No point in beating my gums about Milton Erickson. You can see for yourself how he deals with people…
"The presenting problem was a 14-year-old girl who developed the idea that her feet were much too large. The mother came alone to Erickson and described the situation. For three months the girl had been becoming more and more withdrawn, and she didn't want to go to school or to church or to be seen on the street. The girl would not allow the subject of her feet to be discussed, and she would not go to a doctor to talk to him. No amount of reassurance by her mother had an influence, and the girl was becoming more and more seclusive. Erickson reports: 'I arranged with the mother to visit the home on the following day under false pretenses. The girl would be told that I was coming to examine the mother to see if she had the flu. When I arrived at the house her mother was in bed. I did a careful examination of her, listening to her chest, etc. The girl was present. I sent her for a towel, and I asked that she stand beside me in case I needed something. This gave me an opportunity to look her over. She was rather stoutly built and her feet were not large.
“Studying the girl, I wondered what I could do to get her over this problem. Finally I hit upon a plan. As I finished my examination of the mother, I maneuvered the girl into a position directly behind me. I was sitting on the bed talking to the mother, and I got up slowly and carefully and then stepped back awkwardly. I put my heel down squarely on the girl’s toes. The girl, of course, squawked with pain. I turned on her and in a tone of absolute fury said, ‘If you would grow those things large enough for a man to see, I wouldn't be in this sort of situation!’ The girl looked at me, puzzled. That day she asked her mother if she could go out to a show, which she hadn't done in months. She went to school and church, and that was the end of her seclusiveness. She didn't realize what I had done, nor had her mother. All the mother noticed was that I had been impolite to her daughter."
Haley, who put this book together, spends a few more words analyzing what Erickson did, but I leave you to figure it out for yourself.
In another very poignant account, Erickson tells of dealing with a young woman's deepening depression and withdrawal from social/sexual relationships – he found under hypnosis that she had powerful feelings of disgust toward any kind of sex, and he traced it to an identification with her dead mother. The mother died when the girl was 13 and had previously warned the girl to stay away from boys, that sex was dirty. In subsequent hypnotic sessions he got across to the girl that what her mother had told her was perfectly appropriate for that age, but had her mother lived she would have told her all sorts of other things. He went on to lecture her about the joys and responsibilities of sex, much as her mother might have done when she was older.
Are these techniques that Erickson uses? I suppose you could say they are, but I defy you to just go out and use them. They are only useful if you have the strength, courage, wisdom, kindness, and understanding that Erickson had. And if you have all those things, you probably don't need the techniques.
There are many more wonderful illustrations from Erickson’s practice of psychotherapy in this book. While I can't agree with Haley’s obsession with technique, I am forever in his debt for introducing me to Milton Erickson, who was obviously more of a magician than anything else.
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: *Norton agency titles; 1 edition (17 April 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393310310
- ISBN-13: 978-0393310313
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)