“Generative Trance; The experience of creative flow” Stephen Gilligan's newest book is not only exciting to read, it gives new ways of looking at already-known information and adds whole new dimensions of different perspectives. Firmly built on his mentoring by Milton Erickson, Gilligan did what Erickson urged all his students to do-took ideas from him and made them applicable to new and different circumstances.
Beginning with understandable definitions, Gilligan lays out his own framework. The reader is captured with new ideas for hypnosis-and “up-dating” so to speak of what hypnosis is. Generative trance is the “real” communication. It is not a place where the therapist provides answers and techniques for change, but where the client can have experiential learning, a reconfiguration of his own unconscious or forgotten resources. This, as evidenced by Erickson's work, is how lasting and sometimes remarkable and quick changes are achieved.
Under this umbrella of generative trance, he breaks his ideas into separate pieces. He discusses the familiar situation of a client “frozen” and seemingly unable to act explaining how this is part of what he refers to as the neuromuscular lock and literally takes apart what is happening. Then he provides clear methods of using generative trance, how client resources can be accessed and different more productive responses can be learned and practiced. His approach is convincing, intriguing and eminently do-able.
His idea of centering is inclusive of what most people understand this term to mean. But typical of all of his writing, he uses words so precisely and carefully, that the reader stops to absorb his more expansive definition fully. Some of his phrases he are immediately transferable to any therapeutic sessions-“ you (can) feel both a part of and apart from an experience-¦be with something without becoming it-¦ “ He points out that when people learn to be centered, they can be vulnerable. Then with generative trance states, they can provide new and safe places within themselves and then new learning and the transformation of dysfunctions can more easily occur.
Gilligan believes, as Erickson did, that people's realities and fixed meanings have to be broadened. A change in perspective allows people to respond differently-each person can create a different sense of self- a different “identity” as all of us have done since childhood. Generative trance allows this easily and naturally.
He goes into detail with some of the ideas-as an example “Creative Acceptance” which redefines acceptance not as passivity but as an active curiosity about what something might be if it were accepted. This counter-intuitive idea-accept something to change it-is detailed in one of Erickson's cases-the girl with the gap between her two front teeth. Gilligan connects this to the first part of his book seamlessly.
A reasonable part of the book holds case examples in script form. This clarifies and demonstrates the uses of generative trance states. He gives explanations of what he was doing and even little easy-for-all to do ideas such as various phrases to insert in any hypnotic work-”-“trance is a learning place” and the words Erickson used so often, “trust your unconscious.” Each script is primarily aimed one of the points Gilligan has made early in the book and the how-and why-is explained. Additionally, as he points out, shorter versions of the scripts are useful to all in everyday life-we all need to be able to become more centered, to be in touch with our bodies and relax comfortably while maintaining alertness.
One of the “bonuses” always present in Gilligan's writing is his use of meaningful, often beautifully poetic quotations from a huge variety of sources which begin every chapter. And it's in this book too.
“Generative Trance” is an extraordinary book-¦. filled with different and new perspectives, captivating, and most important-valuable. My father would be so proud!