Self Help

Richard Bandler and John Grinder - Patterns of the Hypnoti… - Richard Bandler & John Grinder

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Matheus Puppe

· 43 min read



This summary highlights some key points about the book:

  • Written by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, it presents an explicit model of the patterns in Milton Erickson’s hypnotic work.

  • The goal is to make Erickson’s effective techniques and skills available to other practitioners by mapping out the patterns.

  • The book has 3 parts - Part 1 identifies patterns in examples of Erickson’s work. Part 2 familiarizes the reader with the patterns. Part 3 presents the patterns explicitly in a step-by-step manner.

  • Erickson himself had difficulty explaining how he worked, so the book aims to provide that explanation through modeling his patterns of behavior.

  • A brief anecdote from Erickson’s daughter provides an example of how well the book explains his techniques.

  • Some important influences on Erickson’s approach included his polio experience as a teenager, influencing his interest in communication, and his study of hypnosis with Clark Hull. He combined insights about communication and hypnosis into his psychotherapy.

So in summary, the book aims to map out and make learnable the complex patterns in Erickson’s highly effective hypnotic techniques through a formal modeling process. The goal is to teach these skills to other practitioners.

  • People create mental models or representations of the world rather than directly experiencing reality. These models are different from reality in three ways: through deletion of aspects, through distortions, and through generalization.

  • Transformational grammar provides a formal model of how language works by distinguishing between surface structure (literal words used) and deep structure (underlying meaning). Therapists intuitively understand deep structure even if it differs from surface structure.

  • Bandler and Grinder developed a formal representational model of psychotherapy by analyzing the intuitions therapists use, even if unconsciously. This allowed them to better understand how people construct representations via kinesthetic, visual, auditory and other senses.

  • Most people have a dominant representational system (visual, auditory, etc.) that they use more than others to organize their experiences. This system can be identified by their language predicates like adjectives and verbs.

  • In summary, the authors argue that understanding how people construct mental models or representations is important for effective hypnosis work, as it allows the practitioner to better access and utilize a person’s representational processes.

The passage discusses patterns used in hypnosis induction and suggestion. It focuses on the concept of “pacing,” where the hypnotist verbally describes the client’s ongoing experience in a way that is accepted by the client.

There are two categories of descriptions used for pacing:

  1. Descriptions of the client’s observable experiences, like breathing or hand movements. Erickson was skilled at making subtle observations and incorporating them into ongoing descriptions.

  2. Descriptions of non-observable inner experiences.

Successful pacing involves matching the description to what the client is actually experiencing in real-time.

Erickson’s abilities went beyond just verbal pacing. He seemed to intuitively understand how the brain’s two hemispheres function differently, and how to distract, utilize unconscious processes, and access the non-dominant hemisphere through hypnosis.

The passage also discusses how understanding representational systems, modeling processes, and input/output channels can help the hypnotist identify and utilize how the client organizes their experience. This is key to successful pacing and trance induction.

Here are the key points about move-hypnotist’s pacing mechanisms according to the passage:

  • Erickson frequently adopts the client’s tonality (vocal qualities like pitch, volume, rhythm), syntax (sentence structure), and tempo of speech. He also adjusts his body position, breathing rate and gestures to match the client’s. This creates a feedback loop where the client feels and sees Erickson’s movements matching their own rhythmic motions.

  • On a verbal level, Erickson paces the client by using words, phrases, and vocal inflections they have used. He also matches the tempo of his voice to the client’s breathing or pulse rate.

  • Erickson matches not only his breathing to the client’s, but also the tempo of his voice. He does this by watching the client’s veins expand and contract.

  • This complex pacing allows the client’s outputs and corresponding internal experience to be matched by Erickson’s verbal and physical outputs, creating a complete feedback loop for the client. Clients are usually unaware of this intricate pacing, which seems essential for rapid trance induction.

  • The pacing creates a blurred line between describing the client’s actual experience and leading them into a new experience. Once the client accepts Erickson’s descriptions, he can begin using language to subtly guide their experience.

Erickson frequently uses process words (predicates) paired with event words (nouns) in his hypnotic work. This draws the client’s attention to their own internal experiences, successfully pacing and directing their ongoing experience.

For example, he may say “a certain sensation” which calls attention to a sensation without specifying it. This pacing then allows him to lead the client’s experience.

He also employs mind-reading techniques where he claims knowledge of a client’s thoughts without specifying how he knows. For example, “I know you are wondering…“.

As trance induction proceeds, the mixing of pacing and leading shifts more toward leading. Erickson typically uses indirect language over direct instructions.

Some techniques Erickson uses for leading include presuppositions, conversational postulates framed as questions, and the use of lesser-included structures within longer statements.

Analogical marking, such as changing tonality, further fragments his indirect communication into separate message units for conscious and unconscious reception.

This overview highlights some of the patterns Erickson employs to indirectly communicate at an unconscious level, avoid resistance, and actively engage clients in hypnotic induction and suggestions.

The patient was a 62-year-old retired farmer who had been experiencing painful urges to urinate every 30 minutes for the past two years. He had seen over 100 doctors and undergone many tests but never received a conclusive diagnosis. Doctors often dismissed his problem as psychological or told him to stop complaining. He had grown bitter and resentful as a result.

After reading self-help books on hypnosis, he also saw stage hypnotists without success. The author listened to the patient’s story without judgment. When challenged to “psychiatrize and hypnotize,” the author used indirect suggestions and guided imagery similar to what had worked for another difficult patient.

Rather than directly discussing hypnosis, the author suggested the patient could view his bladder needing emptying every hour instead of 30 minutes. Further indirect suggestions had the patient feeling refreshed and taking a leisurely walk home while forgetting the original problem.

At the follow-up appointment a week later, the patient excitedly reported being able to wait four hours before urinating. The author had successfully treated the patient through indirect hypnotic suggestions without directly addressing hypnosis techniques.

  • Joe was a retired florist who owned his own business and took great pride in his work. He was extremely devoted to his business.

  • Joe underwent surgery to remove a facial growth that was diagnosed as cancerous. The cancer had spread too far and he was given around a month left to live.

