The Milton Model

The Double Bind – a Conversational Hypnosis Technique

The double bind is a conversational hypnosis technique unwittingly used by sales people and parents. From your point of view, you are giving the person two choices, where either gives you your outcome.

Setting communication up with an illusion of choice increases cooperation. They focus on which alternative is least bad rather than finding other appealing solutions.

Would you prefer to have your bath before or after dinner? Would you like to pay by cash or credit card? These are very simple examples we have probably all used.

Can you find the presuppositions in those examples? That the child is having a bath and the customer is buying the product. The other party needs to accept this presupposition unconsciously – may or may not be easy with hypnosis.

“Well actually I am not going to have a bath; I like smelling like pond scum.” “I’m not buying your product, so don’t bother with your thinly disguised manipulation”

Catch 22

right-rightYou might have heard of a Catch 22, which is another term for double bind, or maybe a “no win”. Someone gives you two choices either of which is unpleasant and for some reason you can’t just refuse to choose.

When kids are small, the power difference usually means they are not in a position to refuse the choice. Sometimes as a customer you really need the product – it’s 3am and this is the only place selling printer ink.

Life No Wins

Many people set up their lives like this. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I hate working for this slime but starving is worse. I don’t want to stay married, but I don’t want to be alone.

Therapeutic Use

Milton Erickson used binds to induce trance and offer suggestions particularly with resistant or polarity responding patients. You know the type, you say it’s white and they are compelled to argue that it is black. “I don’t know whether you will make this change immediately, or within the next week”

Many problems are from not wanting to change behavior. Changing can be unpleasant “I don’t want to do my tax return, but leaving it to the last minute is way worse”. By framing the choice, the person gets to choose one and feels good because they have chosen and are in control.

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