For years I have heard of Dave Dobson referred to as another Milton Erickson. Though I had never seen footage of him in action. Enclosed here is a youtube clip of him giving an interview about his work that he refers to as Other Than Conscious Communication.
Just the other day I was teaching the forgiveness pattern (as modeled by Steve and Connirae Andreas) to a group of students and what was normally a pattern that I pull off seamlessly was something that seemed not to go well from almost the start. I had explained the concept of submodalities and had taken the group through a couple exercises designed to give them some familiarity with the model. At this point in time everything was going good. Everybody was able to notice a difference in their experiences as they practiced adjusting submodalities. I then began to ask for demonstration subject after explaining the forgiveness pattern so that the students could see it in action.
The demonstration subject that volunteered was someone I had worked with in the past. We had some difficulty last time we worked together but still managed to pull off the pattern still nonetheless so I figured no problem. I began the demonstration with asking them to think about a person that they were angry/still resentful about but whom they would like to forgive. After that I asked them to identify someone that they had forgiven sometime in their past. I then proceeded to run a contrastive analysis of submodality distinctions. With the exception of location in the visual modality apparently every distinction was the same between the person they resented and the person they had forgiven.
When it came to auditory distinctions there were a few differences in submodalities but nothing that made any significant difference in his experience. The interesting thing about when I was running the contrastive analysis throughout the demonstration when I was asking the subject to compare the differences between the two experiences was that they kept responding that they were the same. It didn’t matter for the most part what the distinction was they kept answer that they were the same. Part of me wondered if they were even looking for differences.
Eventually I exhausted all of the visual and auditory distinctions that I could think of while only having identified two differences. By this point I was wondering if I was eliciting the distinctions incorrectly or something. I had made it to the kinesthetic modality. They were able to distinguish between only a few submodality differences there. Anger was experienced as a warm body sensation on one side of their body and forgiveness was experienced as a cool body sensation on the other side. When I asked them to move over the sensations from the side of the body that was anger to the forgiveness side just to see what would happen they said that their anger just more intense almost like rage. This was truly an interesting demonstration indeed.
After telling them to go ahead and allowing the sensations to go back to the way they were. Based on previous experience with this person I already knew that visual location of images was extremely effective submodality distinction for them. So I cycled back into their visual submodality distinctions and had them shift the location of the visual representation of anger into forgiveness. The subject reported immediate relief. I had them move the image back to where it originally was in their experience. I then proceeded to an ecology question. I asked him if he had any objections to feeling forgiveness for the person in question. To that response I received vague generalizations about their moral code and how the other objections they were experiencing had to do with their ego and super ego.
These types of objections prove to be interesting challenges because they are so vague that they have to be broken down into something meaningful. At least to me they do because based on their responses I had no clue what they were talking about. I found that the more specific I made them get the more resistance I ran into when attempting to reframe their objections. This was an interesting turn of events for me because this entire time I was suppose to be giving a demonstration on the ease at which one can reach forgiveness using this pattern. Part of me thought that given the turn of events that I had thoroughly confused everyone in the group.
By this time I had figured that any educational value of what I was teaching was lost and in good conscience I did not feel justified in opening up the proverbial can of worms with this person and then ending the demonstration. Plus I thought that might set a bad example for the group. So I made a judgment call and dropped the pattern in question and proceeded to engage in alternative information gathering and interventions in order to assist the subject. What ended up working was taking them through 1st, 2nd and 3rd position with regard to the situation in question.
So for example I would have from 1st position take inventory of what resources that he was lacking in the situation in question and then add them. I would then have him check to see if that was enough to resolve the situation to his satisfaction. It wasn’t so I had him keep adding resources until there was a point of diminishing returns. From that point I had him jump into 2nd position (the other person’s perspective) to detect what resources that they might be deficient. I then had him add resources to that person’s experience. From there I had him jump back and forth from 1st to 2nd position and vice versa adding resources to each perceptual position until the point where they felt that both individuals had the resources that they needed.
