Includes the updating essay—
“What is a Suggestion?
The Neuroscience of Implicit Processing Heuristics in Therapeutic Hypnosis and Psychotherapy”
By Ernest L. Rossi and Kathryn L. Rossi
“For the many who never had the opportunity and never will have the opportunity to attend workshops led by Milton Erickson, this work will serve as an invaluable surrogate. Psychotherapists, in general, as well as hypnotherapists, will find the work rewarding reading and study, for Erickson is above all a psychotherapist, and his modus operandi transcends clinical hypnotism. As for academicians and researchers, I believe they will find enough food for thought and research here to keep them busy for some time to come.”
—Andre M. Weitzenhoffer
“[the] new neuroscience framework was not available to us when we published the first edition of Hypnotic Realities in 1976. Yet, as can be seen when we read this volume today, every chapter and line anticipates our new neuroscience perspective to a remarkable degree. The subtitle of the original Hypnotic Realities: the Induction of Clinical Hypnosis and Forms of Indirect Suggestion, which emphasized Erickson’s invention of ‘indirect suggestion.’ is being re-framed in my mind today with the more apt concept of ‘implicit processing heuristics.’ ‘Implicit’ is the current neuroscience term for the ‘unconscious.’ ‘Heuristics’ are hints we give each other for priming and prompting a new activity, thought, emotion or experience of consciousness. Implicit processing heuristics are linguistic tools psychotherapists use to turn on experience-dependent gene expression and brain plasticity for creative change and healing.”
Milton H. Erickson, MD, was an American psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. He was founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis and noted for his approach to the unconscious mind as creative and solution-generating.
Dr. Erickson was plagued with enormous physical handicaps for most of his life. At age 17, he contracted polio and was so severely paralyzed that doctors believed he would die. While recovering in bed, almost entirely lame and unable to speak, he became strongly aware of the significance of nonverbal communication – body language, tone of voice, and the way that these nonverbal expressions often directly contradicted the verbal ones. He also began to have “body memories” of the muscular activity of his own body. By concentrating on these memories, he slowly began to regain control of parts of his body to the point where he was eventually able to talk and use his arms again. His doctor recommended exercising his upper body only so Milton Erickson planned a 1,000 miles canoe trip to build up the strength to attend college. His adventure was challenging, and although he still did not have full use of his legs at the end, he was able to walk with a cane.
The Ericksonian approach departs from traditional hypnosis in a variety of ways. While the process of hypnosis has customarily been conceptualized as a matter of the therapist issuing standardized instructions to a passive patient, Ericksonian hypnosis stresses the importance of the interactive therapeutic relationship and purposeful engagement of the inner resources and experiential life of the subject. Dr. Erickson revolutionized the practice of hypnotherapy by coalescing numerous original concepts and patterns of communication into the field.
The novel psychotherapeutic strategies which Dr. Erickson employed in his treatment of individuals, couples, and families derived from his hypnotic orientation. Although he was known as the world’s leading hypnotherapist, Dr. Erickson used formal hypnosis in only one-fifth of his cases in clinical practice.
Dr. Erickson effected a fundamental shift in modern psychotherapy. Many elements of the Ericksonian perspective which were once considered extreme are now incorporated into the mainstream of contemporary practice.
Ernest L. Rossi, PhD, is an internationally renowned therapist, teacher and pioneer in the psychobiology of mind-body healing. The author of more than 24 professional books, Dr. Rossi worked with Milton Erickson for eight years and co-authored three classic volumes on therapeutic hypnosis with him. Rossi has also edited four volumes of Erickson's Collected Papers and four volumes of Erickson's Seminars, Workshops and Lectures. He has been conducting research in the psychosocial genomics of ultradian rhythms and their relation to mind-body healing and psychotherapy for over three decades.
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