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TitleErickson Collected Papers Vol1
Tags Psychology & Cognitive Science Experiment Trance
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Total Pages549
Document Text Contents
Page 1


The Collected Papers of Milton H. Erickson on Hypnos

Volume I

Page 2

The Nature
of Hypnosis

and Suggestion


The Collected Papers of
Milton H. Erickson on Hypnosis

Volume 1

Edited by Ernest L. Rossi


Page 274

Confusion Technique 263

good fa present tense description of a series of ideas with an emotionally
charged validation of the actual past as the present and then the future),
but Labor Day came in September of '62, but before that was July 4,
but on January 1 st of 1962 you really couldn't think of July 4th because
it was (this use of "was" implies a present tense) just the beginning
of 1962. And then of course there was your birthday in 1961, and
maybe on that birthday you looked forward to your birthday in 1962,
but thai was in the future, and who could even guess a year ahead
about the future? But the really wonderful birthday was your gradua-
tion year birthday. Twenty-one and a graduate at last!" (An item of
fact you have carefully learned and to which you lead and finally state
in terms of present reality with utter and pleasing emphasis. Or one
could continue as above to the 17th birthday or the 10th or whatever
year might be desired.)

9. Thus there has been a rapid and easy mention of realities of today
gradually slipping into the future with the past becoming the present
and thereby placing the mentioned realities, actually of the past, in-
creasingly from the implied present into the more and more seemingly
remote future.

10. Significant dates which are in themselves indisputable are selected,
and as the backward progress in time orientation continues to the
selected time, some actual positive strongly tinged emotional event
is mentioned.

11. Throughout, tenses are watched carefully and one speaks freely, as
in the illustration given of the 21st birthday. It is the year of 1956,
hence one speaks joyously of the instructorship that will being in
September, which is yet to come. (Reorientation in time by implica-
tion and emotionally validated by vivifying the emotions of the past.)

12. Throughout the entire time each statement is made impressively, with
adequate and appropriate inflections, but before the subjects in their
attentiveness have any opportunity to take issue with or to dispute
mentally what has just been said, a new utterance compelling their
attention has been offered to claim their thought and which arouses
more effort toward further new understandings, with only a frustration
of effort to respond resulting.

:i 13. Finally a clear-cut, definitive, easily grasped and understood state-
ment is uttered, and the striving subject seizes upon it as a Rock of
Gibraltar in the running flow of suggestions that has kept him help-
lessly following along (graduation day and birthday—emotionally po-
tent and coincidental and a valid fact).

14. Reinforcement of the patient's reorientation in the past by a "specific
orientation" to a "general" orientation such as a vague general ref-
erence to his "father's job," and by wondering, "Let's see, did it

Page 275

264 Nature of Hypnosis & Suggestion

rain the last week?" and followed by mention of the instructors hip.
(Two general, vague, possible ideas, followed by the validity of the
instructorship, all to fixate the regression to the past as the present.)

15. Follow up with the specific statement, "Now that it is all over [the
graduation], what shall we do now?" and let the subject lead the way,
but carefully interposing objections to some impossible remark such
as, "Let's go down to Lake Mendota and have a swim." (This is
"impossible" since a bathing suit becomes an immediate reality).
Instead one agrees that it would be nice to go to Lake Mendota, there
to watch the waves, the birds, and the canoes, thereby leading to
hallucinatory activity, and as this develops, hallucinatory swimming
may then follow.

At what point does the subject develop the trance and begin to regress? You
have mentioned eating, days of the week, months of the year, a backward
succession of years, each in itself and by itself a valid utterance but in the total
context requiring a constant shifting in the temporal orientation of the subject's
thoughts and marked by the changing of tenses, and along with all this there is
aroused an increasing vividness of emotions related to the past. (A personal
example may be cited here: While relating to a friend in great detail the events
of a trip made 10 years previously in the Rocky Mountains with a car having
a floor shift, the author, who was driving in a steering-wheel-shift car which he
had driven for more than five years, suddenly saw a red light and sought frant-
ically with his right hand to find the floor shift to put the engine into neutral
while his friend watched in amazement. The car was stopped only by the ex-
pedient of jamming the brake and turning off the ignition before the author
realized that the vividness and extensiveness of his memories about the past trip
had extended over into the field of unrecognized associated motor memories.)

To answer the question of when hypnosis develops is difficult. If one wishes
to induce hypnosis with age regression as the goal, one continues until the
subject's overt behavior (more easily recognized by long experience) discloses
evidence of the desired trance state. However, the process can be interrupted at
any point, depending upon the purposes to be served. This will be illustrated

To summarize the main points of the above Confusion Technique the follow-
ing outline may serve. It is a general form that I have used many times, always
with different wordings as partly illustrated in the outline to be given. The
outline is put into brief form and then remodified to insure proper inclusions at

the right places of general items of actual personal:
cannot be recognized fc
to validate the subject':

Thus the following r
illustration; to which.
spontaneous modificatit

ir their eventual significance
i progress.
night be used as one of the
when put into use, are add
•>ns as determined by the su

significiMice, butt
, yet can progress

ed mar
bjects r

forms foi
ly details

;o that they
ively serve

• the above
with ready

Page 548

538 Nature of Hypnosis & Suggestion

the medical profession in this encouragement of lay hypnotists is the invitation
from a midwestem state medical association to a charlatan holding a mail order
degree from an Indiana diploma mill to address the State Medical Association
t its annual meeting. He received an honorarium for this •"service," "delivering

his address in a city where "qualified ethical hypnotechnicians" claim a group
membership of 200 "engaged in the professional practice of the treatment and
cure of migraine, backaches, headaches, alcoholism, smoking, emphysema
obesity, colitis, etc." (Incidentally the Editor, by means of sending semi-illit-
erate letters of inquiry written with pencil and ruled tablet paper under vanou
names, has received a wealth of information and invitations from various such
orgdniz lions to take courses and to become a "certified hypnotechniLi n a

'qualified lay hypnotist trained to assist physicians and dentists in their profes
sional work, and to treat cases referred for therapy," to be "a trained ethical
lay hypnotist prepared to treat various body and mind disturbances,"' etc. The
lack of education evidenced by the laborious penciled script, the ruled tablet
paper, the misspellings and erasures, were no barrier to invitations to take
courses leading to '"certification as a trained ethical lay hypnotist qualified to
practice hypnosis in disturbances of mind and body.'")

Another example is that of an eastern medical school presenting a postgraduate
program which included in its panel of speakers a state certified "psychologist"
whose university record shows only 30 hours of scattered psychological courses.
The state issuing his certification declares that a doctoral degree in psychology
is officially requisite for certification, but the unfortunate loophole of a ' 'grand-
father clause" has allowed the certification of actually unqualified persons.

Still another example is the dental school which was officially advised to
cancel a scheduled course on hypnosis to be taught by a faculty which included
two psychiatrists, one a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and
Neurology and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the other
a holder of a Ph.D. degree in psychology in addition to memberships in the
American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations, as well as certified in-
ternists, obstetricians, anaesthesiologists, psychologists, and dentists, the osten-
sible reason being that such a course should be given only under the auspices
of the psychiatric department in a medical school. At the same time that this
course in an accredited dental school was being opposed by an officially ap-
pointed central medical committee, the legislature of another state, lobbied by
lay hypnotists, was passing a law permitting the medical use of hypnosis by lay
hypnotists, this action being unimpeded by any official medical groups.

All of the above is in marked contrast to the constructive and responsible
action of one Canadian medical association, which invited the same charlatan
as had the midwestem state society to address their annual meeting, encouraged
to do so by the apparent endorsement of him by the previous invitation to lecture
in the U.S. at a state annual medical meeting, a fact well exploited in the
charlatan "s advertisements.

Fortunately, because of proper legislation in that area, the Canadian society

Page 549

Editorial 539

investigated the charlatan's credentials upon his arrival and firmly ejected him
from the country for fraudulent misrepresentation, replacing him on the program
by a properly trained and experienced medical professional.

Unfortunately both the American Medical Association and the American Psy-
chiatric Association have done much to discourage the use of scientific hypnosis
by medically competent people who have already demonstrated adequately their
abilities to deal well and successfully with patients of all kinds under conditions
of all manner of stress and strain. And the telephone directories of the homes
of these associations, namely Chicago and Washington, D.C., have extensive
classified advertising listing charlatans who are only too glad to take the place
of those professionals who should be utilizing hypnosis properly. Medical prac-
titioners are losers, the public suffers, as does science itself. No one profits but
the unscrupulous exploiter.

One can only regret that throughout the history of science, medical and oth-
erwise, there have been all too many obstacles thrown in the way of scientific
advancement by those who should properly have promoted it, and a handicap-
ping of such advancement by those who prey upon human weakness and ig-

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