Erickson's Stories
"Walking Around the Resistance"
In this next tale Erickson demonstrates a very effective way of dealing with resistance to hypnosis.

The first time I practiced hypnosis in Phoenix, a doctor called me up and demanded an appointment. The tone of his voice warned me, "This is trouble. He's demanding that I put him in a trance." I gave him an appointment for the next day. He came into the office and said, "Now hypnotize me."

So I failed, by using a great number of techniques in ways to insure that they wouldn't work. Then I said, "Excuse me for a moment" and went out into the kitchen, where I had an Arizona State University coed working. And I said, "Use, I've got a very antagonistic, resistant patient in my office. I'm going to put you into a trance, a somnambulistic trance."

I returned to the office with Use, lifting her arm to demon­strate catalepsy. Then I said, "Use, go over there next to the man. I want you to stand like that until you put him into a trance. I'll come back in fifteen minutes."

He had already directed resistance toward me. How can you resist an already hypnotized person, who proceeds to hypnotize you?

And when I returned, he was in a deep trance.

You walk around resistance. You evoke all the resistance you 
can in that chair and have her sit in this chair. She leaves her resistance there and she has none when she reaches this chair.

When Erickson talks about "directing resistance," he is applying the same principle he uses when he "directs" or "places" a symptom into a particular geographical position. For example, he will have a patient experience all the power of his airplane phobia in one chair. He will then direct the patient to "really experience the phobia in that chair" and then to "leave it in that chair." The implication is that he will not experience it anywhere else— only in that chair.

The doctor in this story had directed his resistance to hypnosis toward Erickson. Therefore he was not resistant toward others— certainly not toward a person who was obviously in a cataleptic trance herself.

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