Deluding Yourself And Normalization

nlpI’m currently wading my way through another book on Neuro-linguistic programming albeit one of the ‘dummies guide to’ variety.
It’s fairly well laid out and compared to some tomes on the subject it is pretty light in tone.
I’ve spent a few years flirting with NLP and even attended an evening course at a local adult education outlet in order to find out more.

I have to declare that I’m a natural sceptic with an open mind on most things. Having studied psychology in the past and as someone who unsuccessfully tried psychotherapy I am prone to cherry pick the elements of NLP that I feel should work and why I feel it should be more effective than elements of psychotherapy that can become bogged down in what I see as the dubious merits of a more Freudian approach to people and their perceived problems.

Don’t Normalize Me

In that respect I’ve always been more drawn slightly more to a  Jungian way of thinking together with a humanistic view of people and problem solving. I’ve never been a great fan of psychotherapy. My forrays into psychology and counselling  seemed to me to show that too many disciplines saw human beings in very narrow mechanistic ways and revealed very little about human nature as it was experienced. Putting people into boxes may be what we all do to some extent but it also fosters the notion that people themselves need to be ‘normalized’ when it may be that people are just reacting to an environment that is forcing them the behave in a very un-human way and hence an internal conflict results. Normalizing people to fit into an unhealthy environment seems, to me anyway, a less than noble goal.

Picking Holes

That’s not to say that I don’t pick holes in NLP. The class I attended was a serious let down in that I took an instant dislike to the tutor (sorry but the words ‘self important dickhead’ were never far from my mind) and my feeling was that many of those attending the course were not especially interesting in NLP per se as more just looking for a ‘gravy train’ escape route from their current jobs in order to become NLP therapists themselves. I was honestly (guv) just there because the subject intrigued me. I had no delusions regarding myself going forth and ‘healing the sick’ with my new found powers at a high hourly rate if you please.

Cynical? Moi?
Indeed one of the things that leaves a bad taste in my mouth around NLP is that it can easily focus too much on what I see as quite narrow minded goals whilst ignoring the reality of the world and the social problems within it. Like much counselling ad psychotherapy it can become distorted by our societies narrow individualistic approaches to solving problems whilst ignoring the impact an environment or culture has on an individual. OK so you get what you want or you train you mind to feel that you get what you want whilst feeling better about those that are kicking you metaphorically in the face everyday because the system we live in rewards that?

Yet Another Way That Doesn’t Work

My worries over the positive mental attitude aspects of NLP over and above the need to extricate oneself from unhealthy environments is perhaps summed up by a quote in an article on the BBC news site that looked at how mental health professionals were now being employed by the government to deal with people who were long term unemployed with depression.

It’s that aspect of continually papering over what may be a hopelessly bad situation by re-framing an appalling environment with better feelings that still has me concerned over some aspects of NLP. At what point do we throw in critical thinking and standing up for yourself come into play if at all. Or are we saying that a different mental attitude will melt away other ‘bad thinking’ that we may randomly encounter in the world?

Maybe I’m just too riddled with British cynicism to fully delude myself enough to give NLP a chance.

Photo by psd under this creative commons license

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7 thoughts on “Deluding Yourself And Normalization

  1. Ooooh I’ve almost forgotten what I was going to say. Have you redesigned since I last visited? Or am I imagining it? It is all rather pleasing anyway. But perhaps it always was.

    I am not sure whether the type of counselling I had was NLP or not. It was a long time ago and I don’t think anyone called it that at the time. But whatever it was, and it definitely had some elements of that approach, it did work for me. But maybe these approaches – altering the way you think about things that you can’t change – work better for things that are past and just in the mind, for PTSD I suppose. Certainly I found it helpful – a kind of mind training and if nothing else focussing on the approach diverted my brain from the other stuff anyway.

    But I do see what you mean in terms of coping with a current situation – one that you could change I suppose rather than just deal with. I certainly never felt tempted to use that approach when I did feel something akin to depression – it never occured to me, I suppose because I didn’t actually realise fully that there was anything wrong with me, there was no concrete thing to tackle.

    Not sure I am making sense really.

