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Boston Sleepwalkers
Notes on Patterns One
Notes on Patterns One

Eriksonian Hypnosis

Notes on Notes: I deviate from the text to make this compressed presentation more clear, more organized, or to include examples from outside the text which more clearly express the principles of the text.

Consider two kinds of statements:

1) Pacing statements, to distract and utilize the dominant hemisphere

2) Leading statements, to work with the non-dominant hemisphere

Because the goal in hypnosis is to access the non-dominant hemisphere (unconscious), and because the extent to which you appeal to the NDH determines the power and effectiveness of your communication, I will present accessing strategies before pacing strategies.

This order is reversed from that found in Patterns I.

Leading the Non-Dominant Hemisphere

1. Flexibly meet the subject at his own understanding of the world. This enables you to appeal to and engage the subject's unconscious structures, defusing the unconscious filters meant to sort bullshit from truth.

2. Present tasks typically processed by the NDH.

specifically: The NDH usually processes these tasks: visualization; melody; child grammer; emotional; use of the contralateral side of the body.

contralateral: The left side in a right-handed person.

lateral: The right side in a right-handed person.

examples: singing partially-correct child songs; communicating in childlike grammer; inducing vivid visualization of memories or fantasies; communicating via touch with the left hand in a right-handed person.

Think of the NDH as a silent partner who is not always listening. In order to make it listen, you must communicate through its channels. Its channels are visual, melodic, emotional, simplified-grammatical, and contralateral.

So, when you communicate in terms that require specific, vivid visualizations, the subject will create those representations and his silent partner must pay attention to them. When you communicate in terms that convey strong emotion, the silent partner must awaken to process them.

The silent partner has concerns of its own. To the extent that your visual and emotional communication addresses those concerns, the NDH's filters will tune you in rather than tune you out.

3. Understand the subject's representational systems.

People with facility in making visual representations will easily reach their NDH that way: both because they can make compelling visual reps and because their unconscious knows how to respond to them.

People with facility in making strong kinesthetic or emotional representations will easily reach their NDH in that way, for similar reasons.

And people with facility in auditory representation will easily reach their NDH with auditory tasks.

Analogical marking is the use of shifts in voice tone to mark out words for the special attention of the silent partner. Usually the words analogically marked will have the simplified grammer of a command, visualization, or other instruction.

Do not confuse analogical marking, which is a technique to call unconscious attention to lesser included structures, with the technique of accessing the NDH by presenting it with auditory processing tasks, such as singing a nursery rhyme.

In general, when you convey the process desired for the subject's NDH in the subject's prefered representational system in a way related to their prefered symbolic vocabulary, you will have the strongest effect.

exception: The technique of bringing the subject into a state of awareness in which they have the fewest conscious resources, as a means of driving them into trance, inverts this strategy. The hypnotist begins by placing the subject in a familiar situation with a familiar modality, and progressively mapping over into increasingly less familiar modalities.

Utilizing the Dominant Hemisphere

1. Flexibly use the subject's own conscious understanding of the world as a basis on which to found your communication.

2. Comment on the subject's behavior. Do this in two ways:

2a. Comment on their external behavior. Thus the subject can verify the truth of your comments and accept your communication as relevant to his ongoing experience.

2b. Comment on their internal behavior. Thus the subject cannot verify or refute the truth of your comments. Generally, the comment ought to lead the subject into fulfilling it: "You are now aware of the sensations around your eyes." "I know you're wondering what I'm going to say next." etc.

This is the pace and lead strategy. Begin by pacing external behavior. Your goal is to establish a feedback loop in which your communication gives them a clear and reliable signal reflecting their behavior. As this feedback loop strengthens, begin to make comments on their internal behavior and lead them into trance.

3. Specific language techniques:

3a. causual language patterns - A causes B
One way of managing deletion, distortion, and generalization.

conjunction: A and B; A but B; A but not B
"You are listening to the sound of my voice and you are relaxing more and more." [note: this is also a pace and lead: it begins making a comment about their external behavior and moves into a comment about their internal behavior.]

implied causatives: as, while, during, before, after
"You will go deeper ino trance while you sit all the way down into the chair."

cause-effect: cause, make, require
"Sitting all the way in that chair will make you go into trance."

modifiers: negation and possibility
Use modifiers of possibility ("can") and negation ("not"):

"You can't prevent yourself from relaxing completely as you go down into trance."

Figure out the behavior into which you want to lead the subject; call this Y.
2. Find some behavior the client is doing or experience he is undergoing; call this X.
3. Say something to the effect:

X causes Y

3b. mind-reading

You can use mind-reading statements, explicitly or implicitly, to make comments about a subject's internal experiences:

"You are getting very sleepy and want to rest..."
"I know you are feeling tired and want to rest..."

