Monsters and Magical Sticks: Or, There's No Such Thing As Hypnosis

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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic OK, let's start with the flaws:1. Neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga is mentioned about half a dozen times, and almost every time, even in the Bibliography, his name is spelt "Gazzaneza".

That's it. End of flaws. Everything else is just terrific and for anyone interested in hypnosis, or NLP, or both, this is one of those rare books You simply Must Have.

At...

Published on August 31, 2003 by Karl

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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars The content is great, but the style is off-putting I have a very hard time buying into people who create neologisms for the sake of sounding mysterious, or who re-interpret a word's spelling to sound wise or clever. When my dad's guru said "Righteousness is all right-use-ness" I knew I was in the wrong ashram. When the authors do things like turn Metaphor into Meta 4, well, that wasn't too easy for me to stomach. Or...

Published on November 30, 2005 by William Sills

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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, August 31, 2003
By Karl (England, Great Britain) - See all my reviews

OK, let's start with the flaws:1. Neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga is mentioned about half a dozen times, and almost every time, even in the Bibliography, his name is spelt "Gazzaneza".

That's it. End of flaws. Everything else is just terrific and for anyone interested in hypnosis, or NLP, or both, this is one of those rare books You simply Must Have.

At the time of writing Amazon.com were pairing this book with "Training Trances" - which is a pretty powerful combination. But the books aren't just two stabs at the same material, they are significantly different views of much of the stuff that NLP is based on, and in particular the work of Milton Erickson.

The difference between the two books, and I say this with respect to all the authors, is that where "Training Trances" tells you what to DO, "Monsters and Magical Sticks" shows you how to LIVE "it". (And in case you were thinking that "it" is Ericksonian-style hypnosis, as the book's subtitle says: "There's No Such Thing As Hypnosis?")

Just like "Training Trances", and despite its apparent simplicity this is a book that can be read over and over again. And each time you read it you'll find something that you didn't get before.

If this book is anything to go by, Dr Steven Heller seems to have been very much in the same mould as Milton Erickson, gentle, tolerant, humorous, caring, etc., etc. At the end of the Epilogue, Nicholas Tharcher has included a brief obituary that includes these words:

"Though his work and his legacy endures, his presence, his sense of humor, and his enormous energy are gone. As one of his many friends I miss him."

By the time you finish reading this book, the only book by Heller now in print, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you feel much the same way.

A great book. Do yourself a BIG FAVOUR and get it.

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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars The Holy Grail of Old School NLP, March 6, 2007
By J. Storm (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews

This book is to modern NLP what the discovery of Jesus' tomb with him, his wife, and his son still in it would be to modern Christianity!

I am not a newcomer to hypnosis or Neuro-linguistic Programming by any stretch of the imagination. I have taken NLP Practitioner, Master Prac, and Trainers Training and have done various other NLP and hypnosis trainings over the past decade. But more than that, I *USE* NLP on a daily basis, with myself, with those close to me, and with everyone I meet. NLP trainings, for some practical reason, are never complete; they tend to leave "holes" in the big picture for those attending the trainings (if they don't render you utterly psychotic in the process--some people just can't tolerate NLP-style training. By the time they find out they're one of those people, it's already too late and irreparable damage can be done. Trainings by the Society of NLP are the worst, by far). You are expected to go out into the "real world" and fill in those holes with actual experience. I still had a lot of holes that I hadn't been able to fill in. Until this book...

Heller studied NLP when it was still new, back in the 1970s. He got the *real skills* back when they were still readily available from the originators. Nowadays, it seems most of the best-known NLP trainers and experts are only interested in selling you on their next seminar rather than actually teaching you something you can use. God forbid you should actually learn something and no longer need them, you know.

I got more practical NLP knowledge from this book than I did from all of the NLP trainings I've attended *put together*. Heller doesn't have a "New Code of NLP" to sell, he's not trying to avoid having the uninitiated learn his "secret recipe," he's sincerely sharing what he has learned in a very entertaining, highly memorable style.

The lack of theory that another reviewer complained so bitterly about is typical of NLP and Erickson-style teaching. He teaches you without overtly teaching you. Instead of dry, boring examples of theoretical dogma, Heller tells you stories about real people with real experiences that make the concepts very easy to understand and apply. Instead of pontificating over the technical and theoretical underpinnings of the etiology of the symptomatic complex, Heller simply says "this works, use this." And he's right. I would rather be able to do a particular skill without knowing exactly why it works than to know intimately why and how it works and not be able to do it at all. Wouldn't you?