  • Joe was in immense pain despite being heavily sedated with narcotics and barbiturates every 4 hours. The pain was distressing him continuously.

  • At the request of a relative, the author (a hypnotherapist) agreed to try hypnosis for Joe’s pain relief, though he was dubious it would work due to Joe’s condition and medication.

  • Before meeting Joe, the author was informed Joe disliked even the mention of hypnosis. His psychiatrist child also did not believe in hypnosis.

  • The hypnosis session is not described in full, but involved repetitive suggestions interspersed with other therapeutic suggestions, with a focus on pain relief and Joe’s attitudes toward his situation.

  • The key goal was to communicate genuine care, interest and desire to help Joe through manner, tone of voice and what was said, despite doubts about possibilities given his poor condition.

The author briefly met with Joe, a patient at a clinic who was growing flowers. The author engaged Joe in casual conversation about tomato plants while subtly including hypnotic suggestions. Joe entered a trance state almost immediately. However, he later had some toxic episodes, becoming disoriented and restless.

The author was able to calm Joe and get him to sit again by including more hypnotic suggestions. Joe then communicated through writing, expressing concerns about his past and health but no complaints. The author had a satisfying discussion with Joe as his restlessness decreased.

Joe demonstrated a strong desire for relief from pain, comfort, rest and sleep. Though the author’s descriptions of tomato plants seemed meaningless, Joe was able to receive the therapeutic suggestions embedded within it. The brief and casual inclusion of suggestions, without Joe realizing, allowed him to enter and maintain a trance state. This showed hypnotherapy’s potential to provide Joe the relief he sought.

  • The author describes experimental work they did in the 1930s studying schizophrenia at Worcester State Hospital. They were interested in understanding the meaning behind disconnected speech from patients.

  • One secretary at the hospital objected to being hypnotized for her severe migraines. On one occasion when forced to work instead of resting, her headache went away within 15 minutes, which she attributed to anger.

  • Later, when she volunteered to take difficult dictation, her headache got worse. But when insisted to work again, the headache went away within 10 minutes, like the previous time.

  • This led the author to speculate about interspersing meaningful suggestions into seemingly meaningless speech, as a potential therapeutic technique to explore. They went on to do experiments fitting meaningful messages into patients’ verbatim statements, without others detecting it.

  • The summary focuses on the author’s early experimental work trying to understand disturbed speech and discovering a potential new hypnotic technique of concealed meaningful communication for therapy.

  • Erickson presents two case histories where he interspersed therapeutic suggestions among mundane details to induce and maintain hypnotic trances. This helped treat patients suffering from neurotic symptoms or terminal illness.

  • With one patient “Joe”, Erickson paced his experiences by describing activities Joe enjoyed like gardening. Erickson picked a topic (tomato plant) to engage Joe’s attention, allowing Joe to generalized the meanings to himself.

  • In talking to Joe, Erickson uses a series of linguistic patterns like mind-reading, causal connections, lack of referential indices, nominalizations, and meta-communication where he comments on their interaction.

  • While superficially discussing a tomato plant, Erickson is able to embed therapeutic suggestions for Joe by linking statements about the plant to ideas of hope, satisfaction, relief of pain, etc. Joe is able to internalize these meanings on an unconscious level.

  • This demonstrates Erickson’s technique of interspersing suggestions among mundane details to induce trances and effect change indirectly without the patient’s conscious awareness or cooperation. It relies on linguistically pacing the patient and embedding layered meanings across different statements.

Here is a summary of the key points made in the commentary:

  • Erickson employs complex language patterns with deletions, nominalizations, unspecified verbs, implied causatives, conjunctions, conversational postulates, presuppositions and other linguistic features to induce trance and give suggestions.

  • He begins with a conversational postulate “Will you uncross your legs?” to have the client operate unconscious patterns.

  • He links suggestions with “and” and implied causatives like “while”.

  • He uses nominalizations, deletions and lack of referential indices which create ambiguity and allow multiple meanings.

  • He implies meanings rather than stating them directly through devices like presuppositions.

  • He references experiences from the client’s past like writing letters and going to school to induce regression.

  • He accesses the non-dominant hemisphere through tasks like recognizing letters.

  • He provides feedback on changes he observes in the client like respiration to reinforce the trance state.

  • His language patterns presume an effect is already occurring and embed commands in more indirect ways.

The commentary analyzes how Erickson skillfully utilizes complex linguistic patterns to induce trance and embed suggestions in a covert manner through ambiguity and presumption.

  • Aldous Huxley and Milton Erickson planned to conduct a joint study exploring various states of consciousness. They each independently prepared outlines of ideas and questions in their notebooks.

  • They met for an intensive day to combine their notes and potentially conduct experiments. Erickson was interested in Huxley’s thinking processes and use of unconscious mind. Huxley was interested in hypnosis.

  • Huxley proved an excellent hypnotic subject. Erickson took some pages from his notebook describing Huxley’s behaviors under hypnosis to later incorporate into a joint article.

  • Unfortunately, a brush fire destroyed Huxley’s home and notebooks, derailing their project. Erickson decided to present the few pages he had abstracted on their session to give a small glimpse into their planned study. However, it was missing Huxley’s own perspectives given the loss of his notebooks.

The key elements were the planned collaborative study of states of consciousness between Erickson and Huxley, including separate preparation and potential experiments, Huxley’s interest in hypnosis and ability as a subject, and the destruction of materials and notes due to a fire which prevented the full realization of their project.

  • Huxley and the author engaged in a joint study of hypnosis and altered states of consciousness. They would meet daily to discuss concepts, review their notes, and plan future meetings.

  • Huxley described his experience of “Deep Reflection” - a state of physical relaxation, psychological withdrawal from external stimuli, and complete mental absorption. He claimed to be able to enter this state within 5 minutes.

  • While in Deep Reflection, Huxley reported responding automatically to external stimuli like the phone or doorbell, with no recollection of doing so. His wife confirmed he responded appropriately but seemed unaware.

  • As an experiment, the author tried various tapping patterns on furniture while Huxley was in Deep Reflection. Huxley only responded when the agreed upon 3-tap signal was used, with no awareness of the other stimuli.

