Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming
I have been studying education, therapies, growth experiences, and other methods for personal change since I was a graduate student with Abe Maslow over twenty years ago. Ten years later I met Fritz Perls and immersed myself in gestalt therapy because it seemed to be more effective than most other methods. Actually all methods work for some people and with some problems. Most methods claim much more than they can deliver, and most theories have little relationship to the methods they describe.
When I was first introduced to Neuro Linguistic Programming I was both fascinated and very skeptical. I had been heavily conditioned to believe that change is slow, and usually difficult and painful. I still have some difficulty realizing that I can usually cure a phobia or other similar long-term problem painlessly in less than an hour—even though I have done it repeatedly and seen that the results last. Everything written in this book is explicit, and can be verified quickly in your own experience. There is no hocus-pocus, and you will not be asked to take on any new beliefs. You will only be asked to suspend your own beliefs long enough to test the concepts and procedures of NLP in your own sensory experience. That won't take long; most of the statements and patterns in this book can be tested in a few minutes or a few hours. If you are skeptical, as I was, you owe it to your skepticism to check this out, and find out if the outrageous claims made in this book are valid.
NLP is an explicit and powerful model of human experience and communication. Using the principles of NLP it is possible to describe any human activity in a detailed way that allows you to make many deep and lasting changes quickly and easily.
A few specific examples of things you can learn to accomplish are: (1) cure phobias and other unpleasant feeling responses in less than an hour, (2) help children and adults with "learning disabilities" (spelling and reading problems, etc.) overcome these limitations, often in less than an hour, (3) eliminate most unwanted habits—smoking, drinking, over-eating, insomnia, etc., in a few sessions, (4) make changes in the interactions of couples, families and organizations so that they function in ways that are more satisfying and productive, (5) cure many physical problems—not only most of those recognized as "psychosomatic" but also some that are not—in a few sessions.
These are strong claims, and experienced NLP practitioners can back them up with solid, visible results. NLP in its present state can do a great deal, but it cannot do everything.
... if what we've demonstrated is something that you'd like to be able to do, you might as well spend your time learning it. There are lots and lots of things that we cannot do. If you can program yourself to look for things that will be useful for you and learn those, instead of trying to find out where what we are presenting to you falls apart, you'll find out where it falls apart, I guarantee you. If you use it congruently you will find lots of places that it won't work. And when it doesn't work, I suggest you do something else.
NLP is only about four years old, and many of the most useful patterns were created within the last year or two.
We haven't even begun to figure out what the possibilities are of how to use this material. And we are very, very, serious about that. What we are doing now is nothing more than the investigation of how to use this information. We have been unable to exhaust the variety of ways to put this stuff together and put it to use, and we don't know of any limitations on the ways that you can use this information. During this seminar we have mentioned and demonstrated several dozen ways that it can be used. It's the structure of experience. Period. When used systematically, it constitutes a full strategy for getting any behavioral gain.
Actually, NLP can do much more than the kinds of remedial work mentioned above. The same principles can be used to study people who unusually talented in any way, in order to determine the structure of that talent. That structure can then be quickly taught to others to give them the foundation for that same ability. This kind of intervention results in generative change, in which people learn to generate and create new talents and behaviors for themselves and others. A side effect of such generative change is that many of the problem behaviors that would otherwise have been targets for remedial change simply disappear.
In one sense nothing that NLP can accomplish is new: There have always been "spontaneous remissions," "miracle cures," and other sudden and puzzling changes in people's behavior, and there have always been people who somehow learned to use their abilities in exceptional ways.
What is new in NLP is the ability to systematically analyze those exceptional people and experiences in such a way that they can become widely available to others. Milkmaids in England became immune to smallpox long before Jenner discovered cowpox and vaccination; now smallpox—which used to kill hundreds of thousands annually—is eliminated from human experience. In the same way, NLP can eliminate many of the difficulties and hazards of living that we now experience, and make learning and behavioral change much easier, more productive, and more exciting. We are on the threshold of a quantum jump in human experience and capability.
There is an old story of a boilermaker who was hired to fix a huge steamship boiler system that was not working well. After listening to the engineer's description of the problems and asking a few questions, he went to the boiler room. He looked at the maze of twisting pipes, listened to the thump of the boiler and the hiss of escaping steam for a few minutes, and felt some pipes with his hands. Then he hummed softly to himself, reached into his overalls and took out a small hammer, and tapped a bright red valve, once. Immediately the entire system began working perfectly, and the boilermaker went home. When the steamship owner received a bill for $1,000 he complained that the boilermaker had only been in the engine room for fifteen minutes, and requested an itemized bill. This is what the boilermaker sent him:
For tapping with hammer: .50
For knowing where to tap: $ 999.50
What is really new in NLP is knowing exactly what to do, and how to do it. This is an exciting book, and an exciting time.
Steve Andreas (formerly John O. Stevens)
A challenge to the reader
In mystery and spy novels, the reader can expect to be offered a series of written clues—fragmentary descriptions of earlier events. When these fragments are fitted together, they provide enough of a representation for the careful reader to reconstruct the earlier events, even to the point of understanding the specific actions and motivations of the people involved—or at least to reach the understanding that the author will offer at the conclusion of the novel. The more casual reader is simply entertained and arrives at a more personal understanding, of which s/he may or may not be conscious. The writer of such a novel has the obligation to provide enough fragments to make a reconstruction possible, but not obvious.