Towards the end of this new exercise I had them just to 3rd position (observer perspective) where they would then add any resources that they felt both individuals in the situation might have been lacking. I finished off the exercise by having them just from 1st to 2nd to 3rd position and detecting whether or not anybody from any of those perspectives needed any resources added to their experience. I then had them clear their mind and imagine they were talking to the person in question and to notice their response. They stated that they felt resourceful and were able to forgive them. Given all the trouble I had to deal with during this demonstration I wanted to make certain that there wasn’t anything else that needed to be done.
So I had them go into multiple past experiences and to notice what they noticed. Every time without fail they said that they felt resourceful in a way that they didn’t think was possible. I then had them think of multiple times in the future one after the other in which the person might do something that in the past would send them into a rage. They reported back that they felt calm and relaxed. I then future paced them through as many different scenarios as I could think of. I told them to go back into their experience and to really do their best to feel horrible.
I implored them to please do everything in their power to make that piece of work that we had just done fail. But alas to no avail they could only succeed in feeling good. This situation reminded me of a good lesson. When what you are doing isn’t working then do something else. So in a way I guess I’m pretty thankful that the demonstration that I did failed. I think this is why I encourage so many people to fail as often as they can. I learn a lot more from my failures than my successes.
Today I did a hypnotic induction with a member of a study group that I’m looking to grow. The gist of the induction was that every time the subject would breathe out I would utter a single word. On one exhale I would say the word, ‘Relax’ and then I would on the next breath say, ‘Deeper’. I alternated back and forth between these two phrases as a means of demonstrating how easily a person may induce an altered state of consciousness. The actual induction itself only took a mere minutes maybe at most four and was not more complex that alternating between those two words and timing them with the person’s breathing.
I know when I first started studying Hypnosis that I thought inducing altered states was something that required great skill. In fact I remember having an incredible about of anxiety over whether or not I would be able to actually pull of the task or not. Pacing someone’s breathing is something that is commonly taught as a means of teaching rapport. In my experiences I have never been able pull off using pacing of breathing patterns with my rate of speed in dialogue during normal conversation in order to build rapport. However in the context of inducing a ‘trance state’ I’ve been able to accomplish this task many times before.
It all seems to come down to context. Some things are permissible in one place are not in others. The ease with which a person can induce an altered state seems to rely as much on what a person is doing to elicit it as it does where and when they are attempting to accomplish this task. Something that is extremely effective in one area can be utterly useless in another.
I’ve been working in the field of NLP and Hypnosis some time now. And I’ve come across the phenomena of arm catalepsy in my experience it’s really only good for four things initiating a trance, deepening it, reinitiating and acting as some sort of symbolic representation to be defined by the hypnotist and the client. I’ve practiced attaining this particular phenomena on a great deal of people and this has only solidified my understanding that every hypnotic induction is one of cooperation. I’ve walked up on numerous people at the bars, pubs, restaurants, casinos, and grocery stores of Las Vegas and have tested attaining Arm Catalepsy with them.
Typically I will say something such as, “ I want you to extend your hand and then to pull it away and at the same time but not before after that I want you to just let it float up into the air and just continue to hold it there… and really just continue to hold it there.” Most of the time without much fuss full rigidity of the arm can be attained. I’ve found though that through the years the better you get at attaining arm catalepsy with clients the better you get at handshake interrupts because they are pretty much the same thing. A good handshake can give a person a great deal of information about how much rapport they have with a client. Do they squeeze your hand do they let go, do they thrust forward or pull back. Typically when working with clients I’m looking for an ambiguity of movement when shaking their hand.
The other day I was doing a trance induction on a friend (when people think you’re a hypnotist there is always a line to be hypnotized). To me experiences such as these gives a person an opportunity to practice skills that they don't always get to try out. It’s been a long time since I’ve induced a ‘formal trance’. So for fun I thought I would start with hand levitation just to see what would happen. I let them decide which hand they wanted to allow defy gravity and to allow to float seamlessly into the air.
