In article <366E3967.F58F1F1F@ucsd.edu>, John Clark <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
That is a ``good idea.'' I put the phrase in quotes not because your idea is not good, but because I want to make a distinction between an approach which merely sounds as if it ought to be successful, and which perhaps has worked for one or two people, and one which has been taught by a number of different therapists to a large number of subjects and has been apparently successful in a large proportion of these case.
If you have helped a large number of people overcome depression through use of your idea, then that makes it worthy of serious investigation.
And even then, as people here constantly point out, one can still wonder how much of the apparent success is due to the personal enthusiasm and charisma of the practitioners using it and to the placebo effect, and thus raise the need for systematic controlled statistical studies. (Unfortunately, however, such studies have their own flaws and are certainly far from perfect. And unfortunately, the people who have the qualifications and resources to do publishable academic studies have their own agendas and don't seem much interested in ideas that originate with you or me or Roger Callahan.)
The NLP approaches to thought stopping have certainly not been validated by good statistical studies, and I don't regard them as techniques which I personally am convinced are reliable. My own quite small experience in using the technique I described previously with myself and a handful of friends has been quite positive, though, and I think it's worth more systematic exploration.
Let me suggest a way in which NLP approaches go beyond the idea you've suggested. Your suggestion is:
> One way, perhaps not an NLP
>way, is to concentrate on 'good thoughts'. The idea being that one is
>so busy with such 'good' thoughts the other have no air time.
To start with: define ``thought.'' This is a rather difficult challenge, but in the NLP framework, ``thoughts'' would be considered to manifest themselves not only in verbal form, but also in the form of images. Small body feelings are also an important constituent of thoughts: for instance, that feeling in your body that lets you know that a difficult decision you have finally made is the right one, or the funny feeling I get when reading a mathematical proof that suggests that there's something fishy about it, although for the moment I can't quite pin down what it is.
Body feelings of this sort are not infallible, but for many people they are quite convincing. In fact, they seem to be the final ``convincer'' stage of many mental strategies.
Now you say that to eliminate negative thoughts, one should just ``concentrate on 'good thoughts.''' This is great if it works for you, but I think a lot of people will respond, ``I can't do that'' or ``I don't know how to do that.'' So one can take your suggestion as an ultimate goal, but many people need to be taught a technique for reaching that goal.
In the original versions of Cognitive Therapy, the method was to teach the subject to argue with his negative thoughts on a rational level, thinking of all the counter-examples to them and all the ways in which the negative thought was not really rational. For a lot of people, this version of Cognitive Therapy seemed to work. For some others, it did not.
The approach in NLP is to have people learn a certain sequence of thoughts. This sequence would be automatically triggered by the negative thought and would wind up taking the subject to a certain positive thought instead. It would not involve a conscious effort by the subject, but would be automatic in somewhat the same way as the way hearing the first few bars of certain songs automatically causes one to mentally continue the song.
Instead of telling the subject, ``Replace thought X by thought Y,'' you teach the subject a sequence which will automatically, and extremely quickly, take him from thought X to thought Y.
There are lots of different NLP techniques that are examples of teaching subjects sequences that start out with bad thoughts or images or feelings and end up at good ones. I think that the Swish Pattern is one of the best examples. See the article Swish Pattern in my archive, and also the article Tape-Connirae which includes a partial transcript of an extremely interesting videotaped demonstration of the Swish Pattern by Connirae Andreas.
In the classic version of the Swish Pattern, one has the subject start with an image which seems to cause unwanted behavior, thoughts, or feelings, and one then teaches the subject to replace it with an image of the subject himself, ``A portrait-style image that represents the person you will be when you no longer have this problem.''
The people who are involved in developing NLP have some very good reasons why they think that this particular image is the positive image that one should teach the subject to move towards. But I don't know whether anyone has ever really experimented a lot to see whether this actually has much importance or not. The NLP thought-stopping technique I described in my earlier post in this thread, and the Callahan techniques (as I understand them, although not as Callahan apparently explains them) seem to work by simply disrupting the subject's thought process.
These techniques suggest that it's not really important to replace a ``bad thought'' by a ``good thought'' or a ``bad image'' by a ``good image.'' It's only important, one may conjecture, to teach the subject's mind to move elsewhere when it has the undesired thought or image. Just where it moves to may turn out not to be so important at all.
Trying to understand learning by studying schooling is rather like trying to understand sexuality by studying bordellos. -- Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions