In article <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (John David Rogers) writes (at the end of his article):
One of the ideas that's discussed at some length in NLP trainings is the concept, taken from linguistics, of a presupposition. Although the term is often used incorrectly by NLPers, ``presupposition'' refers to a proposition that's so embedded in the structure of a statement (or question) that without it, the statement doesn't even make sense. By even replying to the statement as meaningful, one has already accepted the presupposition.
The classic example of a presupposition is the question ``Have you stopped beating your wife?'' You can't answer this question either way without accepting the presupposition that you have in the past beaten your wife.
Now in your article you ask
> ... What on earth goes
>on in those training sessions to make such believers?
In order to answer this, one has to buy into the presupposition that it is the trainings which create the belief that NLP works.
Whereas in my experience, most people with NLP training believe that it works because they have experiences showing that it does when they use it. I used many of the ideas from NLP extensively (although usually not the techniques) when I was doing suicide prevention counseling and found them highly effective. I've used the techniques with many ``clients'' --- actually friends, acquaintances, friends of acquaintances, etc. --- with a high degree of success.
I've had people who've had therapy with dozens of other therapists tell me after only two or three sessions that I'm the best therapist they ever had. (For all I know, they may have exaggerated. But they certainly seemed happy with what I'd done.) I worked with a man whose arm had been broken years ago in an bicycle accident and who had never completely recovered the functionning in that arm. I myself was disappointed because my objective had been to restore full functioning, preferrably in the first session, but he told me (after nine sessions total) that the NLP I had done had been more effective than all the orthopedic & chiropractic treatment plus rolfing that he'd gone through before.
I did one session with a friend who wanted to get rid of a very depressing internal voice that made her feel bad by reminding her of all the awful things in her life. When we finished, I thought ``This is the weirdest piece of work I have ever done.'' But the next time I saw her, she said ``That work you did with me was incredible. The voice is gone! This is spooky, it's almost like you've changed me into a different person.''
One afternoon I was sitting in the Crisis Center with a co-worker I'd never met before and she told me she had been abused as a child. I offered to neutralize the memory that bothered her the most and at first she was reluctant, saying ``I don't want you to do that because if I think about it I'll cry.'' After I convinced her that she wouldn't need to cry and wouldn't need to tell me about the memory, she let me take her through the phobia cure to neutralize the memory. After I did that, she mentioned that she had a phobia of having her face splashed with water and I took her through the same process for that.
Two weeks later, I saw her at a party and asked what it was like to think of the traumatic memory now. I could see that she now had no hesitation in thinking about it. She said ``I still know what happened, but it's like something I read in a book.'' When I asked her about the phobia, she said ``Well, when I went home I didn't expect the cure to work. But I put my face under the shower head and turned the water on full force and although I still didn't like that [no wonder!] I didn't gag the way I used to. The wonderful thing about this is that now I'll be able to play with my kids in the swimming pool and things like that.''
I could probably give you at least a hundred stories like that and I'm not even a practicing therapist! Individually, you can dismiss each of these as anecdotal evidence. But if you want me to believe that the totality of these successes is due merely to chance and placebo and my personal charisma (Ha!), you're better off trying to get me to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
And I haven't even mentioned the very profound changes in my own life that took place as a result of work that fellow NLP students did on me.
> ... What on earth goes
>on in those training sessions to make such believers?
For all the work you've done in the library, you've missed the whole point about NLP. An NLP training is not like an est seminar where you have some dramatic overwhelming experience and then hope that somehow it carries over into your ordinary life.
One doesn't learn NLP in a training. One doesn't become a believer in a training (although the process starts then). One learns NLP afterwards, when you start to use it. And you start to really believe that it works when you see how successful the work you do with other people is.
For most of the NLPers I know, rather than your question, the question would instead be:
What on earth goes on in graduate programs in clinical psychology so that students in these programs are not even willing to try NLP techniques out before expressing doubts?
