My friend, a Christian for about four years, is a doula [a trained childbirth assistant and labor coach]. One of her recent clients has expressed an interest in hypno-birthing as a method for laboring. I expressed my concerns to my friend and she assures me that it is harmless. She says that you are in total control and place yourself in the hypnotic state where you would not do anything that goes against what you believe. I'm not so sure that I believe hypnotism is harmless; can you help me?
According to the trustworthy book Mind Games: Exposing Today's Psychics, Frauds, and False Spiritual Phenomena by André Kole and Jerry MacGregor, hypnosis can have legitimate medical benefits such as pain control, weight loss and smoking cessation. They report that your friend's assurance that a person undergoing hypnosis can't be forced to do anything that goes against one's will or one's beliefs is valid.
They explain that hynosis is not truly understood and cannot be empirically proven (i.e., there is no brain wave difference for those undergoing hypnosis). There is no clear definition of a trance, and no one knows how it works. They say,
"The simplest way to understand hypnosis is to regard it as a state of mind characterized by increased suggestibility—the acceptance of an idea without being critical of it. It is a method of bypassing the conscious mind. Whatever is presented to the subconscious mind, unders certain conditions, may be automatically accepted and acted upon."
The power of hypnosis, then, is faith. The person being hypnotized must want to be hypnotized, they must trust the hypnotist, and they have to be consciously open to whatever is suggested to them. They have faith in the hypnotist and in the process, and willingly submit to it. Kole and MacGregor say, "In one sense, when you submit to hypnosis, you actually give control of yourself and your mind to another individual. Therefore you should be extremely cautious about who you submit yourself to." [Emphasis in original] Since we are not to be controlled by anything except the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), the "green light" to use hypnosis would have to include accountability to make sure that the hypnotist, for laboring or anything else, is honorable in their intentions and in their practice.
Hope you find this helpful.
About the Author
Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker with Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 35 years. She is a frequent speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board and as a small group leader of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Tapestry Blog. She is also a professional calligrapher and the webmistress for Probe Ministries; but most importantly, she is the wife of Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075