What is neuro linguistic programming

Even when I go online and look up the subject I can’t find a good answer. It is finding people with certain skills and emulating them or what?

No, it is a theory of getting people to do what you want by implementing subliminal suggestions or “patterns” in your speech.

Anthony Robbins is known for advocating a form of NLP.


This says a lot about NLP (depending on how you view Robbins).

NLP is also prominently associated with a variety of schools of “speed seduction.”


The idea is that you will con girls into sleeping with you by reciting “patterns” that get them thinking sexy thoughts till they just TAKE THEIR CLOTHES OFF AND HURL THEMSELVES AT YOU. Apart from the fact that most people would find this grossly manipulative, some of the suggested approaches (for instance, working in a sentence about “wanting to move your life in a NUDE ERECTION [get it? new direction/nude erection?]” is just laughable. (I’m not making this up, BTW: http://www.pickupguide.com/nlprj1.htm)

In case it isn’t clear, I don’t believe that NLP is a real “science,” but YMMV.

Huerta88, this sounds like you’ve had an unfortunate association of NLP with charletans. Don’t get me wrong, it does happen that unscrupulous folks use NLP techniques to do nasty things, but it’s also used to reprogram neural associations to overcome phobias, move past traumatic associations, lose weight, gain better work and study habits, stop smoking and even to stop allergies(!)

Its core idea is that we have mental organizations that sometimes work, sometimes don’t. We can change our ineffective mental roadmaps for the better by examining the mental roadmaps of successful people and learning how to change our mental roadmaps to work more like theirs…

One way of understanding how you think is by looking at your language. When you understand a concept, do you say “I see!” or “I hear you!” or “I get it!”? Each one reveals (to an NLPer) an important way of organizing information in your brain. If the way you work naturally doesn’t work for you, you can change it.

One technique NLP uses a lot is visualization. So a person who is suffering from a traumatic memory of childhood beatings it first allowed to visualize it normally. This produces stress. Then they’re carefully led through visualizations that remove the stress - seeing the abuser as very tiny and far away, for example. Eventually (actually, very quickly if you’re good at it), the automatic image called to mind when you remember the incident is one that doesn’t produce anxiety.

Thisis a pretty good, if very brief, intro to NLP.

Yes, I don’t practice NLP myself, (well, except for a few patterns that I’ve learned to use on myself,) but a family member is strongly interested. Anthony Robbins and ‘speed seduction’ may be well-known offshoots, but that’s just because they’re flashy and/or controversial and are looked down on by the serious practicioners even more than by members of the public. (Tony is particularly seen as a backstabber for learning some of his best stuff from NLP masters and then turning them into infommercial material without giving anyone else any credit… or cuts, from what I understand.)

“finding people with certain skills and emulating them” is a good explanation of how it all started… especially finding people who could do remarkable things that they couldn’t or wouldn’t explain, and modeling, analyzing what was going on with respect to communication and, where possible, the thought processes of the people involved so as to be able to get the same results from someone else.

There are aspects of NLP that seem a bit on the manipulative side to me… trying to get people to think and react in ways that seem like a good thing to the practicioner… with embedded commands, building rapport, and trying to influence someone to build a new thought pattern. On the other hand, ethical practicioners can probably use techniques like that to do some good.

Hope this helps set the record slightly straighter. If you have any more questions, Wes, feel free to pipe up.
As far as that goes, I might be able to start up an ‘Ask the NLP guinea pig’ thread if people are interested. :smiley:
PS: Huerta, it seems a little odd for you to be criticizing speed seduction as both grossly manipulative and laughable. If it’s laughable - which I take to mean absurd to the point of nonsense and ineffect - then it can’t really be grossly manipulative (because nobody’s actually getting manipulated) just a little skeezy in motive. TRYING to be a gross manipulator is not hardly the same thing.

I should have made that clearer: my position (and again, YMMV) as to Robbins and the seduction crowd is that they are dis-admirable because: (a) it don’t work the way they say it do; and (b) nonetheless, they are pandering to manipulative and would-be exploitative motives (even if they may be ripping off the pigeons who evince such motivations, because the magic techniques don’t work).

It looks like the question has been answered. I’m posting to say that my Dad tried it on me. (He’s a psychologist of some type)

It could arguably have contributed to the saving of my Degree from failure. It did seem to help me get over a block to doing coursework.

