Stage hypnosis


Hi everyone. My high school recently had a hypnotist come entertain the students. I know someone who can hypnotise people and I’ve been in a stage hypnosis performance before.
I was told today that the church is against hypnosis, but I was wondering if that is just hypnotherapy or if that includes stage hypnosis as well. I know that I have quite a lot of control when I am hypnotised. I refuse to do anything I am morally opposed to (she told me to become a Pro-Choice activist and I refused) and I wouldn’t even do anything that made me uncomfortable, like dance to Britney Spears.
So if the hypnosis does not involve “freeing your mind” and if you can’t do anything you don’t want to, would the church still be against it? Because stage hypnosis therefore can’t be considered a “New Age” thing, like horoscopes and psychics and it’s not like I’m letting someone else control me to an extent that I would hurt myself or others. Thoughts? Thanks!


My understanding is that the Church is not against some therapeutic hypnosis but it is definitely against all other hypnosis, e.g. for entertainment. Your free will is taken away.


Pope Pius XII advocated hypnosis for childbirth in 1956. I believe the church approves of hypnosis for therapeutic purposes. I am a consulting hypnotist and I can tell you that you do not lose control in hypnosis. This is a common misconception. I am told the Church does not approve of stage hypnosis, but I have not seen the documentation.

Best Wishes,


Thank you for all the responses. I know that I do not lose my free will when hypnotised. I refused to do many things I was morally against as well as things I just wasn’t in the mood to do. So then why would the church be against it?


There is a point when, although your free will is not completely taken away, you have “diminished capacity” for free will.

Now, sometimes this happens in a natural way: in a dream, when you’re sick, etc. This is just part of the human condition. (And maybe some of the consequences of our Fall.) You are not responsible for things that happen when you’re not all the way there, so to speak.

Sometimes it happens by mistake: if you didn’t realize you were drinking too much, for example. If that happens, your job is to regain as much capacity as you can, and try to get into a safe position where you won’t hurt anything or yourself.

Sometimes it’s necessary for medical treatment: as if you had to take an anaesthetic for surgery.

But it’s a sin to put yourself in such a position on purpose and for no good reason. It’s not a sin for me to drink alcohol; but it is a sin for me to set out to get blind drunk so that I don’t know what I’m doing.

There are some iffy situations, like hypnosis. Some hypnotists probably do nothing iffy when hypnotizing people during shows. But some hypnotists are very creepy, like one that came to do a show for our company. Never would we hire him again; he had no respect for hypnotized people. It was nauseating, what he suggested that people do. Nothing illegal; nothing immoral; but nothing but using people like his toys. We were not amused.

There are a lot of things you can impose upon people to do (heck, through peer pressure as well as hypnosis!), which though not sins or something the people are dead set against doing, are still things which ought not to be imposed upon them. Using this sort of power over a few for the entertainment of the many is very iffy stuff.


Frankly, if you only did what you wanted to do but didn’t do what you didn’t want to do then you were NOT hypnotised!!


Trust me, I was hypnotised. I would not have had the sudden urge to cluck like a chicken, pretend to be a tiger or forget my name if I wasn’t hypnotised. I just mean, for example, when I was told to be Britney Spears and someone told me to sing to “Gimme More”, I didn’t want to (I’m afraid to sing in front of crowds) and therefore didn’t. And when I was told to be ProChoice, I started to talk about how sacred the innocent life of an unborn child is. I’m just wondering if the church is under the common misconception that you have no free will or control when you are hypnotised and therefore is against it.


We had a hypnotist come to our high school’s grad night. It was pretty messed up some of the stuff that he made the kids do. Some of it was just goofy and innocent, but then he told the kids that they were watching a porn movie, and then that they were strippers. And some of the kids probably were still minors, which makes it even more creepy and wrong (and illegal on top of that). Of course the audience loved it, but I was disgusted and surprised that the school allowed him to come.


You do not have free will under hypnosis.


Although I don’t have the documentation in front of me, from previous study, three popes endorsed hypnosis for therapeutic purposes … They were Pope Pius VI, Pope Piux IX, and Pope Pius XII.

