A TRIBUTE TO
DR. MILTON ERICKSON (1901-1980)
OBITUARY ELIZABETH MOORE ERICKSON (1915-2008)
TRIBUTE TO DR. MILTON ERICKSON: 1901-1980
NOTES FROM HEALING IN HYPNOSIS:
MILTON ERICKSON ON FREUD AND FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS
A TRIBUTE TO ELIZABETH MOORE ERICKSON: COLLEAGUE EXTRAORDINAIRE: 1915-2008
TRIBUTE TO DR. MILTON ERICKSON
Milton Erickson (1901-1980) played a great part in the widening acceptance of hypnosis in the second half of this century. At the age of 17, Erickson had polio. Though he was expected to die, he make it through the crisis stage but was paralyzed. He could move his eyes. In addition to the problems caused by polio, he was tone deaf, color blind (but could distinguish purple which was his favorite color), and experienced dyslexia. After the threat to his life was past, he would be tied to a chair with the bottom removed and a pot underneath so he could urinate and have bowel movements without messing in his clothes.
One day the family forgot about him and he was by himself for a long period of time. He looked at the window, wishing that he could see out. As he stared at the window, the chair began to slowly rock. How this be? Could it be that his muscles could move just by wishing? Without realizing it Milton had experienced ideomotor response. [Ernest Rossi A New Theory of Hypnotherapy, from the Internet
After that he begin to image how his muscles felt like when he used to move his finger, hands arms, legs and so forth. In time, his muscles began to work again. Later he became interested in medicine and became a physician and a psychiatrist. He went on to become perhaps the most famous hypnotherapist of the twenty century. He saw that there were many way to induce the hypnotic state with both direct and indirect statement and a wide variety of each.
Later in life, Erickson had another bout with polio and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. A story concerning Erickson which I do not for sure is true or false; reality or a myth. Regardless of whether true or not it is a good story. One day Erickson was exhausted so he told his secretary that as he was very tired, he would be in his office resting but to tell anyone who called that he was out. The secretary said, "Ok." The next day Erickson came into his secretary's office, put her into a state of hypnosis and said, "I'm tired. I am going to my office, but if anyone calls tell them I am not here." To which his secretary said, "I'm sorry Dr Erickson, I can not do that. "Why" Erickson asked. She replied, "Because it would be a lie. " A request which she knew was not true could be rationalized and followed in the conscious state, but not in the subconscious state.
In the years since Erickson, the acceptance of hypnosis has made great gains. It is now being accepted more and more by the general public. Many hospitals now have hypnotherapist working on the hospital staff. At least one, Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in New Orleans, La has a Department of Clinical Hypnotherapy" The director of that department is the author of this article, Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D.
Notes from HEALING IN HYPNOSIS:
(By Milton Erickson as Edited by Ernest L Rossi, Margaret O. Ryan, and Florence A. Sharp. (1983) Irvington Publisher, Inc. NY):
Erickson's Early Life: Since Erickson was born and raised in pioneering and rural farming country, there were few medical or educational facilities. "Schooling" was simple and basic, which may be whey not one (apparently) noticed that the young Milton was experiencing the world in his own unique manner. Many of Erickson's earliest memories dealt with the way his perceptions differed from others' due to several constitutional problems: for one, he was color-blind*; for another, he was tone deaf and could neither recognize nor execute the typical rhythms of music and song; and still another, he was dyslexic - problem which was indeed perplexing to his childhood mind and which he only recognized and understood by hindsight many, many years later. *(There is common myth that Erickson could see only the color purple as a result of a rare type of color blindness. According to Betty Erickson, this was not true. Milton had a common type of red-green blindness called "dichromatopsia." Purple became his favorite color, but he probably perceived it as a kind of darkened blue. Betty suggest that he chose purple early on because at that time it was rarely used for garments - and Milton thoroughly enjoyed being different. Eventually purple became his own personal trademark.)
