In Support of Neuro Linguistics Programing

In Support of Neuro Linguistics Programing

Intrigued by NLP

While doing research for a Blog on Addictions, I came across the science of Neural Linguistic Programing. Having first hand knowledge of Alcoholism and over thirty years experience in AA and recovery I was intrigued and wanted to learn more.

Took an NLP Training Class

For my own edification I took an NLP Practitioner Certification Course. I related with a number of the pre-suppositions, and beliefs of NLP, and believe that they could help a person find recovery, either in addition to a 12-step program or as a stand alone program of recovery.  While doing research for a  Blog I wrote on the Origins of Neural Linguistic Programing, I came across a lot of negative information regarding NLP, At the time I wrote the following.

Challenged by Science

Although the the original core techniques were therapeutic in orientation, since the 1980s scientific interest in NLP has faded. The consensus scientific opinion is that  NLP is a pseudoscience, due to the fact that the evidence in favor of it, is limited to anecdotes and personal testimony, and lacks empirical support through controlled trails.

Comments ran Counter to My Experience

These comments didn’t really correspond with my research nor with my personal experiences, so I decided to do a little more research. Since NLP is a type of Psychology, I decided to start my search there.

Psychology and NLP

Psychology is the science dealing with mental phenomena and processes, in particular the study of emotions, perception, intelligence, consciousness and their relationships with each other.

There are eight different types or fields of Psychology, and although there are no fixed way of classifying them, they fall into these common types.

  • Clinical
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Evolutionary
  • Forensic
  • Health
  • Neuro
  • Occupational

The Goals of Psychology

The four main goals of Psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and control the behavior and mental processes of others.

History of Psychology

Psychology has a long past but only a short history. It’s long past extends down through the ages, ever since human beings developed the capacity to ponder their existence. It’s short history refers to the relatively brief period since Psychology became a modern science, (1879 with the founding of the first laboratory for Psychological research, Leipzig, Germany).

Psychology has it’s Own Problems Being Accepted

It’s my opinion that modern Psychology’s inability to accept NLP, either as a distinct type, or to place it into one of the eight existing types already recognized, is because of it’s own need, of being accepted by Science and Medicine, the science of Pyschology has become unable to accept other creative and innovative approaches to problems, it claims it’s dedicated to solving.

Can’t Measure Mental Processes

Dane Rudhyar, in an article for “The American Theosophist” gave a good summary of what modern Psychology struggles with, and one of the major problems NLP has in getting acceptance. “Objectivity refers to what can be perceived by the senses and the modern instruments that have immensely extended the scope of  sense perceptions. These perceptions, moreover, in order to be acceptable to Science, have to be obtained under strict experimental conditions, they must be repeatable by any trained observer. They must also be measurable and definable in terms of some kind of activity that is a observable and recordable change. Thus the field of scientifically objective knowledge finds itself limited by these conditions. It may be so limited as to lose meaning in some directions.” A lot of the claims made by NLP cannot be objectively measured or repeated in every case.

NLP Doesn’t Fit the Paradigm

Modern Psychology has tried hard to be recognized as a Science, in it’s own right. To fit the definition of a Modernist Science a field must accept the beliefs and assumptions held by Modern Mechanistic Science. They must accept that reality is only what can be proved empirically, they must use the methodology of Mechanistic Science with which to experiment and define truth, and deny or ignore any information that does not match this scientific paradigm. Modern Psychology insists on calling NLP a pseudo-science for this very reason.

The Methodology Doesn’t Fit

Even Psychologists like Jung, Maslow, and other humanists, who were willing to explore subjectivity and introspection, struggled with this underlying issue of mechanistic science methodology. Forced to base a lot of their findings and studies in empirical methods of modern science in order not to set themselves off entirely from what is now considered mainstream science.

