This lecture is an unusually clear and succinct presentation of the senior author's approach to hypnotic induction and hypnotherapy. Given at the height of his teaching career, it represents an important shift away from the authoritarian methods of the past to his pioneering work with the more permissive and insightful approaches characteristic of our current era. In the actual words of this presentation we can witness how important concepts are in transition. While Erickson still uses the words technique and control a number of times—and even manipulate and seduce appear once each—it is evident from the broader context that they are outmoded in the traditional authoritarian sense in which they had been used.
A paradigmatic shift is taking place in this presentation: It is now recognized that the most significant person in the hypnotherapeutic interaction is the patient, not the therapist. The patient's potentials and proclivities account for most of the variance (what actually happens) in hypnotherapy, not the purported "powers" of the hypnotist. The therapist does not command the patient; rather, as the senior author says, "It is always a matter of offering them [patients] the opportunity of responding to an idea." It is now recognized that the hypnotherapist offers the patient many approaches to hypnotic experience rather than imposing hypnotic techniques. The concept of technique implies the mechanical and repetitious application of a particular procedure in the same way to every patient with the intent of producing a preconceived and predictable response. The concept of approaches implies the profferance of alternatives to help each patient bypass his or her own particular learned limitations so that the various hypnotic phenomena and hypnotherapeutic responses may be experienced.
Therapists do not "control" the patients; rather, they help the patients learn to "utilize" their own potentials and repertory of unconscious skills in new ways to facilitate the desired therapeutic outcome. This new orientation requires the development of many observational and performance skills by hypnotherapists. More than ever it is required that they learn to recognize and appreciate each patient as a unique individual. Every hypnotherapeutic interaction is essentially a creative endeavor; certain known principles are being applied, but the infinite possibilities within each patient require an essentially exploratory approach to achieve the therapeutic goals.
This lecture is highly characteristic of the senior author's style of presenting his approach to hypnotic induction and hypnotherapy. Listening to it on the cassette accompanying this volume in a relaxed mood may have important values for the reader that are not contained in the edited version presented in this volume. Before reading any further, then, the reader may best listen to the cassette labeled "Hypnosis in Psychiatry: The Ocean Monarch Lecture." Those readers who are familiar with our two previous books in this series will know why we recommend listening to the cassette first. Other readers will understand the reasons after reading the discussion of this tape that follows its edited version on these pages. Please listen now to the lecture.
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For anyone concerned that this is a report designed to teach readers how to convince crowds of people to act like chickens or dance to an unheard song just with a carefully placed keyword - relax. While hypnosis is often paraded in that form with large crowds visiting celebrity hypnosis experts to see what wonders they can perform, the majority of hypnosis used is to aid people seeking a solution to a problem they cannot resolve easily with any other method.