11 May 2010

Erickson, Huxley, Bandler, Grinder

Today I read an incredible account of clinical hypnosis in Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. To be more precise, I re-read it as I had read it once before several years ago. For some reason it did not make the impression upon me then that it did today. The account is 57 pages long at the end of part one. It is mostly verbatim presentation of Erickson's report on his day long hypnosis session with Aldous Huxley. Huxley was eminent, eminently brilliant, and eminently hypnotically susceptible. When I read it before, I underlined all the parts that jumped out. Today something jumped out which I did not underline before.

Huxley had his own introspective meditative technique which he called Deep Reflection. The thing that jumped out is in the middle of the 57 pages Huxley makes an offhand comment that hypnosis is not like Deep Reflection. I find this odd and suspect it may even be wrong. It is inconsistent with my own view which may be a course approximation but I have arrived at this view after years of investigation.

As near as I can tell:

hypnosis = meditation = profound devotion = trance

I have studied the various methods of Zen Buddhism, Ericksonian hypnosis, Gestalt trance, Gurdjieff self-remembering, Jung active imagination, the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Golden Dawn ceremonial magic, and others I have forgotten. I have been hypnotized watching Shakira shake her ass on a big screen video. To me the physical sensations associated with these various methods are all the same, which is the basis on which I make the above equation.

Huxley says no. He is dead now and there is probably no way to exhume much detail about his thought procedure here from the archives, but I do have an idea what might be going on. I think the difference was simply depth of trance. When he was in a room by himself he could attain a deeper trance state than he could with Erickson there in the room with him; this is hard to argue because the trance states described by Erickson are profoundly deep. I think there is a limit to how far you can go with a present hypnotist you do not utterly trust. I have known some very skilled hypnotists, but I have never allowed them to put me into anywhere near as deep a trance as I will go in my own living room by myself.

There was a positron emission tomography scan study done a few years ago on some experienced Tibetan Buddhist monk meditators and they found a hot spot in their left parietal lobe correlating with deep trance. It appears to me that the current scientific facts are that the best physical explanation of the trance state is it is a hot spot in the mind which is activated. And the same hot spot is activated by different methods and different trance depths or different method's results are simply an indication of the level of activation.

In addition to the Erickson Huxley material every thing in this book is first rate. I have an acquaintance who is a psychiatrist and neurologist. I asked him about hypnosis one time. He replied to me "I do not know anything about hypnosis." Sad, that. I really want to go to the Erickson Institute in Phoenix and take their one-week course one of these years.

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.