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Medical Neurolinguistic programming

  1. Aug 8, 2006 #1

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    I study cognitive science/neuroscience/psychology. Several people I have mentioned this to have asked me if I have studied "neurolinguistic programming". What the heck is this? It has never been mentioned in my classes. After Googling a little, it seems to be a sort of "fringe" theory about cognition. I am not sure.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2006
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  3. Aug 9, 2006 #2


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  4. Sep 27, 2006 #3
    Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), as the name suggests, refers to the use of linguistics (i.e. Language) to program your brain. That is a simplistic explanation of it. More generally, it is the science of human performance and achievement, e.g. why you do what you do and how can anyone learn your model of success and replicate it in his or her own life.

    NLP borrows its concepts and teachings from neurology and psychology, e.g. Pavlov dogs' experiment is often used to explain the concept of "anchoring" in NLP. "Anchoring" is about associating a particular state to say, a certain action. For example, when you're in a motivated state, you can say something like "Yes!" and snap your fingers. If you elicit that state and keep associating it with "Yes!" and the snapping of your fingers, it is suggested that by doing those actions the next time around, you can be in that state again. Which might be quite right if we consider the Hebbian learning and long term potentiation theory in neurons.
  5. Sep 29, 2006 #4
  6. Oct 31, 2006 #5
    Neurolingistic Programming is a change management discipline, developed by two grad students (neither in psychology) who thought that conventional psychology was nothing but a bunch of people testing their theories on their patients. Mostly a waste of time.

    However, they thought that the therapists who were actually helping people were probably accomplishing that just because they were doing something right.

    So they studied the work of Milton Ericsson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls, through transcripts and recordings, and to a lesser degree writings. They boiled down the process they used into a basic set of steps:

    1. Rapport building to create trust and common language
    2. Agreement between the therapist and client on the nature of the desired change
    3. Agreement on a strategy to effect the change
    4. Execution of the strategy

    Though this sequence is identical to virtually any sales or project management process, and in fact many common types of conversation, the piece that attracted so much attention to NLP was the initial step.

    Every subsequent step in NLP is completely dependent on the first. For both people to understand nature of the problem, you need open communication line between the two parties. How do you get that?

    Well, NLP makes the therapist responsible for establishing rapport -- i.e. making the client comfortable enough to be open about who he is and what he wants and what his problem is in getting it.

    The basic technique for doing this is called "mirroring." On a physical level that can be talking at the same rate, arranging your hands in a similar way, matching breathing. On a style level, the practitioner will listen for clues about things like age, values, background, place of origen, all the things that shape someone's sense of their own identity. And then feed back information that let's the patient know that therapists understands who the patient is.

    It sounds pretty mechanical, and is. But it's also the fundamental way any relationship is built. By recognition and acknowledgment of the other person's identity.

    There is a lot of this that get more technical, like mapping people's eye movements to tell if they prefer to learn visually or auditorially, or if they're lying. And NLP has provided a continuing forum for not just understanding how people access and process information, but also about change management techniques that have worked and can be shared with other therapists or "operators," as they call themselves.

    I believe rapid eye movement technique that has proven so useful in short-cutting a lot of trauma work originated from the NLP community.

    As to the comment that NLP can be used by salesmen to make people buy stuff they don't want, NLP people would disagree. It can however be used to give people what they want, and if what they want is a free ride of some sort, then they are a perfect mark for con men. But that principle long pre-dates NLP.

    NLP is based on a number of premises that incorporate a lot of respect for other people. One of the first operating assumptions of NLP is "Everyone is doing the best they can." Another one is "The communicator is responsible for the success of the communication."

    The first may sound kind of dopey, but it's really a major shift in consciousness for a lot of people. The second makes a speaker, and no one else, squarely responsible for whether he's understood.

    Most people who study NLP use it to improve their own lives and to enrich what they offer professionally. I studied it when I wanted to switch from journalism to consulting. It turned out to be the best investment I ever made in myself, and my clients profit from it everyday. I intially went into PR, where it helped me teach my clients to be better communicators. Then into strategic marketing, where I got more involved with making sure that business strategy matched market needs. And these days, I use it to help non-profits and individuals reach their potential and hopefully change the world.