    • Yes I’ve decided to try another look for the blog for a while. A change is as good as a rest. You never know, maybe your counsellor was versed in NLP though my experience has been that it’s not as accepted in qualified psychotherapy circles as vanilla flavoured cognitive behaviour therapy derived from other disciplines. One of my all time annoyances within psychotherapy circles was the use of ‘is it real or is it imagined?’. That used to make me so annoyed as it tended to belittle the environments that many people found themselves in.OK there’s nothing wrong with bolstering a poor coping mechanism but it can seem a little one sided. I tended to think that depression for example was a natural human reaction to a very bad environment and the desire to be ‘normalized’ by many people whether through counselling, psychotherapy and/or anti depressants was little more than wanting to be made to ‘fit into’ an abnormal world so I suppose I worry that the positive thinking and reframing aspects of NLP don’t really sound very balanced at times. Were you taught ‘rapport’ where you mirror others behaviour? I have the greatest trouble with ‘pretend rapport’ probably because I’m too used with being true to myself rather than forcing myself to fit in just to be accepted. Ho hum.

  2. No, not rapport. I don’t think I would be very good at that for the same reasons you state! Like you I am very much into being true to myself even where it makes me different to everyone else!

    The technique I was taught and which I still use from time to time is a disassociative one. Essentially if there is something that bothers you, or something you are scared to face maybe, you imagine yourself watching it on TV and you change aspects of it as you watch to fade them or enhance them. It sounds horribly artificial but actually it does work for trauma I think. If you experience trauma, your memory plays tricks on you, you see things in flashback mode and things kind of pounce out on you. With this approach you can fill in the gaps, or almost change the experience and tone it down a bit if you need to. I suppose in a sense it is a form of self-delusion but it is better, or at least no worse than, letting bad memories take over. There is no way you can undo the actual experience or change what has happened so this is the next best thing.

    But I am not sure that is NLP is it? But whatever it is I think it is effective for some people. I suppose it “normalises” a memory rather than trying to “normalise” the person themself.

    Actually I had never thought about it before but I am quite interested in this kind of stuff too. But I know very little about it. I must find the time to do some reading one day.

    • The TV technique does sound quite NLP-ish though. Many therapists describe themselves as ‘eclectic’ meaning they can cherry pick techniques from a wide range of psychology theories.The idea is to replace your learned reaction to something bad with something better. A kind of reprogramming your brain. Funny how a dissociative state is viewed quite badly by some psychologists but suddenly it’s OK to indulge when it has a seemingly good outcome.

  3. A few people at my work have been doing NLP recently, mainly for weight loss. I also take a sceptical view on such things, if you can show me that it can be proved under scientific testing, okay but otherwise no.

    I am no very well predisposed to having people telling me what and how I should think. Which probably explains my lack of religious belief & general political anarchism these days.

    If things work for people then that is fine but when it is turned into a money making industry and it becomes the latest “buzz” I tend to mistrust it.

    • Well db4dawn I’m with you 100% re suspicion of any money making machine. NLP, like religion and the more mainstream counseling seems to have very prominent practitioners who concentrate on these ideas as a means to feather a somewhat opulent nest (private health care often care shares this motivation).Show me a respected professional living with modest means and I’ll show you an honest person. I suppose a lot of good well meaning ideas get corrupted by the wider culture bastardising it with the need to make money.

  4. We have a mind, but we are not the mind, and that could even be extended to the understanding of Soul also.

    Robert Anton Wilson in Quantum Psychology made a clear point about the records of ideas not being the ideas they record, or in other words, our linguistic maps are not reality as it is experienced, only as it is chosen in terms of reflective meaning.

    Yet, sooner or later, cognitive clarity is dependent upon coherent linguistic analogues, and since these are constructs of mind, wouldn’t it behoove us to know how to use the mind to be fully alive in the moment?
    Instead of life leveraging off of us, wouldn’t it be critical to know how to leverage off of life to express all of the abundance that is ours already the minute we determine to connect with reality “as-it-is”?

    In whatever form of abundance one’s life takes is relative and relavent only to the individual being awake enough to live out loud.

    What is autonomy worth?

    Now I’m not saying one should adopt meanings from sources outside of one’s own experienced reality, however, we are each co-creators and co-participant in this dance.

    Is it a stretch for someone to become wealthy that helps and solves the problems of unawakened thought?

    I hope not.

    Blessings,

    G

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