Holistic Health Practices/Part 21

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2008
Hypnosis is a deliberately induced condition of heightened suggestibility and trance, producing a highly flexible state of consciousness capable of dramatic manipulation. It is employed by thousands of medical professionals and psychotherapists.


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What are Hypnosis and Hypnotic Regression?

Hypnosis is a deliberately induced condition of heightened suggestibility and trance, producing a highly flexible state of consciousness capable of dramatic manipulation. It is employed by thousands of medical professionals and psychotherapists.

The practice can be traced to antiquity and is frequently associated with the occult. The hypnotist and psychic Anton Mesmer (from whom we derive the term “mesmerism”) is often considered the modern father of hypnosis.

The exact processes by which hypnosis works are unknown. Scientific research has been conducted supplying much information on the level of hypnotic trance and susceptibility to it; nevertheless, what hypnosis is and how it works are still widely debated. Widespread and frequently exaggerated claims are made for its application to medicine, psychotherapy, education, and many other fields. Some self-help promoters make sensational claims that hypnosis can be used to treat or cure an endless variety of physical ailments and personal problems – from allergies, obesity, and cancer to low self-esteem, smoking, and guilt. They allege that its potential application to personal growth, human potentialism, and self-transformation is nearly endless.

We readily agree that hypnosis is a unique altered state of consciousness that can be used for a wide variety of occult pursuits – including psychic development, spirit contact, astral travel, automatic writing, past-life (reincarnation) regression and/or therapy, and many others. But as we have documented in The Facts on the Occult and The Facts on Hinduism in America, such practices are dangerous.

Other problems also present themselves with the use of hypnosis, not the least of which is the release of one’s mind to the suggestions and control of another person, as well as possible uncertainties as to the nature and long-term implications of the hypnotic state. It is also at least possible that hypnosis may be related to the biblically forbidden practice of “charming” and/or “enchanting.” If so, the practice would be prohibited in that the Christian is to be filled with the Holy Spirit; he is not to permit his mind to be controlled by another person, in particular an unbeliever, or to permit the possibility of influence by spirit entities, as in certain occultic applications of hypnosis.

Other risks of hypnosis include the possibility of unintended and unexpected occultic influences or other problems arising from the trance state, and abuse by the hypnotist.

In addition, literally scores of New Age and some conventional psychotherapists employ what is called “past-life therapy.” Over a dozen texts by licensed psychologists have been written on this topic. Past-life therapy employs hypnosis to place the individual into a trance state for a specific purpose. That purpose is to send the person “back” into his or her supposed former life or lives in order to resolve hidden emotional or spiritual conflicts that are allegedly affecting his or her physical, emotional, or spiritual health at the present. But the results of such therapy are typically to support occultic New Age philosophy and goals.

Our own extensive research into reincarnation phenomena leads us to conclude that these and other reincarnation experiences are the result of one or more factors: (1) the suggestions of the therapist, (2) the inventions or delusions of the patient, or (3) the spiritistic manipulation of the mind.

Hypnosis can easily induce a state of trance conducive to spiritistic manipulation. Because reincarnation philosophy is so anti-biblical in its implications and the entire purpose of past-life regression is to encounter alleged previous lives, spiritistic input is hardly out of the question. Even some leading secular researchers such as Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia have confessed that possession by an evil spirit is one of the possible explanations for reincarnation phenomena (Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, 1978, pp. 374 ff.).

People who have these “past-life” experiences can be profoundly affected by them, and they not infrequently lead to occult involvement. They may produce dramatic life and worldview changes. For example, the individual who comes to believe in reincarnation through past-life regression is convinced that when he dies, he will not encounter divine judgment as the Bible teaches, but simply another life. Thus, one who believes in reincarnation cannot logically accept his or her need to believe in Christ as savior from sin. If he will atone for his own sins over many lifetimes through karma and achieve his own perfection, why does he need a savior?

But the Bible rejects all philosophies of reincarnation. If Christ paid for all sin upon the cross, one sacrifice for all time (Heb. 9:26-28; 10:14), what sin remains for us to individually atone for over many lifetimes? The atonement of Christ disproves the karmic theory of a gradual remission of sin and self-perfection just as the biblical doctrine of individual resurrection disproves the idea that we progress through many lifetimes in different bodies.

Unfortunately, past-life therapy has often become a form of occultic practice leading patients to adopt an occultic worldview and to seek out such activities as developing altered states of consciousness, psychic powers, and spirit contact. Because of the subtlety of the spiritual implications involved, past-life therapy is no less profound in its destructive potential than similar areas where spiritual warfare is unsuspected but nonetheless pervasive. For example, near-death experiences and the phenomenon of UFO “close encounter” episodes both frequently induce occultic initiations and transformation in a subject.

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