Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hypnosis as Religion

Hypnosis as religion. This thought went through my mind during a recent session and it occurred to me that hypnosis and the belief in hypnosis can be really similar to religion. For those of us “believers,” it is a powerful concept, one that transcends reality. It can make possible all sorts of things and transform one’s reality. That is just how it is. And we proselytize about it or perhaps we are more subtle and carry it within, a faith that shines outwards.

Our archangels and saints are people like Erickson (perhaps Gabriel or St. Joan), Mesmer (perhaps the Archangel Michael), and Orman McGill (perhaps Mother Theresa). We read and study it. We utilize it in our daily life. And it brings us together.

This occurred to me while I was dealing with a resistive client, who informed me that he has the urge to giggle whenever thinking about being hypnotized. And so, I found myself listening to my internal dialog as he was saying this and I realized how foreign his point of view was from mine. Why, he was a non-believer. How was that possible? How could he not see how value of this tool?

And then I remembered back to my school days, when I was just a wee pup. I had a friend whose parents were devote Christians. How incensed I was even at that young age, when they told me time and again the only way I could save myself from the torments of Hell was to see their way, see their light.

Never would I have believed myself to have anything in common with these people (and I am sure you see the irony of my comparing hypnosis to religion), but apparently I really do. I have my “way,” I have seen the light. And though I do not condemn others to Hell for not believing in the power of hypnosis, I see how easy it is to get immersed in belief and wonder why everyone else does not see your religion as you do.


Anonymous said...

(Back from Marlboro and taking an easy day off with some Peet's breakfast tea.)

Comparing hypnosis to religion isn't really that far off. Aside from the analogues you drew (and thinking of Ormond McGill as Mother Theresa is a hoot!), though, there are some fundamental similarities that are interesting to explore.

Remember, hypnosis requires belief. We use the client's beliefs -- that hypnosis can help them, that they can be (or were) hypnotized -- to get them into trance and to empower the suggestions we give them. Our own belief -- that we can help this person -- is also vital to the process.

In religion, they use the word "faith" a lot. To have faith is to believe the tenets of one's religion even though there's no objective proof to support them. And for hundreds of years we hypnotists have also had to believe many of the basic tenets of our craft -- that hypnosis really is a distinct state of consciousness, that most people can be hypnotized if they want to be, that hypnotic suggestion can bring about perceptual, emotional and sometimes physical change -- with little or no scientific proof to support us. It's only been recently that controlled studies have been able to demonstrate measurable changes in brain activity during hypnosis and to identify brain activity linked to hypnotic suggestion, but Erickson knew (had faith, if you will) that hypnosis is real and that it works.

Now think about a member of the clergy (any religion). They not only have to have faith in the principles of their religion, but also in their own ability to help others to understand those principles, and their ability to be a positive influence on their congregation (by example or by counseling). Don't we as hypnotists also have to have faith in ourselves, in our ability to help the clients who come to see us, in order to be successful?

When the 2010 Census comes around in the US, maybe I should put on the form that my religion is "hypnotist."

-Michael Raugh, C.H.

The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Amen! And welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Let me preframe my comment with the fact that I do love this blog...

I do not think hypnosis is anything like religion - the tenuous links could be made to pretty much any phenomenon or collective; with similar comparisons being made to many different types of people involved in those fields.

I do believe that there is a huge amount of hypnosis contained within religion though.

Some of the trance states I have been in throughout my church-going youth had me believing for a number of years!

For anyone that has read Joseph Murphy's ' The Power of Your Subconscious Mind' and the way prayer is utilised in there - it reads like a manual for self-hypnosis, or at the very least, self-suggestion.

So I tend to believe that Hypnosis is within religion or even that religion is hypnotic?? Rather than Hypnosis AS religion...

Got my grey matter raked though. Thank you :-)


The Transparent Hypnotist said...

Good to hear from you Adam and glad you enjoy the blog.

I see your point (and thanks for the book reference). When I had posted the "Hypnosis as Religion" I had been going on it from a belief viewpoint, but indeed it does seems like many religions do incorporate hypnotic tendencies (and not just Scientology, but the older religions). Hmmm. much to think about.