Monday, January 18, 2010

Metaphors as Pattern Interrupts

I'll probably be writing more about this later, but I wanted to get my thoughts down now. In my last post I talked about an easy embedded command practice, and touched on a pattern interrupt that was inherent in the technique.

It got me to thinking about pattern interrupts in general. While I was mentating on just that, I also had a long discussion about metaphors.

Metaphors, as you may know are sort of story-fied version of making a point. A kind of "as if." For example, describing your in laws like "a pack of hungry dogs," is a metaphoric way of getting across some information about the impact they make on you.

The most famous of hypnotic metaphors is probably Erickson's "Tomato Plant." (You can probably find the transcript on the web). Erickson had been faced with a client who was depressed and wasting away due to cancer, but was resistant to direct hypnosis and direct suggestion, so instead, he just told a long story about the way tomato plants grow and thrive. The man's subconscious made the connection between the plant and himself and the suggestions were delivered without any kind of overt commands or hypnosis.

Fables are metaphors: stories that deliver a moral by way of story.

I've been a story teller long before I was a hypnotist, so I like metaphors.

How are metaphors employed? They work when there's some sort of conscious resistance, or when there's lack of focus. Because they're stories, they (should) have vivid sensory descriptors to really capture the audiences attention. They're a natural choice to use on oppositional children, and great in a business context where raw, dry information can leave your audience unmoved. and, yeah, they're kind of covert.

Anyway, here's my point: When you use a good creative metaphor ("steaming piles of paperwork," or "happy tourists popping up like mushrooms"), you engage people's senses and imagination, and when you engage their imagination you're tapping into their subconscious. That necessitates withdrawing from the moment, and that, my friends, is a pattern interrupt.

Go out and play with these things and imagine yourself not like a hypnotist, but like a hawk, soaring effortlessly and freely through the labyrinthine corridors of your audience's mind. ;^)

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