Most people would agree that 1979 was the year that NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) as we know it today was first introduced to the world.
It came with the publication of the book “Frogs into Princes – Introduction to Neurolinguistic Programming” which was written by Bander/Grinder.
This book outlined a rough framework for NLP and gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm for the potential that NLP could offer people to develop, become more self-aware and create excellence.
Bandler and Grinder had put together a fascinating and groundbreaking package of self help and coaching/therapy related knowledge accompanied by specific interventions (a trail of techniques), mindsets and a methodology that anyone with a motivation to learn and develop could adopt to improve their own life and help others.
Over the last 40+ years NLP has thrived and expanded as a profession for many and a set of tools to use personally for millions around the world.
Criticism of NLP – As highlighted by Wikipedia
Despite the huge success in establishing what was essentially a new field of Personal and Professional Development, NLP has had its critics over the years.
Most of the criticism comes from the fact that NLP has always remained a little mysterious. What is NLP exactly? Scientists and Academics do not really understand it. They look for evidence based research and frankly NLP was a little short on this looking back 40 years.
NLP was launched with anecdotal evidence mixed with a thin layer of scientific, non-clinical evidence from the fields of Psychology, Individual and family Psychotherapy.
Anecdotal evidence (from Wikipedia) is evidence from anecdotes, i.e., evidence collected in a casual or informal manner and relying heavily or entirely on personal testimony. When compared to other types of evidence, anecdotal evidence is generally regarded as limited in value due to a number of potential weaknesses, but may be considered within the scope of scientific method as some anecdotal evidence can be both empirical and verifiable, e.g. in the use of case studies in medicine. Other anecdotal evidence, however, does not qualify as scientific evidence, because its nature prevents it from being investigated by the scientific method.
As NLP has developed over the years a splattering of references to Neuroscience, and Neuropsychology have been added to the general NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner training course syllabus.
However this side of NLP has remained largely unexplored UNTIL NOW!!!
Originally Bandler (Mathematician and Coder) and Grinder (University Linguistics Professor) came up with the techniques, interventions, and methodology by studying (modelling) a range of therapists who were working in the US at the time.
Bandler and Grinder picked their subjects carefully. These therapists were achieving great (anecdotal evidence) results with their patients.
What were they doing specifically? Bandler and Grinder went about decoding their practices and forming a template for others to use in order to gain the same results for themselves and with others.
NLP coined the phrase “NLP – The Art and Science of Excellence”.
Bandler and Grinder linked the results that their subjects were achieving to the way that the brain processes information (and deletes, distorts and generalises it).
As defined by Bandler and Grinder, NLP seeks to explain:
How the brain (NEURO) organises external data taken in through our senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell) and internal thoughts in hierarchies.
How the brain communicates to us via our perceptions, imagination. How we communicate our thoughts via our language (LINGUISTIC).
How conditioned behaviour results from thoughts, imagination and external events (PROGRAMMING).
How to; rapidly change unwanted behaviour, reaction and thoughts and how to model excellence in others.
What everyone who studies and uses NLP professionally via qualification discovers is that NLP does indeed work very well. It produces great results. People feel better and more focussed with the knowledge that it presents the exercises that they are given to do.
NLP references the work of many well respected behavioural psychologists, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists, over the last couple of centuries…..
…..And yet the results based evidence, and clinical evidence of NLP working in the way that it was presented to the world was (and until now) continues to be still a little thin on the ground.
NLP – Empirical Evidence
Some academics remain sceptical of NLP and in some ways I can appreciate this. NLP was based on Empirical Evidence with little reference to the major fields of fast moving brain, behavioural and performance based scientific development in the 21st century, Neuroscience and Neuropsychology.
Wikipedia and their authors currently state about NLP that “There is no scientific evidence supporting the claims made by NLP advocates and it has been discredited as a pseudoscience. Scientific reviews state that NLP is based on outdated metaphors of how the brain works that are inconsistent with current neurological theory and contain numerous factual errors. “
At the same time and about Empirical Evidence Wikipedia states – “Empirical evidence is information that verifies the truth (which accurately corresponds to reality) or falsity (inaccuracy) of a claim. In the empiricist view, one can claim to have knowledge only when based on empirical evidence (although some empiricists believe that there are other ways of gaining knowledge). This stands in contrast to the rationalist view under which reason or reflection alone is considered evidence for the truth or falsity of some propositions. Empirical evidence is information acquired by observation or experimentation, in the form of recorded data, which may be the subject of analysis (e.g. by scientists). This is the primary source of empirical evidence.”
NLP updated in the 21st Century
“As NLP moves now into its fifth decade I (Anthony Beardsell) am pleased to be able to provide the world with a direct link between the Empirical Evidence of NLP in practice, that I have accumulated over the thirty years that I have been teaching and using NLP, with scientific evidence from the fields of Neuroscience and Neuropsychology.
In fairness the body of knowledge in Neuroscience and Neuropsychology has been absolutely transformed in the last 40 years. Things that were previously suspected in terms of the diverse functions of the brain and the power of the brain over the body have now been scientifically validated.
None of the therapists modelled by Bandler or Grinder back in the 1970s had the knowledge from Neuroscience and Neuropsychology that we have today…..and yet they were able produce outstanding therapeutic results with their patients making use of the very functions of imagination, thinking and the electro-chemical interactions in the body and brain. Did they get their results by accident? No they got them from decades of experience and hard work in their respective specialities, ad-hoc research and various sources of anecdotal evidence!
Bandler and Grinder had found techniques, methods and solutions to help people overcome their mental blocks, change their behaviour and thinking for the better and create excellence in their lives that have since been validated by new knowledge from
Neuroscience and Neuropsychology.
I have nearly thirty years experience of working in NLP. I have trained thousands of students to become NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainer professionals. I have personally assisted in using the techniques of change and excellence in NLP to transform many thousands lives.
Having spent a long period in deep research, for the very first time in history NOW is the time that I announce that I am ready to start revealing how and why NLP works from the perspective of modern day Neuroscience and Neuropsychology.”
Anthony Beardsell – NLP Master Trainer & Leader in International NLP development