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Rosen, S. (1984). The Psychotherapeutic and Hypnotherapeutic Approaches of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 44(2):133-145.

(1984). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 44(2):133-145

The Psychotherapeutic and Hypnotherapeutic Approaches of Milton H. Erickson, M.D.

Sidney Rosen, M.D.

How can I convey to you the spirit and some of the works of a man who was considered by many people to be the foremost therapeutic genius of our time? Just to state that he was a genius will certainly not impress anyone. To mention that 2,000 therapists from all over the world gathered for the first international congress honoring him, in December 1980, might intrigue some, might pique the curiosity of others, and might be dismissed by still others as just another indication that this man, whom they still confuse with Erik Erikson, was somewhat of a guru, who appealed to soft-minded thinkers.

Yet, when we run through some of the topics covered in the over 45 published papers from this congress (1), you may get some idea of the extent of Erikson's interests and influence. Of course, there were the expected papers on Erickson's contributions to hypnotherapy, to the treatment of depression, pain, and habit disorders. But there were also papers on “Erickson's Contribution to the Double Bind” and “Erickson's Contribution to the Interactional View of Psychotherapy,” both from the Mental Research Institute of Palo Alto. It was also interesting to review “Erickson's Contributions to Family Therapy.” In family therapy, his influence has been especially strong in the work of Jay Haley and through his contacts with Gregory Bateson, Paul Watzlawick, and others. In fact, he has been considered to be the “grandfather” of family therapy.

His contributions to anthropology were summarized at this congress by Madeleine Richeport (2), who pointed out that “many anthropologists have benefited from Dr. Milton Erickson's commentary on their work with ritual trance, most notably Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in Bali, Jane Belo in Bali, Maya Deren in Haiti.”

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