by Brian Green
Though we have one mind, there are usually considered to be two sections of it: the conscious and the subconscious. The subconscious was termed by Freud the unconscious. He only saw it as a negative, a swamp of primitive drives and aggressive impulses. Perhaps his was. Hypnotists, au contraire, regard it as the source of creativity, inventiveness and strength, a valuable resource that can be utilized, not only as this negative primitive area. Nowadays some hypnotists use the term, “other than conscious,” mind, to define it as everything not in conscious awareness in the present moment. A metaphor that is used to illustrate the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind uses a comparison to an iceberg. The visible portion above the surface of the water is the conscious mind, guestimated (I can’t imagine how), to be approximately 10% of our thinking ability. The subconscious mind, consisting of that portion of the iceberg beneath the water, being the other nine tenths. I have also seen information that the conscious mind processes a few hundred impressions a minute, to the thousands of impressions the subconscious mind processes in the same time, (I can’t imagine how this was arrived at either), but the general consensus is how much larger and more powerful this mostly hidden “other than conscious mind” can be.
Another useful analogy is to the computer. It seems to fit so well. After all, where would we intuit the design of a complex information processing system, other than our own minds? Many new processes such as “fuzzy logic” are in fact actual conscious attempts to reproduce our own mental processes, as far as they can be ascertained. In this comparison, the conscious mind is the equivalent of the computer screen, consisting of that which is available to our conscious thinking process. It is the analytical, linear, logical, rational, “two plus two equals four” mind. Plus our conscious emotions, those surface emotions that we are aware of. Here we move information around, computing how to minimize pain and maximize pleasure, the two fundamental desires of any organism, however they may be conceived of in any particular being or life path. Here we use the mind to analyze our environment to obtain the necessary control for achieving these ends. So this mind operates primarily in the here and now, though it usually calls on the past as a computational factor. This means many of its functions operate within the framework of and/or via the perspectives and “lenses” supplied by the subconscious mind.
I have found a major function of the conscious mind is to “bend” information to fit these hidden perspectives. Here is one of my usual simple crude examples. “I don’t like women with red hair, they are easily angered and bad tempered.” He forgets the little red headed six-year-old girl that used to hit him when he was four. Or if the memory of her is accessible, there will be no awareness of how those events are connected to his current views! Similarly, how many times does a person see advertisements of happy laughing healthy young persons playing on the beach, accompanied by the slogan, (or hypnotic auditory suggestion), “Things go better with Coke.” The visual imagery is also a visual suggestion associated, i.e. “paired with” the verbal one. Then in a store, the person purchases Coca-Cola, consciously thinking, “I need some Coke,” or “I need some for when my friends come visiting.” Never connecting their actions to the numerous adverts that have been absorbed. But the Coca-Cola Company does not spend untold millions putting out this information in this way for nothing. Cinema and television are powerful trance mediums, as a picture is “worth a thousand words.” This is an example I use with my clients, to illustrate the persuasive penetration of repetition, especially useful when internally absorbed deeply from repeated playing of a hypnosis audio product. This being the case, Hypnotherapists realize that people are actually mainly persuaded based on emotional processes that are going on within them, not logical thinking. Logic helps, but people are making most decisions emotionally, and then backing them up by manufacturing conscious logical thought.
Some psychologists identify anything that can be voluntarily called to mind as being in the “pre-conscious”. A hypnotist however would include all of that in the “other than conscious mind,” too. How many memories are there that could be recalled with the application of some thought, but how many of them are left undisturbed for decades, loitering in the lower reaches of consciousness? And how many are separated from linkages that would give more profound insight, meaning and relief? In our computer analogy, the subconscious mind equates to the software, operating systems, and memory banks, containing our automatic responses, deeper emotions, feelings, habits, impressions, and permanent memory, and our compulsions, impulses and responses to them. It operates apart from the linear logic of the conscious mind, though working with the subconscious as a hypnotherapist, I see what I term as “emotional logic.” Behavior, as is illustrated also in much psychotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, always has some positive intent, which when disinterred, becomes comprehensible within it’s own context and it’s own terms. The inner mind works with analogy and association, uses ambiguity, poetry, and especially imagery and metaphor for storing and processing information, rather than the more limited inductive/deductive quasi-logic, (and prejudices, rationalizations etc.) of the conscious mind. That is why the former inward factors stir us so deeply and readily.
