Forum Message

Topic: Meta-States in
Posted by: L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
Date/Time: 17/10/2002 19:03:25

Response to Whisperings (#3)


L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

      For several years now I have been traveling around the world introducing Meta-States. Over 800 NLP Trainers have attended our 3-day Accessing Personal Genius training that introduces Meta-States as a model, as the third meta-domain of NLP, and have experienced the application of Meta-States to personal mastery or genius.  A written text of this is in the book, The Secrets of Personal Mastery (1999).   Most Trainers are interested in how the Meta-States model fits or doesn’t fit in the history of NLP.  So they ask such questions as:
∙ Where there meta-states in NLP from the beginning?
∙ Was meta-states mentioned in The Structure of Magic?
∙ How close did Bandler and Grinder come to discovering Meta-States?
      While I wrote a chapter about this in 1995 in the first edition of the book, Meta-States (2000) and identified many NLP patterns that have or presuppose meta-stating processes within them, they were not called that nor was meta-stating recognized as the driving mechanism.  Yet Meta-States was hidden within it, unarticulated.  Actually, in both The Structure of Magic—Volume I and Volume II, John and Richard speak a lot about “meta,” they speak about “meta-tactics, meta-positions, meta-questions, meta-form, meta-commenting,” etc.
     John now asks of me about the purpose and vaule of “proliferating meta-states.” From the following quotations from Magic, if he is not disingenuous (as he asserts about myself in his response article to me, Oct. 2002, then he has known all along about how meta-states are psychologically pervasive.”  See for yourself.

The Meta-Question
     In the second volume of The Structure of Magic (1976), Bandler and Grinder termed the following as “the meta-question.”
“Client: I feel so angry about my job.   [A primary state in reference to the outside world.]
Therapist: Yes, and how do you feel about feeling angry? [A meta-question eliciting a meta-state.]
Client: Well, I feel scared about feeling angry. [Description of a meta-state.]
    Here they use a meta-state question, “How do you feel about feeling X?”  Yet the conclusion they drew from this was that “feelings about feelings” create “self-esteem.”  They received that from Satir and Mr. Grinder didn’t question this conclusion.
“This question is extensively used by Virginia Satir in her dynamic therapy—she describes this question as an excellent way to tap the clients self-esteem (the client’s feelings about his feelings)—a part of the client closely connected with his ability to cope.” (p. 57)
     It was in this way that Mr. Grinder along with Mr. Bandler failed to see the state-upon-state or meta-state structure before them.  Using Satir’s explanatory theory, they assumed that the question would elicit the client’s
“... reference structure—his model of the world... an explicit way of directly approaching what is called in many therapies the client’s self-esteem...” (The Structure of Magic, Vol. I, p. 161).
     Yet they knew that this was a jump to “the next higher logical level” which was an equivalent way of describing “logical types,” and that we create such logical levels by putting one “meta to the other.”
“Again this exchange typically involves the client’s shifting the paramessages in each of his output channels radically from his first statement about his feelings to his response to the therapist’s meta-question about his feelings about his feelings—the next higher logical level.  We will return to this example during the section on integration to demonstrate effective ways for a therapist to cope with different parts of a client which exists (at this point in the process) as different logical types —one meta to the other.” (p. 57, italics added, MH)

   In a section entitled, “Theory of Logical Types” (pp. 33-36), Bandler and Grinder described Bateson’s use of this theory in terms of communication, a position they disagreed with (p. 36).
“Bateson chose to assign the relationship portion of the communication—the message carried by the non-verbal part—to a level higher than the content portion of the communication.  In other words, the analogical, non-verbal message is considered meta to— of a higher logical type than— the verbal message.”  (p. 35)
     Again they quote and use meta-stating questions:
Therapist: How do you feel about feeling angry? 
Client: I feel frighted about feeling angry about my job.
    They noted that Russell developed the Theory of Logical Types to avoid paradoxes.  To do that we must avoid mixing statements of different levels.  “[D]ifferent logical types or different logical levels are to be kept separate” (p. 36).   Mr. Grinder then argued that to handle paramessages— messages of the same logical level, one must be able to rise above both messages, to a meta-position and then create the neuro-linguistic magic of a higher classification.  Asking meta-questions enables a therapist to do this.  As Samuel is put in a “meta-position with respect to his own communication” (p. 153) he experiences an enriched map.  They call this a “Meta-Position Move” (p. 158).
Husband: I feel angry about that.
Therapist: And how to you feel about feeling angry at your wife?
Husband: I don’t like it.
Therapist: Did you know, W, that M did not like getting angry at you?” (p. 158)

      This is meta-stating precisely because it brings one state to another.  In this case, the therapist elicits the state of dislike that the client accesses and he then highlights it as he brings it to the anger state and even invites the wife to notice this higher frame or meta-state about the anger state. 

