Question:

Is hypnosis wrong, or does it depend on the environment and person doing it? Why is it wrong for a spirit-filled Christian?


Answer:

Hypnosis, as defined by the Mayo Clinic is:

Hypnosis, also referred to as hypnotherapy or hypnotic suggestion, is a trance-like state in which you have heightened focus, concentration and inner absorption. When you're under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought, memory, feeling or sensation while blocking out distractions.

Under hypnosis, you're more open than usual to suggestions, and this can be used to modify your perceptions, behavior, sensations and emotions. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to improve your health and well-being and is different from so-called stage hypnosis used by entertainers. Although you're more open to suggestion during therapeutic hypnosis, your free will remains intact and you don't lose control over your behavior.

Thus, hypnosis is getting a person to closely focus on a thought to the exclusion of all else. A hypnotized person will not do what he thinks is wrong, but he may be open to suggestions to do things that he normally would find embarrassing because he isn't aware of his surroundings. Hypnotism is used medically to get a person to focus on a suggestion so strongly that the person accepts it as their own idea, such as no longer wanting to smoke or being satisfied with less food. It isn't a perfect solution as suggestions wear off over time.

Obviously, being open to suggestions can be dangerous if what is being suggested is morally wrong and the person has a weakness in that area. Being open to suggestions is also the reason hypnosis is not useful in trying to bring to light past memories. The hypnotized person wants to follow the suggestion so strongly that a false idea will be presented if a true one is not available. Since the person is focusing on it, it becomes hard to distinguish the idea from being his own, so he can become convinced of a "fact" that never existed because it is in his memory.

By itself, hypnosis is neither right nor wrong. If a person believes it give him power over another, then it becomes wrong for him because he ascribes special powers to himself. It can be used wrongly to plant improper thoughts or cause a person to believe something that is not true. But when used responsibly by someone for a useful purpose, I know of no reason scripturally to condemn it.