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The conscious critical faculty

If you read around the topic of hypnosis you will frequently hear about the
bypassing of the conscious critical faculty and its importance within the therapy.
The conscious critical faculty is the internal filter we use to interpret of how the
world works based on all we have learnt rightly or wrongly since we were born. It is
the part of us that helps us get through life by having us automatically understand
water will be wet and that a lion would be dangerous. It is a great survival tool for
humans and has helped us become the world most dominant species. We interpret
the world through this filter and we accept information that conforms to our beliefs,
and quickly reject or dismiss any information that opposes our view of the world.
The conscious critical faculty unfortunately is not without its faults in the modern
world. Comments from adults when we are children may teach us that we are
unattractive or lacking intelligence. Once these ideas have taken hold it is very
difficult to remove them from the subconscious mind. This can have a terrible
impact on our confidence and opportunities in adult life. These negative ideas we
learn when we are young can affect our exam, sexual and general levels of
confidence and happiness. An adult holding onto these negative beliefs will struggle
to accept themselves even if they are presented with evidence to the contrary (such
as a member of the opposite sex finding them attractive). This is why its so easy to
give advice but so difficult to take it even when you know it to be correct.
Traditional talking therapies try to rationalize with the conscious mind to resolve the
issues but this can be hugely time intensive as it is difficult for the client to resolve
these issues locked in their subconscious.
Hypnosis allows a hypnotherapist to bypass this conscious critical faculty and
remove the fears, beliefs and phobias of the past directly from the clients
subconscious mind. Once the initial sensitizing event has been resolved the client is
then able to see the world from a completely new direction. The filters of the before
have been removed and the client can enjoy an improved life without the haunting
negativity of the past.

The Conscious Critical Faculty

By Terence Watts | Last updated on Nov 2, 2015

Within the hypnotic state, most peoples suggestibility is increased; that is, they are very much more
susceptible to the ideas that are suggested to them than they would be in normal levels of
consciousness. The reason for this is the by-passing of what is often referred to as the Conscious
Critical Faculty.
It is this by-passing effect which allows hypnosis to be effective and without it, it is doubtful whether
there would actually be any particular use for the phenomena, other than to provide a state of deep
relaxation. The by-passing of the Conscious Critical Faculty allows ideas and suggestions to be
accepted by the non-critical, non-logical, subconscious mind and once accepted, they will be acted
upon, make no mistake about that.

How does the Conscious Critical Faculty work?

It is easy for us to illustrate how effective this Conscious Critical Faculty actually is, although this is
not a particularly dramatic illustration. Consider this statement:
At night we can see the sun more clearly than during the day.
Of course, you instantly refuted that suggestion! But why? Well, obviously, it is because
you know that it is the moon that is more visible at night and anyway, we can only see the sun during
the daytime. You were not born knowing that you learnt that it was so, you believed that it was so,
and now your Conscious Critical Faculty filters out all information that does not fit in with your belief
The mechanism is simple. Everything we encounter and every situation we meet, is compared with
our existing knowledge-base which includes all our previous limitations and awareness of things that
we cannot do. If it does not find a match that is, if it opposes what we already have learnt then it is
likely to be rejected as inaccurate or worthless.
The actual concept is of greater complexity than we need to go into here, but it is part of the built-in
survival kit in the human mind: only trust and act upon that which you know to be tested and true.

This system, designed to protect us, is precisely why we might need therapy and why hypnosis and
hypnotherapy can be so helpful!

