It's amazing what one can learn from just a little browsing in the library. And especially how many things that one can see don't exist.
In article <2a6hmuINNlvu@usenet.pa.dec.com> firstname.lastname@example.org
(Todd I. Stark) writes:
>As Jim Clark very effectively pointed out, there is
>actually a great deal of study into many aspects of mental imagery,
>some of which seems to me to validate aspects of some of the NLP clinical
>observations, and some of which does not.
>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
Well, I looked at your suggested references and I looked at Jim Clark's suggestions and I agree that there are certainly some interesting things there. (I especially liked the article on ``fantasy prone personalities.'' I wish it had been printed somewhere where it would be seen by a wider audience. It seems to me that a lot of academic psychologists are only familiar with other academics, university students, and generally highly verbally-oriented people. It's nice to see somebody notice that there are people in the world whose thought processes are very different from those of psychologists.)
But I just can't see that any of the cognitive psychologists are getting close to even having a clue about the things that NLP has discovered.
I haven't managed to look much at the neuropsychologists yet. Especially, I wasn't able to get hold of Robert Kunzendorf, ``The Psychophysiology of Mental Imagery.'' If there's anybody with a clue I'm convinced it will be the neuropsychologists. The cognitive people don't seem to have any idea that what they're studying is the output of a nervous system and it might be useful to think a little about how that nervous system (especially the brain) might be organized.
In particular, while looking up a paper in the Nebraska Conference on Motivation (1980), I stumbled into another paper where a psychologist was wondering what the basic units of cognition are. (I think his name was either Smith or Jenkins.) And he considered such things as 1) concepts, 2) propositions, 3) schemas (or schemata, if you insist).
At least he had sense enough to reject these answers (without suggesting any better ones). But I wonder how anybody who ever gave any thought to the evolutionary development of the brain could conceivably imagine that the basic units it deals with could be concepts, propositions, thoughts, schemas, or any such thing. The fact that we are able to use our brains to deal with such things is, as computer programmers say, a marvelous hack. A great example of using a tool for something very different than its intended purpose. But if you want to understand how the brain works (in phenomenological terms) this is not the place to start.
Of course academics might object that it's easy for some group (for instance NLP) to make speedy progress if all they're doing is speculating.
In article <20OCT93.email@example.com>
> This is not meant as a put-down of lay-people trying to understand imagery
>or any other psychological event. But to do a decent job and in particular to
>contribute to that understanding requires much effort to learn what is already
>known. Understanding people is at least as difficult as understanding the
>physical world (i.e., biology, chemistry, physics) and we should not expect
>much without considerable effort. Nor should we have much confidence in
>applications that are not based on sound scientifically-supported principles
Well, clearly this is a very strong belief of yours. But I wonder if you would be willing to put it to the test by looking through a few of the NLP books and having your friendly university library order a few of the video tapes available from NLP Comprehensive, 4895 Riverbend Rd #A, Boulder, CO 80301 (303) 442-1102. (I would especially recommend the Andreas tapes titled The Swish Pattern, Resolving Grief, and Changing Beliefs. Yes, I know, these sound distressingly clinical, but if you carry them around in a plain paper bag your scientific colleagues will never know.)
The object of this scavenging would not be to make judgement on NLP as a clinical tool, or to make a scientific judgement on the validity of the assertions made. The purpose would be first, to consider the ideas presented and wonder how come cognitive psychologists haven't explored these concepts at all. (I've already spoken in a past posting about the idea of submodalities.) And secondly --- the reason I especially recommend watching the particular videotapes I've mentioned --- would be to observe the methodology for eliciting information from subjects.
The methodology used by scientific psychologists sometimes seems to me designed to obtain as little information as possible. Sometimes the inquiry seems almost intentionally to stop just at the point where it seems that something interesting is about to be discovered. If I weren't an academic myself, I'd almost think that there is some kind of conspiracy at work here, that psychologists are afraid that they'll run out new things to discover so there is some sort of union rule that one study should only be allowed to discover a very small amount.
There is an attitude that one can get much better information by taking a large group of subjects and asking the smallest possible question, rather than trying to obtain as much information as possible from a few subjects, which is more like the NLP approach. Maybe the scientific approach is good for verifying hypotheses, but it's lousy for exploration. And I think the lameness of the results in many of the papers I looked at in the library shows that.
As a NLPer, I believe that you cannot obtain high quality information by having people fill out questionnaires, or by asking every subject identical questions so that an interview becomes essentially an oral questionnaire. I also believe that if you want to get in depth information you need to have certain clinical skills that I guess most scientific researchers don't have much training in --- the ability to have good rapport with the subject and the ability to be alert to very small non-verbal cues that the subject gives.
In my opinion, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the value of a methodology is proved by the results one obtains. And I just don't see that those studying imagery scientifically are getting good results. (More on this in my next posting.)
The ``scientific'' psychologists have PhD's from universities, they do very careful experiments, and they report their results in refereed journals. It certainly looks like science.
The NLP people, on the other hand, do not have PhD's in their field, although some of them have PhDs in other fields. Connirae Andreas has a PhD in psychology (clinical, of course), as does Stephen Gilligan (a Stanford Ph.D.) and Sid Jacobson. Many others have graduate training in clinical psychology through the Masters level.
NLPers draw conclusions from clinical experience (highly unscientific!). They communicate their results to each other over the telephone or by letter or teach them in seminars that they offer (at a considerable price) to general public. There are three NLP magazines, and although these sometimes contain information about new techniques and discoveries, none of them could be called a journal. At best, information is published in books printed by small alternative presses. It certainly doesn't look like science.
But I invite my academic colleagues of the psychology persuasion to take a look at the discoveries that the NLP people make and compare them to the results obtained by the cognitive psychologists, and then decide which group can better claim to be making scientific progress.
Or whether a true scientific psychology would require a mixture of both approaches.
``If alexandrian fires were to consume all the thousands of metres of library space devoted to the archive of behaviorist and pavlovian journals from the 1920s to the 1960s, I doubt that much of more than historical interest would be lost.''
--Steven Rose, The Making of Memory