  • Huxley claimed to be able to easily enter and exit altered states, and the experiments showed he could respond to specific signals while appearing completely withdrawn otherwise. The goal was to study his subjective experiences and abilities in an altered state.

This summary examines passages from two different sources:

  1. A description by Aldous Huxley of his experience with “Deep Reflection”, a meditative/altered state of consciousness.

  2. Discussion by Milton Erickson of hypnotic induction techniques and working with subjects in trances.

Some key points made in the summary:

  • Huxley’s normal state consciousness relies heavily on kinesthetic (bodily) sensations, whereas his experience of Deep Reflection is characterized by an absence or reduction of kinesthetic sensations.

  • Erickson uses cues/signals from the subject’s dominant representational system (visual, kinesthetic, etc.) to help induce or reinstate altered states of consciousness.

  • Erickson arranges a signal with Huxley for arousing him from Deep Reflection without fully informing him, allowing Huxley freedom in his response.

  • Recalling details of a prior trance experience can help reinstate that trance state. Erickson minimizes his role and maximizes the subject’s control, leaving them free to respond as they choose.

So in summary, the passages examine how Huxley and Erickson both distinguish the normal conscious state from altered ones based on kinesthetic experiences, and compare techniques like using representational cues and minimal direction to facilitate altered states.

This passage describes a session in which Aldous Huxley worked with Milton H. Erickson to enter a state of “Deep Reflection” using hypnosis and experience different representational systems. Some key points:

  • Erickson guided Huxley into a state of Deep Reflection and asked him to “sense color” rather than see it, allowing Huxley flexibility in his experience. Huxley responded with descriptions mixing visual and tactile predicates, demonstrating a phenomenon called synesthesia.

  • While in reflection, Huxley shifted between representational systems, revealed in his language shifting between kinesthetic and visual descriptors. He was experiencing synesthesia between systems.

  • Huxley had no memory of physical stimuli like being pinched while in reflection, showing the dissociated nature of the state.

  • Attempts to recall specific past events while in reflection were unsuccessful, as Huxley said he had “nothing to do.” However, reflecting on experiences led to new realizations.

  • Including another person in his reflection interested Huxley, and he began commenting aloud in a detached fashion on reviewing psychedelic experiences, making notes but later having amnesia.

  • The passage discusses hemispheric lateralization and how the non-language hemisphere relates to a more visual, image-based representational system that can be accessed through hypnosis.

  • The passage discusses experiments conducted by Milton Erickson with Aldous Huxley as a subject to study different levels of trance states.

  • Light trances involve withdrawing attention from the external environment and focusing inward on subjective sensations. Medium trances add a sense of comfort but retain some awareness of reality. Deep trances minimize awareness of reality.

  • Huxley found it difficult to maintain a constant medium trance level due to intellectual desires to either stay shallow or go deeper. Suggestions helped him stabilize at medium depth.

  • Both light and medium trances involve retaining some grasp or orientation towards external reality, even if vague. This orientation can impact the ability to elicit hypnotic phenomena or maintain the trance state.

  • Carefully worded suggestions emphasizing availability of reality and subjective comfort can help subjects avoid unintentionally shifting trance depths. The passage explores Huxley’s experiences and insights from experiments with different trance induction techniques and levels.

The passage describes an experiment conducted by Huxley to try to develop hallucinatory experiences in light trance states. He starts by focusing on pleasant physical sensations like taste to deepen his trance. He finds he can hallucinate tastes and then progresses to olfactory, kinesthetic, and tactile hallucinations.

When first trying for visual and auditory hallucinations, he finds them more difficult. However, he reasons that if he can hallucinate rhythmic body movements, he can then “attach” an auditory hallucination to that. This proves successful. He also links olfactory hallucinations to movements.

Erickson observes subtle clues like swallowing and nostril flaring that indicate which sensations Huxley is hallucinating. Huxley then experiments with connecting different representational systems like linking music to body movements.

Erickson confirms that Huxley’s methodical approach of using one representational system to develop another is consistent with Erickson’s own planned experimental techniques. The passage provides a clear example of using representational systems to induce and explore different types of hallucinatory experiences.

  • Huxley entered a light trance state where he could recall certain memories, like page numbers, with accuracy. But in his normal waking state, he struggled with the same tasks.

  • In the light trance, functions localized in the non-dominant hemisphere, like visual memory, were accessible. In his normal state, they were not.

  • Phenomena like anesthesia, amnesia, time distortion, and hypermnesia were possible in the light trance for Huxley.

  • Huxley then entered a medium trance state, where he could perform the same tasks more easily but felt he was constantly on the verge of slipping into a deeper trance.

  • Huxley finally entered a profound somnambulistic deep trance state, where his vision was restricted and he felt disoriented for time and place. He responded to questions in a very literal way.

  • In this deep trance, Huxley’s linguistic responses differed - he answered only what was asked, without elaboration, showing his state of mind was very different from normal waking consciousness.

  • Erickson notes the importance of asking questions to learn, without communicating that the answer matters or is desired, to avoid influencing the subject’s response.

The key point is that Huxley demonstrated different functional states and linguistic behaviors in the light trance, medium trance, and deep trance - showing how altered states of consciousness can differentially impact memory, awareness and communication.

  • A person’s ability to ignore conversational postulates (additional implied meanings) when in a deep trance is an excellent indicator of trance depth. Erickson often used conversational postulates during inductions.

  • In deep trance, subjects may experience age regression and behave in a childlike manner by not responding to conversational postulates.

  • Subjects in deep trance can develop selective perceptual restrictions (e.g. only seeing things related to the trance scenario) and anesthesias, blocking external stimuli.

  • Erickson induced catalepsy and anesthesia in Huxley through subtle suggestions while he was in a somnambulistic trance, leaving Huxley confused afterward about what happened.

  • Huxley demonstrated profound post-hypnotic amnesia for his deep trance experiences, but was willing to explore further sessions. Erickson had him develop different types of amnesia and suggested scenarios to illustrate trance concepts.

