
Dave Hunt explains: “Satan is behind the world of reincarnation, and he supplies all the data. He details all the regressions, so it is not surprising when the details check out” (p.255).
Past life regression (PLR), psychic communication, seances, automatic writing, and hypnosis have long been connected to the occult. Hypnosis is dangerous not only because another person is affecting your mind, but also because Satan is always looking for any opportunity to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).
What Does the Bible Say?
- The fruit of the spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22). Hypnosis is giving someone else control.
- Above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is what affects speech and conduct. We must guard our heart, not let down our guard.
- Renew your mind by studying the Word of God and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Do not empty your mind.
- We are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can’t do that when we’re in a trance state and under suggestion by another.
Hypnosis does not glorify God or lead to Jesus. Beloved, walk in the truth of the Lord (Psalm 86:11), conquer your thoughts with spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), and submit yourself to God only (James 4:7).
Soli Deo Gloria,