How Do You Measure Intuition

NLP which follows a humanistic approach to Psychology with pre-suppositions that bravely introduce as important and necessary, the intuitive, the spiritual, and the power of consciousness, even though these pre-suppositions cannot really be studied by empirical methodology.  NLP has tried to legitimize and prove the validity of their suppositions using the tools, methodology and assumptions of mechanistic science where possible, but sections of the modern science community still find NLP’s hypotheses more subjective then objective.

The Map is not the Territory

Slowly, those looking at scientific paradigms are beginning to see that even science is relative. David Griffin, in his book, “Re enchantment of Science” reaffirms a basic NLP pre-supposition ,(we respond to our map of reality, not reality itself), when he wrote, ” Our interpretations and even perceptions are conditioned by language, by culture in general, by the dominate worldview of the time, by personal (including unconscious) interests, and by interests based on race, gender, and social class. This recognition has led many to the conclusion that a worldview is wholly a construction or a projection, not at all a reflection or a discovery of the way things really are’. Psychology has its own perception of reality.

Truth Based on Prejudices and Interests


In further support to NLPs theories, Griffin further states, “Recognition that the scientific community seeks truth is fully compatible  with the recognition that the truth it seeks are selected according to various interests and prejudices.” (see  Bandler and Grinder). Psychology has a lot of it’s own prejudices.

Orthodoxy, The One True Belief

Basically Psychology has enmeshed itself in a scientific worldview that reveres and believes in the myth of objectivity, (a limited view of objectivity) and does not have the objectivity to reflect upon it’s own assumptions. It continues to to teach that empirical truth is the only real approach to truth. Being purely empirical is an especially difficult task for Psychology because much of what it attempts to study emotion, feelings, interactions, values, perception and perceptions and family patterns are not really amendable to the procedures of mechanistic science. Essentially Psychology cannot be what it wants to be and do what it wants to do.Yet holds NLP to standards it struggles with itself.

Locus of Control

Another refutation of Psychologies mechanistic approach, can be seen in how they view the world, as opposed to the widely accepted theory held by NLP, dealing with Locus of Control.

External Locus of Control

Anne Schaef, writes in her book, “Beyond Therapy Beyond Science” . “In a purely mechanistic science we are determined only by forces operating upon us externally, we are determined solely by our environment and those forces in the environment that can be seen and measured, with the tools of science .This approach to understanding works relatively well with mechanical nonliving matter, that can be manipulated in the laboratory, but it progressively breaks down as one moves to more and more complex organisms”.

External vs. Internal

Mechanistic Science sees humans having an External Locus of Control, this is a very dis-empowering view of how people experience life. Having a limited view of your control of life leads to a victim mentality with limited capabilities, no belief,no spirit and low self esteem. The humanistic science believes in an Internal Locus of Control, this empowering belief believes in self responsibility and an unlimited view of your ability to control life. Confidence that you determine your life, belief in yourself and in a higher power.

Hubris to Condemn

Psychology suffers from the same deficiencies they accuse NLP of having, namely the fact that they cannot properly study what they want to study with the tools of the science with which it aligns itself. It takes hubris to criticize NLP as a legitimate science when they suffer from the same condemnation from scientists and philosophers of pure science, who refuse to think of the human sciences as science at all. This hubris is only surpassed by their short memory of their own fight for legitimacy.

A New Heresy

Willis Harman, Founder of the Center for the Study of Social Policy at Stanford Research Institute wrote, ” Experienced reality does not conform to the reality they taught us in science class. The scientific worldview is not an adequate guide for living life or managing a society. We are seeing, I believe, indications of a “new heresy”, that is challenging modern secular authority at a level as profound as the scientific heresy challenged the ecclesiastical authority in the seventeenth century”.

Changing Paradigms

I am confident that NLP will eventually be accepted within modern Psychology, when their existing paradigms finally start to collapse. Already many question the validity of their feelings about NLP. And more will when they finally accept that, (we don’t know what we don’t know). Many aspects of NLP are already accepted  by many who practice Psychotherapy and  Life Coaching  worldwide.

As always, thanks for visiting. Dave





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