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Topic: Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?
Posted by: Stephen Bray
Date/Time: 10/09/2003 07:31:08


As the review you wished to read has gone AWOL, here's one I wrote for Nurturing Potential Journal in the U.K.

Whispering in the Wind by Carmen Bostic St. Clare and John Grinder,  Published by Bostic/Grinder, 2001, 381 pages, ISBN 0-9717223-0-7

This book retails at over £30.00. and in paperback it will only appeal to NLP aficionados. It’s printed throughout in a bold sans serif font, so it does no favours to the reader’s eyes. Alternating between the narrative of Grinder’s personal history and the subtle intricacies of transformational and cognitive grammar it seems idiosyncratic to the point of egocentricity. It challenges many hitherto accepted leaders in the field of NLP: Dilts, DeLozier, Hall, Robbie and others.  Its style is contentious. It culminates in the publishing of the ‘settlement’ between Bandler and others, against Grinder and Bostic concerning the ‘ownership’ of NLP. 

The book starts by outlining the epistemology of NLP. The familiar universal modelling processes, (generalization, distortion and deletion), are shown to all be deletions brought about either through neurology, or as a result of the effects of conditioning upon linguistic filters.  

Mind and body are revealed as one and the same as the authors propose scientific activity to be: “an acceptance of the responsibility of public presentation; the reporting of conclusions and experimental procedures, allowing other researchers the ability to test these, through systematic observation, and reporting in ‘publicly available standard formats”. All this is set in juxtaposition to religion and the ‘final internment of the nominalization – truth’. 

NLP ‘Modeling and Application or Design’ are discussed. The difference may be understood as similar to that of medical research and clinical practice, or physics and engineering design. 

Three categorisations of NLP are proposed ‘NLP modelling’; ‘NLP application’; and ‘NLP training ’. NLP modeling is defined as the study of excellence. 

The authors propose a way of conducting NLP modeling research, which rejects the probablistic categories and quantitative statistics beloved by psychological researchers. Whilst statisticians will hate these ideas, they make perfect sense as a means of ‘bootstrapping’ knowledge to greater levels of usefulness. The key is in finding counterexamples and examining how each differs specifically at a process level from the general findings. For example in the case of those taught the NLP spelling strategy, the application of the strategy of those who remain poor spellers needs review; whilst those in a control group who spell well, must be examined to determine if they are natural spellers using the NLP strategy, even without being taught. 

Grinder also gives his account of the beginnings of NLP. This starts by describing the characteristics of Bandler and Grinder as: “arrogant, curious, unimpressed by authority or tradition, a well-defined sense of personal responsibility, an aversion to boredom, self-confident, playful, able to act ‘As If’, and appreciative of the difference between content and form.” 

A humorous account of how Grinder was elected to telephone the hypnotist/psychiatrist Milton Erickson and hypnotically induce Erickson to see him and Bandler ahead of Erickson’s schedule is revealing. Bandler was apparently confined to the bathroom during Grinder’s phone call, and had to chew on the bathroom towel in order to avoid ‘cracking up’ and spoiling Grinder’s performance. 

The authors differentiate NLP to other types of change work in four ways. Firstly, NLP explicitly operates on the individual’s mental maps, rather than any ‘real’ experiences. Secondly, and following from this, memory is seen as ‘reconstruction’, and so ‘archaeology of the individual’s mind’ is not taken to be part of NLP. Thirdly, consciousness is accorded a limited role in any change process. It can only be justified if one of the goals of change is to enable a client to be able to talk about their problems and challenges. In other words if the goal of the intervention is change other than the ability to articulate problems then the work may best be left to the wisdom of the unconscious. Fourthly, neither the agent of change nor the client is required to believe any set of assumptions to utilise NLP patterning. 

Having laid out these differentiators the authors then proceed to argue that the familiar ‘Presumptions of NLP’ are either unnecessary, or in need of revision. 

Grinder describes how in order to make a presentation during which he was suffering from walking pneumonia he made a ‘deal’ with his unconscious that was to become the basis of Six-step Reframing. The authors call this the breakthrough pattern since it is the unconscious that is called upon to decide what, (if any), patterns need will be changed and also in what ways. The client is not required to be aware of these. 

As Grinder writes: “the unconscious is capable of enormously complex and creative acts when the proper framing and context have been established and the lead is released to the unconscious.” 

The authors contrast the responsibilities apportioned to the client’s unconscious in the Classic Code NLP, by reference to anchoring; and New Code NLP by reference to Six Step Reframing. This analysis is detailed and once assimilated enables readers to achieve greater personal rapport with unconscious processes, and thus be better placed to enjoy life and operate creatively. 

The New Code is a simplified pattern, which helps those with little or no training in NLP to generate change. Central to the New Code is the assumption that performance in the world is a function of physiological state. Changing one’s breathing pattern constitutes simplest means of altering state. Since mind and body are conceptualised, as one phenomenon changing ones physiology is the equivalent of changing ones mind. 

The New Code differs from the Classic Code because the unconscious is explicitly assigned the responsibility for the selection of the desired state, the resource, or new behaviours. It is explicitly involved in all critical steps. The new behaviour(s) must satisfy the original positive intention(s) of the behaviour(s) to be changed. The manipulation (of the client’s mental map) occurs at the level of state as opposed at the level of behaviour. 

Central to the New Code is an open mindedness aptly termed the ‘Know Nothing State’. In this state conscious filters are suspended either whilst assimilating a new pattern as in NLP modeling or when engaged in a high performance state as in NLP application.  

In order to create new high performance states the subject is invited to play various ‘New Code Games’, which have no apparent connection to the behaviour or pattern to be changed. Ways in which such procedures may be used with children are explained. 