The misunderstandings, inconsistencies and confusions that arose because of these deviations from the common, everyday world view might have inhibited another person's mental functioning. In the young Milton, however, these differences apparently had the opposite effect: they stimulated wonderment and curiosity. more importantly, they led to secession of unusual experiences which formed he foundation for a lifetime of research into the relativity of human perception and the problems that arose because of it; and into therapeutic approaches dealing with those problems. (p. 5)
One day, when he was in his early seventies, Erickson recounted and discussed some of these experience with me and fellows: As a six-year-old child Erickson was apparently handicapped with dyslexia. Try as she might, his teacher could not convince him that a "3" and an "m" were not the same. One day the teacher wrote a 3 and then an m by guiding his hand with her own. Still Erickson could not recognize the difference. Suddenly he experienced a spontaneous visual hallucination in which he saw the difference in a blinding flash of light. (p.5-6)
Erickson: "Can you imagine how bewildering it is? Then one day, it's so amazing, there was a sudden burst of atomic light. I saw the m and I saw the 3. The m was standing on its legs and the 3 was on its side with the leges sticking out. The blinding flash of light! It was so bright! It cast into oblivion every other thing. There was a blinding flash of light and in the center of that terrible outburst of light was the 3 and the m." (p. 6)
Depth of trance: "You want to go into trance; you want to achieve certain results. You don't know whether it's a light trance, a deep trance, or a medium trance that you want , and neither do I. I think you and I ought to let your unconscious mind us whatever amount of light trance, whatever amount of medium trance, and whatever about of deep trance that your unconscious naturally feels will be most helpful." (p. 133)
The Permissive Technique: Now I would like to discuss the matter of producing results.
When you want to ask your patient to do something. I think it is a very serious error not to ask him first to cooperate with you - unless, of course, you have a specific reason for not doing so. I like to use a permissive technique. In certain cases, however, you may need to use the authoritative technique: "I want you to move your finger." When a patient rouse from trance in the middle of his operation the anesthesiologist can say very sweetly but very emphatically: "Now, that you have awakened and you notice that everything is fine, you might as well go right back to sleep." And the anesthesiologist ought to mean that and to say it in a sufficiently authoritative fashion so that the patient responds. But to elicit the cooperation of the patient one ought to be permissive for best results. One really ought to ask the patient to cooperate in achieving a common goal. You should keep in mind the common goal is a goal for the welfare of the patient wherein the patient is cooperating with you to achieve something that primarily is of benefit to him. (p.165-166)
PSYCHOSOMATIC MEDICINE: Hypnosis has long been recognized by people, but its history in terms of scientific recognition has been rather short. That is because hypnosis has been regarded as a matter of mysticism, cultism, superstition. (but hypnosis is really a matter of mental mechanisms,) and why shouldn't science be interested in the function of those mechanisms: The brain cells do control the body in a great variety of ways - neurologically, physiologically, and psychologically as well.
Hypnosis really got its start in modern medicine in the second decade of this century when people became interested in that peculiar concept called "psychosomatic medicine." Frances Durbar was very much criticized and ostracized when she first began her studies on psychosomatic medicine, because who on earth was going to believe that business worries or marital worries, or any kind of worries in the head could result in ulcers of the stomach!
Yet, the general public adopted that notion, understanding that worries, be they real or imaginary, could produce a great many physical complaints and physiological alterations. And because that general public go behind the notion of psychosomatic medicine, the physicians who were so dubious about it were literally forced to consider and investigate it. With this recognition of the importance of brain/mind functioning on the rest of the body and the subsequent development of psychosomatic medicine, provision was made at last for the induction of hypnosis as an adjunctive technique in the practice of medicine. (p 181)
PSYCHOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK OF PAIN: To understand pain still further you must realize that it is a neuro-, psycho-, physiological compels characterized by various understandings of tremendous significance to the sufferer. It is precisely for this reason that pain as an experience is amenable to hypnotic treatment. Because pain varies in nature and intensity, it acquires many and varying secondary meanings to the individual in the course of a lifetime, and this in turn, results in widely varying interpretations of it. Thus the patient may regard his pain in temporal terms - experiencing it as transient, recurrent, persistent, acute, chronic; or he may regard it in emotional terms - finding it irritating, troublesome, all-compelling, incapacitating, distressing, depressing, intractable, vitally dangerous; or he may regard it in terms of sensation - experiencing it as dull, heavy, draggy, sharp, cutting, twisting, burning, nagging, stabbing, lancinating, biting, cold, hot, hard, grinding, throbbing, gnawing, and a wealth of other adjectival terms. (p. 221) It is awfully important to have your patient describe his pain in his own words, and to have him describe it fully. (p. 221-222)