  • The use of indirect techniques like conversational postulates, catalepsy and amnesia allowed Erickson to deepen Huxley’s trance and demonstrate trance phenomena while avoiding direct suggestions or challenges to control. Huxley remained puzzled by what happened in trance.

  • Huxley exhibited catalepsy (muscle rigidity) and anesthesia (numbness) in the hypnotic experiences, showing an inability to associate positioning of his body with final results when given commands.

  • Erickson constructed experiences that demonstrated kinesthetically the same phenomenon as a subject’s inability to respond to conversational postulates in trance unless every step is explicitly presented.

  • Huxley proved highly responsive to suggestions about hallucinating various sensory experiences like mountain climbing, and his pulse would change significantly.

  • Negative hallucinations were found to be difficult to achieve in light/medium trances as they are more destructive of reality testing, even within the hypnotic situation.

  • In deep trance, Huxley was able to correctly identify page numbers and passages from books he had read decades prior, accessing highly detailed visual memories stored in his non-dominant hemisphere.

  • Huxley characterized the difference between deep trance and his experience of “Deep Reflection” as deep trance offering new intellectual perspectives but lacking the enduring inner feelings and emotional significance of Deep Reflection.

  • Huxley urgently requested further deep hypnosis to more fully explore himself and complex phenomena, hoping to better understand himself as a person.

Here is a summary of the key points about the confusion technique:

  • It refers to Erickson purposefully using vague or ambiguous language that leaves room for various interpretations. This engages the client’s imagination and active participation.

  • One example Erickson gives is quoting the phrase “The depth was a part and apart.” Said aloud, it’s ambiguous whether “part” and “apart” are separate phrases or the same phrase. This creates confusion that the client must resolve.

  • Erickson induced confusion by not specifying what his suggestions to Aldous Huxley might mean. He relied on Huxley’s own intelligence to elaborate and find meaning.

  • Creating confusion through ambiguity, deletion of information, lack of referential indices, and nominalizations allows for projection and hallucination by the client. It engages their own experiences and meanings without the hypnotist needing to know exactly what they experience.

  • This technique allows for infinite choice in the hypnotist’s language while still pacing and agreeing with the client’s experience through skillful use of modeling processes like deletion and generalization. It successfully induces trance without clear direction from the hypnotist.

The passage discusses how the hypnotist Milton Erickson used ambiguous and linguistically complex language patterns to help put author Aldous Huxley into a deep trance state.

Some of the linguistic techniques Erickson used included:

  • Nominalization - Turning verbs into nouns, which leaves them ambiguous about things like who is doing the action. For example, turning “confront” into the noun “confrontation.”

  • Violating selectional restrictions - Putting predicates (verbs/adjectives) together that don’t normally go together, like “impossible actuality.”

  • Using temporal predicates ambiguously - Words like “once,” “was,” “now,” and “will” that can refer to different times, allowing for ambiguity.

  • Combining these techniques creates a huge number of possible interpretations, allowing Huxley to interpret it in a way that fits his experience and helps pace his trance state.

The passage describes how Huxley then appeared to deeply respond to the suggestions, asking Erickson to be quiet and gazing intently for over two hours with fluctuating vital signs, immersed in his trance experience.

  • Erickson was working with Huxley to help resolve a confusing situation where Huxley and another person did not know each other’s identities.

  • Erickson used different print types (analogical signals) within his communication to Huxley to decompose the message into separate parts for different purposes:

    • Set A was designed to help Huxley return to a normal state of awareness
    • Set B established a cue for Huxley to later recover the experience
    • Set C instructed Huxley to experience amnesia about the deep trance activities
  • By using these analogical signals, Erickson was able to communicate multiple separate messages to Huxley unconsciously, without Huxley being consciously aware of it. This allowed the messages to be received and responded to without challenge.

  • The analogical signals activated patterns in Huxley’s mind reminiscent of how children learn language from ages 2-5. This tapped into Huxley’s unconscious/non-dominant hemisphere while the conscious/dominant hemisphere processed the full communication normally.

  • This technique demonstrated Erickson’s ability to use linguistic and analogical cues to decompose a communication and transmit separate unconscious messages effectively. It showed his skill with unconscious communication and utilization of language learning processes.

This passage describes a hypnotic interaction between Milton Huxley and an unnamed hypnotist (implied to be Erickson). During their session:

  • Huxley says he experienced a “sterile” deep trance where he felt compliant but doesn’t recall anything meaningful.

  • The hypnotist uses words Huxley had said during his deep trance (“vestibule”, “edge”, “ravine”) which causes strong bodily reactions in Huxley without conscious recall.

  • Over time, Huxley comes to realize the words are meaningful to his experience and has amnesia around their significance.

  • When prompted that matters may “become available”, Huxley is startled and recalls experiencing an astonishing hypnotic phenomenon where his subjective experience was “wiped out” and then recovered.

  • This demonstrates how certain words can take on an “irresistible power” to elicit vivid kinesthetic sensations without conscious choice, like in conditions involving “fuzzy functions” where sensory input is represented in unusual ways outside typical associative systems. The hypnotist was able to use this mechanism to access Huxley’s amnestic experience.

  • The passage discusses Erickson and Huxley’s interchange, in which Erickson used hypnosis to explore “fuzzy functions” - learned neurological circuits that link sensory inputs to emotional responses.

  • Through hypnosis, Erickson induced experiences in Huxley to demonstrate that fuzzy functions are learned associations, not immutable responses. This showed hypnosis can study human neurology.

  • Fuzzy functions reduce differences between cultural gender standards. They also influence responses within and across cultures. For example, hearing certain words may trigger feelings automatically due to learned fuzzy functions.

  • Therapeutically, the goal is not to remove fuzzy functions, but give clients control over them by changing how the circuits function. This allows for more flexible responses.

  • Cultures also influence fuzzy functions by associating certain experiences positively or negatively. For example, some words, images or behaviors may be culturally taboo due to negative fuzzy functions like see-feel or hear-feel associations.

  • Through hypnosis, Erickson explored Huxley’s fuzzy functions related to hearing certain cues. Huxley had dramatic experiences of his younger self, questioning what was memory versus current reality. This demonstrated hypnosis’ potential for exploring human consciousness.