    Too much information? I hope not. If you have any questions, you can contact me.

  7. Nov 4, 2006 #6
    I have access to several videos that demonstrate NLP as a practical science. Its effective on perhaps a third of the general population and in specific, usually against people who are easily manipulated by either appeasing their ego, or by domination of their logical faculties. In english, people who are highly succeptible are: newagers, people of radical faith, people who think they are psychic and people who allow themselves to be cut off in a conversation, but rarely cut off others.

    As mentioned in a prior post, anchoring can be an effective tool in programming your subject. Subliminal imagery is also very effective. If you want the videos, they are available upon request.
  8. Nov 7, 2006 #7
    Programming for what? This sounds like a conspiracy theory.

    Anchoring is what happens when you put your hand on a hot stove, say ouch, and decide not to do that again because when you look at the stove, you can remember the pain. You can consciously use the same technique to remember something.

    Like this. You want to lose weight so you'll look better in a bathing suit when you go on vacation. You think about strolling on the beach, looking really hot and feeling really confident. When you've got that "state" nice and clear, you pop a rubber band a few times on your wrist. You practice that a few times, until you've got the state anchored to the rubber bank pop. The next time you are tempted to buy a Snickers bar or eat a bag of Cheetos, you pop the rubber bank, remember why you don't want to eat that junk, and don't. (Or do, if you want the Cheetos more than you want to look good on the beach.)

    Subliminal imagery is not about NLP; it's about Skinneresque conditioning. A completely different discipline, and one that is actually not consistant with the premises of NLP, which empower people to find their own internal resources to effect the changes they want in their lives.

    The previous letter implies that NLP can be used to influence people who are characterisitcally dependent or lack confidence or are in a cycle of victimhood. So can a big stick. Or an attempt to shame them. Or rage. Or a whole host of other things, including making them feel important by including them in a circle of malicious gossip.

    NLP teaches people to communicate more effectively. So salesmen study it. You listen better, understand better. So you and the other person can actually find a common language, and the relationship doesn't succumb to mutual contempt, the great killer of marriages and other connections. My NLP teacher was a little old lady who told me there wasn't a place in the world she wouldn't feel safe, because she knew she could always build rapport wherever she was. And I believe her; she was that good. (And that wonderful a person.)

    Using an image to correct a phobia can be useful. But it's your own memory, and the process is called reframing. Which is changing what the image means to you. And all NLP change strategies are devised in partnership with the the client.

    If you want to understand NLP, go watch a Tony Robbins infomercial. He doesn't call it NLP, but that's what he's doing. Teaching people how to change their lives by getting clear about they want, envisioning change strategies, and executing them.

    And by the way, observe the respect he shows to the people who watch him. His whole point is that you can do it. If you want it, you can do it. You just have to focus, get the target clear, figure out the steps, and follow through. It's Zen arrow stuff.
  9. Nov 7, 2006 #8
    I find it sad that you think Tony Robbins is an example of NLP. Building rapport also isn't NLP, its simply using intonations, open body language, eye movements and facial expressions to endear your subject. NLP uses specific words and sentence structures to impart a predictable response from your subject. Since you sound like you are in the psychology field, maybe you can post a link to a white paper on NLP?

    I've seen Derren Brown go to a shrink's office, have the shrink sit in his own patient's seat and NLP him. Derren would say a word and ask the shrink to think of an image. Then Derren (sitting behind the shrink) would sketch a picture of the image he programmed. Derren would say 'apple' and then draw an image of a cat's profile with its tail perked upwards and curled. Then he'd show the image to the shrink and the shrink would indeed confirm the image even to the detailed level of the curled tail. This was repeated 4 times during the bit. All were successful.

    Can you speak to this? Is this not a cut and dry example of NLP or is there a subtle trick I am missing?
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