Milton H. Erickson (1901– 1980 ) was an American psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis and family therapy.
He was noted for his ability to "utilize" anything about a patient to help them change, including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even their neurotic habits.
Through conceptualizing the unconscious as highly separate from the conscious mind, with its own awareness, interests, responses, and learnings, he taught that the unconscious mind was creative, solution-generating, and often positive.
Erickson frequently drew upon his own experiences to provide examples of the power of the unconscious mind. He was largely self-taught and a great many of his anecdotal and autobiographical teaching stories are collected by Sidney Rosen in the book My Voice Will Go With You.
Erickson believed that the unconscious mind was always listening, and that, whether or not the patient was in trance, suggestions could be made which would have a hypnotic influence, as long as those suggestions found some resonance at the unconscious level.
Erickson was an irrepressible practical joker, and it was not uncommon for him to slip indirect suggestions into all kinds of situations, including in his own books, papers, lectures and seminars.
Erickson also believed that it was even appropriate for the therapist to go into trance.
"I go into trances so that I will be more sensitive to the intonations and inflections of my patients' speech. And to enable me to hear better, see better.".
Erickson maintained that trance is a common, everyday occurrence. For example, when waiting for buses and trains, reading or listening, or even being involved in strenuous physical exercise, it's quite normal to become immersed in the activity and go into a trance state, removed from any other irrelevant stimuli. These states are so common and familiar that most people do not consciously recognise them as hypnotic phenomena.
Where a classical hypnotist might say "You are going into a trance", an Ericksonian hypnotist would be more likely to say "you can comfortably learn how to go into a trance".
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