  • Aldous Huxley, the author, underwent a deep hypnotic trance at the request of the narrator to gain insight into his life experiences and development over time.

  • During the trance, Huxley found himself regressing to different stages of his life, reliving moments from childhood onward with limited awareness like he had at those ages. He observed his younger self without influencing events.

  • The experience gave Huxley a vivid sense of his own personal history unfolding in distorted time. It terminated when he reached entrance to college.

  • Upon awakening, Huxley remembered the experience clearly and wanted to analyze and document it further for publication. Unfortunately world events prevented this.

  • The narrator notes this type of spontaneous life regression in trance states has occurred with other intelligent subjects as well, though details vary between individuals. It seems to be a way for the unconscious mind to gain insight into one’s development.

  • Repeated experiments to systematically induce this have failed, as subjects typically object or refuse for unclear reasons. It always seems to occur spontaneously rather than through direct suggestion.

The passage describes Milton Erickson’s use of ambiguity and uncertainty in hypnotic induction and therapy. It provides an example where Erickson shakes a woman’s hand in an irregular, uncertain way that creates ambiguity through kinesthetic sensation. The intended purpose is to familiarize the reader with Erickson’s patterns of utilizing ambiguity as a therapeutic technique. The overall goal of Part II is to systematically present Erickson’s patterns in a way that allows readers to understand the nature, implications, and applications of each pattern in their own clinical work. While Part I focused on linguistic patterns, the techniques can be generalized to other forms of communication like body language and paralinguistics, as will be explored in future volumes.

Based on the passages provided, Carlos Castenada discusses several techniques used by sorcerers and teachers:

  1. Pacing and distraction - Walking in a specific manner that “floods” the attentional processes of the dominant hemisphere (tonal). This involves drawing attention to certain elements like the arms through curled fingers, and looking without focusing at points in an arc to provide much visual information and prevent internal dialogue.

  2. Accessing the non-dominant hemisphere - Training the tonal “to let go for a moment” of its tightly controlled view/order of the world to access perceptions not structured by reason and language. Dreaming is presented as the ultimate use of this technique.

  3. Reordering perceptions - The primary goal of a teacher is to introduce the idea that our view of the world is only one possibility, and force an apprentice to “rally” their entire worldview to the side of reason through techniques that disrupt ordinary perceptions yet don’t destroy them. This allows accessing a non-dominant perspective.

  4. Utilizing internal dialogue - The tonal maintains its ordered view of the world through constant self-talk/internal dialogue. Techniques like the specific walking style aim to “flood” the tonal with too much information to maintain internal dialogue and its usual structure of reality. Silencing internal dialogue is seen as a key method.

  5. Highlighting the constructed nature of experience - Both the ordered worldview and sense of self are created and maintained by the attentional processes of the tonal. Techniques highlight how experience is a description that can be reordered rather than an immutable fact. This allows potential shifts in perspective.

The goal overall is to disrupt habitual frames of reference and allow potential alternative views of self and world that are usually inaccessible due to how perception is structured by the tonal/reason. Dreaming and other non-ordinary states facilitate this.

Here is one way to summarize the opposite viewpoint of this technique:

Some may argue that responding to a client’s speech with nonsense word salads or agreeing with unreasonable statements merely to continue an interaction is unethical and unhelpful. It risks validating and encouraging dysfunctional or delusional thinking rather than redirecting the client towards more logical and healthy perspectives.

Additionally, focusing so much on pacing and mirroring the client’s experience without also providing alternative frameworks or correcting factually inaccurate assertions could allow misconceptions to fester rather than being addressed constructively. It may come across as patronizing or dismissive of the client’s capacity for real insight and change.

A critic may say this approach risks indulging and enabling dysfunctional patterns rather than challenging a client in a caring but firmly reality-based manner. Merely reflecting back a client’s perspective without also offering a balanced counterpoint based in evidence and reason could undermine the therapeutic goal of helping the person develop more adaptive ways of thinking and coping.

In short, the opposite view is that this technique does not go far enough in its responsiveness to address core issues, and risks validating and prolonging unhelpful patterns rather than strategically aiming to resolve and replace them. The focus should not just be on surface rapport but also substantive guidance towards healthier frameworks.

This passage provides a summary of several examples from Erickson describing his approach to inducing hypnosis in clients. Some key points:

  • Erickson is able to meet clients “at their model of the world” by speaking their language and understanding how they construct their experience, rather than expecting them to conform to the hypnotist’s model.

  • He provides an example of pacing and distracting a resistant client who demanded hypnosis by using softly spoken relaxation suggestions while the client ranted, eventually inducing a trance.

  • Another example used negative hallucinations to pace a client’s disappointment that her hand was still visible by acknowledging her experience, then shifting her awareness to produce the intended effect.

  • He emphasizes accepting all aspects of a client’s behavior and utilizing them to lead the client to new states, rather than seeing resistance as failure.

  • Pacing involves simultaneously distracting and utilizing unconscious patterns to engage the dominant hemisphere and establish a trance feedback loop.

  • Expanding the client’s role and minimizing that of the hypnotist facilitates functioning at an unconscious level without interference from the conscious mind.

The passage discusses linguistic modeling processes used in hypnosis, focusing on causal linguistic modeling. It describes three categories of causal relations commonly used: conjunction, implied causatives, and cause-effect constructions. Examples are provided of each type.

It also discusses negation can be added to these patterns to add complexity. Variations including compounding events under the X and Y variables are described.

An example is provided of Milton Erickson skillfully using cause-effect construction to maneuver a client into a state of hypnosis.

Related processes of mind reading are also discussed as useful for pacing and leading clients, even about non-observable aspects of their experience. Examples of common mind reading surface structures are given.

Careful use of mind reading patterns allows the hypnotist to pace and lead clients even about areas without observable consequences, according to the passage. Another example from Erickson’s work is quoted to illustrate this.

In summary, the passage analyzes linguistic modeling processes like causal constructions and mind reading that hypnotists can employ to construct representations that influence clients’ experiences and lead them into trance states.

