The last couple of month I wrote a couple of Facebook entries about neuro linguistic programmering (NLP) here in the Netherlands. I am a trained NLP practioner, master en trainer myself, but increasingly I get an uneasy feeling about the way NLP is used and exploited here in the Netherlands. I read stories written by well known Dutch NLP trainers that not only lack intellectual coherency and congruency, but also show a shocking manipulation of others and a strong abuse of power. Furthermore, instead of treating NLP as a flexible toolbox, these trainers turn NLP into a church with rituals and different schools that discredit each other. These observations have made me realize that there is a fundamentally wrong assumption behind NLP. Let me explain.
Grinder and Bandler were both part of the counterculture in California in the sixties and seventies of the last century. This counterculture arose on both sides of the ocean, but was particular strong in the US due to the Vietnam war. This caused a strong antiestablishment sentiment in the US, that was strongest in California. Grinder and Bandler, but also Steve Jobs of Apple, were part of that culture. It made Steve grow a computer company to break the power of the IBM?s of this world and Grinder and Bandler to suck the genius out of three psychoanalysts to break the power of the psychoanalytical establishment. They called it NLP.
The NLP movement was based on the assumption that the world would be a better place of we could disconnect the skillset from the person, thus enabling every human being to become his or her own psychotherapist. And that is exactly what Grinder and Bandler did: they modelled the psychoanalytical genius in a toolbox so any human being can learn that in 2 times 11 days (NLP practitioner and NLP master practitioner).
There is a strong belief behind that thinking that nobody ever addresses.
The belief is that a human being is a set of skills sets. So if you isolate a certain skill set from a person and teach it to somebody else, the somebody else has the same qualifications as the original person. I think that assumption is simply wrong. To address that, I wrote in an article on a NLP forum that ?..NLP is great and powerful, but it is also like giving a box of machine guns to an bunch of fucking chimpanzees..?
To make it more practical, I believe that Milton Erickson was not only a great hypnotist because of the specific skill sets Grinder and Bandler distilled from Erickson, but because of something else. And that something else is ?intention? or the ?why? of behaviour. In the western world, thanks to theologian William of Ockam, philosopher Rene Descartes and biologist Charles Darwin, we have removed the why from our world. If you want a why, go to a church or believe in God. Without God, no why. So evolution is just an accident and life is only direct experience. Enjoy it, but don?t try to make any sense of it as it is senseless.
With his ?final cause? Greek philosopher Aristotle developed a framework in which why exists without a God. I think he is right and will be proven right. I have already written about that in other articles, so I will leave it here.
NLP is a toolbox that operates within the ?no-why? framework of Ockam-Descartes-Darwin: it works on the ?how? and ?what? in relationship with the ?where? (context). But it denies the why. Last week a NLP trainer visited me. He had done any NLP and hypnosis training you can ever imagine. But he was depressed and wanted me to help him. What he said did not surprise me: ?Eric, I know all this stuff, I can cure phobias and other stuff, hell, I have even left my family as they didn?t want me to do this kind of work, but?I still don?t know who I am and why I am here?? Now, of course, this is one person, but he is not the only one telling me this. Now we can tell these people that why is an illusion and they should stop looking, but to them it is real.
But this is not the most prominent point I would like to make.
The most prominent point I would like to make is that if there is no why, there also is no such thing as ethics and morality. There are only rules to govern our whyless how-what-where drive to survive and satisfy our egotistical needs. But that is not the same as ethics and morality, although often mistaken for it. Ethics and morality transcend egotistical need-satisfaction. They stretch out to the greater whole, the larger system. Throwing your garbage out of the car while driving serves your egotistical needs and is therefore in a whyless universe acceptable until a formal law says otherwise. In a why-universe it is not acceptable as it disturbs the larger context. Ethical and moral behaviour takes the larger context in consideration as every (organic) system plays a (why-)role in the grand scheme of things.
In a whyless universe we can take a skill set from person A, put it in person B and person B will then behave like person A. In a why-universe this is impossible as the intention or why of person A and person B differ and these system-intentions are not replicable. If you want to perform hypnosis like Milton Erickson does, you can learn and integrate his skill sets, but not his system-intention (the intention, why or motive of the system). System intentions are personal, already there and can be activated, but cannot be replicated.
The behavior of people is why (motive/intention) plus how (skillsets) plus what (behavior) plus where (context), as I try to explain in my books.
We in the West, especially in the US, believe we can export democracy. We really believe if people in Uganda of Afghanistan get free elections, their society will turn into a flourishing democracy and their civilians will turn into freedom-loving democrats. That is the same mistake in thinking that is used in NLP. It just doesn?t work that way. If human beings don?t have the right intention (why) with the accompanying ethics and morality, democracy for them will not work. They need an evolutionary development of the why to be able to live like a democrat.
That is why I wrote??..NLP is great and powerful, but it is also like giving a box of machine guns to an bunch of fucking chimpanzees..?. If you give machine-guns to biological entities that don?t have the sufficient developed intention, ethics and mortality, they will misuse it , manipulate and destroy. The same happens, in my observation, with NLP. Any idiot can follow a NLP training, regardless of his or her intention.
And I have met a lot of these idiots.
People who were computer-programmer, plumber, accountant, salesperson or florist, all turned into NLP coaches and trainers. People who were completely fucked up themselves, depressed, living on the streets, high on cocaine, booze,?all turned into NLP coaches and trainers.?Now I will not say these people cannot be great therapists of change agents, they can of course, but my point is there is no supervision, there is no emphasis on a certain intention. I must say I sometimes pity all the patients treated by these so called NLP coaches.
I have read entries on Facebook by NLP trainers, some of them locally famous and with large NLP institutions, that not only lack the intellectual capacity to form one intelligent and coherent sentence, but also show a scary use of manipulation and power. I must admit though, that most of these idiots are Bandler trained trainers. And this doesn?t surprise me as Bandlers work is much more based on manipulation (hypnosis) than Grinders work, who focusses more on states and self-help application of NLP.
NLP is part of a much larger crisis in the Western world that is in reality a transition from a typical how-driven survival-of-the-fittest industrial world to a why-driven world of meaning and purpose. NLP is a nice set of tools to be used by people with the right intention, ethics and morality within a larger why-framework dedicated to help people and companies find and activate their true why and grow that into a congruent and healthy existence.
Precisely what I try to achieve with The Plan Principle.