I wanted to wait until I had change to spend some more time in the library looking at the literature on mental imagery before I responded to Todd's article, but other things get in the way and I want to respond before his article disappears (and people completely forget it).
In article <2a6hmuINNlvu@usenet.pa.dec.com> email@example.com
(Todd I. Stark) writes:
>I think I understand where the juice behind Lee Lady's polemic comes
>from, it seems implicit in most of the NLP literature. I think it comes
>largely from the culture around NLP, which envisions itself as a kind of
>practically oriented but unappreciated orphan psychology, going where
>no one else is (or was) willing to go. I've often made the parallel between
>this and the growth of Hubbard's Dianetics, though I personally think that
>the NLP foundation was a lot better originally.
One thing I became convinced of last summer taking a seminar (The Epistemology of Systemic NLP) from Robert Dilts (along with Todd Epstein and Judith DeLozier) is that there are actually two different NLPs. (Actually, there are lots of different aspects, but there are two main branches.) First there is the NLP that started out as a serious academic subject, arising out of linguistics and systems theory. This was the NLP Dilts referred to in this seminar by saying ``What NLP really is is an approach to epistemology'' and ``NLP is about systems and can be applied to human beings because an individual can be thought of as a system.''
This is the NLP presented in The Structure of Magic and Neurolinguistic Programming, vol I. It arises from, among other sources, the work of Chomsky, Gregory Barteson, and George A. Miller. And, as Charles Faulkner pointed out in an article in sci.psychology two years ago, it is also related to the work of George Kelly and the constructivists.
This line was not followed up a whole lot in NLP, except by Dilts, Epstein, and DeLozier. In large part this was because NLP developed in a non-academic environment and it's hard to do real scholarly work without support from a university or comparable institution. (If John Grinder had got tenure in the linguistics department at UC Santa Cruz, the whole development of NLP might have been very different.)
But the other thing that happened was that the NLP group included some extremely talented therapists, among them Bandler himself (despite all the negatives, he was and is extremely talented) and Leslie Cameron. And they started discovering some really good approaches to therapy. The exposure to Milton Erickson was also crucial, and in some ways not totally salutory. I think it was being around Erickson that gave Bandler and Grinder the idea that they might turn NLP into something extremely profitable, like EST and Scientology.
Dilts told us last summer: ``Eventually, Gregory Bateson decided to stop sending people down to get to know Erickson [for instance, Bateson was the one who recommended that Joy Haley study Erickson] because he said that so many of them ('for instance the Bandler-Grinder boys') came back from Phoenix obsessed with power.
It is interesting to look at the chronology of the original books on Neurolinguistic Programming. The Structure of Magic, vols. I & II (1975 & 1976), Patterns in the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, vols I & II (1975, 1976), Changing with Families (co-authored with Virginia Satir, 1976), Therapeutic Metaphors (by David Gordon, 1978), Neuro-linguistic Programming vol. I (1980, but actually written by Robert Dilts in 1978, based on the work of Dilts, Grinder, Bandler, Cameron Bandler, and DeLozier).
In none of these original books is there anything that could really be called a technique. Instead, these books were all intended to teach therapists how to think about doing therapy. It was only in 1978 in Leslie's book They Lived Happily Ever After (subsequently revised and reissued under the title Solutions after Leslie's break-up with Bandler(!)) that any NLP techniques appeared in print.
But later, as the techniques became more important, NLP became largely a different subject, in which the systems theory was largely pushed to the side, Miller and Chomsky (and even Bateson) were not mentioned a whole lot, and the main influences were Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson, and Fritz Perls. The most popular books on NLP became the seminar transcripts published by Real People Press --- Frogs into Princes, Trance-formations, and (later) Using Your Brain for a Change and, finally, Connirae & Steve Andreas's excellent book Heart of the Mind. These were all published in paperback with new age covers and can still sometimes be found in the Psychology section of bookstores like Waldenbooks. The Structure of Magic became a book on the Recommended Reading list for NLP trainings, but which most students never actually got around to reading because it was much too much like a college textbook (only harder). (Volume I had in fact originally been written as a Master's thesis for Bandler when he was studying linguistics under Grinder.)
Although the core developers of NLP have always insisted that NLP is not therapy and that therapy is merely one application of NLP, until last summer all the NLP teachers I learned from were therapists. Most of them had academic training in psychotherapy and therapy was clearly the major focus of their activities. And despite all the assorted interests and motivations of students, the vast majority of the work we did in the seminars consisted of exercises in doing therapy (or, more precisely, ``changework'').
This course last summer was my first seminar in the original systems-theory oriented NLP. It was not a very successful course for the presenters financially --- there were only 12 students --- and will probably not be given many more times. Dilts is clearly at heart an academic and reminded me a lot of myself, but it is very difficult to do real first class scholarly work outside a university environment where, aside from financial support, there is a community of scholars to listen to one's ideas and give critical feedback.
To go back to Todd Stark's article:
>The idea is, I understand, that a new field (at the time) had to emphasize
>practical work over theory in order to persue further growth of knowledge
>about how sensory representations are organized, and how they can be
>utilized for therapy and other purposes. But the unfortunate result was
>a general distaste for relevant current psychological and neuroscience theory
>that is now becoming (almost) sophisticated enough to study the things that
>the NLP pioneers were struggling to 'model' in their early conceptual
Yes, I think that although many NLPers are fairly familiar with current research in clinical psychology and social psychology, none of them are up to date on neuroscience. (And I myself am certainly not.)
This is unfortunate. NLP started out, in my opinion, with some very astute guesses as to the way the brain operates. NLPers never claimed that they were giving a scientifically accurate picture of the structure of the brain, they simply claimed that they were giving a model which seemed to explain the phenomenology of cognition (and affect, and behavior). A lot of these ideas were never written down very coherently (and it's possible that some of them may only exist in my own head, in my own interpretation of NLP), but I think that they are now being confirmed to a surprising extend by current research in neuropsychology.
I think this would be a good point for me to break off and continue in a later article.