In article <email@example.com>,
someone wrote about helping a client who had an obsession
with checking his pulse:
>>Lee Lady wrote:
I think the word ``pain'' is misleading here. It suggests that the principle involved here is operant conditioning: that the rubber band is an aversive stimulus punishing the unwanted response. But the snapping of the rubber band, as I envision it, should not actually be painful. It might be better described as a distraction, but that also somewhat misses the point.
The important thing is for the subject to make a movement, and to receive very noticeable feedback, in tactile form in this case.
I don't know if I can explain this or not. Let me first say that my idea, speculative though it is, was suggested by two things that do work. Specifically, the rubber band was suggested because of the partial effectiveness of a rubber-band snapping in breaking undesired habits such as smoking. I assume that you're familiar with this. I don't know what the theory behind it is, if any.
The other thing I had in mind was a technique taught me by one of the assistants in my NLP Master Practitioner training, Larry Sanders, for stopping negative thoughts. It's described in my NLP archive in the file called neurological techniques 1. It consists of a sequence of breaths and eye movements and using it really changed my life.
This technique is for a specific thought that goes through your mind and makes you feel bad. This thought might be in the form of an image, or of a sentence.
Start by putting your right hand, palm vertical (like a karate chop) on your right knee. (For a few left-handed people, the left side might be better.) Think a deep breath, think the thought you want to neutralize, and blow the break out down at your knee. Immediately, slap your hand on you knee (``Slam the door shut over those bad feelings''); move your eyes upward notably above eye level, still to the right, take another deep breath; move your eyes to the left (still above eye level); and blow out the deep breath. The steps have to be in sequence, not simultaneous, and they have to follow each other very very quickly, so that the mind is jerked from one step to the next. (It's probably almost essential to have someone else lead you through the process the first few times to force you immediately on to the next step). Repeat the process until the thought in question no longer triggers the usual bad feelings.
Now the theory behind this supposedly has to do with the NLP idea that there is a relationship between various lateral eye movements and the use of different sensory modalities by the brain.
This may in fact be true. But I suspect that there's something else going on that's at least actually important.
Instead of thinking of OCD as something that happens in something called a ``mind'' that operates on a rational or semi-rational level, think of it as something that happens in a nervous system.
The popular conception of the brain is that it's divided into various realms, one of which controls motor movements, one controlling vision, one controlling language, one controlling emotions, etc, and finally one that controls ``thinking.'' Now of course you, Leslie, know that that's not true. In fact, when I look at texts on neurology, ``thinking'' is a function of the brain that I don't seem to find discussed much at all.
Maybe this just means I'm not looking at very good texts. In any event, this is certainly one case in which I run a dire risk of exposing my ignorance of psychology, which Gene Douglas complains about.
But the hypothesis in NLP, at least according to my understanding, is that ``thinking'' is something that involves not only language, but also images, and body feelings, and also those parts of the brain that control motor functions.
So now if you want to change a chain of thought in a person, telling them to say new words to themselves is only one approach, and not necessarily the most effective one. Having them form an image, or using an anchor to elicit a particular body-feeling, or having them make a physical movement, or take a deep breath, or change the direction of their gaze, are all things that change the thought process.
Furthermore, there's one other idea here, which is not NLP. I'm still hoping to discuss it in a response to Nancy's article on the importance of control. This idea is that two of the most basic, most rudimentary strivings of our nervous system (in common with that of most animals) are the seeking of stimulation (and avoidance of excessive stimulation) and the need to act upon the environment and thereby obtain a response from the environment.
One sees this with very young children. Children will often provoke pain if that's the only type of stimulation available to them. This, in my opinion, explains many cases of paradoxical reinforcement, among adults as well as children, where things intended as punishment actually reinforce the undesired behavior. A child would rather have a teacher yell at him or even hit him than ignore him.
The second example is even more conspicuous. As soon as a child is able to consciously notice the difference between light and dark, and realize that the light switch produces this, he will turn the light switch on and off and on and off. The same principle, in my opinion, explains our liking for a lot of machinery --- such as remote controls. There's a basic primitive satisfaction that goes far below the rational level in clicking a button and having the television change channels, or having the car start up, or having the garage door open.
One sees the same thing with grade school children standing in line. They will start hitting each other (or otherwise ``bothering'' each other), because of the very rudimentary need to provoke a response from their environment.
Anyway, all this is what suggested the rubber band idea. It might turn out to be totally worthless, but it makes sense to me.