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Erickson, M.H. Hill, L.B. (1944). Unconscious Mental Activity in Hypnosis—Psychoanalytic Implications. Psychoanal Q., 13:60-78.

(1944). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 13:60-78

Unconscious Mental Activity in Hypnosis—Psychoanalytic Implications

Milton H. Erickson and Lewis B. Hill

Misconceptions regarding the alleged limitation of hypnotic psychotherapy to hypnotic suggestion are current because of the failure to differentiate between (1) the process of inducing trance states and (2) the nature of the trance. Since hypnosis can be induced and trance manifestations elicited by suggestion, the unwarranted assumption is made that whatever develops from hypnosis must be completely a result of suggestion, and primarily an expression of it.

The hypnotized person remains an individual, and only certain limited general relationships and behavior are temporarily altered by hypnosis. Hypnosis is, in fact, the induction of a peculiar psychological state which permits the subject to reassociate and reorganize his inner psychological complexities in a way suitable to the unique items of his own psychological experiences.


Dr. Jane was a quiet, earnest, hardworking, highly intelligent woman interne. During the course of her hospital service she had often sought help and instruction from me about her ward work. She had shown much interest, and had often watched my hypnotic experiments. She had been asked repeatedly to act as a subject but had always politely refused. I and various other members of the professional staff characterized her as a decidedly insecure rather neurotic girl who probably suffered from some distressing personality problem.


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