Ericksonian Hypnosis

Topics: Hypnosis, Trance, Milton H. Erickson Pages: 11 (4151 words) Published: July 20, 2013
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 51:4, April 2009

Copyright © 2009 by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis

Naturalistic Techniques of Hypnosis Milton H. Erickson, M.D. The naturalistic approach to the problem of the induction of hypnotic trances, as opposed to formalized ritualistic procedures of trance induction, merits much more investigation, experimentation and study than have been accorded it to date. By naturalistic approach is meant the acceptance of the situation encountered and the utilization of it, without endeavoring to restructure it psychologically. In so doing, the presenting behavior of the patient becomes a definite aid and an actual part in inducing a trance, rather than a possible hindrance. For lack of a more definite terminology, the method may be termed a naturalistic approach, in which an aspect of the principle of synergism is utilized. Basic to this naturalistic approach are the interrelationships and the interdependencies reported by this writer in 1943 and repeatedly confirmed in experience since then. In these studies emphasis was placed upon the desirability of utilizing one modality of response as an integral part in the eliciting of responses in another modality and upon the dependency upon each other of differing modalities of behavior, somewhat analogous to the increasing of the knee jerk by a tensing of the arm muscles. To illustrate and clarify these points, a number of reports will be cited. Report No. 1 A man in his thirties became interested in hypnosis and volunteered to act as a subject for some experimental studies at a university. In the first hypnotic session he discovered that he was an excellent hypnotic subject, but lost his interest in any further experimental studies. Several years later he decided to have hypnosis employed by his dentist, since he needed extensive dental work and feared greatly the possibility of pain. He entered a trance state for his dentist readily, developed an excellent anesthesia of the hand upon suggestion, but failed to be able to transfer this anesthesia or even an analgesia to his mouth in any degree. Instead, he seemed to become even more sensitive orally. Efforts to develop oral anesthesia or analgesia directly also failed. Further, but unsuccessful efforts, were painstakingly made by the dentist and a colleague to teach this patient by various techniques either anesthesia or

Reprint from American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 1(1), 3-8. 333

Naturalistic Techniques of Hypnosis

analgesia. He could respond in this way only in parts of the body other than the mouth. He was then brought to this writer as a special problem. A trance state was induced readily and the patient was casually reminded of his wish for comfort in the dental chair. Thereupon he was instructed to be attentive to the instructions given him and to execute them fully. Suggestions were then given to him that his left hand would become exceedingly sensitive to all stimuli, in fact painfully so. This hyperesthetic state would continue until he received instructions to the contrary. Throughout its duration, however, adequate care would be exercised to protect his hand from painful contacts. The patient made a full and adequate response to these suggestions. In addition to the hyperesthesia of the hand and entirely without any suggestion to that effect, he developed an anesthesia spontaneously of his mouth, permitting full dental work with no other anesthetic agent. Even in subsequent efforts, anesthesia or analgesia could not be induced directly or purposely except as a part of the hyperesthesia-anesthesia pattern peculiar to that patient. However, this is not a single instance of this type of behavior. Other comparable cases have been encountered from time to time. Apparently, psychologically the patient’s fixed understanding was that dental work must absolutely be associated with hypersensitivity. When this rigid understanding was met, dental anesthesia...


References: The following articles are suggested for further reading: 1. Erickson, M.H. (1943). Hypnotic investigation of psychosomatic phenomena: Psychosomatic interrelationships dtudied by experimental hypnosis. Psychosomatic Medicine, V, 1, 51-58. 2. Erickson, M.H. & Brickner, R.M. (1943). The development of aphasia-like reactions from hypnotically induced amnesias: Experimental observations and a detailed case report. .Psychosomatic Medicine, V, 1,1943, 59-66. 3. Erickson, M.H. (1943). A controlled experimental use of hypnotic regression in the therapy of an acquired food intolerance. Psychosomatic Medicine, V, 1, 67-70.
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4. Erickson, M.H. (1943). Experimentally elicited salivary and related responses to hypnotic visual hallucinations confirmed by personality reactions. Psychosomatic Medicine, V, 2, April, 1943, 185-187. 5. Erickson, M.H. (1953). The therapy of a psychosomatic headache. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, I,4, 2-6. 6. Erickson, M.H. (1954). The development of an acute limited obsessional hysterical state in a normal hypnotic subject. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis, II,1, 27-41. 7. Erickson, M.H. (1954). Special techniques of brief hypnotherapy. Journal of Clinical and Experiemental Hypnosis, II,2, 109-129. 8. Erickson, M.H. (1954). A clinical note on indirect hypnotic therapy. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, II, 3, 171-174.
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