Vol. 41 – October 16, 2005

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns

Reverse Meta Model
In NLP the “meta model” is Bandler and Grinder’s name for the wellformedness conditions of the surface structure of the English language*. (*See their book “The Structure of Magic.”) In Hypnosis we sometimes chose to deliberately violate these wellformedness conditions (“reversing the meta model”) in order to be purposefully and artfully vague.

Pattern 41. Presuppositions
All sentences require certain things to be presupposed. As an example, the sentence, “The bird landed on the post,” presupposes many things, but clearly it presupposes the existence of a bird and that of a post. It also presupposes that the bird was flying in order for it to land, although there may be other circumstances wherein that could happen.

In Hypnosis, you can use presuppositions to create responsiveness. In the examples below, in order to make sense of the communication, the client must accept the Hypnotist’s presupposition of the existence of trance.”


“As you listen to the sound of my voice you can float down even more deeply into trance.””And when your hands finally do touch, you may find that you automatically take a deep breath before you drift all the way down into a very deep trance.”

There is a famous example from the Ericksonian literature I’ll paraphrase here.

A man came in to see Erickson to quit smoking. Erickson looked at him and said, “How surprised will you be when you wake up tomorrow as a non-smoker?” When the man answered, “I’ll be very surprised!” Erickson dismissed him, knowing the therapy was complete. The man, in fact, did successfully quit smoking the next day. How did Erickson know? Because the man didn’t question the presupposition in Erickson’s question. His answer was not “I don’t think that will happen,” his answer was, “I’ll be very surprised (when it does).”

NOTE: The subject of presuppositions is a huge one. For more information and insight, see the article by Robert Dilts on the “Articles” section of this web site.

See you next week.

Have fun!