July 28, 2009

Basics of Hypnotic Psychology: Conscious and Unconscious Minds

hypnotic psychologyOne of the easiest ways to increase the results of your hypnosis sessions is to have a thorough understanding of what I call Hypnotic Psychology. This is very important because the majority of people that you come in contact with have a very limited understanding of psychology and what is worse is that it is usually derived from Freudian Psychology! These unconscious beliefs they have about what is going on in their own minds accounts for much of the difficulties people experience when they set about to make changes in their behaviors.

Freudian psychology’s influence can be seen throughout our society when trying to explain what goes on in our mind. The important difference is that as a hypnotist you are not interested in focusing on and theorizing about every problem that can exist in a human. Instead, you are interested in finding the quickest way to help your client create change that will help them improve their quality of life.

Hypnotic Psychology begins with separating the mind into two parts; the conscious and unconscious mind. The conscious mind is the part that is aware of what is happening while you are in a normal waking state. It hears the sounds around you, it sees the words you are reading on the screen, and feels the seat that you are sitting on right now. The conscious mind is the part of you that distinguishes between good and bad, healthy and unhealthy, basically it is the part that rationalizes.

The unconscious mind is in charge of everything else. It keeps you sitting up in your seat, regulates the temperature of your body, and gives meaning to the symbols that you are reading on the screen. Basically, the unconscious mind runs the show. Once a behavior is learned really well it drops into the unconscious mind and runs automatically when needed. Some examples of this are reading and writing, driving a car, learning how to use a computer mouse, etc. Imagine if you had to start everyday relearning how to do all these things.

It is important to realize that the unconscious mind is very much like a child, it doesn’t know the difference between good and bad. It basically operates through repetition and association. This explains the common frustration experienced by people when they want to make a change in their behavior. How many times have you heard someone say I know smoking is bad, I know I should quit and then go and smoke a cigarette. Hypnotic psychology says that whenever there is disagreement between the conscious and unconscious mind, the unconscious will always win. This is because the unconscious has considerably more resources. The unconscious is like a supercomputer and the conscious mind is like a calculator. It is no contest.

The unconscious mind does not “think”, it basically responds. When I ask you what your phone number is you don’t have to think about it, it just pops into your mind. This is an important aspect of the unconscious mind it doesn’t rationalize like the conscious mind, it works by association. Let me give you another example of this, have you ever heard a song that brought back a certain memory? You didn’t have to think of that memory; it just popped into your mind. That is how the unconscious works. It has connections between things. So, when you set out to help a client create change it is most effective to go directly to the unconscious mind with the correct understanding of how it works. The unconscious does not rationalize, so it has no sense of right and wrong. It only has connections. This is important because it allows you to take the judgments out of any behaviors that you see. If you look at someone who is a crack addict, it is easy to say “Why would they want to do that to themselves?”, but that won’t help you change their behavior. The hypnotists’ presupposition is that people make the best choices they can, so although they may have a connection that crack is bad for them, the stronger connection is that the crack creates ecstasy right away, eliminates the pain, makes all their troubles go away for a little while, etc. So if you are going to help this person create change you need to do it by developing new connections that are going to provide those feelings for them. Quitting cold turkey usually doesn’t work because the brain doesn’t see it as stopping crack use, it sees it as not be able to experience those desired states that crack is connected too. When you approach it this way it is implicit that crack is only one way to experience those desired states, when this is accepted the client will be a more willing participant in the change because there is the possibility to continue experiencing the desired states in a better way than using crack.

The conscious mind is like the captain of a ship. It sets the course and makes the big decisions, but then it leaves the grunt work up to the crew, this is similar to the mind. The unconscious mind is a servo mechanism designed to carry out orders, and the conscious mind is designed to give the orders. But trying to create change solely with the conscious mind is like the captain of a ship trying to do everyone’s job. It becomes a disaster for everyone involved. Unfortunately this is how the majority of people attempt to make change in their own lives. Think about it when someone wants to stop smoking they rarely say okay now what feelings are my unconscious mind after and what are some alternatives that would be better for me. Instead they say “that’s it, I’m just gonna quit smoking” and then maybe that works until the first stressful thing happens and they’re right back to smoking because they don’t have any way to relax other than the cigarette, and their unconscious goes “well I know the smoking is bad, but the stress is even worse, so I think I’ll smoke.”

So, with these understandings the hypnotist generates change by using a different approach than psychoanalysis, pharmaceuticals, or by sheer will power. The hypnotist creates change easily by directly accessing the unconscious mind to get to the root of the problem behaviors. When this happens change is much more likely because it is no longer a change in the feelings you experience, but a change in the way that you create those feelings.