Should a Christian Use Hypnosis?


This is a hotly disputed issue with so many opinions on this subject.   One of the reasons is that the word “hypnosis” or “hypnotism” is not mentioned once in the Word of God.  However, for a Christian, the Bible is the yardstick by which any matter should be judged, and we should look for principles that apply in this case.

The Free Dictionary online gives this definition of hypnosis:

“The induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction. Its use in therapy, typically to recover suppressed memories or to allow modification of behaviour, has been revived but is still controversial.”

Another online definition, from, is as follows:

“Hypnosis is a process by which critical thinking is diminished and internal visualization is greatly heightened. It has been used to decrease the sensation of pain and the desire for an addiction, as well as the subconscious reaction that leads to fear. It’s also been used in entertainment to temporarily convince people of things that aren’t true. There are different types.  There has been talk among Christians that hypnosis may open the mind to demonic influence. We don’t know how this works, exactly, but it is possible. When a person’s critical-thinking and decision making skills are turned off and their internal imagination cranked up, they are more susceptible to lies and harmful influences.”

As an example of divergent opinions, Christian Medical Fellowship published these “two sharply contrasting articles from Christians about hypnosis”:

Norman Vaughton wrote:

“As a Christian… I use my mind with all its strange and wonderful potential, in all its different states of consciousness, and with all its different functions, hopefully for good – and that includes the whole fascinating, mysterious and wonderful area of hypnotic effects. They are as much God created and open to use and abuse as any other function of creation. I also know that frequently during hypnotic sessions I will suddenly be filled with an awareness that what I am doing is something of therapy, something of hypnosis, and something of prayer, and they are all so much entwined and the same that I do not really believe any separation would be possible; and of the presence of God I am utterly certain.”

“A. D. Bambridge, a qualified male nurse with a BSc, was concerned that when psychological defences were lowered during hypnosis, there was a considerable risk of demons entering the psyche. He believed the roots of hypnosis were occult and ruled it out absolutely for Christians, concluding: ‘Whilst hypnosis and its use in hypnotherapy seem merely to be the input by the hypnotist of ideas into the subconscious of a subject in a heightened state of suggestibility, I would contend that this art of psychic manipulation is in fact of demonic origin. Though these roots of hypnosis are now obscured by an undergrowth of scientific jargon, it remains a dangerous activity to anyone involved.’”

One biblical reference in Deuteronomy 18:11 has been used in respect to hypnosis.  The Hebrew word which is translated “charmer,” or “one who conjures spells” may refer foremost to snake charmers (compare Psalm 58:4-5). On the other hand, in connection with the other terms used, such as “medium,” “spiritist,” “soothsayer” and “sorcerer” as well as the practice of “witchcraft” (compare verse 10; as well as Isaiah 19:3), the possible reference to hypnotists and hypnosis cannot be easily dismissed, as will be explained below.

We know that Satan is “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air”, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), and that he wants to destroy the faith of God’s people. In his book “Mystery of the Ages,” Mr Herbert Armstrong in the chapter “Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits” writes the following:

“In Ephesians 6 it is stated that our contentions and strivings are in fact not with other human beings but against ‘principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (evil spirits) in high places’ (see verse 12).   How can this be?   Why is the world filled with such clashings and contentions with human minds?   In Ephesians 2:2, humans have been walking ‘according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.’   People simply do not realise that there is an invisible spirit power injecting into their minds these hostile attitudes.”

We have long understood that Satan broadcasts his wrong attitudes. And he can certainly transfer ideas and thoughts without the recipient ever realising it.  The person could well assume that this was all from himself without anyone else being involved; that is how clever and subtle Satan is, and can be.

In our booklet Angels, Demons and the Spirit World on pages 43 and 44, the following is written:

“Sorcery, witchcraft, hypnosis, and certain meditation practices are further methods of Satan to overpower the mind of a human being and to make him or her into a helpless victim. Whenever we give ourselves ‘over’ to another influence, we have become victims of the powers of darkness.”

On page 43 of the same booklet, we read:

“Though many people don’t believe in the existence of Satan and demons, they are quick to dabble in the occult, being ignorant of the danger therein. Demons are called ‘familiar spirits’ because they want to familiarize themselves with man (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). Haunted houses, poltergeists, séances, communication with the dead, and contacts with ‘aliens’ are all clearly of demonic origin. Satan and demons are destructive. They love to torment people (Luke 6:18). Once we have made ‘contact’ with demons, we can’t get rid of them anymore, barring a miracle from God (Luke 11:24–26).”

