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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

Welcome to Trance: The Nonordinary State


Milton Erickson was the father of “medical hypnosis” and he brought hypnosis back to be a reputable modality for treating people with many different kinds of problems.  Erickson was born on the same day as Walt Disney on December 5. 1901.  Also fittingly, quantum physicist, Werner Heisenberg, of the uncertainty principle fame, was born on that same day, too. Erickson  pioneered a method of hypnosis based on utilizing whatever was presented by the client to aid in the transformation and trance-formation process, this is known as utilization.


Hypnosis is a state of consciousness where a person is receptive to ideas, a state of focused attention, similar to reverie, where one’s attention is directed inward, and from which new and different realities are allowed to develop.  In states of hypnosis, one is susceptible to ideas and accepting them, but suggestions need to be presented in an appropriate manner and need to be meaningful and useful to the individual.   Erickson found that when people are in a deep trance, their minds becomes childlike and literal.  Trance is a common experience; it is merely a state of one-pointed attention where other stimuli are not attended to.  Anyone who has been engrossed in a book or television show and has not heard another person speaking to them has experienced trance.  Once attention is turned inward, internal realities are created by vivification, giving liveliness or vividness to them. 


Trance is used in Mary Poppins in the “Feed the Birds” scene.  First Mary focuses the children’s attention on the snowglobe and swirls it around, and the birds circle the cathedral.  As she does this Mary talks to the children in such a way that they need to go inside, or focus internally, in order to make mental pictures of what she is saying.  Mary’s tone of voice is also conducive to trance.  She gets them to focus their attention on the snow globe and to make sense of what she is saying they construct the scene in their minds. 


Erickson’s work was based on carefully observing others, and he often used confusion and indirect suggestion to help clients form trances so that they would be more easily able to transform.  Erickson achieved such amazing results because he met his client or patient in their model of the world. 

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