Posts Tagged ‘Milton H. Erickson’

Sep 25

Tom

By Dennis L. Doke M.S. Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 45 seconds.

Tom, a young adult, has had a bipolar mental illness with episodes involving complex paranoid delusions. He had been hospitalized four times during the eight-year interval since his diagnosis and the time I saw him. Tom’s latest admission followed a trip, with his parents, in December 1991. Tom’s delusions intensified, on that trip, and he believed the name of a town where they had stopped (Winslow, Arizona) held a special message for him. He walked the streets through the nights, “circling around a U-turn exit and ending back at the hotel.” Tom said he could “…WIN the battle if he went SLOW.” → Read more

Sep 18

The Boxer

By Dan Short, Ph.D. Dallas, TX Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds. 

The 21-year-old client did not want to be in therapy. Charged with assault on his girlfriend, he had been ordered to counseling as a condition of probation. The intake, conducted by another therapist, noted, “Client is reluctant to focus on violence-related issues.” The client, muscular and sullen, entered the first session in silence and sat slouched in his chair with a cap concealing most of his face. He had described himself as “a boxer” and had explained that counseling should not interfere with his “career,” which consisted solely of daily sparring at a local gym.

After preliminaries, I began giving the client an explanation of the negative effects of emotional stress. I told him how “industrial psychologists are paid high wages to ensure workers have their lives in order at home.” The role of sports psychologists was also described in detail with some impressive statistics about successful results. The client was then offered psychological training in order to benefit his boxing career. He responded with increased enthusiasm toward treatment. → Read more

Milton H. Erickson Unpublished manuscript, 1936. Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 42 seconds.

An admonition from William Alanson White, M.D., then Superintendent of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, was given to this writer early in his psychiatric career, and a year or so later he was again given the same admonition by Adolf Meyer,

M.D. Both strongly advised the writer never to refuse to consult with a patient. A single interview graciously granted during which the patient’s story was listened to attentively, while not especially remunerative, had often permitted them to encounter many unusual instances of psychopathology and to achieve, in many cases, astonishingly effective results. These results had sometimes proved to be far better than the doctors had considered possible at the time of the interview, even if long-term therapy could have been instituted. They likened such instances to the processes of behavior wherein “love at first sight” has drastically and positively altered the lives of various individuals. One such historical example was the schoolteacher who thought it wrong for an adult man making his living as a tailor (Andrew Johnson) to be so uneducated. The events that unfolded began with teaching and led to love, marriage, a law degree, a judgeship, and eventually the presidency of the United States. → Read more

TIME, OCTOBER 22, 1973

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 18 seconds.

A shy, gap-toothed young woman arrives at the simple home of a doctor in Phoenix, Ariz. She says she is em­barrassed about her teeth and bashful with men. Then, with sudden force and apparent malice, the doctor commands her to practice spurting water through her teeth until she is sure she can hit the young man who often meets her at the office watercooler. Soon after, the woman carries out her mission. The next day, the young man lies in wait for her with a water pistol. Eventually they marry. Her problem seems to have van­ished magically.

This and many other oddly simple cures are credited to the foxy grandpa of American hypnotism, Milton H. Er­ickson. At 71, Erickson stands in the forefront of a revival of hypnotherapy -in eclipse since Freud rejected it as too superficial and impermanent. “Er­ickson is the most innovative practi­tioner of hypnosis since Mesmer,” says Dr. Thomas Hackett, chief of the psy­chiatric consultation service at Mas­sachusetts General Hospital. Although Erickson sometimes uses deep hypnotic trances to work his will on his psy­chiatric patients, he often limits him­self to straightforward commands. He does not, however, explain the exact cures. → Read more

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Learning from Erickson’s Use of Pen and Paper in Therapy by Annette Poizner, MSW, Ed.D., RSW

I’m remembering recess in the schoolyard. We are in the process of deciding who gets to go first and we play the game of Rock-paper-scissors. Each child assumes a hand posture resembling either a rock, a piece of paper, or scissors. According to the rules of the game, each of these items “can “defeat” one of the other items and the remaining one is the winner. For example, scissors “beat” paper; rock “beats” scissors. These relationships make perfect sense, given that scissors cut paper, and rocks can smash scissors. Yet, one of the relationships spelled out in this childhood game is counter-intuitive: paper rules over rock. But doesn’t a heavy rock rule paper? An anonymous comment on the Internet sheds light on this issue: Paper rules rock because paper represents the realm of higher knowledge. We master the world of physicality symbolized by the rock, by using principles of higher knowledge. Ah yes, paper does, in fact, rule rock! → Read more

Utilization — the Virtues of Faults Excerpts from the Erickson Foundation Archives

By Jeffrey K. Zeig, Ph.D.

Case One: The Right “Spell”

My son, Robert, asked me when he was attending grade school, “My two best friends can’t spell; [their papers are] marked 10, 15, or 20, and my spelling [lessons are] marked, 85, 90, or 95. Now, will you teach them how to spell?” I said, “I can’t really do that Robert without consulting their parents…I’ll tell you what to do. You make sure you have your spelling lesson with you and your friends have their spelling lessons with them — a marked copy corrected by the teacher. I’ll come over and pick you up and drive you home, and I’ll [also] offer to drive the boys home. And, as we’re riding along, you tell me what mark you got on your spelling lesson. I’ll pull up to the curb and go over your spelling lesson. [When Erickson did this, he said to Robert,] “You got this word right, and this word right, and this, this, and this.” And I graded [his lesson] and it was 98. I turned to one of the boys and said, “Have you got your spelling lesson with you? I’d like to see it.” He didn’t want to show it to me, but I insisted. I looked at it and said, “My goodness…a ‘ck’ in ‘chicken’ is the hardest part of the word to spell — and you got that right.” I looked at the next word and there were three letters correct and [I] said, “[That’s] the hardest part of that word to spell…” Now the second boy handed me his spelling lesson [and] I pointed out the letters he got [right, too.] → Read more

Wizard of the Desert: The life and work of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. by Alex Vesely

About the Project

Milton H. Erickson revolutionized the world of psychotherapy with his novel and effective approach. Eventually his approach was tabbed, “Ericksonian Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.” His ideas inspired many professionals and became the basis of many new schools of brief therapy, including strategic therapy, interactional therapy, Rossi’s mind/body approach, solution-focused therapy, NLP, outcome-oriented therapy, and the self-relations approach. This documentary explores the life and work of Milton Erickson to provide a picture of the man was thought of as the “Mozart of communication.”

Dr. Erickson died in 1980, but his work continues to spread around the world. This film takes a look at how today’s leading professionals in the field are building on Erickson’s ideas; how Erickson has influenced their way of working; and how they envision the future of psychotherapy. → Read more