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Multiple Embedded Metaphors - Marginal Note

Multiple Embedded Metaphors - Marginal Note
Metaphors are the gentlest, most elegant way to begin talking
directly with your client’s Unconscious Mind. They can be stories
from your own experience or someone else’s (or no one’s). They
can sound realistic or mythical. They can be true stories, or stories
invented specifically for your client’s situation.
Have you noticed that in front of an audience a professional
speaker almost always begins with a metaphor? The speaker’s
metaphor is often a joke, but sometimes a dramatic story to intro-
duce their subject. Speakers may or may not know why a metaphor
is the best opening … they may or may not realize that they are
hooking the attention of the Unconscious Minds of their audi-
ences. But they know that metaphors work.
The content of a well-selected metaphor will relate to something in
the client’s (or the audience’s) experience. The process of noticing
the parallels is part of what triggers the Unconscious Mind’s curios-
ity and opens it to dialogue. And the ultimate aim of the metaphor
is to awaken in the listener a specifically targeted mental state …
very often the state that the character experiences in the metaphor.
The language of a well-told metaphor will be deliciously ambigu-
ous, utilizing Milton Model patterns freely to further feed the
curiosity of the client’s Unconscious Mind.
In planning a hypnotherapy session, Erickson would review his
notes about the patient’s presenting problem and personal history,
and then choose or invent several suitable metaphors. In conduct-
ing the session, he would open a ‘loop’ by starting the first
metaphor and telling three-quarters or more of it. Then he would
break off that story and open another loop by starting the second
metaphor, then break off the second and start the third. He often
used as many as four or five metaphors. This served as an elegant
way to do a trance induction without making any specific
reference to hypnosis!
Leaving the metaphors incomplete, that is, leaving the loops open,
excited the curiosity of his patient’s Unconscious Mind. When
Erickson observed that the opening of several loops had put him
in direct communication with the patient’s Unconscious, he would
then proceed with the change work which was the purpose of the
session. When he had completed the change work, he would
‘close’ the most recently opened loop by telling the end of the
metaphor, and go on to close all of the loops in the reverse order
to which he had opened them. The effect of closing the metaphors
was to lead the patient out of the trance. Because Erickson chose
metaphors very carefully, a second effect was that the story end-
ings reinforced the change work done while the patient was in
Critical to the effectiveness of Erickson’s metaphors were the
‘break points’ in the stories. A well-chosen break would interrupt
the story and leave a loop open at a point of peak interest, with a
sense of incompletion engaging the curiosity of the patient’s
Unconscious for the dialogue that was to follow. The closing of the
loop at the end would satisfy the curiosity of the Unconscious and
reinforce the change work.
Before the end of this chapter, I will be recommending that you
experiment with Erickson’s method of choosing a series of
metaphors to lead a client into trance and, after accomplishing
intended change work, lead them back out of it.

Related posts:

  1. Multiple Embedded Metaphors Open Loop No.1 Multiple Embedded Metaphors Open Loop No.1 Now it took Erickson...
  2. Multiple Embedded Metaphors - Closing Loops Multiple Embedded Metaphors - Closing Loops Close Loop No.5 When...
  3. A Practical Exercise in Creating Metaphors A Practical Exercise in Creating Metaphors If you had heard...
  4. Refining Your Style for Working with Metaphors Refining Your Style for Working with Metaphors Erickson often took...
  5. Metaphors Metaphors Previously, we discussed the hypnotic language patterns of the...


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