TRANCE DEEPENING AS FUNCTION OF PATIENT NEED: Regarding this matter of deepening hypnosis, I have found that often too much effort is put into deepening a hypnotic trance. My feeling is that patients should go no deeper into trance than they need to go. Therefore, I tell my patients the following: "Now, some patients need to go very deeply into hypnosis and some patients can accomplish everything they need to accomplish while they are a very light stage of hypnosis. Neither you nor I know what degree of hypnosis is requisite for you, but I think you are willing to develop that degree of hypnosis that is requisite for you to give your full attention to the therapeutic accomplishments that you need. I think that you are willing to develop that degree of hypnosis that is requisite for you to accomplish the therapeutic achievements that you desire." (p. 248)
I state it in such a way that patients are free to be in a light, a medium trance, or a deep trance. I have not made an issue out of going deeper; I have not made an issue out of staying in a light trance; I have not made an issue out of staying in a medium trance. I have simply made an issue out of going as deeply as they need to go. Why should patients go any deeper than they need to go? If you are afraid of deep water, why not swim in water that is shallow?; after all, you can swim in water that is thirty feet deep! Why not let your patients have that same freedom? (p. 248-249)
MILTON ERICKSON ON FREUD AND FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS: JEFFREY ZEIG: A TEACHING SEMINAR WITH MILTON ERICKSON: BRUNNER/MAZEL: NY: 1980: You see, I don't believe in Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud did contribute a lot of good ideas to psychiatry and psychology. A lot of ideas that psychiatrists and psychologists should have found out for themselves and not waited for Freud to tell them. And he also invented that religion called "psychoanalysis"-wherein that religion or therapy fits all people, of both sexes, at all ages, in all cultures, in all situations. And situations where Freud himself didn't know what those situations were.
Psychoanalysis fits all problems in all times. Freud analyzed Moses. And I am willing to bet anything that Freud never had any contact of any sort with Moses. He didn't even know what Moses looked like, yet Freud analyzed him. And life in the time of Moses was far different from life in the time of Freud. And Freud analyzed Edgar Allen Poe from his writings, his letters and newspaper stories. I think any doctor who tries to diagnose appendicitis from an author's stories and his letters to his friends and newspaper stories about him ought to be committed. (Erickson laughs.) Yet Freud analyzed Edgar Allen Poe on gossip, hearsay and Poe's writings. He didn't know a thing about the man. And Freudian disciples have analyzed Alice in Wonderland. And Alice in Wonderland is entirely fictional. The analysts analyzed it, though. And in Freudian psychology, whether you are an only child or one of 11, the only child has as many sibling rivalries as a child with 10 brothers and sisters. There is the father fixation and the mother fixation, even if the child never knows who his father was. There is always an oral fixation, anal fixation, Oedipus complex, Electra complex. The mere truth doesn't really mean anything. It's a religion. And I am very grateful to Freud for the concepts he contributed to psychiatry and psychology. And he also discovered that cocaine was an anesthetic for the eyes. (103)
MILTON ERICKSON ON PSYCHOANALYSIS: Now I told you how I corrected that bedwetter. Because I didn't have much to do that day, I saw her for an hour and a half. That was really more time than she needed. I know that a lot of my fellow therapists could have spent two, or three, or four, or five years. A psychoanalyst could have spent ten years on her.
I remember a very bright resident in psychiatry that I had. He got it in his head that he wanted to learn psychoanalysis, so he (104) went to Dr. S, a Freudian disciple. There were two leading psychoanalysts in Detroit. Dr. B and Dr. S. Those of us who didn't like psychoanalysis called Dr. B, "The Pope," and Dr. S, "Little Jesus." And my very bright resident went to "Little Jesus." In fact three of my residents did so. And Dr. S. told my brightest resident in the very first meeting that he would have to be therapeutically analyzed for six years. Five days a week for six years. And then he explained that he would have to be analyzed for six more years in a didactic analysis. The first meeting, he said 12 years for Alex. And he told Alex, his wife, who "Little Jesus" had never seen, would also have to have six years of therapeutic analysis. And my resident underwent 12 years of psychoanalysis; his wife underwent six years. "Little Jesus" said that they couldn't have a baby until he said so. And I thought that Alex was a very, very bright young psychiatrist.
