Friday, 9 October 2009

Analytical subjects I

Following on from my recent discussion of the acting dilemma I feel that I should take a while to talk about the topic of analytical subjects.

The lack of decent methods for analytical subjects, as Javier recently commented, quite rightly in my opinion, is something of an elephant in the room that hypnotists seem to shy away from talking about.

What we are talking about in this thread are the people who just "don't get" hypnosis. They just don't respond. You talk at them, give suggestions and nothing happens. There are plenty of people who just don't want to be hypnotised and will simply not go under, in a formal context anyway, and these are usually people who have been pressured into trying in the first place. What I am talking about here, however, are people who want to to be hypnotised but somehow can't seem to manage it.

I don't view my own model as definitive, but I would like it if my views on this stimulate debate. I am speaking as someone who was one of the worst examples of this sort of subject and I have a passionate desire to put across where it was that all of the approaches that hypnotists tried on me were going wrong, and even making the problem worse.

In this post I will talk about my model of hypnotisability. In subsequent posts I shall outline how I would go about hypnotising an analytical subject, or indeed how I would have liked someone to hypnotise me if I'd had access to this model this time last year. I will also explain where I think many hypnotists go wrong.

MBTI

I should talk a bit about the way my model of hypnosis explains the way in which different people respond to hypnosis differently.

My model is heavily influenced by something called the "MBTI", or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Whilst this is not directly related to hypnosis or NLP in any way I do recommend reading a bit about it because it is a very interesting way of evaluating and understanding the way in which people make decisions.

I have mentioned MBTI before in my earlier post entitled "Typealyzer". Put simply it's a model that regards personality type as similar to left or right handedness: individuals are either born with, or develop, certain preferred ways of thinking and acting. In the model there are four opposite pairs of attributes, or dichotomies, which form 16 possible combinations (for example INSF, or ESTJ) each representing a distinct psychological type. The model asserts that individuals will, on the scale between each dichotomy, naturally prefer one type of behaviour over another, just as a right handed person will prefer to write with their right hand over their left hand. Indeed, people often find using their opposite psychological preferences more difficult, even if doing so would be to their benefit.

The four dichotomies are as follows:

  • Extraversion - Introversion
  • Sensing - iNtuition
  • Thinking - Feeling
  • Judging - Perceiving

I won't go into the meanings of these scales, interesting though they are, although I expect "Extraversion - Introversion" and "Thinking - Feeling" probably speak for themselves.

An individual's preferred behaviour type is often referred to simply by the four attributes toward which they lean. In my November article last year I subjected this blog to an analysis and the result was "ISTP". Most interestingly, if I typalyze BlackMeridian now I get this:

INTP - The Thinkers

"The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about."


As I said last November "INTP" has always been the result of MBTI tests I have taken in the past and it seems that with more information the algorithms the typealyser uses reach the same conclusion.

It's important to stress that these aren't laws, merely an individuals natural preferences, and something that the letters alone do not indicate is the extent of that preference. It's important to see an individual's relation to each dichotomy as a position on a scale rather than an absolute predilection for one type of behaviour or the other, and as my position on the scale between S and N has always been close to the borderline I was not too surprised when I got ISTP the first time instead of INTP. In truth I think my profile exists somewhere between the two.

My preference for Introversion and Thinking are, however, at the extreme ends of their respective scales. This would seem to indicate that I nearly always prefer to be in quiet surrounds and not be the centre of attention and that I usually like to think logically instead of emotionally, a generalised indication that is in fact very true to how I am.

MBTI is far from being a complete model of a person's brain, but it is a useful tool for understanding people and it's something that I believe in quite strongly. I feel the same way about the way my own model, which I will now explain, relates to hypnosis.

Critical or Uncritical?

So how does this relate to analytical hypnotic subjects?

I should say that I actually hate the term "analytical"; I prefer to use the term "critical", but the meaning in this context is much the same.

In my model of hypnosis I like to employ another dichotomy which, although completely unrelated to MBTI, borrows from it the idea of representing an individual's natural preference with a position on a scale. Such a scale, which I will call "U-C", or "Uncritical - Critical", would place natural somnambulism at one end, and at the other the behaviour of a willing but completely unresponsive subject - an "antisomnambulist" if you like.

The position on a scale does not state how someone will always behave, merely how they prefer to behave, what's instinctive to them. Also as with MBTI an individual's position on the scale may move depending on time, experience and context.

