Page 6, 7th March 1958

7th March 1958
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Page 6, 7th March 1958 — HERE'S THE ANSWER
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Organisations: Holy Office
People: Charcot

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HERE'S THE ANSWER

Keywords: Hypnosis

Hypnosis Does the Church permit hypnosis for therapeutic purposes e.g., the cure of smoking or other addictions, such as gluttony, stammering. or lack of selfconfidence ?

the Church permits the use of hypnotism for therapeutic or medical purposes, with proper safeguards.

But the list of examples given is a rather curious one. Stammering and lack of self-confidence may be classed as pathological, at least in some cases, and hence as suitable for medical treatment; but scarcely gluttony which is a different case from dipsomania. And how many smokers want to be "cured"?

Examples apart, however, where there is a physical malady which is likely to be amenable to hypnotic treatment the Church permits it under the following safeguards: (a) the exclusion of any illicit end, superstition, or scandal: lb) the use of the method by a responsible and sufficiently qualified practitioner.

It must be remembered that hypnosis involves the submission of one's mind and will to the control of another; and this abnormal procedure can be justified only for the purpose and under the conditions above menttoned.

Some 60 years ago, when hypnotism was much in the public eye, under the influence of the schools of Professor Charcot and others (and the idea popularised by Du Matirier's famous novel about Svcngali), a few theologians considered the method intrinsically evil; but after the replies given by the Holy Office (e.g. in 1840 and 1899) the common teaching is the one we have stated.

It obviously rules out hypnotism for fun and games and for the purpose of public exhibitions; since in these cases the end does not justify the submission of the will and the latent dangers involved.




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