Have you ever been hypnotized? That might sound like a silly question. And if you’d asked me that a few years ago, my answer would have been, “Of course not.” But hypnotism is actually a lot more common, and appears in more ways, than you might think.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, thought this was such an important topic that she included it in one of the 26 weekly Christian Science Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly—specifically the one titled “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced.” Those aren’t words that we use a lot in normal conversation, so a couple of years ago, when the topic came around (as it does twice a year), my Sunday School teacher gave every student in class a dictionary and asked us to look up mesmerism, hypnotism, and necromancy. It turns out that hypnotism occurs when false concepts have been introduced into thought and accepted as reality.
Hypnotism occurs when false concepts have been introduced into thought and accepted as reality.
Understanding hypnotism from a Christian Science perspective means understanding what these false concepts are and what reality is. I’ve learned that reality is defined by God. For example, since God is Spirit, reality must be completely spiritual. And since God is Truth, false concepts must be thoughts and suggestions that aren’t like God—anything that isn’t good. So being hypnotized is when you’ve accepted any suggestion of something bad as a reality.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hypnosis as “a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.” But often, hypnotic suggestions aren’t induced by a person, but come as thoughts. The concept of accepting untrue thoughts helped me gain clarity on how to deal with hypnotism in my own life. I began to understand that I have the ability to recognize and reject any untrue thoughts, no matter how small or where they come from. I can dismiss repetitive thoughts that say things like I’m stressed, or that I’m worried about something. If I keep the truth about God and the way He knows me clear in my thoughts, there can’t be any room for sickness, doubt, or fear.
We each have a choice about how we respond to false suggestions when they come—and we each also have the God-given ability to reject them through our understanding of the truth. For example, when I started experiencing symptoms of a scratchy throat and a runny nose, I was tempted to feel discouraged. The symptoms seemed very real, a problem I’ve dealt with before. But this time I realized that these suggestions of illness would hypnotize me into believing that I could be sick, if I let them. So I could deal with them by understanding more about God and waking up to the fact that I can never be separate from Him.
I realized that these suggestions of illness would hypnotize me, if I let them. But I could wake up to the fact that I can never be separate from God.
When I’d faced this problem in the past, I’d sometimes gotten caught up in wondering where the illness came from, how long I would have to struggle, or if my prayer would be effective. This time, though, rather than being mesmerized by the symptoms, I knew I could refuse to be hypnotized. I realized I had the God-given power to reject these false suggestions. Since God is the only power, I couldn’t be controlled by any power other than God. The symptoms faded, and I was healed.
Now I understand the importance of acting right away when any kind of negative suggestion comes to thought. I don’t ignore it, wait for it to go away, or feel afraid of it. Instead, I do my best to see it for what it is and know that it’s powerless to hypnotize me. And I know that learning more about God, and about myself as His child, is the best defense of all.