Find some internal experience consistent with the signals of the subject.
2. Tell the subject you know he is having that experience.
3c. trans-derivational processes

Grinder and Bandler distinguish between surface structures and deep structures.

deep structure: the internal, abstract mental representation of a state of affairs, in which all of the processes, elements and agents are completely specified.

surface structure: the external, linguistic representation of a state of affairs, which often omits or distorts processes, elements or agents.

critical note: This terminology is taken from Noam Chomsky's transformational theory of grammer. It has almost no relevance to Chomsky's use of the terms. [see end note 1]

A deep structure comprises a full linguistic representation of a state of affairs. Through the usually-unconscious transformational processes of deletion, distortion and generalization, a person generates the surface structure.

The surface structure: "Mary hurt me."

Might have as a fuller expression: "Mary walked into the room. I said hello to her. She walked out without saying anything."

trans-derivational process: a process by which a client, confronted with the hypnotist's under-specified surface structure, generates a series of surface structures in his attempt to understand (ie, to generate a satisfactory deep structure).

In a cognitive-therapeutic context such as that proposed by the meta-model and sleight of mouth techniques, we learn to move to more fully-specified surface structures and challenge the subject's impoverishing deletions, distortions, and generalizations.

However, in a hypnotic context, we learn to use vaguely specified surface structures to make statements the subject interprets as relevant to his ongoing experience:

"You will find yourself focusing on doing the right thing, which is why you came here. It's what you wanted."

Note that the subject can apply this statement to himself and find it to be true without the hypnotist knowing what the right thing is, why the subject came for hypnosis, or what the subject wants.

The rule of interpretation states that, when presented with a surface structure, the subject will interpret it to refer as relevantly as possible to his primary concerns and ongoing experience. You may have noticed people with strong opinions about social issues freak out in response to seemingly innocent statements; their unconscious minds are applying the rule of interpretation.

You will use the rule of interpretation by:
a. specifying outcomes;
b. leaving processes vague


"As you imagine some wonderful, relaxing experience... A situation that sets your mind at ease... where you can unwind and feel your heart open to the beauty of being alive... You can begin to see that clearly and vividly; to hear those sounds; and to feel these specific sensations of this wonderful experience..."

Here, you have repeatedly activated at the outcomes: wonderful, relaxing, sets your mind at ease; unwind; heart open to the beauty of being alive -- while at the same time you have left the content unspecified: something to occupy the subject's trans-derivational processes -- and you have elicited processes which you have left vague: imagine; unwind; feel your heart open; see clearly and vividly; hear those sounds; feel these specific sensations

Specific trans-derivational language techniques follow.

generalized referential index

certain sensations in your body will intensify
become aware of that specific memory
a woman went into a trance

Figure out the message you want to send to the subject's unconscious.
2. Make a sentence communicating that message directly.
3. Replace every noun refering directly to the subject and his situation with a noun that does not.
generalized referential index with suggested noun phrase
People can be comfortable while reading this, Joe.
cookbook: (use 1-3 above)
4. Insert a noun you want the subject to understand the situation above to refer to.
deletion (grammatical or ungrammatical)
A purchase was made.
[who bought what from who, for how much?]
I bought it from, yesterday morning.
Work out a sentence which you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Make a sentence communicating it directly
3a. Delete as many nouns as you can get away with grammatically; or
3b. Delete as many nouns as you like.
Nominalizations are processes or actions which we speak of as nouns, linguistically treating them as if they were things or events.
The satisfaction can be felt.
The relaxation of knowing in full security.
Find a behavior you want to pace or lead the subject into.
2. Work out a sentence expressing it.
3. Delete all the nouns and change the predicate into noun form.
selectional restriction
A tomato plant can learn to feel better.
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Make a sentence that expresses the message directly.
3. Replace any references to the subject and his situation with nouns which violate the selectional restrictions on the predicate.
4. (optional suggested noun phrase) Insert a noun which you want the subject to understand the message in reference to.
phonological ambiguity
Used in combination with lesser included structures.
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. List the words in the message
3. Auditorially check the listed words for ambiguity.
4. Use the ambiguous words in a lesser included structure (see below). Mark the words with analogical marking.
syntactic ambiguity
Hypnotists are relaxing people.
This subject can be relaxing.
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Put the message into one of these forms:
a) ... verb + ing + noun ...
Hypnotising hypnotists can be tricky.
b) nominalization of noun
...the understanding of the teacher...
tip: syntactic ambiguity works best when the overall context does not favor one interpretation over another.
scope ambiguity
I saw your brother yesterday walking down the street.
Speaking to you as a child...
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Find a descriptor which could apply equally well to more than one thing.
3. Add the descriptor on to the end of the statement.
punctuation ambiguity
If I look at my watch my eyes...
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Check each word to find one which is phonologically amiguous.
3. Make two sentences: the first which has the ambiguous word last in it; the second which has the word first in it.
4. Run the two sentences together, saying the word only once.
3d. lesser included structures
embedded question
I wonder whether you understand embedded questions?
Work out what message you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Make a question that will lead the subject to the message.
3. Embed the question in a format of this kind:
I wonder whether...
I ask myself if...
I am curious as to...
embedded commands
People can be comfortable while reading this, Joe.
Work out what command you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Make a sentence that expresses the command directly.
3. Fit the sentence into a surface structure which will disguise its nature as a command.
A fellow came up to me on the street and said, "Have you heard about the quotes pattern?
Work out what command you want the subject to understand unconsciously.
2. Have a person in your story say that command emphatically.
analog marking
Using any lesser included structure technique:
With the words of the target message scattered in proper order throughout the spoken message:
2. Mark the target words as you speak them, by shifting your voice tone, shifting your body, your tempo, touching the subject, etc.
3e. derived meanings

