A few years ago, I read an article in Family Weekly titled, "Boom Days For Devil Hypnosis"
Hearing that title: what ideas, images, thoughts come to you? Thought the article had what I
considered a very negative title, it was a very positive article on hypnosis in the health care field.
The only reference to the devil was in the last paragraph, "Some conservative religious groups
consider hypnosis to be the work of the devil."
Hypnosis is mistakenly viewed as mind control or demonic by many people. Recently I received
a physician consult to work with a woman for pain management. As I explained the process
of relaxation, imagery and hypnosis; I could see that she was very responsive. As I concluded
my pretalk, she said, "I am really looking forward to this experience, but I need to tell
you that my daughter is a self-proclaimed born-again Christian and she may say something
negative to you about this. If so, do not pay any attention to her, for I am the one who is hurting
and I want this."
As I completed the induction, the phone rang. I told the patient, "Just allow the ringing of the
phone and my answering it to add to your relaxation." I answered the phone, "This is Mrs. Doe's
room. As she is in therapy, please call back in 30 minutes." and hung up the phone.
When the procedure was completed, I walked out of the room and there was her daughter s
standing in front of the door with arms folded over her chest. She said, "What have you
been doing to my mother?" I explained that I had taught her mother relaxation, self-hypnosis
and pain reduction. She responded, "I am a born-again Christian." Before she could continue,
I raised my hands and said, "Praise the Lord, so am I." She was speechless, so I
continued, "I will bring you some information on hypnosis, but regardless of how you feel a
bout hypnosis, your mother has found it very helpful in the reduction of pain."
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 you may have life and have it more abundantly."
Though the title of this presentation is "Hypnosis and Religious Faith", I will be dealing
primarily with "Hypnosis and Judo-Christian faith." Whether you are a Christian or not,
whether you are religious or not, many of your clients come to you as religious people,
most of whom will have a Judo-Christian background. The better you understand the client's
religious history, the better you can relate to that person and help that person.
The foundation of my work in hypnotherapy is based on what I refer to as the human trinity.
I also believe each of us is a trinity within himself or herself. I'm a trinity, you're a trinity.
What is the human trinity? We are physical, emotional and spiritual being. These three aspects
of our being are so different and yet so integrated that one part of the human trinity can not
be affected without having some effect on the other two. If you have a physical problem,
it affects you spiritually and emotionally. If you have a spiritual problem, it affects you physically
and emotionally. If you have an emotional problem, it affects you spiritually and physically.
Accepting the theory of the human trinity, one understands that life is more than just being alive
mentally and physically. To be the whole person that we were meant to be by our creator, we
have to be alive spiritually as well as physically and mentally. An airplane does not cease to be a
n airplane when it sets in the hanger or taxis along the runway, but its true nature as an aa
irplane becomes apparent only when it is airborne. Similarly, a person is a human being when
he or she is functioning only on the physical and psychological plane, but one shows his or her
essential humanness when he rises to the spiritual dimensions.
A man asked his three daughters how much they loved him. The oldest of them replied that she
loved him more than all the gold and silver in the world. The father was noticeably pleased
with her answer so throw his arms around her and thanked her. The second daughter responded,
"I love you more than the most valuable jewels in the world." He was pleased with her response
so throw his arms around her and thanked her. The third and youngest said, "I love you better
than salt." The man was not especially elated with her remark and dismissed it lightly as an
indication of her immaturity, but nevertheless throw his arms around her and thanked
her. His wife, their mother overhearing the conversation, left salt out her husband's next meal.
As he ate his food, he was confronted with the deep meaning of his youngest daughter's
statement. She was saying that he was the flavoring, the spice and the seasoning of her life.
Developing the spiritual aspects is like salt is to food. The spiritual dimension give flavor,
spice and seasoning to all of life.
When one is functioning in all three levels (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), life is more
joyful, more productive and more healthy. Accepting this position, one can see the important
place that hypnosis can have for us; physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro-religious. It can be used for good or bad depending
on the hypnotist and the subject. Today, most religious groups accept the proper ethical
use of hypnosis for helping people. Exceptions are Christian Science, Seventh-Day-Adventist
and some individuals of various churches. In recent years, the Seventh-Day-Adventist have
lessened their resistance by using relaxation therapy and suggestion therapy. A hypnotist by
the name of Quesby greatly helped Mary Baker Eddy overcome an illness and she used
many of his teachings and techniques in developing the Christian Science Church. Though
Quesby used hypnosis to help her, she denounced hypnosis while using its techniques.
Although many in various churches opposed to hypnosis are using the principles of hypnosis
(relaxation, concentration, suggestion, repetition) in their healing services, they denounce
hypnosis. For those who oppose hypnosis on religious grounds, I remind them of the
words of Baptist Van Helmont, "Hypnosis is a universal agent ... and is a paradox only to those
who are deposed to ridicule everything and who ascribe to Satan all phenomenon which they
Then Roman Catholic Church has issued statements approving the use of hypnosis. In 1847,
a decree from the Sacred Congregation of The Holy Office stated, "Having removed all
misconceptions, foretelling of the future, explicit or implicit invocation of the devil, the use
hypnosis is indeed merely an act of making use of physical media that are otherwise
licit and hence it is not morally forbidden provided it does not tend toward an illicit end or
toward anything depraved."
