Common steps and sub-activities

Confusion by breaking patterns

Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson used this with his patients.  It was designed to confuse. 

Erickson got to know his patients.  He then observed which patterns of behaviour they used – the handshake, the way they sat down, their eating habits, their clothes, their attitudes to dress, modesty, and so on.  Learnt behaviour.  And he broke the pattern.  Did unexpected things – the wrong sequence, illogical things. 

He got them to undress when he realised they were a bit prudish; he didn't look at them directly, but to one side of them when talking to them; he had a very unusual handshake.

The handshake is a particularly good pattern to interrupt because the formality of a handshake is a widely understood set of social rules. But there are numerous examples in his books of learnt patterns he deliberately broke.  One befuddling sentence he used is:

Hypnotic Realities – Milton Erickson

Do you think you are awake? [said without altering his faraway gaze past her]

We sleep by lying down normally or with our eyes closed.  This patient had her eyes open and was sitting up hands in her lap. But the question served to bring doubt in her mind as to what state she was in. Her reply was 'I never really know'. 

As Erickson says he implied that there was a good possibility that she was asleep and didn't know it and it aroused strong doubts.