You know, come to think of it, maybe I should be glad that Edward Dow posted the statements he did (article <email@example.com> by Edward Dow <firstname.lastname@example.org>). As I've said before, I've come to think that he has not been acting in good faith in posting his misinformation about NLP, but nonetheless his comments are representative of reasons a lot of people have for rejecting NLP without bothering to first learn about it. Although his comments are not relevant to the question of whether the NLP phobia cure works or not, his article gives me an opening to say a few things about NLP and about myself that will be familiar to long-time readers of sci.psychology but may be new to many current readers of sci.psychology.psychotherapy.
I'm going to take Dow's comments somewhat out of sequence. To start with, in his article he writes:
>Your disdain for skepticism from academic types and graduate students is
>worrisome. Accepting a premise on faith is dangerous to the profession
>and to the clients being served.
There's a rather interesting implication here, namely that having skepticism towards the academic world amounts to accepting premises on faith.
In fact, this matter of accepting things on faith and thus endangering a profession and its clients is something that is much more appropriate if applied to the academic discipline of clinical psychology itself. As has been discussed in sci.psychology and sci.psychology.psychotherapy many times, there is scant evidence that most academic research in clinical psychology is useful to practicing therapists or is valued by them. Furthermore, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that academic training in clinical psychology does not contribute much to the effectiveness of therapists, and that therapists with this sort of training are not notably more effective than therapists with alternative types of training --- paraprofessionals, as they've been recently called.
However, it has to be admitted that the existing evidence is not decisive on this score and there is room for legitimate argument. Furthermore, the situation may change with the growing popularity of doctoral programs emphasizing the actual skills of therapy, rather than having students sit in classrooms, study statistics and experimental design, and write term papers.
In any case, as to myself, I've been an academic in the field of mathematics for twenty-five years (thirty, if you count my time in graduate school), and I do not think that many academics believe that the academic world should be regarded as infallible or immune to criticism.
Academic research tends to be a rather incestuous process, where people write follow-up papers to other follow-up papers. One of the things that academics, in general, are least good at is evaluating approaches that come from outside the academic world. Moreover, there tends to be a cultural clash between academics and non-academics, with the academics complaining that outsiders do not follow the academic mores, do not concern themselves with carrying out formal studies and publishing in journals. Outsiders, who do not have financial support (salaries and otherwise) for engaging in such activities, and do not have any tangible incentives for doing so, come to see a lot of academic research as a mere varsity sport engaged in by university faculty.
This relates among other things, to the following comment by Dow.
>3) NLP has not held under empirical investigation.
And then later,
>It amazes me that given all of the loyalty and fervor for the theory that
>a research program hasn't demonstrated its effectiveness. You would think
>that after ~15+ years that someone would have provided empirical support.
It is true that there do not exist published empirical studies showing that NLP techniques are effective. Nor do there exist studies which failed to find them effective. A PsychLit search will confirm that although there are an enormous number of articles in journals which mention NLP, there are no published careful studies investigating the effectiveness of NLP as a therapeutic approach.
You are amazed that a research program hasn't demonstrated the effectiveness of NLP. I am amazed too, but for a different reason. The NLP phobia cure, whose description I have posted, is an extremely simple visualization. It has been available, and described in readily available sources, for over ten years. Anyone can do a preliminary test of it, as a single-subject study, simply by finding someone with a phobia.
And yet after more than ten years, the world of academic clinical psychology has not been able to make even a preliminary assessment of the value of this technique. (This is not to deny that there are individual academics in clinical psychology who have tested it and decided that it has value. But their opinions are not reflected in the published literature.) To me, this shows something radically wrong with way in which research in clinical psychology is done. If the only methodology available is so unwieldly and so expensive that it is prohibitive for outsiders to do credible research, and if the academics themselves have no interest in carrying out research even on something where there are widespread clinical reports of success, then the field of clinical psychology needs a drastic overhaul.
>4) I forget which, but it was either Bandler/Grindler that attempt to
>have NLP considered proprietary? Smells of a money scam!
First of all, the attempt to protect one's intellectual property is widely accepted. The academics you are so fond of all copyright the books they author and hope to earn royalties from them.