The late Pope Pius gave his approval of hypnosis. He stated that the use of hypnosis
by health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment is permitted. In 1956 , in an address
from the Vatican on hypnosis in child birth the Pope gave these guidelines. (1) Hypnotism i
s a serious matter, and not something to be dabbled in. (2) In its scientific use the precautions
dictated by both science and morality are to be used. (3) Under the aspect of anesthesia,
It is governed by the same principles as other forms of anesthesia. This is to say that the
rules of good medicine apply to the use of hypnosis.
Except for exceptions noted, no other Protestant or Orthodox Churches have any laws
against the proper-ethical use of hypnosis. To the best of my knowledge, there has been
no opposition to the use of hypnosis in the Jewish faith when it is used for the benefit of mankind. Many of the Eastern Faiths: Buddhism, Yoga, Shintoism, Hinduism and others approve the use of hypnosis and they often use hypnosis in their worship. The Muslim religion has no opposition to hypnosis that I have been able to discover.
In their book, The Holy Spirit and You, Dennis and Rita Bennett have shown a profound
dislike and misunderstanding of hypnosis by declaring, "Hypnosis is particularly dangerous
because it is thought to be a valid form of therapy in psychology and psychiatry, or an
alternative anesthesia in medicine and dentistry". The Bennett add, "The fact is the
hypnotist, by placing the soul in a passively receptive state even when the hypnotist has no
such intention, opens the door to morbid spiritual influences that might bring oppression
that lasts for years. Until the person is delivered by prayer and exorcism ... Do not allow
yourself to be hypnotized for any reason whatsoever." By these statement, the Bennett's
show their prejudice and total misunderstanding of hypnosis. If their interpretation is correct,
the Bennett's should also be concerned about prayer, meditation, chemical anesthesia, and
going to sleep (for that period just before you go to sleep is a natural state of hypnosis) for the
individual is in a similar state to hypnosis in all those situations.
Hypnosis should not be condemned as anti-religious just because some people misuse it.
Some oppose hypnosis because they say it is used by the occult, but do they condemn prayer
because prayer is used for occultism purposes? Hypnosis can be a very helpful tool in counseling.
Without apology and when appropriate, hypnosis can be used for growth, health and the benefit
During counseling and hypnotherapy, I often tell a story to bring home a point or allow the client
hearing the story to come to his or her own meaning to the story. Roger Ring in a seminar
conducted at a past College of Chaplains convention called these "Parables, Metaphors, and
Healing Stories." Jesus often spoke in parables or used stories which still bring to mind vivid
word pictures which teaches something important about life.
Until there is an image in the mind there can be no reality. All great inventions began with
a thought in the mind. The inventor was able to visualize or image the invention before he
could bring it to reality. The same is true of great music, great writing, great living. The author
of Proverbs 28:18 also wrote that where there is no vision, the people parish.
I would like to share with you a healing story and how it may be used when working with
someone who would respond well to religious or spiritual imagery. You can use this
story to help a Christian client regardless of your religious views.
As therapist, it is our job to help people move from an area of dissatisfaction to one of better
dealing with life. If you listen to the broadcast of a baseball, football or basketball game,
you have surely heard the announcer say, "It's a brand new ball game!" If you are a sports fan,
you know the announcer means that the score is tied. It is like starting over again. The past is
still there , but we can begin where we are. In a baseball game, if a team ties the score in the s
ixth inning, they do not go back to the first inning to start over again. For they keep playing
from where they are. See we began where we are, but with the proper use of relaxation,
imagery, hypnosis and hopeful expectation comes a "brand new ball game."
In the years ahead, may those who discount hypnosis, come to see its value. May those who
oppose hypnosis on religious grounds come to view it as a gift of God to help us attain the more
Jesus said, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to teach the
gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised." (Luke 4:18)
Following this guidance and with the proper use of hypnosis; we can heal the brokenhearted,
bring deliverance to those in captivity to pain, fear, and phobias; give sight to the emotionally a
nd spiritually blind, and set at liberty those who are bound by unwanted habits. As members of
different denominations and religions, let us join hands in brotherhood to share the blessings
of hypnosis with others.
HYPNOSIS AND RELIGIOUS FAITH :
CHAPLAIN PAUL G. DURBIN, Ph.D.
DIRECTOR OF CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPY
PENDETON MEMORIAL METHODIST HOSPITAL
WORKING WITH ADD YOUNGSTERS
It is because the analysis of how well one can relax in a given situation, particularly when
discussing a plan of action, turns out to be a fairly representative view of how well the person accepts and can embrace the new ideas (i.e., how well a foundation they have for the base of the triangle in their triad of concepts).
Decoding Traumatic Memory Patterns at the Cellular Level
Thomas R. McClaskey, D.C., C.H.T., B.C.E.TS., FAA.E.T.S.
Virtually every behavioral pattern exhibited during routine activities of daily living results from learned data which is stored or encoded as cellular memory. Most behavioral patterns are benign, in that they do not contribute significantly to cellular destruction (i.e., disease). Some patterns, however, are expressed as significant reflections of traumatically encoded cellular information. In a condition such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, it must be kept in mind that the "problem" is an expression of traumatically encoded information at the cellular level. In order for therapy to have lasting effect, it is imperative that a primary focus of intervention involves isolation and decoding of the causative traumatic cellular memory pattern.
In 1904 the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for his research on the digestive process. For the next 30 years, Pavlov devoted intense study to brain function. He would later become most well known for what he described as the "conditioned reflex." Pavlov's research led him to conclude that all acquired habits, and even higher mental activity, depend on chains of conditioned reflexes. The conditioned reflex works by association. Rather than a simple stimulus response mechanism, the conditioned reflex is associated with memory. For example, during the shock and stress of an event that is perceived as a physical or emotional threat, a special complex of hormonal messenger molecules are released by the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. These substances encode all the external and internal sensory impressions of the perceived threat as cellular memory. This initial stimulus, or memory, can later act as a catalyst for the same reflex response that was initiated by the perceived threat. The reflex or response can then become conditioned to produce the same basic reaction each time the memory of the initial threat is activated, regardless of the stimulus. This process is known as stimulus generalization, and it becomes a key element in understanding, and treating, victims of trauma.
For a typical case history that can help us understand the process of conditioned reflexes, and the importance of decoding those reflex patterns at the cellular level, consider the following example. A 42 year old female presents with complaints of frequent nightmares about being raped. She has recently moved into a neighborhood where a serial rapist has been active. Prior to moving to this area, she had experienced occasional nightmares of a sexual nature, but none so graphic as to lead her to therapy. Her background reveals two failed marriages and several unsuccessful relationships. The reason given by the client for the poor relationships and failed marriages is sexual incompatibility, which she explains as being the result of her fear of being harmed during the act of sexual intercourse. Physically the client complains of frequent urinary tract infections, low back pain, and headaches. All of her physical symptoms manifest in conjunction to interpersonal relationships, and more recently, to the increasing nightmares.
The client's family history is significant in that she remembers her stepfather as being very abusive. When probed regarding her relationship with her step-father, the client reveals that for years she has had an increasing fear that she may have been sexually abused by him. She states that this fear began shortly after her first marriage, which was of short duration due to her first husband's abusive nature. Her second marriage, and intervening relationships are also described as being abusive in nature, and accompanied by increasing fear that her problems may stem from her thoughts about being sexually abused by her step-father.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
In the scenario described above, the initial stimulus can be understood to be the client's fear regarding possible sexual abuse by her step-father. Understanding that fear and subsequent symptoms, as the initial reflex mechanism, we can see how that reflex could easily become "conditioned" when subjected to other stimuli that served to trigger the traumatic memory patterns associated with the perception of having been abused as a child. In this, and many cases with similar histories, the trigger which initiated the trauma response is a thought about a perceived event. While the actual event may or may not have occurred, the client's thoughts about the events are the stimulus that ultimately result in the physical/emotional reflex action as expressed through the mind-body complex. The reflex/ response mechanism then becomes "conditioned" via stimulus generalization. That is, any subsequent event that is perceived by the mind-body complex as being similar to the initial sensitizing event, activates the same, or similar response through the mind-body complex.
In dealing with survivors of trauma, the "conditioned reflex" takes on tremendous significance when we consider that all of the information associated with the trauma is encoded at the cellular level. While it is true that each individual will respond to trauma differently depending upon the degree to which the traumatic situation is acknowledged and reviewed within oneself, the fact remains that all of the "memory" associated with the trauma is encoded cellularly, and unless decoded, that cellular memory can serve as the nucleus for psychological and/or psychosomatic illness via the "conditioned reflex." The more frequently the memory is activated via stimulus generalization, the greater is the effect on the mind-body complex, and the more likely the individual is to express the various imbalances seen in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
With the expanding view of mind-body therapies over the past decade or two, a number of therapeutic tools have come to light that appear to serve as methods for decoding, or perceptually reframing, traumatically encoded cellular memory patterns. Various types of meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis and other mind-body techniques are showing tremendous promise in helping individuals create effective coping mechanisms relative to perceived, or actual, traumatic memories. By reestablishing the ability to cope with the traumatic memories. the conditioned reflex mechanisms apparently become decoded at the cellular level thus discharging the stimulus generalization effect on cellular function. How this actually occurs is not completely understood, but it is theorized that reviewing the various circumstances of a traumatic event during hypnosis, meditation etc. may reactivate the stress-released hormonal substances that originally encoded that event at the cellular level. The cellular memory is then brought into contact with normal cognitive function thus allowing the traumatic memory to be therapeutically reframed.
While our understanding of the mind-body complex may be in its infancy from a scientific perspective, it is becoming increasingly clear that the neurochemistry of emotion is a key factor that must be considered if any therapeutic intervention is to have lasting effect. All memory is encoded at the cellular level. Any mind-body procedure that beneficially alters destructive cellular memory patterns should be carefully evaluated as to its value in management of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and other psychosomatic and/or psychological conditions.