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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