Milton Erickson Wisdom – Pain Control

In the 1970’s I had the honor of being a student of Milton Erickson at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. So I travelled from my home in San Diego to Phoenix. Joining me in my training were a handful of other therapists who had heard about Milton’s “uncommon therapy.” We were all eager to learn from this master of hypnotherapy. One day a fellow student asked, “How do you help someone who has significant chronic pain?” Milton answered by telling a story. His story went something like this: There was once a man who lived in pain and every day lay in bed focusing upon his pain. Then something occurred that took away the man’s pain. A tiger crawled under his bed and suddenly he was no longer in pain.” Milton was referring to a common theme in his teachings. Focus. “What you focus upon is what you move toward.” Teach someone to focus upon something other than their pain and you have an avenue to pain control. Perhaps Milton then went into further discussion of induction and suggestion for pain control. However, his story has stuck with me all these years. The tiger under the bed had shifted the man’s attention so completely that he no longer thought of his pain. If shifting one’s attention can be achieved then one can learn to live with chronic pain.

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