Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Turning Off The Critical Voice

This post will be of interest to all hypnotists. I believe I am utilising a methodology that I can’t find reference to anyone doing before. This methodology completely removes the major blockage to hypnosis and phenomena produced – the critical voice. I have kept the descriptions and explanations simple and generalised.

With hypnosis, especially with more classical work (and I am not referring to relaxatherapy or scriptosis, both of which I don’t think use hypnosis), attempts are commonly carried out to quieten the critical voice. Eye fixation is the usual, often combined with confusion methods to occupy any critical voice which is left.

In Anthony Jacquin and Kev Sheldrakes’ Automatic Imagination Model (AIM) attempts are made to imagine the critical voice away, and imagine it happening automatically. On the rare times when AIM has failed for me, it has not been possible for my subject to imagine this happening automatically, and the voice remains to spoil the fun, preventing the client from having the required experience.

In James Tripp’s Hypnosis Without Trance (HWT) the hypnotic loop is set, building belief, which when in place becomes its own feedback loop deepening the effect of the phenomena, supported usually by eye fixation and occupying the subject’s mind with continued instructions. Yet again, here, on the rare times when I have failed with this methodology, it is usually because the critical voice pops up.

I also find that when talking to subjects who do not enter more classical methodologies of hypnosis, the blockage is the critical voice. This is often the case with those who are highly analytical, those who think very fast, the ones who are always questioning their reality.

The critical voice, that internal self-talk of the client, always seems to be the saboteur.

We all have self-talk (“we all hear voices in our head, apart from psychiatrists and dead people, and we try and avoid those” to misquote the ever humorous Andy Austin), and all self-talk voices are elements of the multiplicity of personality, whether minor or major (see ‘Multiplicity’ by Rita Carter), often referred to in the metaphor of a ‘part’ in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The critical voice is the self-talk that a client has which keeps his hold on reality, the one which holds them back from automatic imagination – hypnosis.

 So I decided to turn the critical voices completely off.

To do this I already knew a good methodology, courtesy of studying the works of Andrew T Austin, and turn negative voices off almost every hypnotherapy client session. I normally turn off the negative voices, the ones which are the saboteurs, the ones calling for bad food, the ones saying “go on, just have a cigarette” and so forth. I find the methodology incredibly effective.

 Here is the methodology: (Credit here must go to Andrew T Austin – I learn so much from every one of his products and trainings)

1. “Can you hear that voice? Find that negative voice and let me know when you can hear it.” (Elicit the voice, that ‘part’ of the “subject’s personality.)

2. “What would that voice look like if you could see it?” (Changes the submodalities from auditory to visual.)

3. “Where would that voice be if it were in the room?” (Again changes the submodalities and also dissociates, the voice is no longer part of them.)

4. “Get some black duct tape, and in your mind, tape the mouth closed so tightly that you can’t hear it.” (Mentally shutting off the voice.)

5. Tell it “ok, I’ve heard, yet you’re not helping, so now’s the time to just be quiet, and relax.” (This is what I would do for a negative or problem voice, and normally the person relaxes with the voice too, therefore getting a somatic reaction – after all this voice is an element of them – for the purposes of what follows I’ve been putting it so far behind them they can’t even see it)

This methodology has never failed (for me) to turn off a voice, and therefore an element of personality can be shut down. Knowing how and why it works I’m doing it linguistically too, putting it into conversation, which could sit better with street hypnosis or stage hypnosis for example.

In testing I used the AIM with a simple hand stick:

“Imagine your hand becoming stuck, stuck fast to the table. Imagine it become stuck automatically so much that even if you wanted to pull it away it would just stick tighter and tighter the more you tried. Now try and lift your hand…”

Sometimes even this simplified version of AIM gets a secure hand stick, often much to my surprise!

Yet when it comes free and I ask for feedback I usually get “I knew I could lift it if I wanted to.” I then get creative to elicit the voice. Conversations in this respect are usually simple though, and generally go:
Me: “How did you know you could lift it?”
Subject: “I just knew.”
Me: “How?”
Subject: “I just told myself I could lift it…”

And there we have the critical voice. And then I promptly turn off.

Since starting with this methodology I have had zero failings with getting hypnosis (automatic perception changes, automatic ‘unconscious’ following of suggestions) utilising this methodology of turning off the critical voice. This is with traditional ‘induction’ led hypnosis, waking hypnosis, conversational hypnosis, AIM, and HWT. I’m playing and getting inventive with the applications, and I have messaged and had discussions with some of my leading peers to let them develop and expand this concept further in their own direction.

Hypnosis has stayed still too long. Anthony and Kevin with AIM, and James with HWT, are looking at hypnosis with a critical eye, and stripping back everything unnecessary from it. Jorgen Rassmussen is applying hypnosis in a new direction – provocative hypnosis he calls it. Mavericks like the ‘new kid on the block’ Craig Galvin are already pushing boundaries. I’d like to think that my new application of a technique (taught to me by Andy Austin) is my contribution to moving hypnosis forward.

If you are a hypnotist – please go out and give it a go – I anticipate your hit rates will increase dramatically, leaving you much more confident in your work and having more ‘good’ subjects available. Get creative with the concepts I’ve created, see what you can develop. I’d love to hear how you get on, and developments you create. Please let me know at – and remember, if I can find something new there is more out there – what can you find?


  1. Great work Gary, i like the concept that you have used, I have been using the same with the clients with Insomnia courtesy to Paul Mckenna I can make you sleep which he took from basic NLP techniques. How ever i like the way you use in inducing trance and if there is any resistance.Its a great mix of symbolism, NLP, and even ego state therapy( parts therapy) also

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  2. brilliant Gary! going to use this right now. my voices are keeping me from falling asleep.


  3. OK, I found the Automatic Imagination techniques on the Head Hacking site and see them as a breakthrough in the entire field of hypnotism. But I have been duplicating their techniques with my hypnotherapy clients and not getting ANY results so far. Every single person I've tried has failed. It has led me to believe they are just putting on a fake show with plants in the audience. So then I found your article about the critical voice and I thought Aha, maybe I've just always had clients who had strong critical voices. So I tried these 5 steps, and they had utterly no effect at all. The clients failed the simplest hand-stick. I'm back to believing this is all baloney. If hypnotizing people were this easy, we would not be fighting wars and life would be entirely different. There's something missing.

  4. AI really does work, you need to make sure you keep the process loop *very* tight.

    So find out how you "know" it didn't work, and then feed that back in to the beginning of the next attempt.

    You imagine that you don't notice the feeling / internal voice or whatever hindered your last attempt, and whilst imagining that, imagine your hand is stuck etc. If another block comes up, loop it in too.

    It took me months to get it working so you are not alone in struggling a bit.
    Once you do get it working, set up a loop that you are great at AI, you get it working easily and so on.
    Then you can really go for some amazing effects.

    Thanks for posting the tip Gary :)