Bill asked:

I was at a county fair the other day and they had a hypnotist there who had CDs on weight loss and smoking cessation and he hypnotized some people to demonstrate his skills. Is this against the Church’s principles to watch things like this?

Jimmy Akin replied:

" ... the Church does not have a specific teaching about hypnosis. It leaves that question up to the discernment of experts and people who are familiar with the phenomenon. Obviously there are ways it could be used that would be contrary to the faith. For example, past life regression. The idea that you lived before, and hypnosis is going to help you undercover those memories. That’s contrary to the faith. We don’t have past lives ...

Similarly back in the 90s and the 80s there was this fad that allegedly recovered repressed memories that hypnosis was supposed to be able to bring out. Lots of people went to hypnotists who used leading questions to convince them that they had been sexually abused as children by people like family members and blocked out those memories and then just ruined the lives and careers of tons of people, when they were falsely accused of having committed sexual crimes on the basis of confabulated memories generated under the influence of hypnotism.

... On the other hand if somebody has hypnosis used in a way to help them stop smoking or help them relax or help them lose weight, if it has a therapeutic effect then it would be potentially useful just like other ... therapies would be usable. Personally ... I’m a hypnosis skeptic. I think hypnosis is more of a social role that people know how to play. They’ve seen other people hypnotized and they see your supposed to act sleepy, and you’re supposed to comply with suggestions that are made ... it could have a placebo effect that would enable you to relax, or stop smoking or something ... If it’s going into spiritual things like past lives, or predicting the future or astral projection or recovering memories from long ago ... those are all either directly contrary to the faith or dangerous..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: August 22, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 46:03

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