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Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the Structure of Hypnosis
Chapter: Psychotherapy

John Grinder and Richard Bandler
Published by Real People Press/UT in 1979
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2007


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Back in 1981 I had just barely time enough to digest all the material I had been exposed to in Bandler and Grinder seminars, NLP conferences, the contents of Frogs into Princes, the two Patterns of Milton Erickson books, and assorted video tapes of Erickson, when this new book came out. Those were busy years for me, ones that were destined to change my life forever. I was beginning to ken the nature of the human personality in others and in myself. Hypnosis was not some magic trick restricted to stage performers, but a human capability that we all use every second of our lives. The easy part was putting someone into a trance, the difficult part was to understand the everyday trance that we all live in all the time. If you don't understand what I'm talking about here, then this book may be helpful to you.

In the summer of 1981, I took a week-long hypnosis seminar from Richard Bandler, during which we never used any recognizable method for inducing a trance. Outside of Bandler, the best hypnotist I encountered that week was a seminar participant who was a film director who worked a little instant hypnosis. A guy challenged him to create a positive hallucination as we stood near the bar in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency. The film director pointed to the floor and instantly created a visual hallucination of a cat by simply pointing his finger at the floor. I didn't see the cat myself, but the guy he put into the instant trance certainly saw the cat! "Wow! How did you do that?" he exclaimed. Bandler taught us how to do things that week that seemed to have nothing to do with hypnosis, as it is normally understood, but everything he taught helped us to understand the structure of hypnosis. "Everything is hypnosis," Bandler said during the first transcript book, Frogs into Princes. [See ART.] After he said that, Grinder disagreed with him, and went into this long explanation that was an exquisite trance induction and included the phrase, "all communication is hypnosis".

What is a trance state? How do you access a previous trance state? What is pattern interruption? Stacked realities? Generative change? Reframing? And how in the world do you use all this stuff to do anything productive? Better yet, how do you keep from using all this stuff to be un-productive?

Well, this will give a you a taste of what lies in store for you in this book. It's the best book to learn about real hypnosis, the structure of hypnosis. There are many books that can teach you to hypnotize people, but few that can teach you to break through the consensual trance that you are already in. This book can get you on the road to doing that.

Twenty years after it's publication, it's still a good read. Here's an example of what Bandler or Grinder said after an exercise in hypnosis in which they were instructed to induce an altered state and set up a nonverbal yes/no signal system with a partner:

[page 151] Many of you, as I walked around the room, were succeeding brilliantly without noticing it. One of the problems with doing anything that deals with unconscious activity, is that very often things are really obvious. I noticed someone staring at his partner's fingers and asking questions, and the partner was nodding her head, "yes" and "no."

These were two seminar leaders that observed things very carefully. They also knew how to utilize a person's processes to achieve results. "What if that person fails at everything?" the skeptical among you may be thinking? Well, failing is a process, and if you look carefully at what actually happens, it's a process that can be utilized. Any predictable behavior can be utilized to achieve a given result.

[page 160-161] A funny thing happened years ago. I had a student who failed at everything. He was a compulsive failer. I soon discovered that if I defined a particular success as the most likely failure, he could go in and succeed with people, and then come out and say, "Well, it didn't work." His client would change, and the student would never notice it!

Have you ever been to a professional who said, "Before we begin, there are a few things . . ." Isn't that an interesting way of talking? People almost expect it, and their eyes sort of glaze over when someone says it. What if you do the real therapy this way and then put them in a trance after the work is finished? Sounds weird, huh? Well, that's exactly what was suggested. If you have the slightest indication that the person will resist the hypnosis for their problem, make a few checks first, during which checks you do the reframing technique to fix the problem, then proceed with the official hypnosis they've been waiting for and expecting to pay you for.

[page 171] Rather than challenge what they came in for, hypnosis, tell them that you're a very special hypnotist. Explain that you're very thorough and don't want to use hypnosis to do anything that is detrimental, so you need to make lots of careful checks first. Then you go through the standard reframing. . . . If you act as if reframing is just the preamble, they'll hurry through the reframing so that they can get to the "real stuff." After they're completely changed, you say, "Now we can begin the trance. Close your eyes . . ."

If you think that you'd never fall for that trick, remember that was being taught over twenty years ago, to tens of thousands of people all over the world. Chances are you have fallen for it, on more than one occasion, and you never realized it, for the very good reason, that people say, "Before I begin . . ." all the time! And when you're paying professionals you listen for their content and are mostly oblivious of your own process, so busy you are with the content of what they're saying. Professionals pull magic tricks like this all the time with effortless ease, with a skill of any great stage magician. At least with a stage magician, you are warned in advance by the title magician that you are going to be tricked. With a title of Ph.D. or M.D. or most powerful of all, no title at all, you haven't a clue, up until now.

There's a lot more in this book to discover for yourself, just as there is a lot more in you to discover for yourself. Maybe a little hypnosis would work. But before we begin . . .

---------------------------- Reference Links for Bandler and Grinder ---------------

Reference Links to Material on Bandler and Grinder
written by Bobby Matherne


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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