Friday, 9 July 2010

The (Flawed) Foundations of NLP

From Yahoo! Groups

Here’s a question for the Erickson/NLP aficionados. But first, a couple of brief passages from Transformations and Frogs to Princes.

Frogs to Princes

‘Now, what typically happens when you go to a seminar is that the leader will say "All you really need to do, in order to do what I do as a great communicator, is to pay attention to your guts." And that's true, if you happen to have the things in your guts that that leader does. My guess is you probably don't. You can have them there at the unconscious level, but I think that if you want to have the same intuitions as somebody like Erickson or Satir or Perls, you need to go through a training period to learn to have similar intuitions. Once you go through a conscious training period, you can have therapeutic intuitions that are as unconscious and systematic as your intuitions about language.’


‘Much of the material in this book is derived from Bandler and Grinder's careful and systematic observation of the work of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. Until his death in 1980, Erickson was widely con­sidered to be the world's greatest medical hypnotist. He was widely known for his successful and often "miraculous" work with "impossi­ble" clients, as well as for his extensive writings on hypnosis.

‘Several years ago I went to visit Milton Erickson at his home in Phoenix. After he described some of his remarkable work with clients, I asked him how he knew to use one approach with one client, when he had used an opposite approach with another client who apparently had the same kind of problem. He responded "You just trust your uncon­scious mind."

‘That approach to hypnosis works great if you have Milton Erickson's unconscious mind. But how is it possible to learn to automati­cally and unconsciously respond as effectively as Milton Erickson did—to have an unconscious mind like Erickson's? Grinder and Bandler's special genius is the ability to observe someone like Erickson and then describe in detail what Erickson does, what cues he responds to, and how it all fits together.’

Now, here’s the question.

How much time did Bandler and Grinder spend in careful and systematic observation of Erickson doing therapy?

If you don’t know, hazard a guess at how much time you think would be necessary to model an intuitive therapist sufficient that you could absorb their skills and be able to pass them on to others.

Best wishes


The fact is, Bandler and Grinder spent no time watching Milton Erickson do therapy. None! Erickson had retired before they arrived on the scene. Richard Bandler met Erickson just four times. Apparently they didn't get on. No 'rapport'. John Grinder spent maybe about ten days with Erickson over a couple of years, but that was all. They modelled Erickson doing workshops and seminars. That might be a great way to model a great workshop-giver but it is not, I suggest, a great way to model a therapist.

Incidentally, they modelled film of Fritz Perls in his California incarnation by which time he had become a pastiche of the typical white-bearded, Austro-Jewish psychotherapist, and was a long way from his Gestalt roots.

That said, Virginia Satir was alive and well and on the scene at the time.

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