Are hypnotists today better or worse?
I was talking with some students the other day. One of them asked why we don't have such giants of hypnosis these days such as Dave Elman and Milton Erickson. They were quite taken aback when I said that the hypnotists of today are actually better than Elman and Erickson. They were even more shocked when I said that neither of them were in fact the great figures they are reputed to be.
They are both long dead so they cannot defend themselves, but the evidence is fairly clear that Elman was a stage hypnotist and did almost no therapy and that Erickson's legendary skills, are just that, a legend. There are people alive today who knew both of them, and they certainly were not regarded as infallible therapists when they were alive.
What made them major figures was the books they wrote. These gave a basis for studying their techniques and tended to sideline all the other hypnotherapists working at the time who didn't write books. I am not denying both were good hypnotists, but the scale of adulation, almost awe, has gone too far. Read some hypnosis blogs and discussion lists and you might be forgiven for thinking both were the descendants of gods.
The reason for this adulation is not hard to find. If you are offering a training course, do you want to tell prospective students that you will be teaching them standard hypnosis techniques, or do you want to tell them that they will be learning the secrets of the most powerful hypnotist who ever lived?
Naturally you are going to puff up the so called Master Hypnotist, and the more you boost their magical powers the more your students will like it. And since your students won't know any different, they too will go out to the marketplace and tell everyone that they have been trained in the ways of the greatest hypnotic genius ever. And so it goes on. Each new class of hypnotic learners exaggerates even more, until the whole thing takes on a life of its own and the claims reach the level of absurdity.
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