- Posted: September 2014
- By: Michael Carroll
The illusion of negative parts, emotions and behaviours and your appendix has a use after all’
NLP is a field with many influences and has spread rapidly around the world. Around the mid 1980s an alternative discourse emerged in the field which was very different from anything the originators had propagated. Content models were introduced and theories added which did not resemble the original NLP ideology namely that NLP creates choices for people by working with their unique structures.
Instead sloppy global statements were used to sell a story and often a course that people are broken and full of negative emotions, negative parts and negative behaviours needing to be healed. What is sad for NLP is people believed this non NLP story.
The idea was to ‘cleanse yourself’ of negative emotions. Integrate your bad parts into the larger whole and map across or swish your negative behaviours. When I heard these claims, I asked myself is this some form of religion, where there is a belief human beings are inherently negative? It’s very similar to the dogma inherent in religion. When you go deep into real NLP, you don’t look at people as broken, you enable them to access and create choice in their lives. In fact I would like to offer an abstract definition of NLP as system that creates choice.
I once sceptically sat at the back of the room in a training course and heard an established NLP Trainer say ‘I believe we as human beings were once part of a larger whole and have fragmented into lots of little parts and it’s important to bring these parts together as one’
To be honest, people in the room struggled hard that day not to laugh out loud, particularly as earlier we were studying the meta model and the trainer’s statement was loaded with meta model violations and was based on a presupposition (his belief). This trainer was referring to the notion of parts in NLP and is using the metaphor of fragmentation without making it explicit. He said this statement many times, it seemed he was believing his own story which he was generalising to all people.
NLP was built on a discreet modelling process which made explicit tacit knowledge of genius. In all contexts from coaching to modelling, NLP searches for what is unique. NLP is not a one stop for all process that says everyone is built in certain way. Real NLP does not use personality profiling to say a human being is built in a certain way. NLP does not state that people are fragmented with parts and should be whole, NLP does not say that people have suite of negative emotions that must be cleared. NLP is about modelling excellence and then about creating choice.
Some will ask a valid question - What is the difference in a model and an isomorphic metaphor? To build its story NLP does utilise metaphors, the challenge is when people believe the metaphors to be absolute, a dogma is created. In early NLP, the abstract theories of automata theory were utilised as a model for the representational systems and the 4 tuple (Bandler and Grinder 1975). The logic of automata mapping complex neurological circuitry was genius on John Grinder’s part.
All of a sudden you have Alan Turing’s ‘truth machine’ as a model to determine whether we are paying attention in primary experience to a visual, auditory ,kinaesthetic or olfactory/gustatory representation(s). What made this so unique was Grinder and Bandler gave us well tested calibration points, such as eye accessing cues and predicates to corroborate the model. That is the difference between a model and a metaphor. A model is well tested, totally isomorphic and has calibration points to verify the components within the model. For example if I use X pattern within the Milton Model, there is something I can explicitly calibrate to corroborate the pattern. A metaphor on the other hand is a useful story with some isomorphism that maps our presuppositions about how the human nervous system works.
NLP is full of metaphors, the frequently used NLP terminology such the unconscious mind, parts, timelines, do not exist as entities within us, they are useful metaphors to describe processing within the human nervous system. The field of NLP is not alone in utilising ‘metaphors’ - Cognitive psychology is well known for its computational metaphors to denote brain activities. It’s when NLP Trainers start talking about models and metaphors as if they are true, the water gets muddied and global statements are peddled, which don’t seem to add a lot of value to peoples’ lives.
Earlier in this article, I referenced how some people in NLP put their attention on negative emotions, negative parts and negative behaviours. Emotions, parts and behaviours are all nominalisations - they do not exist as entities within us and by acting as if these processes are things, we reinforce the process, creating a psychological boundary for the circuits and thus strengthening the illusion that the nominilastuns are real.
What if there were no positive and negative within you? What if you moved on from adding positive and negative values to your internal circuits and just recognise these processes are just neurloligical programmes. There may be positive and negative consequences of these programmes,but that is different from saying your circuits themselves are negative.
In NLP were all behaviour has a positive intention, this of course is a presupposition and there is no way of actually affirming the statement as true. It actually a useful operating assumption for an NLP Practitioner to work with. This means we can find alternative behaviours (Neurological circuits) to satisfy the intention and the original behaviour remains a choice, albeit a choice that is not selected. In this frame nothing is taken away from the system, new things are added.
Many years ago a friend of mine was feeling discomfort within his stomach, the doctor recommended surgery to remove what was then considered a redundant organ, the appendix. After the surgery the discomfort continued, my friend was much more susceptible to infections and he said he felt inside like a part of him was missing, which it was.
Modern research now shows that the appendix is not an evolutionary throwback organ, once useful for processing vegetation and now redundant as we have evolved. However recent research indicates that the appendix has a use, acting as a safe house for good bacteria. The body uses this to essentially “reboot” the digestive system when one suffers from a bout of dysentery or cholera. By removing this organ you change your internal system, this organ does have a use.
Behaviour / parts / emotions may also appear redundant (and often are) that does not mean you remove or seek to obliterate them from your psychology. The circuits are part of you and as an evolving human being you can create a whole myriad of responses to facilitate choice in yourself and satisfy all your positive intentions.
In New Code NLP, the main locus of attention in facilitating choice is ‘state’. This is contrast to modern NLP which focussed on behaviour. At least behaviour is measurable, unlike an ‘emotion’ or ‘part’, state is a biological process of your entire circuitry in any given moment and is off higher logical level than behaviour. There is a state in New Code NLP, called the High Performance state, this as its name suggests is where an individual has access to high performance circuitry, this state has so many potential choices and behaviours attached, generative change occurs with no need to toil through ones past, cleaning so called negative emotions, no need to act as if parts are real, just exciting new ways of being.