This passage discusses concepts in linguistics related to how language is structured and processed unconsciously by the brain. Some key points:

  • Deep structure refers to the full meaning and semantic relationships represented in the syntax and morphology of an utterance. Surface structure is the actual words and sentences used.

  • Transformational processes like deletion, distortion and generalization can occur between deep and surface structure. For example, removing noun phrases but retaining the semantic roles.

  • Transderivational search is the unconscious process by which the brain supplies referential indices (specific meanings for nouns) during language processing to derive a coherent interpretation even without explicit references.

  • Generalized referential indices allow for full transderivational search, as nouns are left unspecified. The listener mentally supplies the most relevant referent from their own experience.

  • This allows for suggestion and guidance of a listener’s internal experiences and memories during hypnotherapy, even with seemingly vague or unspecified language on the surface.

  • Formal representations are provided to diagram the linguistic and semantic transformations between deep and surface structure that underlie effective hypnotic communication according to Milton Erickson’s approach.

In summary, the passage discusses Erickson’s skillful use of language patterns that activate and guide a listener’s unconscious interpretive processes to derive meaning tailored to their internal experiences, even without explicit references in the surface structure of communication.

The passage discusses linguistic concepts related to deletion, nominalization, ambiguity, and selectional restrictions.

Deletion refers to removing parts of a sentence’s deep structure in the surface structure. This can be grammatical or ungrammatical. Grammatical deletion results in a valid English sentence, while ungrammatical deletion results in fragments. Both types require the listener to participate more to derive full meaning.

Nominalization transforms verbs into nouns, deleting referents and forcing deeper linguistic processing. It allows meanings to be determined based on the listener’s own perspective.

Ambiguity occurs when a single sentence has more than one possible deep structure meaning.

Selectional restrictions refer to surface structures that violate normal semantic constraints, like metaphorical phrases. They mismatch deep structure meanings with specific linguistic categories.

Overall, the key point is that these linguistic transformations engage and pace the listener by overloading normal linguistic processing. They require generating additional meanings from context and personal experience. This deeper involvement and participation aids in a hypnotic experience.

  • Ambiguity can occur at the phonological, syntactic, scope, and punctuation levels in language. Erickson made effective use of different types of ambiguities in his work.

  • Phonological ambiguity occurs when a word sounds ambiguous due to similar phonemes, like “weight” and “wait”.

  • Syntactic ambiguity occurs when a phrase can have more than one grammatical analysis, like “Hypnotizing hypnotists can be tricky”.

  • Scope ambiguity involves whether a modifier like an adjective applies to multiple parts of a phrase or just one, like “the old men and women”.

  • Punctuation ambiguity involves ambiguity introduced by lack of punctuation or unusual punctuation.

  • Erickson would often use factive verbs followed by ambiguous scopes to create uncertainty about whether following statements were presupposed facts or not.

  • Ambiguities allow multiple interpretations to occur simultaneously in semantic processing, occupying the listener’s unconscious mind and dominant hemisphere in productive ways for hypnosis. Erickson skillfully exploited different types of ambiguities.

Here are the key points summarized from the passage:

  • Erickson uses linguistic ambiguity to distract and engage the dominant hemisphere of the listener. Some examples of ambiguity he employs include: syntactic ambiguity, semantic ambiguity, punctuational ambiguity, structural ambiguity.

  • Lesser included structures that Erickson uses include embedded questions and embedded commands. These indirect ways of questioning or commanding make it difficult for the listener to resist while also building response potential.

  • Embedded questions raise a question without explicitly requesting a response, such as “I wonder if you know…” This disturbs normal processing.

  • Embedded commands give suggestions indirectly, such as quoting something another person said to do something.

  • Stacking embedded questions and following them with a clear command takes advantage of the response potential created.

  • Ambiguity requires the listener to generate multiple meanings and search transderivatively for the intended one, engaging them actively in the process.

  • Both grammatical and non-grammatical embedding of questions and commands serves to further distract and overload the dominant hemisphere.

So in summary, Erickson employs various linguistic ambiguities and embedded structures to indirectly engage and direct the listener in a way that is difficult to resist and draws on their own interpretive resources. This activates the dominant hemisphere.

  • Erickson utilizes presuppositions in hypnosis to build a model of the ongoing process and have the client accept implicit assumptions without directly challenging them. This allows the process to continue smoothly.

  • Presuppositions are background assumptions that must be true for a sentence to make semantic sense, but are not the main point being addressed. By using presuppositions, Erickson can stealthily guide the client’s understanding.

  • Erickson also uses conversational postulates, where the implied meaning of a statement goes beyond its literal semantic content. For example, a yes/no question could carry an implied suggestion or command. This allows the client to actively participate rather than following direct commands.

  • Erickson’s approach involves accepting the client’s internal model or map of reality, rather than imposing an external framework. This allows him to assist the client in changing by working within their existing understanding of the world. He listens for the modeling principles and representational systems they use to construct their reality.

  • Erickson utilizes hypnosis in a flexible way to create his own model for therapy. His approach allows him to detect and utilize effective patterns.

  • He establishes that one hemisphere, usually the left, is dominant for certain functions like language while the other hemisphere may be stronger for other functions like visualization.

  • By engaging both hemispheres, a deeper level of consciousness can emerge to guide automatic writing without conscious awareness.

  • Research shows hemispheric asymmetries - the non-dominant hemisphere is typically better for tasks like visualization, tempo recognition, melody, contralateral body awareness, and certain language abilities.

  • Engaging the non-dominant hemisphere through tasks like visualization can facilitate transferring control there and accessing deeper levels of consciousness for therapeutic benefit. Subjects report imaginary cues like metronomes helping them drift into trance more than real cues.

  • Hypnotically induced visual hallucinations can also engage the non-dominant hemisphere to establish identity or explore significant life experiences from alternative perspectives.

  • Erickson discusses differences between imagining a picture mentally versus actually seeing a picture in one’s mind’s eye. Imagining uses language systems in the dominant hemisphere and results in dull, unfocused images. Seeing a picture uses the non-dominant hemisphere and results in clearer, more vivid images.

