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hypnotic trance
dyslexia
setbacks
whine
Dr Milton Erickson, Master Hypnotist
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When was hypnosis put to use and how? The first time is lost to history. I think it reasonable to suppose that Dr. Mesmer may be credited with the first use, but he still didn't really know what it was all about.

A good example is that of a young Scots dentist who needed to have his appendix removed. He turned up at the hospital, prepped for the operation, but refused all anaesthesia. His doctors begged him to allow them to put him under, but he told them there was no need. He'd place himself in a self-induced hypnotic trance and they could begin the operation with confidence.

Seeing that all their entreaties were to no avail, the patient placed himself in a trance, but was laughing and joking with the nurses and doctors all through the operation. The procedure was a complete success, the patient was sown up and cleaned, whereupon he put on his clothes, thanked the staff for all their work and walked out. Now this is true and is recorded.

However, there can be no argument that the most famous and successful strategic psychotherapist and master hypnotherapist was Dr. Milton Erickson. He himself is worth studying, because not only was he exceptionally adept, he was also utterly ethical. Yet he was a man of great personal health problems.

He was four years old before he spoke, was found to have profound dyslexia, was tone deaf and colour blind. When he was seventeen, polio very nearly took his life and he was paralyzed for a year. Makes those of us who whine about our petty setbacks look rather foolish, doesn't it? Yet through all those problems, he earned the title, Dr. Milton Erickson, Master Hypnotist, despite his critics, about whom we'll see shortly.

A true and oft-repeated story concerns Dr.Erickson when he was a boy. Born into a poor farming family in Nevada, there was a day when his father, who had scant time for the boy, was having difficulties in persuading a cow to enter a stall. He pushed the beast, pulled for all he was worth on a rope tied around the animal's neck, but all to no avail. "I'll make sure that cow goes in its stall," he told his father.

The elder Erickson scoffed at his boast. The boy was undersize and in no way strong.

He shrugged. "Well, if you think you can, and you manage it, you'll be rewarded."

Milton simply walked around to the rear of the cow, grasped her tail and pulled. The cow shot into its stall. The whole point, which Milton Erickson understood only too well, was that the animal flatly refused to go anywhere anyone else wanted her to go.

One of Milton Erickson's main interests was in the way hypnosis could change people, what its limits and extent would prove to be. Gregory Bateson, one of the developers of NLP, or Neuro Linguistic Programming, was greatly inspired by Erickson.

When he was in his fifties, he was struck down again by polio. This caused him terrible pain, but didn't stop him. He found he was able to treat the pain suffered by other people with hypnosis. It should be noted that Erickson started out as a young psychiatrist in the 1920's. Then, he was considered a maverick. There were many contradictions in his own methods as against the established methods of the time, that it took him some years to become recognized.

It came to a state, however, that his methlods were proved to be consistently right. In the face of such success, there really wasn't a great deal that those who argued against him could do.


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