Vol. 13 – April 4, 2005

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns

Pattern 14. Analogies —
Milton Erickson was famous for his use of stories as a therapeutic intervention. He would sometimes tell quite long rambling stories and sometimes confusing stories. There is much to be learned from his stories and much to be learned about his method of using stories. Wonderful books and articles about this subject have been written. For the most part, the language patterns we’ve been looking at in these pages were used to enhance how the stories were being delivered.

For our purposes right now, however, we’re just going to focus on his use of seemingly offhand, everyday, brief analogies he would use to illustrate his points. Although highly educated, rarely did he speak in medical jargon or technical descriptions. He very much preferred the more colorful and interesting analogy.

“You think you cannot control pain, but every dentist can tell you how easily patients lose their toothaches on the way to the dental office.”

When asked about techniques for weight loss, Erickson replied, “How do you climb Squaw Peak? One step at a time.”

And you, dear reader, are probably wondering how you can become more expert in the use of language patterns in general and analogies in particular. It’s like what the New York cop said when asked how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

“Practice, practice, practice.”

Have fun. See you next week.