They chose their right hand and we sat there and watched with amazement at how their hand was lifting without any effort on their part. I’m always amazed when I watch a good hand levitation it always just seems so magical to me. Now I’ve seen many hypnotists elicit arm catalepsy from clients but I have never seen them make anything more than an arbitrary use of this phenomena. My thinking when ever eliciting something from someone is how many different ways can I use this. I know that I don’t think of every way to use it but it at least gives me some different options that I wasn’t thinking about before.
As I sat there watching their hand levitate I began to think about instances and scenarios in my own life where I was fairly stiff and rigid in my thinking or in my responses to a particular situation. I began to think of this arm catalepsy as an example of rigid thinking or as a rigid response to a particular situation. I told my friend a story about how in certain situations in one’s life they can have rigid ways of thinking or relating to a particular situation and that they can feel the great deal of tension in the same way that they can feel it in their arm. I further went on to elaborate as to how that when someone tenses themselves in too rigid of a matter that they can begin to feel fatigue.
I further went on to explain to him that sometimes the best thing to do is to relax one’s arm and to notice the type of comfort and relaxation that they can experience in that situation. I continued to explain to him about how certain things in life can be reflections of other things and that people can use learnings that they acquire from one situation to another in the most useful way to themselves. Then I told them to go ahead and to head out of trance while he made a full wealth of the recollections of all the implications of my statements and that I was sure that he would understand what I was referring to.
I’m noticing that as I continue to develop my own style of working with people that there are a lot of things that I used to do that I’m failing to do any longer. In the past I was very patterns driven. Everything I did was within pre-ordained NLP patterning. When I was working with people I was constantly looking to see what patterns I could fit them into. Are they a person that I can run a change personal history pattern on? Maybe reimprinting? They look like parts integration person to me. Stuff like that. That was me in the beginning.
As I progressed in my experience I was constantly very outcome orientated. Meaning everything I did was for a specific purpose. Most of the time I was constantly looking to do something very specific when working with myself or a client. Am I changing a belief here? Am I trying to integrate some anchors? What am I attempting to do? That was my thinking.
Now, I’m progressing through much trial and error to exploration. Producing specific results is not something that drives me in my work anymore. Yes, can I and will I when working with someone produce a result, absolutely. And at the same time you can only do something the same way so many times without variation. The field of NLP and Hypnosis as robust as they might be and with as many different styles and personalities is only so big.
At some point in order to keep growing one’s skills they have to put themselves into a position where they are exploring phenomena and taking note of what occurs as they do. That’s where they are going to continue to build their skill. Playing with things like Amnesia and how many different ways can a person can use it. How many different ways does it manifest? What can you get people to forget and in what ways? How specifically can you get someone to forget one aspect of one thing? As well as how in general can you get them to forget something as well? And what type of mixes of in between can you create as well?
I’ve studied a lot of work of Milton Erickson the one thing that really impresses me about him. His collected papers those aren’t about his successes they are about his experiments and his explorations during his work. There were a lot of things that occurred in his work that he had no idea would occur however he did have some sort of idea that something would occur.
And ultimately I think that is where people are going to build their skill. Through exploration and experimentation. As much as people love to go to courses and purchase new CDs and DVDs and things of that nature your real growth in your skills will not be from those things. It will be from those times that you were messing around to see what you could do only to find out that you did something that you would never have thought of. I think we need more of that in general.
Milton Erickson and Linn Cooper in their book, ‘Time Distortion in Hypnosis’ conducted a series of experiments in order to explore the phenomena of expansion of one’s sense of time. They would induce a trance whereby they would then give the person they were working with suggestions that were designed to give them the experience having more time than they really did. They would then be assigned a task that they were to accomplish in a given hypnotic reality and told how long they would be given to accomplish the task. They would then be given a starting signal and an end signal by which they were to immediately cease taking anymore action in their assigned task at which time they would then report back to Erickson and Cooper as to their progress.
