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 Critical Faculty trouble

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
oystagoymp Posted - 10/18/2006 : 4:09:34 PM
(I have copied and pasted my entries from different forums so please bear with me as it my question might be a little confusing)

If the CF is the analytical/judgemental gatekeeper to the subconscious while the latter is non critical, then why isn't the patient subjected to the whims of the hypnotist regardless of their morals?

I was told that the subconscious will not do anything you are morally against.

I have read that all of a person's actions are dictated by pleasure/pain ie. to gain pleasure or avoid pain. When one suffers from a psychological disorder it is the subconscious' mechanism of self preservation as it believes the "disorder" is in one's best interest. How would hypnosis initiate a change if the whole basis of the problem is the unconscious' work for ecological well-being.

If the hypnotherapist is unable to facilitate a change in the instance your subconscious finds the change to be against self preservation then how can you change a habit that your subconscious created in the name of self preservation? I'm having difficulty understanding how the subconscious is not critical if it decides what's in its best nature and what's not.

Your input would be GREATLY appreciated!


7   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Ron Surface Posted - 06/30/2008 : 11:17:26 PM
Hi Patrick,

As you said, we probably just disagree on the terminology. I realize saying the CF is bypassed is the explanation usually given for why hypnosis is effective. But it's inaccurate. Obviously, if we can choose then our ability to choose has not been bypassed. If we can reason our ability to reason has not been bypassed. Why continue to use the term? As I said before, it's the inaccurate, misleading terms we use that contribute to misunderstanding about the subject.

The usual definitions make hypnosis sound like it's some wacky universe with its own quirky set of rules. It's really not that different from everyday life. A figure skater or gymnast needs to focus on the task at hand if they're going to be successful. It's the same with hypnosis. If you're trying to overcome pain for instance, reasoning or analyzing isn't going to do you much good. Using the imagination and other techniques of hypnosis will. So the person voluntarily chooses to focus on the mind's creative, imaginative abilities. The hypnotist is just showing them how. Nothing's been bypassed. They're choosing to focus their thoughts.

As you said in a previous post, if the person reasons or analyzes too much, it will disturb their state or depth. I agree. If they're reasoning or analyzing, they're not focusing. They're being distracted. If a gymnast has other things on their mind during their routine, they're probably not going to be successful either. But we don't say their critical faculty is bypassed just because they choose to focus.

I'm not trying to split hairs, but I think there is a huge difference in saying hypnosis is successful because the person chooses to follow directions and focus their thoughts and in saying their ability to think for themselves or choose has been bypassed.

Just thought I'd offer a possible explanation of hypnosis without the CF terminology. Thanks for keeping an open mind.

patrickg Posted - 06/30/2008 : 08:59:17 AM

I see what you mean and agree that CF bypass does not a zombie make. There seems to be an in-between.

With out CF bypass, we know someone is way less likely to accept suggestions. The suggestions would be fighting conscious analysis as well as currently held behaviors. With CF bypass, there is reduced conscious analysis and suggestions will find a home if currently held non-analytical belief/behaviors allow it and find it acceptable.

I guess we're saying the same thing conceptually. Just not agreeing on terminology?

Patrick Glancy, BCH

Ron Surface Posted - 06/30/2008 : 07:38:28 AM
Hi Patrick,

I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. I don't believe the conscious mind and the critical faculty are the same thing either. Like you, I disagree with the phrase 'hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind'. I was only using that as an example of how the descriptions hypnotists use contribute to misunderstanding about the subject.

Concerning the critical faculty - Eitan referred to it as the gatekeeper, you refer to it as a filter. Either way, I think you both are referring to the same process. Beyond that, I'll share the way it is usually described, at least in my experience. The critical faculty reasons, analyzes and basically decides what to believe and what not to believe. As we enter hypnosis, the CF is bypassed and information is allowed to go straight into the subconscious without CF interference. The subconscious is non critical. It doesn't reason or analyze or decide whether it believes a statement, it just accepts it, as long as it doesn't violate the person's morals or self-interest. This also seemed to be the definition Eitan was using when he asked the question.

As you said in your post, we only have theories, but still, theories need to conform as much to the facts as possible. Is there any evidence that a person's subconscious automatically accepts suggestions, and the person can't do anything about it because their ability to decide whether to accept the suggestion (critical faculty) has been bypassed? Taken at face value, that is what the theory states. And it contradicts what most hypnotists believe about the subject. This is what causes the confusion.

That's why I stated the critical faculty being bypassed is a myth and tried to demonstrate that people can and do reason during hypnosis. They are not helpless. Even during deep hypnosis (the Esdaile state), people still retain the ability to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. In other words, they still have the ability to choose whether to accept a suggestion or not. If this is true, then the critical faculty is not bypassed. If it were bypassed, the subconscious being non critical, would automatically accept the suggestion and the person would have no choice in the matter.

That's really what it all boils down to. Either we can choose whether or not to accept a suggestion, or we have no choice and have to accept the suggestion. If we can choose, then the critical faculty is not bypassed.

Best Regards,

patrickg Posted - 06/29/2008 : 12:08:19 PM

From your recent post, it looks like you are saying the conscious mind and critical faculty are the same thing. From my understanding and experience, the conscious mind is not bypassed in hypnosis. The conscious mind is still active during hypnosis. People sometimes describe is as a shift in perception - the conscious mind feeling more like an observer to the process. The critical faculty is a separate thing.

From my training, CE (and what seems to hold true in my experience) is that the critical faculty is more like an information filter acting between conscious and subconscious. Regulating what goes into our sub from the conscious - long term memory, emotional associations, beliefs, feelings as well as what our sub allows back to our conscious. How fine, or coarse (how much info is allowed through w/o analysis)fluctuates based on depth.

