Stop smoking and lose weight Hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Oakland, East Bay, Berkeley, Richmond Jan Saeger: smoking cessation, weight control, San Francisco Bay Area, East Bay
Eliminate anxiety, fear, phobias

Markova stacks, part 4:
How to elicit the patterns

Summary: How to recognize and elicit 6 natural patterns of human intelligence that influence the way you and your clients think, learn, and communicate. Index to article.

Basic elicitation

To conversationally elicit someone's stacking pattern, ask them to briefly describe something they saw recently. Notice how long it takes them to respond, and how deep in trance they go. Now repeat with something they felt recently, and with something someone said. They'll take longest to respond, and go deepest in trance, when accessing their unconscious modality. They'll seem most alert and respond fastest using their conscious modality. Most of their predicates will probably match their conscious modality.

You can also describe something using words from one sensory channel, noticing how alert or entranced the person seems and how fast they respond. Then repeat for the other modalities.

Verifying the subconscious sensory modality

One modality will usually seem obviously conscious or unconscious. To confirm the subconscious modality, check for multi-tasking. Can they see inner pictures while watching a scene? Hear internal dialog while listening to a conversation, or understand two or more conversations at once? Keep in touch with their emotions while moving around the room?

Verifying the unconscious sensory modality

You can verify their unconscious modality by asking what they can't tune out and find impossible to ignore. They'll often mention some particular aspect of the modality — voices but not other sounds, visual flicker, or their own emotions. They might be able to tune something out only by ignoring it totally. I've met kinesthetically sensitive people (AVK, VAK) who find their own feelings so overwhelming that they block conscious awareness of them.

Another clue is the modality they have least awareness of in their internal processes. As you elicit strategies, a visually unconscious person will notice sounds and feelings, but probably not their internal pictures. When asked to access pictures, they may have trouble seeing them or get only a sketchy representation. An auditorily unconscious person won't hear their internal sounds. These out-of-awareness elements are often the drivers for feeling states, motivations, behaviors, and convincers. 1 

Unconscious elements often act as drivers. Monsters and Magical Sticks contains an excellent discussion of how to use the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious modalities for therapeutic problem-solving. Short review

Poor recall in a modality often corresponds to using it for unconscious processing, though many people have excellent recall of experiences in their unconscious modality. They probably recall only some aspects of it, however — their body position, or tactile sensations, or emotional state, rather than complete K recall, for example.

When doing a TD search, people tend to stop external access in their unconscious system. Thus someone with an auditory unconscious will stop talking, but may keep looking at or doing things, while a K unconscious will stop doing things, but may keep talking and looking. Visual unconscious people may keep talking and moving, but their eyes defocus and they may stare into space or even close their eyes.

Unconscious processing patterns

People who use auditory as for unconscious processing tend to have hesitations in their speech and to pause to hunt for words, particularly when trying to express something for which they don't have a ready-made answer. Their conversation may ramble and loop back on itself, and they may ask lots of questions. Their language may imply the animism of a small child; for instance, the weather may "decide" to rain. Abstract speech makes their eyes glaze over.

People who do unconscious processing visually are typically "eye shy"; they have trouble making eye contact, or their eyes blink or flutter a lot. Often their writing is rambling, repetitious, and either overly abstract or overly specific — the same patterns auditory unconscious people use in their speech.

Those with K unconscious tend to be touch-shy, unathletic, and often emotionally reserved. The exceptions tend to be very touchy-feely, masterfully athletic, or strongly emotional and very aware of others' feelings. (Typically a K unconscious person will have just 1 or 2 of these patterns, whereas a K conscious person may well display strengths in all 3.)

Discovering your own Markova stack

Determine your own Markova stack by noticing what you pay attention to in order to become alert, which modality you can multi-task in, and what sense you have difficulty tuning out. What modality does your attention shift to when you daydream (subconscious), and when you really space out (unconscious)? Which modality can exhaust or overwhelm you most (unconscious)?

Markova stack questionnaire to help you determine your own pattern.

Part 5: Utilizing Markova stacks > >

— Jan "yon" Saeger and W. Keppel
© 2004, some rights reserved
posted July 2004
Creative Commons License


  1. For an excellent discussion of out-of-awareness drivers, and of how to use the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious modalities for therapeutic problem-solving, see Monsters and Magical Sticks or There's No Such Thing as Hypnosis, 2nd edition, by Steven Heller (1994). Short review. Jump back

Jan Saeger and W. Keppel are NLP Master Practitioners, NLP Health Practitioners, and NLP developers.


© 2015 EasyChangeWorks, Oakland, California
San Francisco East Bay Area    sessions anywhere in the U.S. by phone