Bangkok Hypnosis

SIN BY MILTON ERICKSON

Posted by Sun on July 31, 2011

A young woman came to see me. She was brought up to believe that theaters arc places where young girls are seduced and places of sin. She would not go into a drugstore, because they sold tobacco there and the Lord might strike her to the ground if she was in a place that dispensed tobacco. And she wouldn’t drink wine or cider or any alcoholic beverage, because, if she did, God would strike her dead.

God would strike her dead if she went to the theater; he’d strike her dead if she smoked a cigarette. I inquired about her employment. She worked for a doctor who belonged to her church. He paid her $100 a month. The average salary at that time was $270 a month. She had worked for him for ten years arid she was still getting just $100 a month. And her typewriting speed was no higher than twenty-five words a minute. She lived at home with her parents, who guarded their daughter very carefully—against sin. It took her an hour to get to work, eight hours of work, sometimes overtime without pay. It took her another hour to get home. And she worked six days a week.

She went to church on Sunday—all day long. It was a very rigid and limited family. When the girl left my office after the first interview, my wife, who seldom comments on patients, said, “Who was that thing that the cat dragged in?” I said, “Just a patient of mine.”

So I talked to the girl and I persuaded her that life is full of pitfalls and death comes to all and if it was God’s plan for her to die at a certain time, I was certain that she would not die of smoking cigarettes, unless God was ready to receive her. I got her to smoke a cigarette. She coughed a lot and God did not strike her dead! He really didn’t! That surprised her. Then I suggested that she go to the theater.

It took a couple of weeks to build up her courage. She told me, very earnestly, “God will strike me dead if  I go to a house of sin.” I told her that if God did not strike her dead it would be because it was not her time to die and that I had great doubts about it being her time to die. Would she please come and tell what movie she had seen? She returned after seeing The Lady and the Tramp. I didn’t pick out that movie. She said, “The church must be wrong. There wasn’t a thing bad in that movie. There weren’t any corrupting men despoiling young girls. I think the movie was entertaining.” I said, “I think the church has given you a false idea about movies. I don’t think the church did it intentionally. I think the church did it out of ignorance.”

And she found other movies interesting—especially musicals. Then one day I told her, “I think you’ve improved enough to take a drink of whiskey.” She said, “God will surely strike me dead.” I said, “I have doubts about it. He didn’t strike you dead when you went to the theater or when you smoked a cigarette. Let’s see if he strikes you dead if you take a drink of whiskey.” She took a drink of whiskey and waited and waited and God didn’t strike her dead. Then she said, “I think I’ve got to make some changes in my life. I think I had better move out of my parents’ home and get an apartment of my own.”

I said, “And you need to get a better job. You need to learn how to type. And move into an apartment of your own. You can’t afford it, so feel free to ask your parents to pay for the apartment. And do your own cooking and rent a typewriter. As soon as you awaken in the morning you rush to the typewriter, the very first thing, and type, ‘This is a beautiful day in June.’ Then you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and type another brief sentence, typing full speed for each sentence. Make each sentence very short. Then start dressing. Halfway through dressing, type another sentence. When you finish dressing, type another short sentence. Start getting your breakfast ready and type another short sentence. Sit down to eat, and halfway through breakfast get up and type a short sentence—always typing at top speed. You can do that interrupted practice, always at full speed, and you will learn to type at a much more rapid rate.”

In three months time she was up to a speed of eighty words a minute, As for her cooking, she said, “I thought I’d make some rice and I figured I could heat a cup of rice, I put it in a pan with water. Then I had to get another pan because the cup of rice filled that big pan. And 1 had to get a couple of other pans. I didn’t know rice swelled like that.” 1 said, “There’s a lot of things to learn about cooking.” I had her bake some beans. She measured that cup of beans very  carefully and they swelled into an enormous quantity. She eventually became a good cook and she resigned from her church and told her parents, ‘Til come to visit you now and then. I’ve got a good job now. It’s $270 a month and I only have to walk eight blocks to get to my job.” Then she came to me and about that time Mrs. Erickson said to me, “Milton, do you specialize in beautiful blonds?” I said, “The cat dragged in that last one.”

Because that girl turned out to be very pretty. She took music lessons and enjoyed her work, Then she came to me after some months and said, “Dr. Erickson, I want to get drunk and I want to know how to do it.” I said, “The best way of getting drunk is to give me a promise that you will not use the telephone, that you will lock your door and not unlock it, and that you will remain in your apartment. Get a bottle of wine and enjoy drinking it, sip by sip, until you have got the entire bottle drunk.” She came to me within the next few days and said, “I’m glad you made me promise not to use the phone, because I wanted to call up all my friends and invite them to conic over and get drunk with me. And that would have been terrible. And I wanted to go out into the street and sing.

And I promised you that I would lock the door and wouldn’t unlock it. I’m so glad you made me promise. You know, getting drunk was fun, but I had a bad headache the next morning. I don’t think I want to get drunk again.” I said, “For the joy of getting drunk you have to pay a bill, and that is a headache—a hangover. And you are at liberty to have as many hangovers as you want.” She said, “I don’t want any more hangovers.” She later got married.

Now I’ve lost track of her. I think it’s very important to take the patient seriously and meet his wishes. Not to exercise cold, hard judgment. And recognize that people need to learn things, that you really aren’t competent to teach them all the things they need. That they can learn a lot on their own. And that she certainly did. And they are usually marvelously polite in a trance.

by Milton Erickson

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