For example in one experiment subjects would be instructed that they were in a room sitting at a table and that there was a box of pennies in from of them. They were to begin to pull them out and put them one by one on the table and were to count the number of pennies as they put them on the table. They were TOLD that they were going to be given ten minutes to accomplish this task. In actuality they were given anywhere from 10 seconds – 1 second to accomplish the task through multiple trials. With each trial the subject would make it into the hundreds when it came to counting.
During some other tasks some subjects were given similar counting tasks in which they were TOLD that they would be allotted a certain amount of time and then in ACTUALITY they were given far less quite often as little as 3 seconds to accomplish what they were suppose to do. Quite often it was found that people could complete their task with as little as 3 second BUT when Erickson would cut their time even further people were unable to complete their task nearly as well as they had previously. The interesting thing to me was when Erickson brought them out of trance everyone of them had elaborate explanations for why they had not fared as well in the completion in this task as previously.
I think there is an interesting parallel between these rationalizations that would occur when people were in hypnotic trances and with clients. Whereas a client will come to a changeworker with very sound reasoning and logic and all sorts of explanations regarding their particular problem as subject in one of these hypnotic trances could explain what occurred in their situation in equally convincing terms. In both instances their explanations are equally real and in both instances they are equally fabricated.
Time is a prevalent aspect of any experience regardless of whether you’re looking into the future, focusing on your past, living in the now or even having a timeless experience. Many techniques in personal development center around making use of one’s personal history in order harvest resources that may be applied to the present moment and past that in the future.
There are varying time frames such as the past, present and the future. A pattern by Robert Dilts makes use of an existing resource state that is then taken into the future so that the person experiencing it can feel it grow with them into future to a designated age. That feeling as matured as it is then is brought back into the present and the process is repeated again and again until that resource state crosses a threshold and shift in a different and quite often interesting state that can then be apply to various areas on one’s life.
Milton Erickson along with Linn Cooper conducted many experiments regarding the use of time distortion in order to expand one’s sense of time. For example there was a gentleman that was working two jobs and going to school. One of the jobs was that he was a singer. Given that he worked so much he was unable to put in sufficient time in order to practice his singing. It had gotten so bad in fact that this individual’s boss told him at his first opportunity that he would have him replaced. Erickson had inferred that given the nature of the club’s atmosphere given that this individual would have to sing and then get a break, sing and then get a break that perhaps time distortion would be a suitable intervention for this individual.
What Erickson did was induce a trance state and to tell instruct the individual that from now on whenever he took a break between sets that he would be able to in the period of 10-30 seconds sit down and in his mind in his own special personal time be able to practice extensively all aspects related to his singing and it would feel like he had been practicing for an adequate period of time. He further elaborated that given the hallucinatory nature of his practicing and the brevity of it in real world time that his co-workers would only think that he was self absorbed in thought. From there Erickson gave this individual amnesia for the session and the nature of the work that they had done.
The client reported back to Erickson stating that he didn’t know what happened but that his performance singing had improved and that his boss said if he kept it up that his position would be assured. A few weeks later this same individual informed Erickson that his employer had given him a raise.
Change Personal History is a pattern in which some is taken to a experience that happen previously in their personal experience and they are then told to step out of it to an observer position and to make note of that experience and what personal experiences, resources that they now have that they could apply to that experience in order to bring it a more resourceful conclusion in their experience. As the resources at identified and anchored the person is then told to associate into the experience while the resource anchors are fire and the person is then instructed to mentally grow up with this new resources in place and to notice the changes that occur in their personal history as they go through their personal history with these changes in mind.
All these examples are examples of different ways that distorting one’s perception of time can affect a person’s life in a positive and resourceful way.