i just ran across an amusing conspiracy theory that happens to fall within my area of expertise. i have read literally every single paper written by eminent psychiatrist milton erickson, md (who virtually created the field of medical hypnosis) — four volumes — and many other books by and about him (of particular interest is a book titled “use of hypnotic technique in non-hypnotic therapies”). i have been trained by nationally recognized therapists who worked directly with dr erickson and bandler and grinder. i have read the original work of bandler and grinder — the creators of NLP – (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and received formal training in it. i have actually used both modalities (hypnosis and NLP) in professional settings.
ok those are my credentials: what’s the conspiracy? obama uses “conversational hypnosis” techniques that dr erickson developed to persuade people, individuals and large groups of people, audiences, even television audiences, by means of “subliminal” or “subconscious” “commands.” the crazier ones go so far as to suggest “mind control” and describe it as a very manipulative technique. it’s funny because all three, erickson, bandler, and grinder, were generally recognized as “master communicators.” i know from personal experience that one cannot cause an hypnotic subject to behave against his or her beliefs or will. it just doesn’t work that way. the nasty conspiracy theorists compare obama to adolf hitler and claim hitler used “conversational hypnosis” also – apparently to brainwash the citizens of a whole nation into behaving against their beliefs and will. one of the more thoughtful conspirationalists even mentioned that john f kennedy and dr martin luther king, jr, also used “conversational hypnosis” in their communications.
i have here in my hand the first volume of dr erickson’s complete papers. the first paper was published in 1964. how did hitler learn about erickson? he was long-dead before dr erickson wrote a single word for publication! and how did jack kennedy learn these techniques as he himself didn’t quite make it into 1964? laughable, but one is amazed at what people can believe to be true!
the truth is, the techniques that dr erickson developed, and bandler and grinder modeled, methodized, and elaborated, are the very same techniques effective communicators have used since communication became possible. history offers many orators who were noted for being powerful communicators. yes, at the very advent of language – some people paid attention to the audience and modulated their delivery based on their observations. that’s all dr erickson did. erickson writes that “…inner behavioral processess of the subject” are more important than “…the operator, through what he said and did…” (erickson, 1964; “initial experiments investigating the nature of hypnosis”)
doesn’t it ALWAYS improve communications between and among people if participants observe the behavior of their audience (one or many) and adjust their delivery accordingly? by the way: speaking is a behavior. so observing the audience includes actually listening! it’s not just about planning the next thing you’re going to say while paying scant attention to the audience. it’s why we have two eyes and two ears but only one mouth.