Now Dr. S said he did orthodox analysis the same way Freud did. And he had the three residents, A, B, and C. A had to park his car in parking lot A; B had to park his car in parking lot B; and C had to park his car in parking lot C. A came in at one O= clock and left at 1: 50. He came in one door, "Little Jesus" shook hands with him. He lay down on the couch and "Little Jesus" moved his chair to the left side of the couch, 18 inches beyond Alex's head and 14 inches off to one side. When analysand B came in, he came in this door and left by another door. He laid down on the couch and "Little Jesus" was 14 and 18 inches to the left.
All three analysands were treated the same way-Alex for six years, B for five years and C for five years. And I think of what a crime it was, because Alex and his wife were very much in love, and to have "Little Jesus" tell them to wait 12 years for parenthood is an outrage.
Now here is another bedwetting case: A 12-year-old boy came in for bed wetting-12 years old, six feet tall, a very big boy. His parents came with him, and told me how they had punished him for bedwetting. They rubbed his face in the wet bed, and deprived him of desserts; deprived him of playing with his playmates. (105) They scolded him. They spanked him. They made him wash his own bed linen, make his own bed, and deprived him of water beginning at 12 noon. And Joe went to bed every night for 12 years and Joe wet his bed every night for 12 years.
Finally his parents brought him to me in the first week of January. I said, "joe, you are a big boy now. I want you to hear what I have to say to your parents. Parents, Joe is my patient and nobody interferes with my patient. And, mother, you are going to wash joe's bed. You are not going to scold him. You are not going to deprive him of anything. You are not going to say anything about his wet bed. And you, father, you are not going to punish him or deprive him. You treat him as if he didn't wet the bed, as if he is a model son. I have everything to say about joe."
I put Joe in a light trance and said, "joe, listen to me. You've been wetting beds for 12 years, and learning to have a dry bed takes time for everybody. In your case it's taking more time than usual. That's all right. You're entitled to take your time in learning to have a dry bed. Now this is the first week in January. I don't think it would be reasonable for you to have a dry bed in less than a month, and February is a very short month, so I don't know whether you want to quit wetting the bed on April Fool's Day."
Now to a 12-year-old the first week of January is a long, long time before St. Patrick's Day, before April Fool's Day. That is, to a childish mind. And I said, "joe, it's nobody's business whether you quit wetting the bed on 51. Patrick's day or on April Fool's Day. It's not even my business. That is a secret that belongs to you."
In June his mother came to me and said, "Joe has had a dry bed for I don't know how long. I just happened to notice today that his bed has been dry every morning for quite a long time." She didn't know when the dry beds began. Neither did I. It might have been on St. Patrick's Day. It might have been on April Fool's Day. That's Joe secret. His mother and father didn't know about the dry bed until June.
Now another 12-year-old boy who wet the bed every night for (106) 12 long years. His father rejected the boy, wouldn't even speak to the boy. And when mother brought him in to tell me, I had Jim sit in the waiting room while mother told me the story. She gave me two valuable items of information. Father had wet the bed until he was 19. Mother's brother had wet the bed until he was about 18.
Mother felt very sympathetic toward the son. She thought that his bedwetting might be inherited. So I told the mother, "I will talk to Jim in your presence. You listen carefully to everything I say. And you do everything that I tell you to do. Jim will do everything that I tell him to do."
I called Jim in and said, "Jim, I found out all about your bed× wetting from your mother and I know you want to have a dry bed. That is something that you have got to learn. And I know a sure way for you to have a dry bed. Of course, like all other learning, it's hard work. I know you will want a dry bed enough to work for it, just like you had to do hard work to learn how to write. Now this is what I am going to ask you and your family to do. Your mother says that seven o'clock in the morning is the time the family gets up. All right, I've told your mother to set the clock for five o'clock in the morning and she is to come into your bedroom and feel your bed. If she feels wetness, she is to awaken you and the two of you will go to the kitchen, turn on the lights, and you will start copying some book. You can choose the book." He chose The Prince and the Pauper.
