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Ask the Register: Does the Church allow hypnosis?

Q. Does the Catholic Church allow the use of hypnosis in any circumstances? Would it be wrong for someone to be hypnotized for entertainment purposes?

A. The use of hypnosis is not an intrinsically evil action, that is, an action that is morally wrong in and of itself. Hypnosis may be used for therapeutic or health reasons, for instance in the desire to lose weight, stop smoking, or overcome an addiction.

However, prudence must be employed even in these circumstances because the patient hands over, at least for a period of time, the use of his reason and will to the hypnotist. The ability to think and choose are integral to making freely-chosen human acts, and acting according to one’s conscience. A patient would need to be assured that a hypnotist is truly a professional, and that the environment is safe and controlled.
Thus, it would be immoral to be hypnotized for frivolous reasons or entertainment purposes. Someone may desire hypnosis to simply experience it, which is not a sufficient reason.

It is a popular practice to hire hypnotists for parties and large events. Oftentimes, the point of this is for the hypnotist to get those hypnotized to say embarrassing or immoral things. This is really beneath our dignity as human beings, especially as we are redeemed by Jesus Christ. However, the fundamental problem of hypnotism in these circumstances is the bad motive and/or the unsatisfactory environment in which it takes place.

Watching or employing hypnotists for frivolous purposes would also be sinful because it would be cooperation with evil. If you have further questions about hypnotism as it relates to your particular situation, it would be best to talk to your parish priest.

Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.

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