A butterfly walk on the arm of a man and think that the man belongs to her, but the man thinks that the butterfly belongs to him. Each one have a special way of seeing the world and the psychiatrist Milton Erickson, aware of that, did not want to see only with his eyes. He utilizes the eyes of the clients to see and to heal themselves, doing their own hypnosis and he was not interested on being himself the powerful hypnotist, and on the contrary, he used to apply the power of the clients to hypnotize themselves.
In my case, this style of Erickson called my attention since the beginning, his humble style that was almost strategic but it was natural for him. Since the year of 1977, when for the first time I saw mentions about him in a book of Viktor Frankl, Ph.D., during the old times when I was still in the university seats.
I was still doing my graduation in psychology and philosophy and I was reading Frankl for a volunteer work about existentialism, and I discovered amazing phrases and some wise words of Erickson in that book, beautiful ideas used by Viktor Frankl in order to clarify how much we are blind when looking to what we look. Frankl said that “the eyes see everything in the world outside, but it is blind for himself and it can’t look to himself” and in this messages I began to understand the connection between the ericksonian and the existential approaches and I had no more doubts about this phenomenon. In the past, I heard friends and colleagues saying that anyone of any approaches fits well on the Milton Erickson ways of thinking and that the ericksonian patterns and beliefs were quite compatible to their styles and theories.
What a strange phenomenon was that! There was a kind of natural harmony and pacing! No one of us would need to force any empathy or any pacing because it flows spontaneously and goes like a dance, as a river that flows sliding on himself. Sometimes we forgot that the utilization could be really a technique. It was there interspersed in life and became a Milton life style, a way of being in this world, something that flows as consequence of trances sometimes emerging throughout the cracks of the words.
I remember those years of 1977 and once when I was seating in as isolated chair for lunch on the snack bar of the university awhile reading that book of Viktor Frankl, but I remember also that I was looking for further references and I was eager to know more about the legend called Milton Erickson. At those times there were no publications about this man whose universe of ideas were fitting so well to any other psychotherapeutic models, a man whose ideas were never in conflict with any therapeutic style.
That was in the nature of Milton Erickson, that used to think with our thoughts, and used to see our personal world with our own eyes, and when dealing with healing, he seemed to heal as a doctor that sleeps deeply inside within each one of us and utilizes these personal inner resources for a hidden inner healing.
He used to come silently as an angel in small flights, as a wise gardener that would even dispense the needs of understanding the mysteries of any flower. He just threw the seeds, and after his gentle art of seeding, it was a question of waiting for the action of the time and the action of life and let the plants to grow following the rhythms of life, growing as a trance grows. Growing as the sounds becoming the voices that goes with us… As the pulsation of any body and the silence dividing the musical notes.
His voices had being used to offer what was already deep inside anyone of us, in different colors and brightness, in “mil tons” or (million of tones), shades following the lucky he deserves of having little sparks of charisma and perceptions after decades of training that for him was natural, and for had being condensed as techniques.
Milton is like an entity hidden in everyone of us!
After getting the address of Milton with my friend Gilbert Brenson Lazan, a friend and psychotherapist of Colombia, that was the coordinator of The First Latin American Congress on systemic therapies in 1984. He had being studying with Stephen Lankton and some others disciples of Erickson and after that, I did my first contacts with The Milton H. Erickson Foundation in 1983, one year before the Viktor Frankl visit to Brazil for The First Brazilian Encounter on Logotherapy. In an issue of The Milton Erickson Newsletter of 1986, there were mentions about the paperbacks on paradoxical techniques sent by me to the Milton Erickson Foundation. Those materials on paradox; were published as, The Manual of family therapy, by the Editorial Vozes in 1986, which is considered the first Brazilian book about the paradoxical techniques on Milton Erickson and Viktor Frankl and this book was adopted in 36 courses of Psychology in Brazil.
One decade later, by the final of 1991 and beginning of 1992, after the foundation a small publishing house to divulge ericksonian psychotherapies, I established an agreement to bring Jeffrey Zeig, Ph.D. to start to divulge the ericksonian model in Brazil.
