Hypnosis and Scary Movies


What do you have to say on hypnosis? How far it is beneficial and what are the disadvantage of it?

What is your opinion on watching horror movies and watching something terifying or scary? Has it any positive effect?

—Khaidem Subir singha, india


Hello Khaidem,

Paramhansa Yogananda recommended against hypnosis. He was very strong about the importance of the individual developing his or her will power, and hypnosis involves giving over some of that will power to a subconscious process that is not under the individual’s conscious control. The end result is that it weakens your will power. Hypnosis could be beneficial in situations where you are absolutely unable to, say, break a bad habit, but it would be far more beneficial to break that habit consciously, because then you will not only break the habit but also strengthen that indispensable faculty of will power.

As for horror movies, I cannot imagine any positive effect whatsoever. Yes, there can be a sort of fascination with scary scenes, and some people like to be scared, perhaps because it gives them an adrenalin rush, making them feel very alive. But the yogi seeks the true experience of “being alive”: knowing who and what you are. Adrenalin rushes and other such outward experiences distract one from that, binding one to the external world rather than giving that deeper experience. I suggest inspiring movies instead, for not only are they enjoyable, but they also will nudge you toward making a greater spiritual effort.

I wish you all the best in your quest.