In 1 Peter 5:8 we read: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Anything that increases our own risk of spiritual infection or reduced effectiveness as a true Christian must be avoided at all costs. Willingly inviting outside influences into our minds is a dangerous thing to do.   When hypnotism takes place, the hypnotist is able to change the behaviour of the one hypnotised.   For example, those who allow themselves to be hypnotised in an entertainment capacity, on stage, are subject to some mind control as they do as requested by the hypnotist. And we must never rule out the possibility that the hypnotist is engaging in his conduct through and with the power of Satan or other demonic influence. A hypnotized person later declared that a “strong force” or “power” had taken over and compelled him to do or not do certain things.

In Acts 16:16-19 we see a clear case of demon influence.   “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days.  But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’  And he came out that very hour.  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”  We are not told how this happened but opening up our minds to outside influences where Satan and his demons can wield their considerable influence could lead to spiritual harm to those so doing.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).   This is where our focus must be.   We read in Romans 8:14 that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”   We have to be led by God’s Holy Spirit, not by the influence of Satan through allowing our minds to be opened to any wrong influences, one of which can be hypnotism (compare Romans 6:12-13).

We have to present (yield) ourselves to GOD as we read in Romans 6:13, not someone who wants to gain access to our minds through hypnotism.  There are those who contend that hypnotism can be used for good as in helping people to conquer wrong habits (smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse etc) or instead of anaesthesia when this could not be used because of heart or general health problems of the patient.   This argument is very similar to the one about aborting a foetus because some abnormalities are spotted during pregnancy, but we know that this breaking the 6th Commandment (you shall not kill) is wrong and that any abortion is an abomination and is forbidden by God. (See: ; compare also our discussion on abortion in our free booklet, Are You Already Born Again?” ).

Romans 6:16 reads: “Do you not know that to whom you present (yield) yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”   It is all about controlling our own minds and not letting anyone else into that territory.   We are to yield wholly, fully and completely to God and His Will which is perfect.   Hypnosis gives away that control to another person or another spiritual entity, such as a demon influencing the hypnotist to use his power.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8).   We are to submit to God and then He will draw near to us, but submitting to a hypnotist (and/or to the spiritual demonic force using him) has the possibility of causing immense harm.

Our lives must revolve around God the Father and Jesus Christ, with both of them being right at the centre of everything we think say and do.   We yield to them and their will, as they always have our best interests at heart.   The Bible shows us the way to achieve that goal, and yielding our minds to another person or spiritual entity even if only for a few seconds or a just a minute or two is treading on very dangerous ground.

One commentator made these observations: “It’s interesting to note how critical thinking and decision-making skills guard what comes into the mind in light of Proverbs 4:23 (NIV): ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ When we put the guards to sleep, our hearts are left undefended, which directly influences our actions. Even if the hypnotist is working for our benefit, the risk of danger is phenomenal. [We would add that a hypnotist is never working for our benefit, even though he may claim to do so.]

“Hypnosis leads to an altered state of consciousness in which the mind is very susceptible to outside suggestion. That susceptibility is what the hypnotist [or the power influencing him] needs in order to modify the behaviour of his subject. However, the word susceptible should concern us.

“Many of the techniques used in hypnosis are shared by mystical, philosophical, and religious systems, including the occult. The ‘father of hypnotism,’ Franz Anton Mesmer—from whose name we get the word mesmerize—was himself a practitioner of the occult. His method of inducing a trance was very similar to the way a medium conducts a séance. Hypnotism, along with yoga and Transcendental Meditation, has always been linked to spiritual darkness. The newfound respectability of these practices has not changed their underlying nature” (

We must remember that Satan and his demons never sleep and are constantly looking for ways to influence us in the wrong way.  We must pray for protection from their attacks and never give in to them. It is all about controlling our own minds and not letting others have that opportunity!

The evidence seems clear enough that true Christians must not open themselves up to the possibility of any influence that could jeopardise their eternal salvation.   Using hypnosis, for whatever reason, could well allow external forces not conducive to their spiritual wellbeing having an effect that could be highly detrimental to their long term future which is a promise of eternity in the Family of God.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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