If you're looking in other "scientific" tomes for verification of his concepts, you're wasting your time. Hypnosis and NLP in particular are about the qualitative, subjective experience as the individual perceives it. Quite of a necessity, when you generalize those things to a level where they are readily testable and verifiable in a cross section of the population, you lose something vital to the concept. Human beings are all unique. Therapeutic techniques, therefore, must be tailored to the uniqueness of the individual. This book operates from that basis.

Not exactly a book meant for beginners, Monsters and Magical Sticks will give the greatest benefit to those who already have some NLP training and knowledge. Traditional hypnotists or those doing only direct suggestion approaches may not find this book as useful as those doing more creative and naturalistic hypnotic interventions. NLP'ers will find a veritable treasure trove of practical knowledge in this amazing book.

Specifically, Heller talks about cerebral hemispheric specialization and its role in the way people think. He describes hypnotic trance as the naturally-occurring, everyday emotional state that it is. He gives real examples of how and when you go into trance and how to induce them conversationally in others. He talks about the species of conditioned response known as "anchoring" and how to use it. There is so much great material in this book, no simple review could cover it all. At its simplest, Heller has condensed down a vast body of knowledge into an easily-digestible whole that is unparalleled in any other book on NLP and hypnosis. Buy this book only if you want to learn to use effective hypnotic communication naturally in everyday situations.

I wish I had read this book a long time ago! It might have saved me spending the countless thousands of dollars (not to mention the debt I've accumulated) pursuing NLP training. With the average cost of just one NLP training easily reaching the $2,000 mark, the cost of this book is utterly inconsequential compared to the knowledge contained in it. When you learn the skills in this book, nothing will ever be difficult again!

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars "You are NOT getting sleepy...", March 6, 2002
By "roxx33" (Boise, ID United States) - See all my reviews

Doctor Steven Heller has written a fascinating book based on something that looks to be a passion. It's not that he is completely skeptical of any form of hypnosis, but he takes a hard look at the ritual and unnecessary dramatics of the professional "hypnotist." The word is in quotes, because you will see it that way all through the book. He was a clinical hypnotist for years. You should know that this title is not "Reader's Digest-level reading," it is intense and academic in approach. Steven Heller does believe in hypnosis, but under a different definition than most are used to. Monsters and Magical Sticks is filled with metaphors, imagery, and amazing success stories of his own case sessions. Learn about the "magic" behind Ericksonian techniques and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This book will show you how hypnotism really works.

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THIS BOOK, May 1, 2003

Not only did I find this book instructive, but very entertaining to read. I highly appreciate the fact that this book treats hypnosis as a natural aspect of daily life and yes it can be used intentionally and covertly as in this story from the book:"One evening, a group of friends and I were having dinner at a local restaurant. Our waiter was very distracted and he appeared to be agitated and depressed. He was abrupt, slow and unfriendly. As a result, our service left a great deal to be desired. Since I wanted to have an enjoyable evening, I decided to "talk funny" to him in order to help him feel better.

As he walked by our table holding a coffee pot, I touched his arm and said, "I'm sorry that you forgot that special night ... with that special person ... those exciting things that happened ... those very warm feelings that would embarrass you to talk about ... since we are all strangers."

For a moment his face went blank; he looked up to his left; his face then lift up and he said, "How do you know about that?" He then smiled and began to laugh, and his whole attitude changed as if by magic. He said, "Wow. that was some night. I don't know how you know about it."

The next time he came to our table, I said to him, "Wasn't it simply amazing that when you remember those happy, warm feelings, your attitude continues to change, and you continue to feel even better?"

We received a delightful service throughout the rest of the evening. What was even nicer, was that as we left he told us that we were one of the nicest parties he had ever waited on. He also asked us to be sure and ask for him whenever we returned.

Now, I have absolutely no idea as to what he hallucinated, but my communication resulted in his going back into his own history. He then found an experience that filled in the blanks, and that memory helped him to change his whole attitude in a matter of seconds. Of course, there's no such thing as hypnosis, and if there is, he should have gone deeper and deeper into a trance."

