Common steps and sub-activities

Pencil waving

The seminars, workshops and lectures of Milton H Erickson – edited by Ernest Rossi and Margaret O Ryan

Now you saw that rather elaborate gesture. [Erickson moves a pencil about in the air].

Did it serve any particular purpose? [He gestures in the same way again.]

All that the patient can do when you act in that way is to wonder  “Now what is the meaning of that? What explanation can there be for that kind of movement? Is the doctor puzzled about his pencil?  Does he want it in any particular position on the desk? Just exactly what is the meaning of all this?”

And it does look as if there must be a meaning, a value.

The patient is what I call "wide open" to the reception of some idea about that pencil.  He wants information.

You have deliberately, intentionally fixated attention on the pencil.

Then you look at the pencil again, and then you move it over here, over there, and the patient is obliged to follow the movement of that pencil.