presuppositions & conversational postulates
We say a statement presupposes something when the statement implies it and the negation of the statement also implies it. For example:

He noticed the woman clutching her purse.
He didn't notice the woman clutching her purse.

-- both imply some woman was clutching her purse; so this is the presupposition of either statement.

The question:

Did you notice the woman clutching her purse?

-- also implies the same thing. In a question, Bandler and Grinder prefer to call it a conversational postulate. The NLP community generally calls either a presupposition.

1. simple presuppositions
Forms which presuppose something's or someone's existence.
1a. proper names
Bob Jones walked past.
> Someone named Bob Jones exists.
1b. pronouns
I saw her yesterday.
> Someone female exists.
1c. definite descriptions
Did you see the woman with the hat?
> A woman with a hat exists.
1d. generic noun phrase
The five foot tall policeman walked past.
> A five foot tall policeman exists.
1e. certain quantifiers [all, each, every, some, many, few, none, &c]
None of the football players are here.
> There are football players.
2. complete presuppositions
Forms which presuppose an event (ie, an entire deep structure).
2a. relative clause [a noun followed by who, which, or that]
The person who bought the car stopped by.
> A person bought the car.
2b. subordinate clauses of time [clauses with when, before, during, after, as, prior, when, while, &c.]
The baker pretended not to notice when I made a strange face.
> I made a strange face.
2c. cleft sentences [begin with It {was; is} (noun phrase)]
It was something else entirely that made me laugh.
> Something made me laugh.
2d. pseudo-cleft sentences [What {sentence} {was; is] {sentence}]
What he really wanted was to travel the country.
> He really wanted to do something.
2e. stressed sentences [voice stress]
If MADELINE opened the letter, we'd better start packing.
> Someone opened the letter.
2f. complex adjectives [new, old, former, present, previous]
I don't know if she'll be driving her new car.
> She has, or had, an old car.
2g. ordinal numerals [first, second, third ... etc.]
He'll never find the second ring
> He has found the first ring.
2h. comparatives [-er, more, less]
Jean is a better cook than Jody.
> Jody is a cook.
2i. comparative as [... as X as ...]
Are you as stupid as you look?
> You look stupid.
2j. repetitive cue words [too, also, either, again, back, etc.]
Tell Bob not to upset the dog again.
> Bob has upset the dog before.
2k. repetitive verbs and averbs [re-; return, replace, renew, etc.]
I doubt that Nancy will return.
> Nancy was here.
2l. qualifiers [only, even, except, just, etc.]
Only Franz heard the voice.
> Franz heard the voice.
2m. change of place verbs [come, go, leave, arrive, depart, enter, etc.]
Betty left without saying goodbye.
> Betty was here.
2n. change of time verbs and adverbs [begin, end, stop, start, continue, proceed, already, yet, still, anymore]

End Notes
1. Chomsky believed that a deep structure was a linguistic, grammatical mental structure the rules governing which determined how to transform one surface structure (utterance) into another, equivalent surface structure. He found evidence for this in brief pauses where his theory suggested phrases had been removed from a surface structure. A Chomskyan deep structure did not involve specific content regarding states of affairs. He later abandoned the deep structure-surface structure terminology because of misunderstandings of the sort displayed by Grinder and Bandler. The rest of this summary will take Grinder and Bandler's deep structure-surface structure terminology at face value.

copyright 2005