Written by my teacher, Stephen Gilligan, P.h.d, at www.stephengilligan.com.
First Generation Hypnosis: Control and Hypnotic Commands
The use of hypnosis for life changes has a long and checkered history. In the first generation of hypnosis, trance was seen as an artifact of hypnotic suggestion. The hypnotist controlled the subject by taking over his “conscious mind” and then planting hypnotic commands into the unconscious. This rather crude method respected neither the subject’s autonomy nor their unique talents, and it’s no wonder that hypnosis developed a controversial and often negative reputation.
Second Generation Hypnosis: Milton Erickson and Naturalist Trance
The second generation of hypnotic work was pioneered by Milton Erickson. Ericksonian hypnosis sees trance as a naturalistic experience and each person as a unique individual with resources and skills. This more enlightened view regards the client’s unconscious as creative and positive, and works to find ways to align with it. However, the control and skill for change are still held primarily by the hypnotist, and the client’s “conscious mind” is often bypassed or “depotentiated” as part of the process. Many people thus end up having an internalized presence of the Ericksonian hypnotist as the creative source, rather than a deeper awakening of their own generative self.
Third Generation: Generative Trance – Become Your Own Milton Erickson
Generative Trance work is a third generation of trance work that seeks to move beyond the limitations of the old hypnosis models. Trance is seen as a naturally occurring creative process independent from hypnosis, and the focus is on how to respectfully utilize trance for transformational change. The two minds (conscious and creative unconscious) are equally respected and involved, with attention paid to when and how one or the other is best used as a lead system, and how a harmonious relationship between them produces the “higher consciousness” of a generative self. Thus, the conscious mind is not “put to sleep” or “sent away”, and the unconscious is not regarded as a child to be programmed. The intimate connection between them allows each person to “become their own Milton Erickson.”