Twentieth Century Psychology: Recent Developments in Psychology

By Philip Lawrence Harriman | Go to book overview

CONCERNING THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF POST-HYPNOTIC BEHAVIOR

MILTON H. ERICKSON AND ELIZABETH MOORE ERICKSON

Eloise Hospital

Despite the general familiarity of post-hypnotic behavior and its extensive rôle in both experimental and therapeutic work, little recognition has been given to it as a problem complete in itself. Instead, attention has been focused almost exclusively upon the various activities suggested to the subjects as post- hypnotic tasks, with little heed given to the nature of the behavior characterizing, if not constituting, the post-hypnotic state, and which influences and perhaps determines the nature and extent of the suggested post-hypnotic performance. Emphasis has been placed primarily upon the results obtained from post-hypnotic suggestions and not upon the character or nature of the psychological setting in which they were secured. The study of the mental processes and the patterns of behavior upon which those results are based and which must necessarily be in effect in some manner previous to, if not also during, the post-hypnotic performance, has been neglected. Yet, despite a lack of adequate experimental provision, there has been a general recognition of certain significant facts regarding the post-hypnotic performance, which imply directly the existence of a special mental state or condition constituting the background out of which the post- hypnotic act derives.

Foremost among these facts is the occurrence of the post- hypnotic act in response to a suggestion which is remote from the situation in which it has its effect. Next, the immediate stimu-

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