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Hypnotism – or permanent healing?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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The world longs for healing – for freedom from pain, sickness, addiction, and so many other troubles. In response, myriad different healing options have arisen, including hypnosis, which has ancient roots, possibly in Egypt. Today, besides its role in psychotherapy, you'll find hypnotism offered in some dentists' offices, as well as among other medical professionals and hospitals.

Some of the advertising associated with hypnosis can seem appealing – especially those methods that offer freedom from smoking or other troublesome behaviors, with minimal effort. The difficulty with these procedures is that they don't actually lead to healing. A change of thought, perhaps, but a change that stays on the same material plane as before. And, although one hypnosis website assures visitors that "all hypnosis is self-hypnosis and the power is in the mind of the person being hypnotized," a willing consent to suggestions – even from a seemingly neutral source – is still problematic.

One can't help wondering if hypnotism, which may have had a different name in the time of the early Christians, was one of the practices against which Paul was warning Jesus' followers when he wrote, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor. 11:3).

Anyone reading the account of Eve's encounter with the serpent in the garden of Eden wouldn't have difficulty seeing how the beguiling or mesmerizing took place. First, there was the snake's enticing question about whether it was possible to eat fruits from all the trees in the garden. Then, its subtle progression of comments that undermined Eve's clarity of thought, until she took that first bite. The illustration of how mental manipulation works couldn't be clearer.

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