However, as it turns out, Bandler was unsuccessful in having NLP declared
his personal property. As a result, anyone who wishes can teach NLP,
write books about it, or sell other materials related to it. Although
there is a national organization (The North American Associate for
Neuro-Linguistic Programming) that attempts to coordinate things and
maintain some kind of standards, it is not completely successful and
no one is compelled to belong. As a result, a much more valid complaint
about NLP is that the programs offered by various centers differ greatly
>from each other and there is little real quality control.
When I took my Master Practitioner training from NLP Comprehensive (located in Colorado), we were not asked to sign any sort of non-disclosure agreement. There was simply an informal request that if we reproduced any course materials verbatim, that we should include the copyright notice.
There is a vast difference between the way NLP trainings are presented and promoted and the programs of human potential groups such as est (now known as the Landmark Forum). Participants in NLP seminars are not asked to promote the seminars and encourage friends to take them. There is no day of the training devoted to having students bring ``guests'' (i.e. potential new customers) as is customary in seminars such as est.
The idea of a proprietary hold on knowledge used for monetary gain actually is much more aptly applied to conventional clinical psychology. Therapists with conventional degrees have to a large extent a monopoly, since in most states only they can bill insurance companies. Furthermore, in many states there has been pressure to have the Legislature prohibit unlicensed therapists from practicing at all, even though there is little or no evidence that licensed therapists are more effective than alternative ones.
>I realize you are invested in this theory,
A nice ambiguous word, that, ``invested.'' Going through my first NLP
training did indeed change my life, although I cannot claim that it would
do the same for other people and I do not actively encourage people who
are not therapists to go through NLP training. I do not make any money
>from promoting NLP, selling NLP products, trainings, or services. My only income is my salary from the University of Hawaii. I have been able to use NLP techniques to help a number of friends and acquaintances make major positive changes in themselves and their lives, but in almost every case I have done such work without payment.
> but this is very similar to
>the ``Facilitative Learning'' theory. It started as a theory, turned into
>a training business, made lots of bucks, and has been debunked on a
>number of occassions.
As previously stated, almost every statement here is false. It's hardly even correct to state that NLP started out as a ``theory.'' NLP has never attempted to present a systematic theory of human psychology, although a few of the books make a few steps in that direction.
It is true, however, that many people have businesses offering NLP training. This is in fact the only way that NLP can be taught, given the lack of interest in it by the academic world. I assume, and hope, that most people offering NLP trainings make a fair amount of money, but few of them are notably wealthy.
NLP has been debunked only by people such as yourself, who criticize it on the basis of misinformation.
> I realize that most NLPers are probably well
This is an extremely misleading statement. People are not encouraged to learn NLP because they are well meaning, but but because they will find it useful in many ways, usually fairly concrete ones. Many of these people are licensed therapists who have added NLP techniques to their existing repetoire of approaches. Others already had years of experience doing gestalt therapy, transactional analysis, or whatever, before they went through NLP training. Still others use NLP in a business or sales context.
Other people with NLP training use it as a ``stand alone therapy.'' I hope that these practitioners do some good, but I don't think they should be treating clients with serious mental disorders. Fortunately, few of them do.
My own interest is in encouraging established therapists to learn something about NLP.
>Finally, it appears that NLPers are guilty of the same type of
>theoretical treason as the NeoFreudians. Freud wanted to alter aspects
>of his theory late in his life; his followers had made psychoanalysis
>into a religion. Psychoanalysis failed as a result. The fervor you
>present in your discussions would suggest that NLP has devolved from
>theory to religion.
This comparison you make between NLP and psychoanalysis is sheer fantasy. Nobody in NLP regards Richard Bandler with the same attitude that the psychoanalysts had toward Freud. Some NLPers (although certainly not all) actually regard him as a creep who can't be trusted and are glad that he's no longer actively involved in NLP and has gone off to invent something new.
No NLP training I have been to encourages students to take NLP on faith. In fact, I have heard trainers say, ``Remember, we don't actually know whether any of this is true or not. All we can say is that in our experience, if you act *as if* it were true, you are likely to achieve better results. And if you're not getting the results you want, then change what you're doing, invent your own techniques if necessary, do whatever works.''
-- Unlike past American intellectuals, who saw the educated nonacademic public as their main audience, today's leftist intellectuals feel no need to write for a larger audience; colleagues, departments, and conferences have come to constitute their world. -- Russell Jacoby