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Erickson, M.H. (1937). The Experimental Demonstration of Unconscious Mentation by Automatic Writing. Psychoanal Q., 6:513-529.

(1937). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 6:513-529

The Experimental Demonstration of Unconscious Mentation by Automatic Writing

Milton H. Erickson

For the most part our knowledge of psychological processes has been achieved through clinical observations. That such knowledge is valid is readily admitted, but its confirmation by other methods is essential. For this reason, the application of experimental procedure is a desirable means of retesting conclusions reached clinically. In this way hypotheses may be subjected to direct tests from which the extraneous forces inevitable in clinical situations may be excluded. In an effort to develop methods for this sort of laboratory investigation, the experimental procedures reported here were undertaken.

Protocol I

During an evening gathering of about ten college people, a discussion arose about hypnotism and the rôle of the unconscious in conscious actions. The writer claimed that a person could perform an act consciously which would express fully all of his conscious purposes, but which could simultaneously have another unconscious meaning, and that by appropriate measures this unconscious meaning could be brought fully into consciousness. This gave rise to much argument, and presently one of the subjects of the writer's earlier experiments with hypnotism volunteered her services.

In casting about for some act which could be recorded fully so that no doubts might arise, the suggestion was made that the subject be asked to write something, thus making the performance tangible.

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