The Wisdom of Milton Erikson – American Journal of Psychotherapy – Book Review



The Wisdom of Milton H. Erickson: The Complete Volume

American Journal of Psychotherapy

By Leigh, Hoyle
Academic journal article from 
American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 59, No. 2

Article details

Beginning of article

RONALD A. HAVENS, PH.D.: The Wisdom of Milton H. Erickson: The Complete Volume. Crown House Publishing, Ltd.: Norwalk, CT, 2004, 410 pp., $34.95, ISBN 1904424171

“Milton Erickson was probably the most creative, dynamic, and effective hypnotherapist the world has ever seen . . .he hypnotized a nurse in front of a large audience using only pantomime gestures, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that this Spanish-speaking nurse had no idea . . . she was to be a subject in a demonstration . . .”

So begins the introduction to this book, which is a curious volume consisting of the author’s description of Erickson’s ideas and short quotes from Erickson’s writings. The book begins with An Introduction to Milton H. Erickson, M.D., which I find to be most interesting and illuminating. Erickson was born colorblind, “arrhythmic” (I believe the author means lacking a sense of rhythm), tone deaf, and dyslexic. Some of these disabilities may have contributed to Erickson’s intense interest in meanings and implications of words. Erickson also suffered from a series of physical ailments including two bouts of polio beginning at age 17. The author contends that the physical incapacities, including partial paralysis, made Erickson acutely observant of other people, and their verbal and nonverbal language. He studied hypnosis under Clark Hull at the University of Wisconsin. Later, Erickson broke from Hull’s experimentalist/learning theorist point of view to develop his own, individualized view of hypnosis. Erickson eventually received his MD degree from the University of Wisconsin, worked in the research services at Worcester State Hospital, MA; Eloise Hospital, MI; and at Wayne State University. In 1948, he moved to Phoenix, AZ, where he practiced hypnosis until his death in 1980. In his later years, he suffered from intense chronic pain for which he used autohypnosis. Erickson was the founder of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, which was founded in opposition to the more experimental/ scientific orientation of the older, more established, American Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

This book consists of three parts-Human Behavior, Psychotherapy, and Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy. Each part contains several chapters, each of which begins with an introductory section written by Havens, followed by verbatim quotations from various writings of or about Erickson. …


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