Multiple Perceptual Positions play a major part of The New Code. The most privileged of these is the so-called Triple Description. The equivalents of first, second and third person in English grammar are called ‘positions’. Once again the application of how these positions are useful is illustrated. 

The final part of the book concerns the future of NLP. It is composed of three chapters. The first of these concerns itself with the tension between the economies of NLP modeling and requirements of NLP training. It elucidates the differences between linear and hierarchical ordering and critiques Robert Dilts’ Neuro-Logical Levels before explaining the differences between Logical Levels and Logical Types within New Code NLP. This usage differs from that originally postulated by Whitehead and Russell in Principia Mathematica (1913). 

Within the New Code the term Logical Level may be understood as: Where two or more elements in a hierarchy, (such as an organization) the element which includes the others will be considered as a higher logical level. For example an employer is at a higher logical level than those employed. Logical Type is now redefined as nominalizations whose characteristics are essential from the viewpoint of a classifying agent. For example apples and pears may be considered the same logical type from the perspective of a government bureaucrat, but of different logical types from the viewpoint of a chef. A logical type then cannot be differentiated from the context in which it has been classified. 

This leads to the criticism of Robert Dilts’ concept of Neuro-logical Levels, since this hierarchical arrangement falls neither into the category of logical inclusion, as in the example of a business organization above; nor does it accord with that of part/whole relationships. For example can the environment be considered a part of behaviour? Bostic and Grinder argue that it is absurd to think so, yet in its widest sense, and in the light of the increasing effects of pollution, I wonder if their argument is sensible? 

A chapter is devoted to three key issues in NLP: Sorting functions; chunking and logical levels, form and substance – process and content. Sorting functions returns to the theme of 1st and 2nd Order Change, as defined within NLP application. 1st Order Changes are said to be unbounded whilst 2nd Order Changes are bounded. These are determined in the following way. 2nd Order changes consist of: addictions, (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, co-dependencies); physical symptoms; and behaviours that have associated secondary gains or payoffs. Anything remaining is considered as 1st Order Change. The authors acknowledge these descriptors to be unfortunate as they do not accord to the common usage of 1st and 2nd Order Change in other disciplines such as mathematics, (or indeed family therapy). 

But why, do the authors persist in using the terms 1st and 2nd order change in ways so different from how they are commonly understood in the fields of mathematics, philosophy and family therapy? Surely with a ‘New Code’ this was the opportunity to differentiate the phenomena that they refer to with new NLP terms that will not add more confusion to the world through duplication? 

Bostic and Grinder hold firmly the ideal: “Interventions in change work will be selected to effect change at precisely the level of representation at which the representation of the experience to be changed is coded: the most fundamental distinctions being primary experience or secondary experience”, (the mental maps resulting from cultural/linguistic coding). 

So, in order for someone to change it is only necessary that they understand how they have been assisted if the original coding of their problem exists at the cultural/linguistic level. 

Their argument is compelling, however NLP practitioners must also be cautioned that such a model comes close, if not within, the accepted definition of ‘Strategic Therapy’. Such ‘Therapy’ is not currently ‘fashionable’ and many outside of NLP consider it to be questionable.

There is a useful section on "Form and Substance: Process and Content".  Substance is the stuff out of which physical objects are composed.  It informs what may be possible.  Form refers to the shape or organisation that informs or makes the substance involved what it is.  In linguistics this distinction reduces to nouns and verbs. 

So nouns are the substance of language, and verbs its processes. In the Meta Model when encountering unspecified nouns we ask: “Which --- specifically”; and when encountering unspecified verbs we ask: “How --- specifically”. 

Recognizing and applying this distinction constitutes the essential difference between NLP and most other change technologies. NLP’s power rests on the practitioner’s ability to make the process/content distinction and leave the content entirely to the client whilst manipulating the process. 

The final chapter of the book are the authors’ recommendations to the NLP community. The intention, they claim, “is to provoke a professional high quality public dialogue among the practitioners of NLP”. The aim is to improve the practice in NLP. In order to achieve this the authors propose a reorientation toward the core activity of NLP – the modelling of excellence. Central to this focus is the definition of NLP as the study of the differences that make a difference between consistent high performance of genius in a field of human endeavour and the average performer in the same field. 

Having attended workshops conducted by John Grinder I hold his training in the highest regard. I probably have spent more time with ‘Whispering in the Wind’ than any other book this year. There is a lot of wisdom and knowledge within its covers, and for any seriously committed NLP Practitioner it is essential reading. But be warned; from time to time the authors refer to ‘native speakers of American English’. This ‘American English’ I think must be the language in which the book is written, and at times this required translation, which was for me a matter of some regret. 

Stephen J.M. Bray


Stephen Bray's career spans thirty years, beginning in social work and encompassing Adult Education, Business Consulting, Counselling, Journalism, Photography and Psychotherapy.  He is a consultant editor for Nurturing Potential.

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?22/04/2003 19:31:36Sir Mix-it-up
     Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?22/04/2003 20:30:23Anon
          Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?23/04/2003 17:15:42Sir Mix-it-up
               Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?10/09/2003 05:54:25SMH
               Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?11/09/2003 04:19:57Corn-Fused
     Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?23/04/2003 21:31:11Tone
          Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?10/09/2003 05:04:21Guilherme Pimentel
               Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?10/09/2003 07:31:08Stephen Bray
               Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?11/09/2003 09:45:21bardos
                    Re:Re:Re:Re:Why isn't Steve Andreas review of WITW posted on the website as well?12/09/2003 14:40:55Guilherme Pimentel

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