False or incorrect beliefs and the fundamental belief system

False or incorrect beliefs will cause the Conscious Critical Faculty to reject ideas that could actually
be beneficial to us, but that do not fit in with the tried and tested criteria. The human psyche will
not act upon a rejected idea, even though it may be exactly what we need for beneficial change. Of
course, there will have to be a rationalization of the reason for the rejection and this will usually be
along the lines of: No I dont think would work for me. I dont like the feel of it... or something
remarkably similar.
This illustrates another important facet of the human psyche the workings of the belief system. In
plain language, what it means is that if somebody already believes she cannot do something, then
any suggestions that she can will tend to be disbelieved and distrusted in the normal way, whoever
it is that tells her so. The Conscious Critical Faculty sees to that. It goes further, actually; the
individual may well appear to attempt to act upon the suggestion, but they will do so with the
expectation of failure and failure is what they are likely to find, of course, probably because of a
half-hearted approach. And then their doubts have been soundly confirmed, along with the
creation of a destructive new belief that even if they do what others suggest, it does not work
for them.
Henry Ford summed it up beautifully when he said this:
Whether you think you can or think you cant, youre probably right.
The Conscious Critical Faculty is based on nothing more credible than the teachings you have
received since the moment you were born. We all have learned beliefs and acquired behavior
patterns, many of which will have come about from a most inappropriate source somebody elses
belief system! Our fundamental belief system is what makes Henry Fords statement so true. And
the Conscious Critical Faculty is a part of this belief system, seeking to maintain its integrity by
rejecting out of hand anything which does not fit, whether it is good or bad.
The great thing about hypnosis is that it can sometimes often allow us to change one or more of
those limiting beliefs. Hypnosis works by by-passing the Conscious Critical Faculty so that the

subconscious mind can accept a more useful idea which it will only do if it is an idea that is
distinctly beneficial to, required by, and accepted by, the individual. Hence, we simply cannot use
hypnosis to persuade you to do anything that is against your moral code. Any attempt to do so
within the state of hypnosis will alert the Conscious Critical Faculty to what is happening and the
hypnotic state will be instantly terminated.

A practical example of the workings of hypnosis and the psyche

Consider a shy young man who has always had difficulty talking to girls, though he has no idea why
this should be. All his friends and family have said all the right things, they have all reassured him
that girls like him and so on but the Conscious Critical Faculty has rejected all of it because
he knows he has the problem and expects to feel the same way each time. Those reassurances are
not tried and tested information to be trusted and acted upon. So his problem steadily gets worse as
experience confirms that his belief system is right. He has terrible trouble talking to girls.
Then along comes a hypnotherapist
Like all competent hypnotherapists, they easily by-pass the Conscious Critical Faculty (dont worry
about how it is done, just accept that hypnosis allows it to happen) to prepare the young mans
psyche to accept a new and more desirable belief about himself. During the session, the
hypnotherapist will suggest something along the lines of:
and the very next time that youre in the company of a girl youll be pleasantly surprised to discover
yourself to be so totally relaxed and so totally at ease within yourself, that youll find yourself talking to
her comfortably and confidently. And that sensation of confidence and easiness will actually start to
increase as you enter into a conversation with herand that confidence will continue to increase all the
time you are talking to her and more to that effect.
Now, the Conscious Critical Faculty, being by-passed, does not interfere with the idea. And because
it is what the young man truly wants to happen, the idea can be absorbed into his belief system,
especially if it is repeated a few times which hypnotic suggestion always should be.
You might imagine that the individual would think to himself: Well, I cant see why. After all, Ive never
been able to beforewhen he is given this suggestion. Well, of course, he would if his Conscious
Critical Faculty had not been by-passed. If the hypnotherapist had not done their part of the work

properly. If that work is done properly, though, what will happen is that the hypnotized young man
will merely think: Wow! Thats really going to feel so good! or words to that effect.
In practice, it might take a couple of hypnotherapy sessions and some more skilled work with words
and imagery from the hypnotherapist for the concept to truly take root in the young mans belief
system. If the individual in question were to put the idea into action before the suggestion had had a
chance to wear off, he would then start to find that talking to girls is easy; the original belief then
would gradually be replaced by the new, as experience proved it to be true. It would become tried
and tested information to be trusted and acted upon. Well, it would unless there was an underlying
cause for his difficulty, but that is beyond the scope of this article. For the moment, just understand
how the belief system has been reconditioned in a beneficial manner.
This example accurately illustrates the concept of hypnotherapy at work and how effective hypnosis
can be when we are able to bypass the all-important Conscious Critical Faculty.