This book is also the written record of a mystery story of sorts. However, it differs from the traditional mystery in several important ways. This is the written record of a story that was told, and storytelling is a different skill than story-writing. The story-teller has the obligation to use feedback from the listener/watcher to determine how many clues s/he can offer. The kind of feedback s/he takes into account is of two types: (1) the verbal, deliberate conscious feedback— those signals the listener/watcher is aware that s/he is offering to the story-teller, and (2) the non-verbal, spontaneous, unconscious feedback: the glimpse, the startle, the labored recollection—those signals the listener/watcher offers the story-teller without being aware of them. An important skill in the art of story-telling is to use the unconscious feedback so as to provide just enough clues that the unconscious process of the listener/watcher arrives at the solution before the listener/watcher consciously appreciates it. From such artistry come the desirable experiences of surprise and delight—the discovery that we know much more than we think we do.
We delight in creating those kinds of experiences in our seminars. And while the record that follows may have contained enough clues for the participant in the seminar, only the more astute reader will succeed in fully reconstructing the earlier events. As we state explicitly in this book, the verbal component is the least interesting and least influential part of communication. Yet this is the only kind of clue offered the reader here.
The basic unit of analysis in face-to-face communication is the feedback loop. For example, if you were given the task of describing an interaction between a cat and a dog, you might make entries like: "Cat spits, ... dog bares teeth, ... cat arches back,... dog barks,... cat—" At least as important as the particular actions described is the sequence in which they occur. And to some extent, any particular behavior by the cat becomes understandable only in the context of the dog's behavior. If for some reason your observations were restricted to just the cat, you would be challenged by the task of reconstructing what the cat was interacting with. The cat's behavior is much more difficult to appreciate and understand in isolation.
We would like to reassure the reader that the non-sequiturs, the surprising tangents, the unannounced shifts in content, mood or direction which you will discover in this book had a compelling logic of their own in the original context. If these otherwise peculiar sequences of communication were restored to their original context, that logic would quickly emerge. Therefore, the challenge: Is the reader astute enough to reconstruct that context, or shall he simply enjoy the exchange and arrive at a useful unconscious understanding of a more personal nature?
John Grinder, Richard Bandler
I. Sensory experience
There are several important ways in which what we do differs radically from others who do workshops on communication or psychotherapy. When we first started in the field, we would watch brilliant people do interesting things and then afterwards they would tell various particular metaphors that they called theorizing. They would tell stories about millions of holes, or about plumbing: that you have to understand that people are just a circle with pipes coming from every direction, and all you need is Draino or something like that. Most of those metaphors weren't very useful in helping people learn specifically what to do or how to do it.
Some people will do experiential workshops in which you will be treated to watching and listening to a person who is relatively competent in most, or at least part, of the business called "professional communications." They will demonstrate by their behavior that they are quite competent in doing certain kinds of things. If you are fortunate and you keep your sensory apparatus open, you will learn how to do some of the things they do.
There's also a group of people who are theoreticians. They will tell you what their beliefs are about the true nature of humans and what the completely "transparent, adjusted, genuine, authentic," etc. person should be, but they don't show you how to do anything.
Most knowledge in the field of psychology is organized in ways that mix together what we call "modeling"—what traditionally has been called "theorizing"—and what we consider theology. The descriptions of what people do have been mixed together with descriptions of what reality "is." When you mix experience together with theories and wrap them all up in a package, that's a psychotheology. What has developed in psychology is different religious belief systems with very powerful evangelists working from all of these differing orientations.
Another strange thing about psychology is that there's a whole body of people called "researchers" who will not associate with the people who are practicing! Somehow the field of psychology got divided so that the researchers no longer provide information for, and respond to, the clinical practitioners in the field. That's not true in the field of medicine. In medicine, the people doing research are trying to find things to help the practitioners in the field. And the practitioners respond to the researchers, telling them what they need to know more about.
Another thing about therapists is that they come to therapy with a set of unconscious patternings that makes it highly probable that they will fail. When therapists begin to do therapy they look for what's wrong in a content-oriented way. They want to know what the problem is so that they can help people find solutions. This is true whether they have been trained overtly or covertly, in academic institutions or in rooms with pillows on the floor.
This is even true of those who consider themselves to be "process-oriented." There's a little voice somewhere in their mind that keeps saying "The process. Look for the process." They will say "Well, I'm a process-oriented therapist. I work with the process." Somehow the process has become an event—a thing in and of itself.
There is another paradox in the field. The hugest majority of therapists believe that the way to be a good therapist is to do everything you do intuitively, which means to have an unconscious mind that does it for you. They wouldn't describe it that way because they don't like the word "unconscious" but basically they do what they do without knowing how they do it. They do it by the "seat of their pants"—that's another way to say "unconscious mind." I think being able to do things unconsciously is useful; that's a good way to do things. The same group of people, however, say that the ultimate goal of therapy is for people to have conscious understanding—insight into their own problems. So therapists are a group of people who do what they do without knowing how it works, and at the same time believe that the way to really get somewhere in life is to consciously know how things work!
When I first got involved with modeling people in the field of psychotherapy, I would ask them what outcome they were working toward when they made a maneuver, when they reached over and touched a person this way, or when they shifted their voice tone here. And their answer was "Oh, I have no idea." I'd say "Well, good. Are you interested in exploring and finding out with me what the outcome was?" And they would say "Definitely not!" They claimed that if they did specific things to get specific outcomes that would be something bad, called "manipulating."
We call ourselves modelers. What we essentially do is to pay very little attention to what people say they do and a great deal of attention to what they do. And then we build ourselves a model of what they do. We are not psychologists, and we're also not theologians or theoreticians. We have no idea about the "real" nature of things, and we're not particularly interested in what's "true." The function of modeling is to arrive at descriptions which are useful. So, if we happen to mention something that you know from a scientific study, or from statistics, is inaccurate, realize that a different level of experience is being offered you here. We're not offering you something that's true, just things that are useful.