However, because of the value of hypnosis as a therapeutic technique, it is not approved by the Church for amusement purposes.

Folks may lose some inhibitions under hypnosis, but they do not lose their free will. The way stage hypnotists choose their subjects is to give them little tests. Anyone who doesn’t go along is eliminated. Eventually, the hypnotist has a small group who will do whatever he or she says. Big name stage hypnotists often have associates who scope out the audience before the show begins and identify people whose behavior suggests they might be compliant personalities.

If people are asked to do something that they are unwilling to do, they may simply wake up or they may object to it. Folks who do strange things are just going along with it. There is an informal (or formal) contract … violation of the contract will cause the session to end. The stage hypnotist doesn’t want the subject(s) to ruin his or her act, so they do careful prep work.


Can you explain this position?




Good post. This is all accurate. The people who cluck like a chicken want that to happen, along with other strange suggestions. I would recommend anyone to read the book, “Hypnotherapy” by Dave Elman.




My friend did a paper for her biology class and that’s exactly what she told me. She’s also the one who has hypnotised me, so I trust her more than I would some random person. I know I’m sounding repetative, but if that’s the case, if people won’t do what they do not want to (which is true, I’ve experienced it), than why is the church against it? Could it be because of the common misconception that free will is completely gone?


I’m a certified hypnosis practitioner myself. People do not lose their moral selves while in the hypnotic state (which begins in the alpha state), no more than in the normal, Beta stage of brain activity.

If I tell someone under hypnosis something that is against their moral and ethical character, they will either come out of the hypnotic state or disregard the suggestion altogether. If they are frightened, they will immediately “awaken”. If they are not afraid, but merely don’t like the suggestion, they will remain hypnotized but will ignore your suggestion.

The hypnotic state is nothing more than an altered state of consciousness, similar to daydreaming. The critical factor of the mind is bypassed. Your subconscious mind stores memories, regulates respiration, digestion and all those other involuntary functions of our body. In other words, when we are sleeping (consciously unaware), our subconscious mind keeps our body going.

Hypnosis is simply a way to deal directly with the subconscious mind to effect change in behavior and thinking. The SC mind takes everything literally and is akin to a supercomputer. So, relating to the SC mind during hypnosis is accessing your harddrive.

There is not one verifiable case where hypnosis caused someone to kill, steal or commit any other immoral behavior simply because the person was told to do something like that. If someone did do that it is because they wanted it to be so.

Do your research on the subject and verify your experiences with that research. Free will is not gone at all. In fact, your senses are amplified during hypnosis. If you are “more aware” during hypnosis, then out of it, then how can one lose their free-will?




Thank you, I really appreciate those facts. So now…why would the church be against it?


You are welcome. Al Masetti showed that at least 3 popes have said it was not against Church teaching. I’ve not seen any document from the Church that denounced it.




According to the Mayo Clinic, and reputable publication I’ve ever read on hypnotism, one does NOT lose their free will when hypnotized.


This is the Wikipedia article, which seems to be a pretty accurate representation.

[edit]Holy See
Objections had been raised by some theologians stating that, if not applied properly, hypnosis could deprive a person of their faculty of reason. Saint Thomas Aquinas specifically rebutted this, stating that “The loss of reason is not a sin in itself but only by reason of the act by which one is deprived of the use of reason. If the act that deprives one of his use of reason is licit in itself and is done for a just cause, there is no sin; if no just cause is present, it must be considered a venial sin.”

On July 28, 1847, a decree from the Sacred Congregation of the Holy office (Roman Curia) declared that “Having removed all misconception, foretelling of the future, explicit or implicit invocation of the devil, the use of animal magnetism (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.”

Later, in 1956, Pope Pius XII gave his approval of hypnosis. He stated that the use of hypnosis by health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment is permitted. In an address from the Vatican on hypnosis in childbirth, the Pope gave these guidelines:

  1. Hypnotism is 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 followed.

  3. Under the aspect of anaesthesia, it is governed by the same principles as other forms of anaesthesia.


Apologies for the length of this post. It’s a complex subject. Simple and complex at the same time. Simple to operate; complex to attempt to explain.

