Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a way of organizing and understanding the structure of subjective experience and is concerned with the ways in which people process information but not necessarily with the specific content of that information. Information is processed primarily in three modes: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
The sensory modalities used in a given task and their sequence are critical to the performance of that task. Persons who are extremely skilled at a task will have radically different processing sequences than those who perform poorly on that same task. Understanding the structure by which the skilled person processes information, through the observation of eye scanning patterns and linguistic patterns, allows programs (similar to computer programs) to be codified, which can be taught to other persons (Andreas, 1996).
Developed in 1975 by Richard Bandler, a mathematician, and John Grinder, a linguist, NLP has been clinically demonstrated as a powerful technology for engendering change. From their studies Bandler and Grinder developed skills of modeling that allow one person to identify in a specific fashion the structural elements of another’s behavior and to teach that structure to yet a third person (Andreas, 1996).
Gregory Bateson postulated four logical levels of learning. The first level is the level of content, and this is the level at which most people spend their lives. Here one learns how to tie one’s shoes, cook a meal, drive a car, and so on. Some people become acquainted with second-level learning: the learning of context, or learning how to learn. People who operate at the second logical level of learning may rapidly learn any new content-specific area, because they are capable of moving through the learning process in an efficient, effective manner.
In rare cases, persons may rise to the third logical level of learning, the learning of how to learn context. In this case one is operating at a level of contextual pattern recognition; one is able to easily identify and operate on the structure of any experience. It is at this level that Bandler and Grinder operate when they are modeling (or teaching modeling to) some one. Bateson reserved his fourth class of learning for those accomplished persons like yogis and Zen masters.
One NLP technique is anchoring which is used to describe a process by which memory and its responses become associated with some stimulus. This happens when the anchor leads by reflex to the anchored response occurring. The stimulus can be neutral or out of conscious awareness. The response may be either negative or positive. Anchors are similar to classical conditioning (Ready, 2004).
The process of disrupting a pattern of thought from one that leads to an unwanted behavior to one that leads to a desired behavior is known as swishing. Another process is reframing in which an element of communication is presented so as to shift an individual’s perception of the meanings associated with words. Reframing is defined as a process where an element of communication is presented to shift the individual’s perception of meanings or frames.
A six-step reframe distinguishes between an underlying intention and consequent behavior to achieve intentions by different and successful behavior. Ecology is concerned with the relationship between a client and their environments. It also is concerned how a proposed goal or change might relate to their relationships and their environment (Ready, 2004).
NLP offers many methods for getting rid of addictions. An effective technique is called the “swish” pattern. Using this method, a person’s unconscious will automatically use negative, addiction producing mental pictures, to create relaxing mental pictures. Addictions can be cured in NLP because it is a form of ‘near waking state’ hypnosis. In NLP we can ‘adjust’ our internal sensory representations making them more powerful. NLP also helps us to model good behavior.
Anchoring is a powerful method of fighting addictions. In this especially one takes the long, deep breath and to touch the tongue to the roof of the mouth at the same time. This sets up a connection between the sensorised mental icon and the physical act of touching the roof of your mouth with the tongue as well as taking that deep breath (Lankton, 2004).
In NLP it is recognized that human beings all code time in different ways. Each person has his own mental timelines. The past is represented in some right-handers represent at some point way towards their left. It is possible to use NLP techniques to manipulate internal sensory representations. Negative internal sensory representations like addictions. Addictions can also be removed by being moved further back into the past along the timeline.
This helps change the present and future mindset of the client in relation to the original internal sensory representation. This results in past traumas being reduced. Addictions can be treated by providing the customer with a response option that is more powerful, accessible and immediate than the drug itself. Another method is the compulsion blow-out which solves cravings. Another method is the guilt resolution process which is used for clean up of motivations and secondary gain (Lankton, 2004).
One of the most successful methods is the six step reframe which works by using assistance from the unconscious mind. The process has been criticized for fragmenting the personality (Sterman, 2004). This approach reaches down to access a level of experience that is helpful to redirect conscious and unconscious energies in a central direction. If a positive experience is structured it will compete successfully against a problem state. The competing experiences must have value and indicate towards a better positive future.
The brain consists of a maze of circuits. Positive and negative affect are mutually dependant on each other. In order for a positive affect to have maximum effect, it must be developed for dealing with a problem. A crucial program is the process of anchoring. Participants are taught to anchor states that are without content. During the process of creating and anchoring the state all types of contextual information is reduced.
In recent years science has given us insight on the problems of addiction and substance abuse. These researches have discovered a close relationship between drug addictions, behavioral addictions, compulsions and more normal patterns of reward and motivation. Drug and behavioral addictions are problems related to craving. The mechanism of craving is mediated by neurons in the midbrain that produce dopamine on to be placed on a trance. NLP is a great technique to fight addictions and behavior. There are many examples of NLP helping out people suffering from substance abuse and addictions.
Andreas, Steve (1996). NLP: The New Technology of Achievement. US: Harper Paperbacks.
Ready, Romilla (2004). Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Dummies. US: For Dummies .
Lankton, Stephen R. (2004). Practical Magic:: A Translation of Basic Neuro-Linguistic Programming Into Clinical Psychotherapy . US: Crown House Publishing.
Sterman, Chelly M., Ed. (2004). Neuro-Linguistic Programming in Alcoholism Treatment. US: Haworth Press.