Home PageBlogErickson Biography Excerpt: Coughs and Cures

By Jeffrey K. Zeig

Estimated Reading Time: 0 minutes, 45 seconds

This is an excerpt from the Milton Erickson Biography and taken from the contribution by Philip and Norma Barretta. 

On one occasion when Norma and Philip were meeting with Erickson, someone in the group asked Erickson a question about smoking. According to Norma, at that moment, Erickson coughed – and he continued coughing for the next half hour — in between words, phrases, and sentences.

When the couple got back to their hotel that evening, Norma mentioned the coughing episode to Philip, who at that time was a smoker. He said he had not heard Erickson cough that day. Norma had recorded the session, so she played it for him to hear. Philip still didn’t hear it. “I thought he was kidding me,” Norma said. Approximately two months after Erickson’s coughing episode, Philip Barretta quit smoking. Norma attributes the change to Erickson’s indirect initiative.

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