"And, mother, you like to sew, knit and crochet, and make patchwork quilts. You will sit in the kitchen with Jim while Jim copies this book he has chosen. You will sit silently sewing or knitting or crocheting, from five in the morning until seven. That's giving enough time so that Jim will dress and father will dress. Then, you will prepare breakfast, and a regular day will take place. And each morning at five o'clock you will feel Jim's bed. If it is wet you will awaken Jim and take him out to the kitchen without a word and start your sewing, and Jim starts his copying of the book. And each Saturday you bring over the copy work to me."
I sent Jim out and said, "Now, mother, you've heard what I (107) said. Here is one thing that 1 didn't say. Jim heard me say you are to feel his bed and if it is wet he is to be awakened and taken to the kitchen to do his copy work. Some morning, Jim's bed will be dry. You go back quietly to bed and sleep till seven o'clock. You wake up, then wake up Jim and apologize for having overslept.
Within a week, Mother found the bed dry, so she went back to bed and apologized at seven o'clock for oversleeping. 1 saw him the first of July; by the last of July, Jim had a dry bed every night. And his mother kept on oversleeping and not awakening him.
Because 1 had made my message that mother would check the bed, and if she finds it wet, "You will get up and copy." And if you look at that sentence carefully, it means, "Your mother will touch your bed and if it is wet, you will get up and copy." The opposite implication is, "If it is dry, you won't wake up." So a month later, Jim had his dry bed. And his father took him fishing, his father's favorite sport.
Now there was family therapy there to be done. I had mother do some sewing. She was sympathetic. And as she sat there in the kitchen sewing, Jim couldn't look upon being awakened and asked to copy a book as punishment. He was learning something.
And in the office, 1 had Jim come over and see me. 1 took out all his copy work, arranged chronologically. And Jim looked at the first page and said, "That's awful. I missed some words, and 1 misspelled some. 1 missed whole lines. That writing is awful." And as we turned the pages in chronological order, Jim looked more and more pleased. His writing improved and his spelling improved. He didn't miss words or sentences. By the time he got to the end of his writing he was very pleased.
After he went back to school for a couple of weeks-three weeks -1 called him over and asked him how he was getting along in school. He said, "You know, it's funny. Nobody ever liked me at school before. Nobody would play with me. I was very unhappy in school, and I got poor grades. Now this year, I am the captain of the baseball team and I am getting A's and B's instead of D's and F's." All 1 had done was reorient Jim about Jim. (108) And Jim's father, whom I had never met, took Jim out fishing after disowning the boy for years and years. His poor work at school-he found out that he could really write well, copy well. So he took that knowledge to school with him. He knew he was good in writing, thus he was able to find out that he was good at playing and socializing. That was therapy for Jim.
OBITUARY ELIZABETH MOORE ERICKSON APRIL 22, 1915 - DECEMBER 26, 2008: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL HYPNOSIS: KLEIN, ROXANNA ERICKSON: Elizabeth Erickson died on December 26 at her home in Phoenix, Arizona attended by three generations of family members. Her death was due to unexpected complications associated with a broken hip from which she was recovering. Widow of Milton H. Erickson, Elizabeth Erickson had an extensive, supportive role in the applications of hypnosis to medicine. Her involvement with the study of hypnotic potentials dated to the 1930s, when as an undergraduate in psychology she attended a scientific meeting at Wayne State University. At that meeting, Milton Erickson noticed her exceptional intellectual capabilities. Some weeks later, he offered her a position in his research laboratory normally reserved for graduate students. The studies she was initially involved in included hypnotic manipulation of sensory capabilities, specifically sight and hearing.
Elizabeth and Milton married in 1936 while he was a staff psychiatrist at Eloise State Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. They were devoted to one another as personal and professional partners, raising eight children, and never faltering in their mutual dedication to the scientific advancement of hypnosis. In 1948, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona to alleviate Milton's health concerns (recognized many years later as postpolio sequelae). The following year, still not strong enough to fulfill a staff position at Arizona State Hospital, Milton opened a private office in a bedroom of the family home. Although intended as a temporary arrangement, the home office proved to be so beneficial, that the family decided to keep the arrangement for the remainder of his life. From the first encounter, Milton regarded Elizabeth as having an exceptional insight into hypnotic processes, and encouraged her involvement in his explorations. As occasion permitted, he involved her in discussions with other luminaries. She developed lasting friendships with Margaret Mead, Aldous and Maria Huxley, Jay Haley, as well as many others. The extent of her understanding, coupled with her phenomenal ability to recall information made her an invaluable asset. These friendships stimulated cooperative exploration and integration of information across disciplines (Zeig, J. & Geary, B., 2000). She fondly recalled viewing films of Balinese trance rituals made by Bateson and Mead, and by allowing herself to drift into a hypnotic state, she was able to explain details of trance depth to Mead.
