Hypnosis, legite, dependable or dangerous?

I am considering seeking a therepist who practice’s hypnosis to resurface, expose and outline a couple of spiritual experience’s. There are some things I distinctly remember, some forgoting, some blocked, but some so terrifing that I may want a priest to be there. Would a priest even go for this? What are the dangers of this? Thanks, Tim

I personally would stay away from hypnosis… it can be dangerous opening your mind to influence unless you know it’s from God. Regarding spiritual experiences, maybe you could get a good spiritual director?

a potential danger is that having allowed such access to your mind once, it would make you more open to the enemy as well.

But I dont know…

I think if past spiritual experiences are bothering you, sometimes it’s good to just let them all go and not examine them any more, just give them over to God, and not think about them ever again.

God bless

The dangers are that you may end up with memories of events that never happened. Hypnosis works, and can create false memories. I doubt you would be able to find a priest and a therapist who would do this (unless it was a priest who is a therapist) due to confidentiality issues.

My suggestion would be to find a priest who would help you through the process of making a whole life confession, starting of course with an examination of conscience.

It’s called a “general confession” and I spent 3 months in the box when I came back to the faith. Totaly illrelevent to the question at hand, but thanks anyways.

Call around, to your diocese and to your seminary, and see if you can find a priest-psychologist-spiritual director who has experience with hypnosis.

That might be the best bet.

In my experience, since priests are celibate, they have a LOT of time to do studying. Many priests have several advanced degrees as well as a lot of experience in areas such as psychology, biblical studies, etc.

So, ask around.

Thanks, may send a feeler to my parish priest who directs me at times. Problem is, we are real short on clergy and their time in this area, as my priest runs 3 churches. Can’t even find a catholic marriage counsoler in my area. 4 years searching for answers and I’m starting to get very, very discouraged.

Pray over it.


Interesting to find that 2 Catholic priest’s, one a jesuit, are the fathers of modern hypnotism.

“The Church has not waited for the verdict of science to put the faithful on their guard against the dangers of magnetism and hypnotism, and to defend the rights of human conscience; but, ever prudent, she has condemned only abuses, leaving the way free for scientific research. “The use of magnetism, that is to say, the mere act of employing physical means otherwise permissible, is not morally forbidden, provided that it does not tend to an illicit end or one which may be in any manner evil” (Response of the Holy Office, 2 June, 1840). The encyclical letter of the Sacred Penitentiary, Tribunal of August, 1856, only confirms this, and Père Coconnier has referred to it in his famous work “L’Hypnotisme franc”, in which he studies the subject apart from all extraneous considerations. Taking up the latest teachings of Rome, Canon Moureau, of Lille, writes: “Hypnotism is tolerated, in theory and in practice, to the exclusion of phenomena which would certainly be preternatural.” This is the opinion of most theologians, and it is the utterance of reason.”

Be very careful if you are going to do this. I think you will find that a licensed therapist that is qualified to use hypnosis as a way for a patient to reexperience events in their life are reluctant to do it except as a last resort. It isn’t the kind of thing you just make an appointment to go get “regressed,” because there are psychological dangers associated with doing so, and any good doctor is going to want to know you much better through regular sessions before going that route. Oh, you can find plenty who will be happy to do it, usually they specialize in previous life regression, so 'nuff said about those types.

No doctor is going to simply put you in a state where you can reexperience an event that was so frightening you cannot recall it without first knowing a bit of background about you, your life, your circumstances leading up to the event(s). Lacking that, I don’t see how they could make any assessment about what you experienced. By that I mean was it brought on by fear? A phobia? Trauma? It’s extremely dangerous to NOT have any clue why someone experienced what they did, and just shove them back in time and make them go through it again. Dangerous, that is, to YOU. So be very careful about selecting a doctor if you go through with this.

Pope Pius XII approved hypnosis, generally for therapeutic purposes.


However, if you are seeking to delve into spiritual experiences, you might want to consult some experts and do some research first.

Whoever you decide to work with must be a senior hypnotherapist with experience in the specific areas you seek and able to deal with any abreactions. Especially avoid anyone whose claim to fame is stage hypnosis. You really need a Catholic priest who is a psychologist and an experienced hypnotherapist. Most diocese have priest-counsellors available; chat with not one of them but all of them.

I reread your OP and I’m not so sure it’s such a hot idea. Especially since your explanation is pretty vague, generalized, and unfocused.

if the event you’re trying to reexperience is of a spiritual nature, imo hypnosis could easily turn into something ‘preternatural’…

I agree.

if you are contemplating hypnosis as some type of therapy then it should be under the direction of a psychotherapist, who either has the hypnotist work under his direction, or does the therapy himself. the hypnotist has to know the right questions to ask and the right things to say, and the therapist tells him that after working with you. If you feel the problem also has a spiritual dimension, tell the therapist why so he can be prepared for it. Yes the therapy can work, in limited situations, under professional direction, as part of an overall therapy process, but no you cannot go hire a hyptotist in the yellow pages and expect an entertainer to provide therapy. If as you suspect and hope the hypnosis will help you recall very painful events and experiences, then you need to be in the care of a therapist who can help you deal with those memories. Yes they would probably agree to have a priest present if you can find one, if your own parish priest can’t do it call the priest who directs hospital ministry in your diocese.

Not because hypnosis is bad; in fact I have read the Church does not object to this as a technique, recognizing the benefits re: stop smoking, losing wgt, reducing pain, etc

However, memory is RECONSTRUCTIVE, not recorded like a video. The guy who wrote this book is an atheist. That aside, he wrote a book called " Suggestions of Abuse." I highly recommend you read it. Please… please… please… Don’t do it.
If you have any more questions, PM me.

PS. I just read the other posts. This guy/gal must have read the book… Don’t do it. And yes, do a general confession… or find another therapist! Sorry so strong and opinionated about this but… there are alternatives to painful experiences…

Thanks Annie. I did find a licensed hypnotherapist in a nearby state. He has all the recommendations, degrees… in his field. I am leaning against this now and would only consider it if my priest was there as a moral guide against auto suggestion, which seems to be a problem in this field, to help in the discernment process and for protection. Most likely will never happen. Thanks, Tim

There are some excellent books on discernment, such as Fr. Green’s book, “Weeds Among the Wheat”.

But you can’t rush it.

One page at a time.

See if you can find a Catholic church with Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Go there on some off hour when you can stay as long as you want without any schedule conflicts.

No, but I did just finish a pair of psych courses (Abnormal and Personality)which both warned of the problems with it. Not to mention that falsifiable memories have been used to attack priests and the Church, and were never examined.

I am glad that the OP is leaning against this route, as the expectation of bad memories will assure that they exist after hypnosis, even if the events never occurred.

You are being trained well! “Expectations”. Wonderful!
The man who wrote Suggestions of Abuse spearheaded the movement questioning “discovered” memories of abuse and was influential in ending recovered memories from being used in court. He has also written the section on Hypnosis in the Brittanica. Needless to say, he is not well liked in some professional circles.

I am also glad the OP is leaning against it. I have seen much damage done with its use even with qualified practitioners. It all depends on the beliefs and therapeutic orientation of the practitioner because influence is a given and hypnosis is a technique that increases the therapist’s ability to influence. Monica above actually had it right about influence.

I’m a Psychology student- and in one of my courses the professor said that even psychoanalysis has resulted in “false memories”. It might be even more pronounced with hypnosis. We actually know very little about how the mind works…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.