Metaphors are a powerful tool in order to embed important messages into patient's unconscious minds. At different points in the treatment process certain messages need to be planted for different reasons. The following story helps show patients that they do have a choice to live or die:
The Philosopher and the King
Once there was a king who had a wise philosopher living in his kingdom. The king hated the philosopher because, every time the king wanted to trick the philosopher and make him look like a fool, the philosopher turned the tables and made the king look like a fool. This time the king hit upon an idea to trick the philosopher so the king could have him killed.
The king commanded, "Bring me my philosopher." The guard brought in this old man with a long white beard.
"How can your humble servant be of assistance to you, oh mighty king?" asked the philosopher.
"See this?" the king shot back, showing the old man a tiny bird in the middle of his palm. The king folded his hand around the bird and put it behind his back.
"Now, wise philosopher," the king growled at the philosopher, "is the bird alive or dead?"
The philosopher thought fast. If he said "alive" the king would squeeze the bird to death and then kill the philosopher. If he said "dead" the king would show him the bird lived and would kill him.
The philosopher thought deeply for a long moment. A smile broke out on his face and the old man said, "As you wish, great king. The result will be whatever the king wishes."
From the book "Ericksonian Approaches"
by Rubin Battino, Thomas L. South
The definitive training manual in the art of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. Topics covered: The History of Hypnosis; Myths and Misconceptions; Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Inductions; Rapport-Building Skills; Language Forms; Basic and Advanced Inductions; Hypnotherapy Without Trance; Utilization of Ideodynamic Responses; Basic and Advanced Metaphor; etc.