The professional support Elizabeth provided Milton allowed him to see a full load of patients, while also engaging in a broader range of activities that made a lasting impact on psychotherapy. The constellation of these actions fostered Elizabeth and Milton's mutual goal of recognition of hypnosis as a legitimate medical tool. When Milton became me founding President of me American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH), Elizabeth tirelessly attended to the logistic details of the fledgling organization. For a decade, as Milton served as the founding editor of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Elizabem designated the family dining room as office space from which me publication could be born. She contributed to all phases of the work - facilitating professional correspondence; editing; proofreading; arranging for printing; managing the mailing list; and paying the children a penny a piece to prepare mailing envelopes. Even when the Journal moved to Chicago, she continued to manage the foreign correspondence responsibilities for quite some time. Elizabem accompanied Milton on many of his teaching seminars, often serving as his preferred demonstration subject. Her capabilities, including five childbirths under hypnosis, added experiential depth to his work (Elliott-Erickson, B.A. & Erickson Klein, R., 1991). Her capacity for connection with others enhanced his professional recognition, and nurtured me ever-growing quantity of colleagues and students who came to the home-office for teaching seminars.
She was most comfortable with a "behind the scenes" role in professional writing, but authored a section the book Time Distortion in Hypnosis. In actuality, her contributions are inextricably integrated into the hundreds of articles authored by Milton Erickson. Numerous dedications in the professional literature attest to her active role in encouraging ongoing investigation of hypnotic phenomena, her efforts to foster hypnosis as a therapeutic art, and most importantly, helping professionals develop their psychotherapeutic perspectives (Rossi, E., Erickson-Klein, R. & Rossi, K, 2008). In 1962, the ASCH gave her an Award of Merit and made her an Honorary Lifetime Member. In 1989, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation gave her the Lifetime Achievement Award for her monumental contributions (Erickson-foundation.org). She only recentiy retired from her role on the Board of Directors of me Foundation. She has been awarded numerous honorary memberships to foreign hypnosis societies and psychotherapeutic organizations. In 2004, A Tribute to Elizabeth Moore Erickson by Marilia Baker was published in English. It has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and additional translations are in progress. Her efforts have continued to stimulate and inspire students of hypnosis around the world.
She never missed a chance to extend her own knowledge about the capacity of the human mind. Her avid enthusiasm for reading, her precision as a proofreader, and her unquenchable thirst for understanding continued throughout her lifetime. Those who had the privilege of contact with her best remember her for her incomparable positive outlook on life.
A TRIBUTE TO ELIZABETH MOORE ERICKSON: COLLEAGUE EXTRAORDINAIRE, WIFE, MOTHER, AND COMPANION: MARILIA BAKER M.S.W. ALOM EDITORES, OF MEXICO CITY, 2004: Reviewed by C. Alexander Simpkins Ph.D. & Annellen M. Simpkins Ph.D.: The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter, Spring 2005, Vol. 25 (1), p. 28. The gleam of a universe of meaning and experience emerges from the sensitive crystal of Marilia Baker’s newly released book, A Tribute to Elizabeth Moore Erickson, Colleague Extraordinaire, Wife, Mother, and Companion. The book is an intimate slide show of significant people and events, all benefiting from the nurture of Elizabeth Erickson. With subtle and evocative prose, Baker encourages the reader to envision a personal world and to be enriched through the process, in authentic Ericksonian style. First published in Spanish (2003) and Portuguese (2004), the English version brings this beautiful tribute to English-speaking readers. Do a Elizabeth, as the author respectfully calls her, played a vital role in the evolution of the Ericksonian method. Baker shows how Elizabeth Erickson’s warmth and support in close partnership with her husband was pivotal at each phase of Erickson’s work. She complemented him and coordinated the Erickson legacy in every way.
