The Sceptic's View of NLP

The Sceptic’s View of NLP and NLP

I was browsing the Skepdics website (appropriate name) last night, checking out what they had to say about NLP and hypnosis.

Apparently hypnosis can’t be tested scientifically because it is contaminated by people’s beliefs, expectations, suggestibility and the placebo effect. Hello…. this pretty well is hypnosis. Do they think it is something magical and mysterious? Separate from how our minds work?And NLP is a hodge podge of different theories and models based on what works (isn’t this what we want?) rather than an academic ideal of something measurable. It is also contaminated by subjectivity – meaning by what people perceive.

The author thought Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was OK because it was able to be measured by observation of behaviour. Yet Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a poor cousin to NLP. The NLP models go beyond what CBT’s capability. For instance with their desensitisation methods with phobias. Months and months of complicated and distressing therapy. NLP’s phobia treatment is quick and painless, but seemingly not observable enough? Who knows?

NLP makes claims about thinking and perception which do not seem to be supported by neuroscience. This is not to say that the techniques won’t work. They may work and work quite well, but there is no way to know whether the claims behind their origin are valid. –

What is he referring to – that people’s unconscious minds can be influenced?  that our states effect our behaviours? When research from neuro scientists in the last 10 years ie Dr Norman Doige have shown the brain to be incredibly changeable or others that our behaviour is definitely influenced by emotion and other “unconscious and irrational” processes?

It’s interesting that “scientists” now use methods to destroy theories and ideas that the church used during the dark ages to demolish heretics.

For instance, take an idea out of context and twist it so it seems ridiculous.

The author took 2 NLP presuppositions

  • There is no failure only feedback

When the space shuttle blew up within minutes of launch, killing everyone on board, was that “only feedback”?

  • Possible in the world, possible for me

They want you to think that the only thing that separates the average person from Einstein or Pavarotti or the World Champion Log Lifter is NLP.

The presuppositions are framing mechanisms. They were never meant to be “true” in the “we have to prove it using the scientific method kind of true”. Beliefs are self fulfilling. If we believe someone doesn’t like us, our defensive manner can make this a reality. If we believe we can master a skill, we persevere until we do.

If you start with a frame of – “this is a failure and I screwed up”, it’s demotivating, you often get stuck there. Without the judgement of “failure”, it makes it easier to rectify. It means “oh when I used that metal in my light bulb it broke the connection – I wonder if I could use this instead?” Rather than “I failed again, why bother”

Possible in the world, possible for me relates to modeling and teaching skills. It was never intended to say “everyone can be Pavarotti”, but to look at the structure of a skill. What does he do in his mind? What are his references?

Because as soon as you say “I can’t do x because

  • I’m not tall enough
  • I’m not fit enough
  • Black enough
  • Male enough
  • Smart enough

Your inability to do that skill becomes a self fulfilling prophecy – you close off any possibility. Premature closure can be as damaging as other premature things.

1 comment
cheesegrit - October 28, 2014

What is the community’s stance on funding research for scientific studies? I would think that having a solid, double blind study proving any of NLP’s claims would not only sway skeptics of that site, but also would enormously increase the popularity and reputation of NLP.

This field has a huge potential for not only proving that the techniques and methods work, but also in unpacking, exploring, and testing modifications and alterations to working strategies in order to find more effective methods.

I’m relatively new to NLP so if supporting studies already exist, I apologize, and can I get links to them? I would like to see the research.

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