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Customer Review

43 of 98 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother. No, really., 15 Oct. 2001
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This review is from: Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. (Paperback)
This book is cheap and facile.
The author's case studies cater only for "nuclear family" scenarios and the "brilliant therepeutic techniques" described within it include such gems as:
* Erikson curing someone of being fat by shouting at them at length about how repulsive they are;
* Erikson helping a paralysed Prussian/German to walk by telling him repeatedly that he was Nazi scum and wasn't as worthwhile as the "Jews in the gas chamber" (according to Erikson, that one worked because Prussians are ALL "self-satisfied" and would have no alternative but to get up and walk when faced with such insults).
This is lowest-common-denominator reading, writing and thinking which permits humanity no function or behaviour but the centuries-old roles of man, woman, child, or parent. The final chapter is easily the most depressing - apprarently the old (anyone over 60) simply aren't worth bothering with at all and should be left to die.
I only hope that Jay Haley has done Erikson a massive disservice with this book, because if it is even slightly accurate, the man was to be avoided at all costs.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Aug 2009 13:15:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Aug 2009 13:15:39 BDT
Prokopton says:
I'm afraid your review is very one-sided and shows a misunderstanding of the nature of Erickson's work.

That example of the insults applied to the paralyzed Prussian gentleman: they were motivated by the strong anger and masterful nature of that patient. Erickson was trying to reach the instinctive, bodily, defensive subconscious character motivators in him and relieve his near-total paralysis. He succeeded -- the man recovered movement in his body.

As for the analysis Haley has done of the familial orientations and stages that Erickson looked at, it is ingenious and has helped many people. I don't think you understand the principles behind what Erickson was doing; result after result is obtained according to those principles, as reading this book must have shown you.

You imply Erickson used only 'shock tactics' when there are so many examples in this book of his going to extraordinary lengths to be gentle when that was necessary too.

(The 'gentle therapy' of Carl Rogers, alongside the more 'confrontational' approach of someone like Albert Ellis, shows that this is a spectrum of approaches that therapists still deal with. Erickson was familiar with both ends of the spectrum and used both according to circumstance.)

How did you get the idea that Erickson thought the old are no longer worth bothering with? Hopefully not from that same last case study of the Prussian gentleman, who (years after their first encounter) Erickson thought could not be helped out of paralysis again owing to being too old for treatment? That was not Erickson's opinion in many, many cases of people older than 60, some of which are in this book.
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