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books, October 8, 2005

This is one of my all time favorite books. Not only for hypnosis but for an overall understanding of NLP, therapy, and the implications of these modalities. Because of this book, I have gone back to school to become a hypnotherapist. If you have any curiosity as to how hypnosis works and what it is, buy this book before you get any others. I have over forty books on the subject and to this day, this has been the most inspirational and influental. The book also has many references to other authors that have been invaluable to me. Unfortunately he passed away but his legacy lives on. BUY THIS BOOK!!!

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars This book can change your life, August 23, 2005
By Joe Meadows (Ashland, OR USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME)

Maybe it's just me, but after reading many excellent books on the subject of hypnotherapy this one finally makes it all click, fall into place and clear as day (I hope the preceding sentence brings a smile to those who have already read it :) ).

At first I was a skeptical of the 'everything is hypnosis' assertion but this book truly walks its talk and has made be a believer and a different person. During the course of reading it I had an insignificant, everyday little experience that was a real eye-opener that this book knows what it is talking about.

I would be tempted to recommend that if you only read one hypnosis book then it should be this one, but I can't really do that based on my experience. As I said above, I have read a number of superb books on the subject and was already pretty familiar with most of the concepts, at least intellectually. I'm not sure if I had come to this book first that I'd have had enough background for me to grok it, so I do not believe it is a book for newbies. But I will say without hesitation that if you are a fan of the work of Erickson, Bandler, Grinder, Rossi et al then you won't want to miss this one!

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A book every hypnotist should read, April 11, 2006
By A. Franklin (Boston, MA) - See all my reviews

This book is written in an entertaining, easy-to-read format. It is not a "how-to" book for beginners, however even those new to hypnosis may find enlightening the fact that we are all constantly moving in and out of trances, that hypnosis is so much a part of our daily reality, the way we think, communicate and process information that like a fish swimming in the water we may come to conclusion that water doesn't even exist.

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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars The content is great, but the style is off-putting, November 30, 2005

I have a very hard time buying into people who create neologisms for the sake of sounding mysterious, or who re-interpret a word's spelling to sound wise or clever. When my dad's guru said "Righteousness is all right-use-ness" I knew I was in the wrong ashram. When the authors do things like turn Metaphor into Meta 4, well, that wasn't too easy for me to stomach. Or their use of multiple question marks to make REALLY SURE I understand the preceding statement is questionable. "We all know that Blah is true even though we all anti-Blah every day. Really???" I imagine that if a person didn't use this sort of thing as a BS detector, they'd find the style friendly and informal.

The reason why I care enough to point this out is that the content is really worthwhile, and I wish it had been scrubbed of these idiosyncracies. Based on the overly broad definition of hypnosis in the book, you could assert that I've hypnotized myself into valuing the form over the substance, even though I'd protest that I'm only trying to point out how the form undermines the substance.

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Monsters and Magical Sticks, October 26, 2002

Several years ago a friend loaned me his copy of Monsters and Magical Sticks. Within a few pages I knew that I was reading the work of geniuses. For months after I searched for a copy to call my own. Finally I found one. Both my training and therapeutic style have been fantastically improved! I am thrilled that this jewel is now more readily accessible. IT'S A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE WHO CONDUCTS TRAININGS AND/OR THERAPY. My hope is to one day talk with Dr. Heller or Ms. Steele and/or to attend one of their trainings. ...

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and clever, teaches and entertains, April 6, 2006

I've spent quite a lot of time reading most of the major authors on hypnosis I could find both online and in paper. Stephen Heller is in my top ten of books on hypnosis that I believe should be in every hypnotists library. The others are some by Bandler, Elman, Erickson, Battino and a few others.

There wasn't enough stars-I have read it through now 3 times and in greater depth each time after having studied other work and gained deeper insight.

If you're a fan of very flexible ways to help people to help themselves, Heller will appeal. If you would rather have principles that are useful and can be intelligently applied live (instead of dry formulae and acedemic theory alone), then again Heller is your man. He's not written a book that's on it's own a complete teaching of these skills and I wouldn't suggest it's enough to read a few (very good) books to gain the skills required either to work with people in this way. He's simply an author that should be on the reading list of serious students of hypnosis, who also wish to gain a wide and flexible knowledge of hypnosis, hypnotherapy and brief interventions. For the first time, I will say the negative reviewer is very very wrong in the strongest way. It's his considered opinion maybe, and in my opinion he's incorrect and referring to the wrong book.

There are the odd people that don't like the idea of being taught in an engaging sensory laden manner (I refer to the unimaginative sounding 1 star reviewer-who's review reads like he hasn't read the book at all in any depth).

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