For the sake of my model I assert that there are two kinds of thought, critical and uncritical. Uncritical thought is when someone thinks and accepts something because it feels right to them, it's irrational and instinctive. Critical thought is the opposite of this, it's about reaching a conclusion through a logical, analytical thought process.

Uncritical thought is the kind of thought required to be in the state of hypnosis, Critical thought is the kind of thought that can be used to block hypnosis.

Needless to say everybody thinks with a mixture of both of these thought processes, but what we could do is plot a position on the U-C scale for each individual that would reflect which kind of thought process that they have a natural inclination to favour over the other.

What this means is that, in my model at least, an individual with a preference for uncritical thinking will make a better hypnotic subject than someone with a preference for critical thinking because when thrust into the unfamiliar territory of hypnosis they will favour their uncritical thoughts over their critical thoughts. Indeed, the more someone prefers to listen to their uncritical thoughts the more likely they are to listen to them to the exclusion of critical thoughts that contradict them. Their hand might, for example, get stuck to a table. Likewise the more someone favours being critical the more likely they are to shrug off such crazy irrational thoughts in favour of evidence and reasoning; of course the hand can move, what's stopping it?

Needless to say most people are nearer the middle of this scale, but some people live at the extremes. For example, one could argue that people who have "permanosis" (a term I have heard Anthony Jacquin use to describe being in a permanent state of trance) are people who are at the uncritical end of the scale. They have critical thoughts, but their thoughts are dominated by uncritical thoughts.

My assertion is that an analytical subject is someone who is well toward the critical end of the scale. Whilst they have uncritical thoughts their thought processes are dominated by critical thinking. They like to analyse, examine, reason, and will have a mistrust of how they simply feel about something if they can't find a logical reason to explain it.

Why be analytical?

So why analytical subjects analytical? I contend that they are critical simply because that's who they are, and frankly it's not as of itself a bad thing.

I said above that critical thinking can be used to block hypnosis, and I think it is this that leads many hypnotists to conclude that an analytical subject, who can't help but think critically, is someone who is afraid to go into hypnosis, or that they are resisting. This is an assertion that the completely willing subject will find at least confusing, and possibly baffling or annoying, because they know that they are doing everything they can to cooperate. They know it's nothing to do with fear.

If we stretch the definition of "fear" a little we could perhaps consider the way in which someone with a preference for a certain kind of behaviour might feel when faced with the opposite sort of behaviour. This is more a kind of awkwardness or discomfort and feeling out of place than actually being afraid. For example, an extreme introvert in a nightclub would feel very uncomfortable. A creative logical thinker in an art lesson might draw up the design for a helium-filled trans-Atlantic giant rigid airship passenger liner, complete with buoyancy and fuel consumption calculations and then feel very awkward when trying to explain their work in artistic terms to the rest of the class, who have drawn pretty flowers.

These are examples of when someone "doesn't get" something that the others around them are finding easy and natural simply because of the way they are used to thinking.

Analytical subjects just "don't get" hypnosis. It's not a defense mechanism; they just aren't accustomed to listening to the right part of their mind.

Now I have heard some people contend that young children don't have trouble with uncritical thinking and go easily and deeply into trance all the time, so therefore adults must also be able to. Perhaps so, but young children are also known to wet themselves or fall on their faces without putting a hand out, something that adults would find very difficult. Many people could put their foot in their mouth when they were children but most can't now. People grow up and develop as individuals; an adult's mind is very different to that of a child.

This is all about who someone is, and not what they were.

The good news?

The good news in all of this is that analytical subjects can be hypnotised; anybody who is willing can be. In parts 2 and 3 I will talk about the mistakes I think many hypnotists make when trying to hypnotise analytical subjects, and I will outline how I would go about it.

2 comments:

Niecktieknot said...

Wow, Parkey, what insight! I can't wait for Part II.

But what you're saying here about critical/non-critical thinking can also be applied across other areas. What came to mind as I was reading was ongoing thoughts of mine about religious vs. non-religious people. You show me that it can be seen that to be religious you have to have a threshold amount of non-critical thinking, at least in that area, for it to begin to make sense. And then when you throw in some of the 'mystical' aspects of religion like meditation and speaking in tongues – which is basically self-hypnosis - the non-critical thinking becomes even more evident.

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

(I'm an ENTJ, myself.)

Unknown said...

A most interesting hypothesis. i can barely wait for the reveal!

Thanks, Parkey.

– David