Ever hear of the old Greek idea of catharsis? It’s the notion that by watching some characters in a story play something out on stage (or in books or movies) we kind of get a sense of “release” by vicariously experiencing at least some of the emotions they’re going through.
Girls like sappy romance movies because they trigger those “love” emotions
Guys like action movies because they trigger those “he-man” emotions.
See, if we didn’t a desire to feel those things, guys to go out and kill things, girls to create relationships, we would have died off along time ago.
Truth is that between chimps and us, there’s been plenty of “upper” primates that didn’t make the cut, and simply vanished. Little too much of this, not enough of that, and POOF! bye-bye ape man!
These days, Hollywood, TV, and the publishing industry makes kazillions of dollars a year triggering those ancient emotions over and over again.
Joseph Campbell spent his lifetime studying myths from around the world, and determined that most of them, once you get past the goofy characters, are pretty much the same.
What’s this got to do with hypnosis?
Well, when you consider any story that exists, or has been passed down through the generations, you realize that they’ve been produced for the mass audience.
Whenever you make anything for the mass audience, you can’t get too specific. When it comes to stories, you’ve got to make them as “one size fits all” as you can.
Along comes Milton Erickson.
The most famous, and powerful hypnotist who ever lived.
He used the same model. Telling stories to help people get through emotional problems.
But he did it on a person level. He was such a wicked story teller he could listen to you describe your problem, and then come up with the perfect metaphor.
And he delivered them with such skill, that the listener had no idea what was going on. They just followed along consciously ( or tried to anyhow) while their subconscious was busy looking at the deeper meaning, rearranging their internal “parts” to come up with better strategies to deal with life.
See, when most people go to therapy, they expect to go on weekly visits, talking about their problems, while the therapist says useless things like, “Well, what do you think that means?”
While Erickson, on the other hand, would spin magnificent tales that would cure the patient within a session or two.
So why aren’t more therapists doing this today? Who knows. Maybe he had some skills that most mortals don’t. Maybe when most therapists see a potential patient, they’re thinking of them in terms of an income stream, instead of figuring out best to help them.
Bottom line is that stories are INCREDIBLY powerful. Otherwise we humans wouldn’t have been telling them to each other since the dawn of time, and today’s movie stars wouldn’t be considered as GODS by many people.
Think about that next time you hear the words, “Once upon a time…”