I had to study it as part of my career counselling quals - only as a more outside of the square type methodology.
It’s Key components is that it is difficult to find a consistent description of NLP!
It is not seen so much as a theory or model, but more a way of thinking or a collection of ideas.
Central to NLP is the idea of ‘modelling’. Modelling is understanding how outstanding individuals and organizations get their outstanding results and teaching others to do the same in order to get the same results. So NLP is concerned with movement towards excellence and it attempts to provide strategies to achieve this.
According to the NLP way, people can use NLP to reshape lives based on learning new ways of thinking and doing, or ‘re-programming’ how they think. The skills are things such as communication (language and how a person communicates with others, themselves and how they receive and interpret from others) and persuasion skills and using self-hypnosis.
With NLP it is thought that the unconscious mind constantly influences conscious thought and action and in order to understand the unconscious mind, you have to study behaviour and learn how to read body language.
NLP believes in a Primary Representational System (PRS), which is a tendency to think in specific modes: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory or gustatory. A person’s PRS can be determined by words the person tends to use or by the direction of their eye movements. It is thought that a therapist will have better rapport with a client, if they can have a matching PRS.
NLP is applied to many different domains: education, sports, business, government and personal development. It is claimed that it can treat phobias in less than an hour, and that it can help people learn to overcome learning disabilities and stop unwanted habits in 3 sessions.
NLP is possibly also distinguished from other models in that no other theory claims to be able to do so much. NLP uses ‘imported’ ideas, not new ideas, all taken from the theorists or models upon which it is based.
NLP was begun in mid-seventies by a linguist, Grinder, and a mathematician, Richard Bandler. NLP uses vague and ambiguous language which means that it is open to individual interpretation.
The idea that body language indicates that there is a message coming through the subconscious mind, but the conscious mind denies the message is something that could never be tested, so how do we know this is happening?
It is perfectly possible that we can read too much into physical behaviour.
NLP makes many claims of things that it can do, but there is little empirical evidence to back up these claims.
NLP runs especially expensive courses all over the Western world, suggests that anyone who does the courses will be successful and is extremely well marketed. NLP may help people to improve themselves in some areas.
For a good read on NLP:

Barry, Dave. ‘Altered States’ in The Miami Herald, April 13, 1997.

The idea of implanting new modes and behaviors makes sense, but I don’t get how they do that. Is it through visualization and building rappaport with a qualified instructor of NLP? How do they know that the modes they are implanting are competent?

One example I have heard is people who are afraid of spiders vs. people who have spiders for pets. The individual with the fear of spiders has a different image of them in their head when they think of spiders, and a different mental description of what a spider is than the person with the spider as a pet. To help the person overcome the fear of spiders, the therapist would implant the modes and views of the person who has spiders for pets, but how do they konw what constitutes their modes or views? That seems like a much deeper aspect of consciousness than most practitioners really understand as taht involves core values and core beliefs about the world, not just the idea that ‘spiders are not dangerous’. I suppose they’d also use the visualization trick of making the threat smaller and smaller in your head to help too.

“How do they know what constitutes their modes or views??” That, to judge from my brother, (the family member I was referring to earlier) is what a lot of the big names in NLP are still working on, and on an experimental, hit-and-miss basis some of the time, but they’ve gotten some results that, even to a layperson like me, seem interesting.

A practicioner might start with talking to the person who keeps spiders for pets, and asking a lot of (really annoying questions) like ‘how do you know not to be afraid of the spiders? What goes on inside your head when you think of them?? Do you see a spider inside your head, or hear words, or feel something on your arm? If you see it, does it have a background? Is it big or small? Close or faraway?? Bright or dark??’

The notion being that values and core beliefs are patterened in the mind, like everything else, with sensory representations, and ‘encoded’ with certain sensory patterns to indicate to you exactly what this thought is and how you’re supposed to relate to it. Consciously altering the sensory patterns (Like taking something that you always visualize very close to you and pushing it far away) can change how you relate to it.
Now that I’m thinking about it, modelling the person who keeps spiders as a pet doesn’t seem like the best way an NLP practicioner would deal with arachnophobia, since fear and non-fear are personal enough a matter that taking someone else’s mental patterns and trying to get them to work for someone else would be tricky… or maybe the point is that fear and non-fear are enough that you shouldn’t need to, since trying to ‘implant’ someone else’s mental patterns is always difficult, (though for a completely new mode of thought it’s often worth the effort.)

What a practicioner might do is examine the sensory patterns of mind that the patient has about spiders, and then find something vaguely similar that the patient has no particular fear of, maybe ants. Take a look at the sensory patterns that the patient uses with ants, and try to apply them to spiders, and see if that helps relieve the phobia.
I haven’t done a phobia cure myself since I don’t really have a phobia, so all of this is second-hand, though my brother has done a lot of ‘meta-model’ (what I called sensory pattern manipulation here) with me. sighs :slight_smile:

Here is the listing at the Skeptic’s Dictionary for NLP.


I say in all seriousness that I would find something like this helpful in my life right now. I always thought it would be the kind of thing one would have to fight through on one’s own.

Does anyone in this thread know how I can find a reputable NLP therapist? Or at least research the possibilities of the discipline?

I can ask my brother if there’s some kind of decent practicioner’s guide. (He might want to sign on as a guest to weigh in on this thread. :slight_smile: )