Why Hypnosis is Not Just for Vampires

Why Hypnosis is Not Just for Vampires

Photo credit:  Dollar photo club

Photo credit: Dollar photo club

Erica Rivers, MA, LPC, CPT, MBA

Well, we all know that the rage nowadays is stories about vampires and zombies.  Here’s the trouble I have with that: Hollywood stole hypnosis… and yep, it did it decades ago.  We all have been left with a false image of what hypnosis actually is and does.  In fact, most people I know really don’t know what it is and have a mysterious and somewhat apprehensive view regarding it.  Christians, especially, are terrified of the word.  (Insert Hollywood blood-curdling scream here.)  Okay, okay… so before I get a slew of defensive e-mails, let’s define some terms and have a mature discussion about this.

First, the word hypnosis can encompass several concepts.  Like anything else, human beings have slapped labels on behaviors in an effort to make them comprehensible to one another.  Hypnosis can be a big blanket term that can describe an everyday occurrence that happens to everyone to progressive relaxation to stage show hypnosis to Ericksonian hypnosis to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), etc.  It can be a process where one is alert and active or it can be one paired with relaxation/sleep.  There are a wide variety of uses for hypnosis from pain reduction to building confidence to smoking cessation to just plain fun.  Seemingly, in my own research of hypnosis, there are many definitions and examples of hypnosis.  Although many have touted it as an “altered state of consciousness,” most clinicians refer to it more as a “natural state” that we all enter from time to time.  With clinical hypnosis, it is more a guided endeavor to achieve a focused state (some would call this a “trance”)… or even a relaxed state where the individual is more open to suggestions in working toward their goals.  There is nothing magical about it.  It is not mind control.  Rather, it can help pinpoint focus, facilitate tapping into memory storage, or enable restfulness.

Now, here’s the twist. From a Christian perspective, I would encourage significant caution with hypnosis as I would with any piece of literature, music, show, marketing, seminar, speaker, or information giver because we can be influenced by our surroundings and those who are speaking to us.  We have to be discerning in what we listen to, focus on, and what we invite into our lives.  Hypnosis has been used as a tool for people to integrate new age beliefs and ideas into individuals’ worlds.  It has been used to tap into the spiritual realm at times, and from a Christian perspective, I would venture even to say the demonic realm.  That said, hypnosis itself is not the culprit but rather, what one is speaking and in some cases “invoking.”  So, in essence, it depends on what you mean by the term.  Our minds always need to be filtering the information we receive to be able to know the difference between truth and error.  This, I would challenge you, needs to be a fundamental knowledge of Biblical truth, and to be able to test whether someone, anyone… from pastor, teacher, to clinician… is coming at you from a Biblical worldview versus a secular worldview.

There are many who use hypnosis in a very benign sense where there is not a spiritual element.  Much of medical hypnosis is like this and it can be a useful tool for helping people move past hindrances, including pain.  In other words, hypnosis itself doesn’t have the “power.”  Rather, words are powerful.  We can speak truth or we can speak lies.  We can worship God or we can worship false gods/idols, or demons.  All of this can be brought to the table in this discussion.  We have to use caution who we let influence us and determine where they are basing their beliefs and values.  We have to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and use discernment, guarding ourselves from unhealthy influences… not just with hypnosis but with every aspect of life.  TV, my friends, is hypnotic.  If you say you don’t believe in hypnosis but watch a movie, you may want to educate yourself a bit more.  Just watch someone get really into a show.  Seriously… consider this.  Expand that to casinos or music or great orators…  Just recognize that you are being influenced all the time in many ways.

Hypnosis, then, or at least my definition of what it entails, is not evil in and of itself.  It can have healthy, good, useful benefits when used for working toward healthy goals and in a way that relies on Truth and stays consistent with Scriptural principles.  As with most things, we have to weigh them in the balance with Biblical truth and evaluate what we let influence us.  As with food or programming, it matters what we ingest.   So, in the art of re-programming brain patterns, hypnosis can be helpful and not simply for vampires.

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