If you have too much conscious mind activity, (conscious interference) it can close down this filter.

If a hypnotist is saying that hypnosis bypasses the 'conscious mind', that hypnotist needs more training.

Regarding the example, from Elman's book: a person can be in somnambulism and still be able to use their conscious mind if it is called into action, but it reduces depth for a moment.

Of course, as we know, nobody really knows how the mind works. We just have working theory that needs to be reviewed and updated as the profession grows. While I disagree with what you put forward, I don't discard it.

I agree with the frustration in public perception. I deal with it everyday. I shamefully enjoy showing people the ways hypnosis fundamentals are used on them daily in the news, politics, advertising and religion.


Patrick Glancy, BCH
Ron Surface Posted - 06/28/2008 : 7:46:10 PM
Hi Patrick,

In the same passage, Elman tells how they also tried to convince the student there was a fire. Still he refused to arouse himself. If the students dropping the match was simply a protective mechanism, then surely that same protective mechanism would have aroused him from the state if he believed there was a fire. Apparently, he didn't believe there was a fire. In other words, he was thinking for himself. His explanation that if there had really been a fire everyone wouldn't have just kept standing around could have been an after the fact rationalization, but still, if this explanation came 'after the fact', it doesn't explain why at the time he didn't arouse himself from the state. If the subconscious is non-critical and accepts any suggestion given as long as it doesn't violate the person's morals or self-interest, then why didn't he arouse himself and get up to leave? He still retained the ability, even in the Esdaile state, to think for himself and draw his own conclusions. His critical faculty was not bypassed.

Many people who experience hypnosis for the first time doubt they were actually 'hypnotized'. Why? Because they can hear everything that's said. This is not an after the fact rationalization, but something that goes on during hypnosis. As you know if you've experienced hypnosis (and I'm sure you have since you're a hypnotist), the mind is not a blank slate that just accepts anything the hypnotist says. It is entirely possible to disagree with what the hypnotist is saying or to doubt what they are saying (I don't think I'm 'hypnotized'). If we disagree or doubt, what are we doing? Thinking for ourselves and drawing our own conclusions.

I realize this goes against most of what is taught about hypnosis. I only ask that you keep an open mind. A large segment of the public is still reluctant to embrace hypnosis for fear they will lose control. Lawmakers consider regulating the practice over concerns the public will be manipulated. A large part of this misunderstanding comes from the ridiculous way hypnosis is defined.

Take the people who doubt they are experiencing hypnosis because they can still hear what's being said. Where does the belief come from that we won't know what's going on during hypnosis? Part of it might come from the way hypnosis is portrayed in movies, but surely a large part of the blame comes from hypnotists saying 'hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind'. What is consciousness? Basically, it's awareness. Even though we know most people are aware during hypnosis, we continue to say that hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind, even though our own experience clearly demonstrates it's not true. It's no wonder the public is confused.

If a client experiences success from hypnosis, it's because they have chosen to follow the hypnotists directions and focus their thoughts on what he asked, not because their ability to reason, think for themselves or draw their own conclusions has been bypassed.

Take care,

patrickg Posted - 06/28/2008 : 01:49:54 AM
Little too tired atm to write a long response -

The ability of that person to drop the match sounds more like behavioral/subconscious reaction/thought than it does analytical reason. The person's response as to his reasons was an after-the-fact subjective analysis.

Bypassing the critical faculty is only about conscious analysis. Morals are subconscious belief/behavior/neural pathways.

So, you can bypass the critical faculty and still have protective learned behaviors/morals in place and active.

IMHO: in your average client, the critical faculty is rarely completely bypassed anyway. There is a constant fluctuation in depth as you work through a session... well an advanced session. If you're just verbally regurgitation script, you may have a more consistent depth, but less success.

Patrick Glancy, BCH
Ron Surface Posted - 06/26/2008 : 02:03:25 AM
Hi Eitan,
Originally posted by oystagoymp

If the CF is the analytical/judgemental gatekeeper to the subconscious while the latter is non critical, then why isn't the patient subjected to the whims of the hypnotist regardless of their morals?

The belief that the critical faculty (our ability to reason and analyze) is bypassed in hypnosis is a myth.

Reason is defined as 'the ability to think and understand and draw conclusions'. In his book 'Hypnotherapy', Dave Elman wrote of an experiment some doctor/students of his performed on a fellow classmate while in deep hypnosis. They lit a match and placed it between the student's forefinger and thumb. When the flame reached the end of the match, the student's fingers moved just enough to allow the match to fall to the floor. When questioning their classmate about his experience afterwards, he responded, "When I thought it might burn me, I dropped the match, I didn't even worry about the match burning the doctor's carpet because I knew you were all here and someone would put it out". Is that not reasoning? Is that not understanding the situation, considering different courses of action, and the possible consequences of those actions (If I hold the match, I'll get burned. If I drop the match, it might burn the carpet), then drawing his own conclusion (they're all here, someone will put it out), and then taking action (dropping the match) based on his conclusion? No, the critical faculty is not bypassed in hypnosis.

The above is an excerpt from a booklet I've written entitled 'Hypnosis De-Mystified'. You can download a complimentary copy from my website (listed at the bottom) if you're interested in reading it

Originally posted by oystagoymp
When one suffers from a psychological disorder it is the subconscious' mechanism of self preservation as it believes the "disorder" is in one's best interest. How would hypnosis initiate a change if the whole basis of the problem is the unconscious' work for ecological well-being.

If a client learned one way of coping with their problem, they can certainly learn another way. It's a matter of helping the client see there are other alternatives available which might be more appropriate.


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