  • The hypnotist’s task is to assist the client in accessing the unconscious/non-dominant hemisphere, which involves identifying the client’s preferred representational systems (e.g. visual) and using these to induce trance states.

  • Suggestibility tests can determine a client’s ability to employ different representational modes like visualization. Counting tasks involve visual representation of numbers and thus access the non-dominant hemisphere.

  • Erickson often includes visual details or references to letters/numbers in inductions to trigger unconscious visualization and thus access non-dominant processes.

  • If a client struggles with visualization, the hypnotist can guide them to access related sensations in their highly valued modalities (e.g. music/piano playing) and use this to develop their other representational abilities.

  • Traditional props or techniques intended to constrain behavior are discarded in favor of identifying and utilizing a client’s natural representational strengths in the induction process.

Here are the main points of the summary:

  • The emphasis in Erickson’s work is on external factors and stimuli rather than internal processes. The subject’s main role is to respond to external situations.

  • Visual cues are emphasized over actual physical apparatus. Having the subject imagine or visualize something is more effective than relying on physical objects.

  • Imagery and visualization techniques facilitate the development of complex hypnotic responses, compared to techniques relying on external physical cues.

  • Melody and music can be effective ways to access the non-dominant hemisphere of the brain. Singing or having a subject repeat melodies internally can induce trance states.

  • The non-dominant hemisphere appears to store representations of melodies. Aphasic patients with left hemisphere damage can still sing songs even if they cannot speak.

  • Using simple language forms like single words or two-word phrases fed directly to the left ear can access the non-dominant hemisphere while overloading the dominant hemisphere, facilitating rapid trance induction.

So in summary, the key points are that Erickson emphasized external cues and responses over internal processes, and that visualization and imagery are more effective than physical objects. Music and simple language forms are also discussed as ways to access the non-dominant hemisphere to facilitate trance states.

This section discusses two models for how the right hemisphere of the brain could be involved in language abilities during hypnosis using a dual induction technique (speaking simultaneously into both ears).

The first model posulates that the right hemisphere lacks phonology and articulatory codes for speech production. It could understand speech but not produce it. If it could both understand and produce limited speech, as seen in some cases, this model is more difficult to explain.

The second model suggests that presenting conflicting messages to each ear simultaneously overwhelms the dominant left hemisphere’s processing capabilities. The messages presented to the non-dominant right hemisphere are then responded to by the dominant left hemisphere in a regressed, child-like state without conscious awareness. Evidence for this includes differential physical responses by the body side controlled by each hemisphere.

The author discusses Milton Erickson’s skillful use of “analogical marking” to fragment messages into independent sets that can induce and remove amnesia. Specific words or phrases are analogically distinguished and take on additional embedded meanings outside of conscious awareness. This allows highly complex control over a client’s experiences.

Two potential models are proposed for how analogical marking may work: 1) the original message is processed by the left hemisphere while marked messages are received by the right hemisphere, or 2) both are received by the left hemisphere but marked messages are responded to outside of consciousness through regression. The author’s goal is to construct a step-by-step explanation of this technique. Consideration is given to what types of analogical cues may be most effective depending on which hemisphere is being accessed.

  • Erickson has helped countless people considered beyond help to have better, more fulfilling lives through hypnosis. He has assisted the hopeless who had tried all other avenues unsuccessfully.

  • He is highly skilled in accessing both the conscious and unconscious mind through language patterns, visualization, metaphor, storytelling and more. However, his techniques are intuitive and he does not fully understand his own skill.

  • His methods parallel the organization of the conscious and unconscious brain. He is sensitivity to all resources available to the client, consciously and unconsciously.

  • The book aims to make Erickson’s hypnotic skills learnable by explaining his linguistic techniques. It focuses on how he uses language, generalization, normalization, deletion and more.

  • Future volumes will build a more comprehensive model incorporating additional communication modes like voice, gestures. This is just the beginning of understanding Erickson’s complex work.

  • When Erickson refers to the “unconscious” he may be referring to processes in both the non-dominant hemisphere and dominant hemisphere below awareness.

  • Part III provides instructions for constructing Erickson’s linguistic patterns to allow others to learn and apply these effective hypnotic skills.

Gregory Bateson criticized explanations of causality that attempt to reduce complex events to single causes. He advocated for a cybernetic approach that examines how alternative possibilities were constrained or restrained, leading to the actual outcome. Explanations focus on negative determination through restraints rather than positive causation.

In hypnosis, causality can be implied between a client’s ongoing experiences and the desired hypnotic behavior. This pacing utilizes the client’s natural causal reasoning processes to guide their experience into trance. Examples show linking sitting down to trance induction or breathing changes to awareness changes.

Similarly, sentences can imply the hypnotist knows the client’s internal experiences like wondering or learning, without specifying how this knowledge is obtained. Constructing these semantically ill-formed sentences maintains pacing. Overall, casually linking ongoing experiences to desired outcomes can help induce and deepen trance according to the natural processes clients employ.

  • Voice is any verb which does not explicitly specify the listener’s causal understanding, such as verbs indicating time (e.g. after, before) or relationship (e.g. with respect to).

  • When forming a sentence using one of these verbs, the listener will construct their own causal understanding based on contextual cues rather than having it explicitly stated.

  • Erickson uses a technique called “mind reading” where he claims to have knowledge of the listener’s internal experience without specifying how he obtained that knowledge.

  • He uses words like “even” or “continue” that presuppose the truth of his mind reading claim, focusing the listener on other aspects like timing rather than whether the mind reading is true.

  • These techniques engage the listener’s unconscious mind in comprehending and responding to the communication in a way that aligns with their own needs, making the communication more effective. They exploit the normal linguistic processes used in comprehension but activate additional meanings accessible only to the unconscious mind.

  • Erickson used a technique called transderivational search to engage the client’s unconscious mind in generating new meanings and insights.

  • This involved the client recovering the deep structure (underlying meaning) from a surface structure (uttered words).

  • Then the client would generate new deep structures that were identical except substituting nouns with referential indices related to their ongoing experience.

