Opening the Mind

Volume 3: Collected Works of Milton H. Erickson, MD

Ernest L. Rossi, PhD, Roxanna Erickson-Klein, PhD and Kathryn Rossi, PhD, Editors

This book is available through or The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Press.

When Erickson began publishing his studies in the early 1930s, hypnosis was in a curious position: most investigators agreed that hypnosis had played a central role in the early studies of psychopathology and our first efforts at psychotherapy, but the authoritative approaches associated with hypnosis were supplanted on the one hand by the seemingly more sophisticated approaches of the psychoanalytic schools, and on the other hand by experimental psychology.

The situation might have continued in just this manner, with hypnosis regarded as nothing more significant than a colorful curiosity in our therapeutic history. Into this situation, however, came the accident that was Milton H. Erickson. He was an accident of nature born with a number of congenial sensory-perceptual problems that led him to experience the world in ways so different. His acute mind could survive only by realizing at a very early age the relativity of our human frames of reference. To these early problems was added the rare medical tragedy of being stricken by two different strains of polio at the ages of 17 and 51. His effort to rehabilitate himself led to a personal rediscovery of many classical hypnotic phenomenon and how they could be utilized therapeutically.

Erickson’s experimental and therapeutic explorations with hypnotic modalities spanned more than 50 years. His successful rejuvenation of the entire field may be attributed to his development of the non-authoritarian approaches to suggestion wherein subjects learn how to experience hypnotic phenomena and how to utilize their own potentials to solve problems in their own way. The contents of these volumes can be best understood as working papers on a journey of discovery. There is little that is fixed, final, or permanently validated about them. Most of these papers are heuristics that can stimulate the mind to evoke the awe of discovery, which is unlimited in the realm of human consciousness.