The author points out that although Do a Elizabeth chose to stay in the background, she "made sacred, transformed, made beautiful, a kaleidoscope of forms." (75) She also brought her graceful strength and optimistic spirit to the unique challenges of Dr. Erickson’s illness, while sharing in an exemplary marriage and fostering the development of eight diverse and creative children. She instilled a lasting concern in her family for proper preparation, order and sequence. She brought forth home, or in Greek, oikos, from her intimate dance with him and their children, during their life together. And many dimensions of this are shown for us to reflect on, as we wander through the crystal facets of time in the chapters of Elizabeth Erickson’s life.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One weaves the tapestry of Elizabeth Erickson’s life beginning with her childhood years as a lover of the circus. The author goes on to the first moment of courtship, when Milton spotted Elizabeth as he looked out the window and saw her walking. Then and there he declared with certainty that he was going to marry her! (52) The chapters interweave Do a Elizabeth’s varied roles, as psychology student, author, editor, proofreader, hypnotic subject, wife, hostess and mother. And she excelled at them all in many unexpected ways. Her son Bert, from Dr. Erickson’s first marriage, expressed his delight in his new mother: "She can even catch a ball!" She adeptly worked alongside her husband at the dining room table to help produce the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis and facilitate the comfort of many patients who Dr. Erickson treated in their living room.
Each chapter is seasoned with intimate stories and disclosures that communicate the rich flavor of the development of Do a Elizabeth, the Erickson family, and the Ericksonian method. The book shows how this couple used the everyday, simple events of life as springboards to creative potentials and significant contributions. One typical example among many in the book is how the Erickson children were raised with a spirit of imagination. According to Betty Alice, "Mama connected it to our dreams." (75) A unique method of facilitating imaginative discovery from enjoyable experiences informed Erickson’s work, such as when he challenged a patient to climb Squaw Peak: the dream opens a reality! There were other, less familiar learning experiences offered for other opportunities, as well. Part Two is a personal interview with Do a Elizabeth about her life experiences.
The interview includes a compilation of discussions with the author spanning the years 2000 and 2001 as well as an earlier, unpublished interview conducted by Shirley Bliss Ph.D. in 1988. Do a Elizabeth reveals her husband’s generosity with his talents, for the benefit of many community organizations large and small. He helped the Seventh Step Foundation for ex-convicts, made frequent visits to Mr. Bernard Roer’s Bird Farm, and offered therapeutic assistance to help Mr. and Mrs. Tex O’Leile who took in homeless teenage boys. Elizabeth Erickson helped in her own way. Whenever she donated shirts to ex-convicts she always included a necktie to help encourage them in a better direction Do a Elizabeth comments on the many fascinating people who collaborated with Erickson, along with their wives who she got to know quite well. She includes her close friendship with Margaret Mead. She also reveals interesting and little-known personal details about her husband, such as his love of magic and an insider view of how purple became his signature color! Part III is an album of pictures that allows us all to browse through the Erickson family scrapbook. The photographs range over an entire lifespan of experiences, including the "Fabulous Erickson Skirt." The master for the pictures on this unique piece of clothing was a silk-screen portrait in blue tiles of Dr. Erickson, which hung on the wall in the kitchen for many years! A recent full-color picture of Mrs. Erickson on her 88th birthday, April 22, 2003 rounds out the collection. The last section of the book is the appendix. First are verbatim speeches and addresses Elizabeth Erickson presented or had read for her at Ericksonian conferences in 1993, 1994, 2000, and 2003. The next appendix, Laurel King M. Ed. ’s account of her "pilgrimage" to visit Dr. Erickson’s office and afternoon spent with Elizabeth Erickson will light up memory circuits for those who studied at the Erickson home in Phoenix and will give everyone else a felt-sense of the experience.
The final appendix includes a list of Elizabeth Erickson’s professional papers. She wrote about her husband as one might expect. But she also authored and co-authored many investigative articles concerning hypnosis, hypnotic perception, hallucination, time-distortion, and post-hypnotic behavior, as a few examples. Marilia Baker’s book, A Tribute to Elizabeth Moore Erickson, not only informs but also inspires. In encountering the best of humanity, through the exemplary life of Elizabeth Moore Erickson, we are stirred to new potentials that we might not even know are there, true to the Ericksonian way.