Hypnosis cannot make you do something against your will.
But what if you were brainwashed, so your will was distorted from your usual self?
Then cruel hypnotic suggestions could be readily accepted and you'd find yourself doing horrible things that normally you'd find abhorrent. Such as pouring boiling water over a child, or making the child eat vomit. Or beat his little sister until her face was unrecognizable.
Those are stomach-churning examples of recent cult behaviour in Israel. Captured in the novel The Devil in Jerusalem a loving, intelligent, caring, faith-believing Jewish mother behaves like a monster under the guidance and orders of a cult leader who distorts Judaism to his own psychopathic ends.
Sadly, the novel is based on actual events. (In 2011 Israel sentenced one such abusive cult leader to 24 years in prison).
Of course, hypnosis plays a comparatively tiny part in the abuse. But just that it is used to reinforce disgusting behaviour and dangerous beliefs is sufficient for its role to be found repugnant.
Unfortunately, not just cults but religion in general uses hypnosis to reinforce beliefs. Sometimes this is benign but too often the results are disastrous, witness:
- the carnage encouraged by Christian priests and ministers during the Crusades;
- the Spanish Inquisition;
- The two World Wars (when clergy on both sides blessed troops about to embark on slaughter);
- and again with the "Irish Troubles";
- rivalry of various versions of Islam, e.g., the massacres of Shiite and Sunni congregations in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia;
- the shameful treatment of the indigenous people of Canada and Australia by the Catholic and United Churches.
How is this evil hypnosis practiced? Through the repetition of hymns, music, chants, sermons, prayers, rituals and selected interpretations of sacred texts. All of which is geared to strengthening the notion of the superiority and purity of "us" and the depravity and misguidedness of "The Other."
Our imaginations are caught up with visions of excellence and correctness in our own beliefs and scorn and condemnation of non-believers.
It's but a short step from there to taking corrective action to force the Other to adopt our Truth.
After all, it's for their own good. So, generations of what we labelled as "Indian" children had their languages, their families, their culture and above all, their religious convictions derided, condemned, persecuted and beaten out of them so they would come to the Christian Truth of peace and love!Was it ironic or predictive that the Bible has Jesus saying, "I am come, not to bring peace, but a sword"?
The misuse of hypnosis enables psychotic cult leaders to reinforce their control and their power.
Beliefs are notoriously difficult to dislodge once they are entrenched. And much of the time we are not even aware of many of our beliefs, [e.g., "Skeptical Adventures of a Magician," Skeptic Magazine, Volume 20, Number 4, 2015].
Once a person's imagination is engaged a clever manipulator can hypnotize her to behave in a way that would normally arouse her suspicion. Witness the physician who criminally misused hypnosis to persuade his wife to kill herself.
Such a dramatic hypnotic trance is but a pale version of the customary enchantment that religious Believers adopt. Essential to hypnotically induced religious beliefs -- as with all religious conviction -- is irrationality.
Thus Scientologists accept the "aliens-created-us" concept even though their sacred text is from a book written by a prolific science fiction author.
And Roman Catholics believe they eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood.
Naomi Ragen presents cults as though they are deviations from legitimate, life-affirming religions. Actually, cults are the logical extension of acceptance of the supernatural, of blind belief in the unprovable. And strengthened through suggestibility.
Many of the horrors perpetrated in the name of religion are sanctioned at the highest level of authority within the respective organizations.
Religion is employed either as the basis for cruelty to others or as a mask, a justification for atrocities.
Neither excuses its vicious practitioners. Are we, for example, to applaud what was done to aboriginal children in North America and Australia because it was perpetrated in the name of God?
No. The essence of the problem rests on the lies of religion itself. You may well find comfort in the arms of such deceit because religion gives you explanations for the mystery of life -- and guidelines on how to behave (or more precisely, misbehave.
Religion promulgates an unprovable heavenly reward system for obedience and adherence to a set of magical thinking rules.
It is ironic, though, that the very mechanism by which such rubbish is inculcated -- hypnosis, especially self-hypnosis -- can, on the positive side, strengthen your confidence, your originality, your self-dependence, even your capacity to think objectively and critically. (See, for example, the wide selection of our self-help hypnotic audios)
Which is not to say that hypnotists themselves are immune to the evil uses of their skills. And some are just as self-deluding as the priests of organized religion. They promote such specious concepts as past-life regression, alien abduction, false memories and the law of attraction. See, for example, [Hypnosisby Knight Book One]
Which is why it is important for you to choose wisely when seeking help from a therapist. Add your questions about religion to my guidelines on: How To Choose The Right Therapist For YOU
For answers to your questions about hypnosis, take a look at my: Hypnosis FAQ page.
To appreciate the benefits of ethical hypnotherapy and the vast applications of self-hypnosis, check my former website, (now owned by leading hypnosis guru Cal Banyan), at free articles and be sure not to miss my article -- "Hypnosis: A Brief History (Too Bad Freud Fumbled)".