I organized more than 53 presentations, 8 for Rossi, 5 for Gilligan, 3 for Haley, 8 for Cloé Madanes, 2 for Betty-Alice, 19 for Zeig, 2 for Tereza Robles, 2 for DeShazer, 1 for John Grinder, 1 for Lankton and so on since April of 2001. All of them were considered excellent and of extreme importance because ideas where seeded and in one hand we introduced Erickson to the Portuguese speaking countries.
We organized more than 53 events to divulge Erickson and the psychotherapies influenced by him, and during 15 years, since 1983 up to 1998, we promoted the formation in hypnosis for more than 15 thousand professionals on the ericksonian field creating leaders that now are multipliers of hypnosis in Brazil.
Now we have more than one thousand books on ericksonian orientation available in many publishing house in Brazil and in other countries divulging ideas and ericksonian literature. By the years 2001 almost every Brazilian professional and from Portugal, Angola, Canary Island, Mozambique and every Portuguese speaking countries heard or read something about the Milton Erickson works.
Brazil is now developing a conscience and a sense of interchange between the most expressive researchers on the ericksonian field, those who traditionally “offer more of them receive” from the approach that, day by day, is becoming a huge movement. It is becoming stronger movement more “altruistic” and that has being confirmed when people ask, for example: “What could we offer to the ericksonian movement, instead of asking what the ericksonian movement could offer to us and what could we obtain from it?”
Regarding to me and specially my wife, we were some of the pioneers and the beginners. We see ourselves among the pioneers, and the pioneers are those ones who begins first, no matter if in the successes or in the mistakes. The pioneers are also those who make more mistakes, fail for the others and we put ourselves in risk for the others. Regarding to the followers that came after in time, it remains the heritage of success, hits and mistakes.
These memories helped me to remember the story of my friend Zerka Moreno, the lady of psychodrama, someone special that I sometime brought for workshops and conferences in Brazil and she once told me a beautiful story:
“There were once two men delighted with the brightness of the Moon. One of them was so enchanted and wanted the Moon only for him and so they began to argue saying one to the other: “I want the Moon and all its brightness only for me” and the other was justifying with many reasons for the decision of having the Moonlight only for him.
The other on the same vibe, continued strongly affirming and saying out loud: “The Moon is mine because I deserve it and I love it much more than you do”.
Suddenly one of them became furious and went away saying in loud voice: – Pay attention please! I am going home, and I am taking the Moon and all its brightness with me… and without looking back, he was so happy because the Moon went after him following his ways for every places where he was going.
Then the other slept melting his soul in sadness, but by luck he woke up at the dawn, looked up to the sky and the Moon was there shining as never before. He was so enchanted by the contagious silver of the light Moon that he said to himself “- Oooohhh! The Moon decided to stay and now she is mine! Only mine!”
Each one of them in his own world discovered that the Moon belongs only to him, and the wise Moon, shinning highly in the sky, realized that she is with both and now the Moon is sure about some things: “That the light is in each one of us, and it will be shining everywhere, for everyone and for forever.”
One of my special masters, Salvador Minuchin, a family therapist, said me awhile we were going to Santos for a workshop that I organized for him “that the views of what we are looking help us to see things as they are. But it doesn’t matter! It is like a man that goes walking with his dog and believe that the dog belong to him! We always thinking that the things we love belong to us. But the dog sees from his point of view, and also believe that the man belong to him. And what kind of ownership relation is there?
– No one!”
The travel to Santos took me more than three hours and half, and those moments were “the best worst wonderful hours” of heavy traffic of my life full of paradoxes, in a rainy afternoon day between the Airport of Guarulhos/SP and Santos lowlands.
Coming back to the starting point: – Life is just what it is! Milton Erickson is in each one of us… and each one of us is a new Milton Erickson that was born brand new, recycled and original, each new Milton that comes every day in every nook of the world, and like myself, an eternal student that goes ahead doing what is possible awhile it is possible. Thank you so much!
José Carlos Vitor Gomes, Psic.