Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Erickson, psychotherapy and influence

I just finished reading a book on Milton Erickson called "An American Healer." As much as hypnosis pervades the book, it is never central to it. No one says, "Erickson is important because he was really, really good at putting people into trances. Really deep powerful trances." Everyone says some version of 'Erickson believed people were deep and powerful and capable.' Everyone says, Erickson was a genius at working with what was given, whether that meant learning through polio or using the way a client entered the room to draw conclusions about his/her state or experience.

What if hypnosis was not the point, just a tool that Erickson happened to use? What if Erickson is remembered more for the influence he had on a legion of students and thinkers than for the impact of his therapeutic practice? Would that make his work less magical or more influential?

It is as hard for someone who has been influenced by trance to see trance as a tool as it is difficult for those of us shivering through February and March to believe that the world is getting warmer.

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