    This also leads to “psychologically pervasive” changes.  So now while in Whisperings Mr. Grinder seems to find this surprising and inexplicable, he recognized this when he wrote The Structure of Magic, I.  In that first volume we find this same thing. 

     For example, in the chapter on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice we have the following dialogue using the meta-question along with John and Richard’s explanations.
T: How do you feel about feeling angry?
The therapist ... chooses to shift levels, asking the client about her feelings about her image of herself in her model of the world (her reference structure).
S: How do I feel about feeling?
The client appears to be initially confused by the therapist’s question requiring her to shift levels.  This is a common reaction to such level shifts in our experience; clients, hwoever, do have the resources to deal with this kind of maneuver.
T: Yes, how do you feel about feeling angry at Paul?
The therapist repeats the question.
S: Well, I don’t feel so good about it.
The client supplies her feelings about her feelings— her self-esteem.

     At the end of that exchange, notice now what the authors then write.  This speaks about the psychological pervasiveness of the meta-state level.
“The therapist begins to explore the client’s model at this new level by asking her to specify her verb more fully.  Changes at this level— the level of self-esteem — are extremely important, since a person’s self-image affects the way a person organizes his entire experience or reference structure.  Therefore, changes at this level of structure permeate the client’s entire model of the world.” (p. 163, italics added)

     “Permeate the client’s entire model of the world...”  Hmmm.  That’s pretty much fits with what Robert Dilts and I describe as being “psychologically pervasive” and as being a higher level that is “psychologically encompassing and impactful” as it influences the person’s “entire model of the world.”   I can’t imagine something having a more pervasive influence—“entire” model of the world.   This is precisely what I have been arguing for in the so-called “proliferation of meta-states.”  So, unless Mr. Grinder is being disingenuous here—what part of the meta-question eliciting a meta-state to create “changes at this level of structure” which then affects a person’s “entire model of the world” does not seem to fit with the words that both Dilts and myself have used, “psychologically encompassing and impactful” with regard to higher levels of the mind?
     Yes, it seems that Mr. Grinder almost discovered meta-states, he and Bandler certainly discovered a whole range of meta-things: meta-tactics, meta-positions, meta-questions, meta-form, meta-commenting, etc.  And they almost discovered meta-states.

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
Meta-States in 17/10/2002 19:03:25L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
     Re:Meta-States in 18/10/2002 02:22:33The Other Side of Summer
          Re:Re:Meta-States in 11/11/2002 15:40:25Jurek
     Re: Correct me if I am wrong..18/10/2002 17:43:16Tone
          Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..18/10/2002 23:55:08sammy
          Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..18/10/2002 23:57:10sammy
          Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..18/10/2002 23:57:27sammy
               Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..20/10/2002 21:49:10Stephen
                    Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..23/10/2002 13:55:19Caefu
                         Re:Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..23/10/2002 16:20:13Tag
                              Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..23/10/2002 17:20:56Caefu
                                   Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..31/10/2002 14:27:12Loiusea Marnie
                                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..04/11/2002 23:52:34thepropagandist
                                             Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:ReReRe:Correct me if I am right or wrong..05/11/2002 12:15:20John Grinder
                                                  Please, correct me if I am wrong.06/11/2002 08:56:00propman
                                                       Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.08/11/2002 15:26:54Hello Propman
                                                            Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.08/11/2002 19:27:46Caefu
                                                                 Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.09/11/2002 01:56:48Michael Carroll
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.09/11/2002 18:17:11Dr Peter Davies
                                                                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.10/11/2002 00:20:31Michael Carroll
                                                                                Where and how I see meta states fitting in.12/11/2002 22:15:41Peter Davies
                                                                                     Re:Where and how I see meta states fitting in.13/11/2002 00:21:25thepropagandist
                                                                                          Re:Re:Where and how I see meta states fitting in.13/11/2002 00:22:22thepropagandist
                                                                                     To Peter Davies13/11/2002 03:28:32Michael Carrol
                                                                                     Re:Where and how I see meta states fitting in.13/11/2002 13:38:38Jon Edwards
                                                                                Please, correct me if I am wrong.13/11/2002 23:10:28propman
                                                                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re Re:Please, Just another whisper10/11/2002 00:46:04mel
                                                                                Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re Re:Please, Just another whisper11/11/2002 07:37:56Peter Davies
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.11/11/2002 15:10:06Caefu
                                                                           Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.11/11/2002 15:51:42Caefu
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re:Please, correct me if I am wrong.21/01/2003 21:02:33Michael Worthington
                                                                 Re:Re:Re: A meta whisper09/11/2002 21:38:20Robert Holzhauser
                                                                      Re:Re:Re:Re: A meta whisper10/11/2002 10:11:53Robert
                                                                           Re:Re Re:Re:Re:Re: A meta whisper10/11/2002 10:22:06bert
                                                                                Re:Re:Re Re:Re:Re:Re: A meta whisper12/11/2002 07:50:31Robert
                                                             correct me if I am wrong.14/01/2003 12:26:49JT

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