  • This allowed the client to actively create meaning that was maximally relevant to them. It avoided direct instruction by the therapist.

  • Erickson would sometimes supply a suggested noun for the client to substitute, increasing the chance they connect to the intended message.

  • He also used selectional restriction violations by violating normal rules of grammar/semantics. This puzzled the client and induced transderivational search for meaning.

  • Deletions in surface structure compared to deep structure also induced search. The client looked for what was omitted to fully understand meaning.

So in summary, Erickson pragmatically engaged the client’s unconscious through structural techniques like substitution, violations and omissions in language.

Here is a summary of the key points about Erickson’s use of deletion processes:

  • Erickson would delete nouns or parts of sentences to leave gaps or missing information for the client to fill in through unconscious processes. This induces a “transderivational search” for meaning.

  • Types of deletion used include nominalization (turning verbs into nouns) and ungrammatical deletion (leaving sentences fragmented).

  • Nominalization avoids specifying details like subjects/objects and allows for multiple interpretations. Ungrammatical deletion forces the client to reconstruct missing parts.

  • The goal is to maximize the client’s freedom to interpret gaps and find personal meanings, activating unconscious search processes. Clients tend to reconstruct deleted parts in ways relevant to their own experiences.

  • Too many deletions may overwhelm the client, so the hypnotist needs to use them judiciously as part of an ongoing communication. Metacomments can guide the client’s understandings.

  • Deletion prompts exploration of multiple representations (“deep structures”) in the search for a coherent reconstruction of surface level messages. This facilitates indirect suggestions and unconscious learning.

Here is a summary of the key points about relatives:

  • Relatives can refer to either family members or traveling companions. The word “relatives” creates an ambiguity as to whether it is functioning as a verb (“are visiting”) or a noun (“who are visiting”).

  • Erickson often uses ambiguities related to syntax, punctuation, scope, and embedded elements to create meanings or induce effects on clients beyond the surface structure of the language.

  • Lesser included structures refer to situations where one clause or sentence is a subset of a larger sentence’s meaning. Erickson skillfully uses these to embed additional layers of meaning.

  • Embedded questions, commands, and quotes allow Erickson to indirectly lead clients to certain realizations or responses without directly stating commands. When combined with analogical marking, these techniques can activate multiple meanings simultaneously.

  • Derived meanings refer to the ability of listeners to understand deeper meanings beyond just the surface structure of words. Erickson aims to utilize this to indirectly communicate therapeutic messages and effects.

  • Erickson believed inductions and suggestions would be most effective when they intersect with the listener’s unconscious meanings, accessed through techniques like transderivational search, ambiguity, included structures, derived meanings, analogical marking, and causal modeling statements. This taps into what is meaningful at a deep, non-conscious level.

  • Highly valued inductions and suggestions achieve maximal pacing, distracting, utilization of the dominant hemisphere, and accessing of the non-dominant hemisphere with as few words as possible, while still fitting with the listener’s worldview.

  • Two principal ways to construct highly valued inductions/suggestions:

  1. Intersection of unconscious meanings as above

  2. Creative ambiguity - using ambiguous language that can flexibly support multiple meanings and possibilities for the listener to explore. This actively engages their cognitive processes.

  • Erickson combined these lower-level patterns creatively in infinite ways, tailored to context and purpose. But some general principles were pacing and then leading, distracting and utilizing the dominant hemisphere, and accessing the non-dominant hemisphere.

  • The writer’s example demonstrated interrupting the subject’s rambling with minimal prompts to continually redirect their attention, accessing deeper processing over time. This showed how Erickson’s methods could be applied.

  • The paper discusses patterns of hypnotic techniques used effectively by Milton Erickson in his work. This first volume focuses primarily on Erickson’s verbal patterns used for trance induction and suggestion to help clients accomplish trance work objectives.

  • Future volumes will shift emphasis to other patterns, as indicated in the table of contents for Volume II. The patterns explored in this first volume can be applied equally to medical, dental or psychotherapy contexts.

  • A key principle is appreciating the separateness and possible exclusiveness of conscious and unconscious minds. The unconscious may receive suitable therapy but the therapist must help the client integrate it with the conscious or make the new understandings fully accessible consciously. Failing to do so is like performing surgery but not closing the incision.

  • Many critics naively denounce hypnotic psychotherapy for “dealing only with the unconscious.” But there is oversight of how suggestion can change both conscious and unconscious processes to achieve therapeutic goals. The patterns presented aim to enrich practitioners’ skills in hypnotic work and applications across different fields.

  • Effective communication between the hypnotist and client occurs when changes initiated by the client in hypnosis can be integrated into the client’s conscious awareness.

  • In some cases, directly addressing and reintegrating the problem aspects may help the client. In other cases, allowing unconscious changes to be available to the conscious mind without direct influence from the therapist can facilitate spontaneous reintegration.

  • The goal of hypnotherapy should be to integrate changes made in both the conscious and unconscious states, leaving the client with a coordinated and unified understanding of themselves and the world.

  • While integration is important, it does not need to constantly keep pace with therapeutic progress. Allowing unconscious insights to become conscious only when the client is ready can prevent conscious resistance and avoid reversing gains.

  • Working separately with the unconscious through hypnosis gives the opportunity to pace progress and reintegration in a way acceptable to the conscious mind. This utilizes the unconscious mind’s natural protectiveness of the conscious mind.

Here is a summary of the key points in the linguistics examples provided:

(r) Provides an example of a counterfactual conditional clause with a verb in the subjunctive tense (“had listened”).

(s) Gives an example of a contrary-to-expectation “should” construction (“should happen to decide”).

(t) Shows an example where a selectional restriction is violated (“professor gets pregnant”).

(u) Presents a series of questions to elicit information about an event (“Who ate the tapes?”).

(v) Gives an example of a negative question (“Didn’t you want to talk to me?”).

(w) Provides an instance of a rhetorical question (“What was I thinking?”).

The examples cover some common linguistic concepts like counterfactuals, selectional restrictions, question types, and rhetorical questions. They aim to illustrate these concepts through short examples involving clause structures, verbs, and questioning.

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