Matt Breuninger on Hypnosis and God Attachment
Abigail Williams, Matthew Breuninger, ‘A Pilot Investigation of Attachment-focused Self-Hypnosis to Change Insecure God Attachment’, in International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 68.2 (2020), pp. 246-262.
Dr. Matthew Breuninger discusses clinical hypnosis in light of his and Abigail Williams’ research examining the possibility of changing insecure God attachment through self-hypnosis. Dr. Breuninger defines hypnosis as ‘a state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion’, and understands it as a form of aware self-control that enables the client to change behavior through their own effort. Aware of the moral problematic associated with hypnosis, Dr. Breuninger differentiates hypnosis used in a clinical and therapeutic context from hypnosis employed as a New Age practice or for the sake of entertainment. The research was conducted through self-hypnosis with the aid of an agreed upon audio recording that guided participants into a state of heightened attention before communicating certain basic truths of the Catholic faith about the providential love of God. The research indicates that self-hypnosis may be an effective means of increasing secure God attachment, here understood as the affective bond of the individual to God, which is associated with overall well-being, reduced psychological distress, and greater ease in prayer. Dr. Breuninger performed his research in a way that accords with Catholic teaching, fully respectful of the rational freedom of the individual, toward the ends of healing, integration, and greater receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Breuninger recommends hypnosis be explored only in a clinical setting with a trusted Catholic therapist. For more information on the Catholic faith and the clinical use of hypnosis, see Pope Pius XII, ‘Text of Address by Pope Pius XII on the Science and Morality of Painless Childbirth’ (1956); Pope Pius XII, ‘Address by Pope Pius XII to the Ninth National Congress of the Italian Society of the Science of Anesthetics’ (1957); and John R. Cavanagh, ‘History of Psychotherapy: II. Hypnosis’, in The Linacre Quarterly, 39.4 (1972), pp. 232-45.