>I think it would be worthwhile for those who would advance opinions on NLP
>to be familiar with at least some of the published empirical work, both pro
>and con. Without that grounding the arguments will never get anywhere.
Maybe so, if the objective is to convince people in clinical psychology of the validity of NLP. Speaking for myself, I think that you've misunderstood the whole point of the arguments. My objective is simply to offer information about NLP and try and show that it's worth learning about. If people don't choose to find value in the information I have to offer, that's their loss not mine.
The arguments, as far as I'm concerned, are primarily a vehicle for providing information. Secondarily, they're a form of interactive entertainment. For me, it's fun to take illogical statements other people make and twist them around and turn them upside down and see if this makes people realize their own lack of logic. (This is also something I learned during my NLP training.)
There are people in this discussion that I would never want to convince. They function much better as straw men than any straw man I could ever invent.
Finally, I would say that if I convince someone of the effectiveness of a particular NLP technique by an empirical study of the sort the clinical psych people in sci.psychology advocate, they will gain very little from that. All they have learned is that one particular technique works. It's like the familiar proverb ``If you give a person a fish then you feed him for one day. If you teach him how to fish, then you feed him forever.''
If all I can do is to teach therapists the effectiveness of individual techniques then, for me, it's not worth the effort. But if I can teach them about the kind of thinking that lies behind the techniques and convince them that it's possible to evaluate techniques simply by trying them out, then I have made a vast repetoire of new approaches available to them.
As to what goes on in NLP trainings, it's no secret. Look at some of the videotapes, many of which are demonstrations filmed during actual trainings. Look at the NLP Home Study Guide by Cameron Bandler & LeBeau. (I've never really watched this particular tape myself, but I'm sure it gives a pretty good (although very abbreviated) idea of what NLP training is like.) Read some of the books which are edited from transcripts of NLP seminars. Books such as Frogs into Princes and Using Your Brain for a Change. These are not necessarily the best introduction to NLP, but they certainly show how NLP is taught.
In doing this, you'll see almost all the information but you'll miss the biggest part of what is happening during the training. You'll miss the NLP that students in the training are doing on each other, as part of exercises and in study groups.
There is no transcript of me spending about an hour telling a sympathetic but clearly bewildered fellow student about what was, for me at the time, probably the major problem in my life. (The instructions for the exercise were that we could ask for any change we wanted to make in ourselves and I'd decided that this was my opportunity and I was going to go for broke.) And then her coming back, after a long conference with one of the assistants in the training, and asking me a single question which caused me to start crying profusely (I still cry whenever I relate the incident to anyone) and feel probably more disoriented than I've ever felt in my life.
There's no transcript to show my experience a few days later, sitting in a bar and suddenly realizing that I hadn't bothered to check out the women there. And then turning around and looking at the various women in the room and realizing that my whole way of seeing women had totally changed.
Look at the two Cameron Bandler videotapes. Yes, they're expensive ($180 each, I believe) but for someone who is serious about becoming a skillful therapist, they're worth it. Not as evidence of the effectiveness of particular techniques --- videotapes are worthless for that purpose --- but as a record of the artistry of a consummate therapist. These two tapes, more than anything else, will show you what a real NLP session, going beyond the application of any individual technique, is like. They're not typical sessions and it's not a typical NLP practitioner, but the idea is there.
And the look on the faces of the two clients at the ends of these sessions is a look I've seen several times during NLP trainings. If you look at these two faces, you'll see the answer to your question
> What on earth goes
> on in those training sessions to make such believers?
I'm an academic myself, but academics always amaze me and amuse me. They all seem to think that the world is to be found in journals. Put all the journals back on the shelf, get out of the library and look at the phenomenon itself. If you stop looking at studies and look at things that accurately portray NLP as it is then you will understand why no one who has actual first-hand experience with NLP ever shows up in any of these discussions as a skeptic.