On the bus yesterday, I listened to an audiobook about a man I found very interesting. I would love to reproduce everything I heard, but this will be some facts that I found especially interesting
I had the nickname in grade school and high school, “Dictionary,” because I spent so much time reading the dictionary. One noon, just after the noon dismissal bell rang, I was in my usual chair reading the dictionary in the back of the room. Suddenly a blinding, dazzling flash of light occurred because I just learned how to use the dictionary. Up to that moment in looking up a word, I started at the first page and went through every column, page after page until I reached the word. In that blinding flash of light I realized that you use the alphabet as an ordered system for looking up a word…I don’t know why it took me so long. Did my unconscious purposely withhold that knowledge because of the immense amount of education I got from reading the dictionary?
His story is impressive, and even more so when one considers his background: He was color blind, deaf and dyslexic. He learned hypnosis, and worked as a psychiatrist first. He married, got 5 children with his wife (he had three from previous relationships). He founded the American Society of Hypnosis. He died in 1980, and his ashes were strewn over a mountain top that many of his clients reached.
- I had polio, and I was totally paralyzed, and the inflammation was so great that I had a sensory paralysis too. I could move my eyes and my hearing was undisturbed. I got very lonesome lying in bed, unable to move anything except my eyeballs. I was quarantined on the farm with seven sisters, one brother, two parents, and a practical nurse. And how could I entertain myself? I started watching people and my environment. I soon learned that my sisters could say “no” when they meant “yes.” And they could say “yes” and mean “no” at the same time. They could offer another sister an apple and hold it back. And I began studying nonverbal language and body language.
- I had a baby sister who had begun to learn to creep. I would have to learn to stand up and walk. And you can imagine the intensity with which I watched as my baby sister grew from creeping to learning how to stand up.
- – My Voice Will Go With You
He was recognized for his hypnotherapy, were he integrated his extensive knowledge collected from experience and intelligence. An example of his insights: “One day a horse wandered into his home place. He let the horse take him where he wanted, and he stopped where he came from. When the farmer asked how he knew where the horse came from, he said: I didn`t, the horse did”. By relying on the force of the unconscious, he could help both people and animals
Milton Erickson was an interesting therapist and scientist: With creativity he tailored therapy to each client so that it fitted perfectly. He was the perfect “mirror” for others, so much that he actually could “talk” exactly like the client in front of him. He strongly believed in the unconscious, and in letting people find their own insights. He could tell little anecdotes that were completely right for the client. An example was an alcoholic that lived in a family where everyone drank (even his own wife) and drunk for several years. He was considered a hopeless case. Milton gave him a task: He should go to a park and sit down to watch a cactus for several minutes. Erickson told him this cactus could live without water for three years. 5 years later his sister called Erickson and told him both he and his wife had stopped drinking. He also used Reframing, mirroring and the paradox intervention. And example of the first, is when he sent a rootless client to Flagstaff so that she created new positive associated to a place that just seemed negative before. An example of the second is when he met a patient that tore things apart. She tore and threw everything she saw: Clothes, curtains, wallpaper. Generally, she was acting out. Erickson stood beside her and did the same thing, he tore up pieces of the wallpapers and threw things here and there. He exclaimed: “This was fun! Let`s go somewhere else and do more of it”. They came to a hospital, where he ripped the clothes off a nurse.
After this event, the girl became an angel, not knowing that the nurse in on the whole thing. An example of the paradox intervention was telling a woman who had severe problems with her weight. Erickson told her to try a new method where she first would gain a certain weight before she started with dieting. When she no longer had to restrain herself, she suddenly lost the weight she needed.
His theories have been developed further after he died, and one of the results is NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming ). I actually know very little about NLP, but I have thought several times that I`ll have to check into it, since I`m very interested in theories integrating what we know about our brain, with psychology. Maybe this means I should?
Milton H. Erickson | History of Hypnosis
Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980) graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1