Jon Steel asked me whether I was aware of any research or writing about Chiastic Structures and Nested Loops.

As far as I know, no one has connected the concept of Nested Loops with Chiastic structures in literature or historic writing. Milton Erickson must have developed his love of storytelling from somewhere, maybe from family members. But I am not sure he consciously initially set about creating nested loops.

I think that maybe he inherited the technique of nested loops by replicating the syntax of a familiar form of storytelling that was handed down, maybe through his family.  And it was then recognised in his work as a technique that he subsequently acknowledged, especially as a way of creating amnesia using the ABBA pattern. But I suspect that amnesia was something that happened as a result of his storytelling approach, rather than through a deliberate attempt to create amnesia, and that he observed it through his experimental work with students at university and with his own clients.

The name Erickson originates from Iceland and means son of Erick. Iceland has a long tradition of storytelling and the Icelandic and Norse prose, the epics and sagas being examples, contain Chiastic Structures. It is just possible that the Erickson family inherited the syntactic structure of this storytelling tradition and passed it down to Erickson indirectly through speech patterns.

I know that I have personally inherited a lot of my therapeutic ability indirectly through my family without first realising it. My father was a lawn mower mechanic and he would bore me stiff by talking about how he repaired lawn mowers, because he wanted me to be a mechanic too. But then I found out that he could just listen to a lawn mower engine, go into trance and know exactly what was wrong. I work the same way with my clients, but I don’t remember consciously learning how to do this.

Stephen Brooks