In response to the specific question as to why the Catholic Church might object to stage hypnosis for entertainment and amusement, I cannot find any real specifics, but I will offer the following explanation:

Hypnosis opens up the subconscious mind of the person (the subject) who is being worked on by the hypnotist or therapist or clinician.

The human brain weights maybe three pounds and would fit in the cupped palms of our hands.

And yet its “data storage” capacity is almost infinite.

And there are parts of the brain (and the mind … the brain is a lump of tissue; the mind is our intellectual capability) … in which logical and creative functions operate (left brain/right brain, but it varies), and long term storage and sort term storage, and visual storage, auditory storage, kinesthetic storage, tactile, olfactory and gustatory … and multiples of the above.

Our subconscious minds contain every thought, word, deed, every bit of music, every magazine, every movie and television show, every newspaper, every image, every sight, every touch, every smell, every experience that we have every had. In every language we have ever heard or read. Every college lecture, textbook, lab experiment, book report. [Which is why some folks prepare for an important exam by doing hypnosis … so they can recall everything when they need it for the exam.]

That is why taking notes at a lecture can be so useful: we hear the lecture, we see the notes as we write and review them, and we “feel” the kinesthetic operation of writing the notes … our fingers operate the pen and those motor functions travel from our hand to our brain. So the lecture is stored several different ways in several different places.

Dancers have “dancers legs” … they can “remember” the muscle movements to a dance routine or to many dance routines.

Frank Sinatra was said to be a great singer because he had maybe thousands songs stored and instantly retrievable; that was his mental gift.

Some of the stored “thoughts” are pleasant; some are unpleasant; most are neutral.

Some may be violent in the extreme.

Some of the violence may be real. People who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD ) had a violent experience of some kind that may have only lasted a few seconds, but they “relive it” in their minds, over and over. Reliving it causes great stress and can incapacitate them. [There are relatively simple techniques such as EMDR and EMI … that can put stressful experiences where they belong … in long-term storage, not easily accessible and far enough away so as not to be troublesome.]

And some violence may be fictitious and imaginary … the kinds of things that trigger the Freddie Kreuger Friday 13th nightmares. Some are just chopped bits of extra brain chemistry and brain electrical voltage. [This is a good reason not to watch horror movies before going to sleep.]

Brain function is now only barely understood.

AND, hypnosis opens all of that up.

So it is not something that should be done lightly or casually. The hypnotist needs to be able to deal with any of the personal nightmares that come up. And if the hypnotist is working with a whole room full of people, there is no way that he or she can know if someone is experiencing distress or deal with that distress in a timely manner.

The Church is also concerned with spiritual issues. The Church recognizes that there are preternatural and supernatural spirits. This is not something that we need to explore in great depth here; this is not the right place or time. But our minds use our consciousness to control access to our minds. When we are very relaxed as in a normal sleep state, our defenses are relaxed.

And we can have nightmares (which we normally never have in the daytime when our defenses are up).

So, that in summary is why I believe the Catholic Church regards hypnosis as a valuable therapeutic tool and not to be used frivolously.

Keep in mind that we focus our attention all day long … when we drive … when we fill out a form … when we read … when we’re on the internet …

If you’ve ever gotten distracted, the whole experience was one of being in and out of a hypnotic trance state.

Hypnosis is like any other serious activity … driving a car … for example. You do it carefully. With training. Leave the stunt driving to the professionals and to the race car drivers.


I (along with another Catholic hypnotist) have talked to Bishops, Deacons, Priests and most recently a major in Canon Law studying in Rome and they have all said it is Ok to use hypnosis , clinical and stage and the Catholic Church has no official possition on it nor any position on it also it will only be found in a certain volume of the Chatechism which has been replaced and updated. If you have any further questions contact me through my website or just look to see if I have answered your questions there - or on the website of the Fellowship of Christian Hypnotists of which I am a memeber -

  • In Christ
    Tyler Carter C.H, CCH.

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