Learned habits, such as walking, are permanently installed and normally accessed without conscious thought by sub-systems. Redundant acquired habits become “grooved in” and self-perpetuating in the “software”. In fact, attempting to consciously “take them over” causes a loss of effective functionality. (Try consciously thinking of where you are placing your feet the next time you hurry up a flight of stairs, and you will soon discover what I mean). So athletes often have to be assisted by a hypnotist to “get out of their own way”, allowing themselves to trust in their own trained abilities without thought, flowing more naturally in the “zone” as it is termed. Or using the “no-mind” as the Zen Buddhists would have it.
The lower or deeper levels of the subconscious part of the mind control blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, digestion, heart rate, and similar biological functions of our body. Also the instincts and instinctual responses, and their physiological counterparts, our reflexes, All of which we inherit presumably mostly through our genes. This resembles the “hard wiring” of a computer. In my pre-talk, to illustrate this point to clients, while simultaneously reassuring them of their ultimate control I inform them, “No matter how many times it might be suggested, “you will stop breathing”, you would not do so, because it is wired in on the survival level.” Though Yoga adepts and so forth may bring many of these functions under conscious control, it is not such a usual accomplishment in Western culture. The subconscious never sleeps, never takes a break from keeping our biological functioning going. I also explain this to clients by, “It’s the part of the cave man mind that always stays on the alert for the Saber Toothed Tiger.” This is usually accepted with a smile. Also relating the “other than conscious mind” to the Guardian Angel, provides a positive frame of reference that helps counter any fears the client may have in releasing conscious control.
The subconscious mind is concerned with bringing about our deepest wishes expectations and desires, even if sometimes they are contrary to logic, and our own current well-being. The subconscious mind, seeking to meet our deepest needs, expectations, wishes, does not always do it the way we want it done. The subconscious mind does not care if the body hurts, but rather that the deepest needs are met. If our greatest need is for affection and the only time we experienced affection was when we were sick, we may get sick in order to receive that affection. This occurs even though consciously we don’t like being sick and the reason is unknown. So it is evident that once a solution to a need is found, it may be repeated in essentially the same way incongruently, redundantly, at times in a disguised adult form. A female client, in trance, with no prompting from me said with tears streaming down her face. “When I was young, I was bitten by a dog two or three times. This was the only time I got any caring at home. That is why I kept going to Hospital Emergency Rooms for overdoses or cutting my wrists.” She was bearing the label of a mental condition. As I observed her release herself I thought, “She is never going to be that sick again.”
The soil of the subconscious mind accepts any kind of seeds – good or bad. Once the subconscious mind accepts an idea, it begins to make the idea a reality. When applied in a negative way, the subconscious can be the cause of failure, frustration, unhappiness, and even illness.” Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And in the Bible, (proverbs), “Whatever a person thinketh in his heart so is he.” Hypnosis is a process that allows access to a whole spectrum of altered states of awareness, (generally described as trance), that allow simultaneous states of inward concentration to occur, with a fluid flow between many levels and depths of the mind. In this state, the mind and body are more open and receptive, the most helpful tool for pursuing treatment goals. The beauty of clinical hypnosis is in acquiring the ability to enter a trance deliberately. This gives us a key in hypnotherapy, because in trance, deep level dysfunctional beliefs can be attenuated or erased, and more functional ones be instilled and installed. Negative images and metaphors can be altered and supplanted with more useful ones. We can guide a person move “away from” damaging information and/or “move towards” healing/positive ideas. This can, when targeted at emotional processes for therapy, give a person a “virtual” better childhood, as the “old tapes” as they were referred to in latter day psychotherapies, can be annulled. More limited problems are amenable to less general suggestion processes. All of this appears to take place, in trance, on the “other than conscious” level where the negative processes were formed, for highly effective change, without will power. Even physiological processes may be affected by suggestion, and has given me the ability at times to assist people who have run out of medical options. Behavioral and functional difficulties can be overcome. As I have stated elsewhere, at times the results, psychological or physical, can appear miraculous.
Brian Green, CHT, CDS. Certified Hypnotherapist. Former Senior staff Therapist, Hypnosis Institute, Glendale. Former member, ACHE, NGH, IHF. In private practice twelve years, (2007). Warm, caring, professional and confidential. Author of, “Mind-mending for Mind-bending, Wizard Ways With Words.” Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor, (Mission College). Power to solve your problems. All issues. “If it can be done, I’m one of the guys that can do it.” 12 Step counseling. Family and couple’s issues. Sessions in the Greater Los Angeles area. Potent hypnosis audio products, (available by mail). Free twenty minute phone consult. Presentations and Workshops given for hypnosis groups on Hypno-linguistics or Addictions. mindmagic123.com.
Based in West Hollywood, California, U.S.A