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Using Your Brain for a CHANGE
Edited by Steve and Connie Rae Andreas
Chapter: Psychotherapy

Richard Bandler
Published by Real People Press in 1985
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2001


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This book was published about eight years after I introduced Steve and Connie Rae Andreas to the work of Bandler and Grinder in the fall of 1977. After that, as they say in their introduction, "we set aside most of what we were doing in order to study these exciting and rapid new ways of changing behavior." And yet change does not come easily due to the entrenchment of current practitioners in their fields. They quote Salvador Minuchin as saying:

[page 4] "How did people respond to our (research) findings? By defending their own paradigms. In response to new knowledge, there is always the question of how to maintain oneself doing the things one was trained in."

Consider that most of the people who attended Bandler's seminars were people entrenched in their own paradigms and you can get a new meaning out of the title of this book created from transcripts of Bandler workshops. He was talking directly to the therapists, telling them to take off their hoary paradigmatic straitjackets and use their brain, both for a change of pace (they might learn something new) and for producing a change in their clients (they might learn something new).

To avoid the resistance of the therapists, Bandler would tell a joke and then make a point right away so the point would slip under the radar of the therapists's paradigmatic defense shield. The book opens with an example of this technique, one that I personally experienced Bandler using over and over again. Sometimes my sides would be aching from laughing and my brain wondering at what wonderful changes he had slipped in under my radar.

[page 7] Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a word that I made up to avoid having to be specialized in one field or the other. [ The joke - it probably elicited a belly laugh from the specialists in the room sitting on their tight little paradigms. ] . . . Although lots of psychologists and social workers use NLP to do what they call "therapy," I think it's more appropriate to describe NLP as an educational process. Basically we're developing ways to teach people how to use their own brains.

To teach people how to use their brains in a good way, it's useful to start by teaching them how they already use their brains in a bad way. People think they would like to have a photographic memory. Yet they come back from a horror movie, and every time they think about the movie they are back in their seats in the movie getting scared all over again. One process that everyone understands, but many use backwards, up until now. And not only for bad stuff that's already happened, as Bandler goes on, people also use that process when they think of bad stuff that hasn't happened yet and feel bad. Bundled up in those couple of sentences are concepts that could drastically improve the quality of people's lives, if they were to work on understanding how to apply those concepts in their everyday and workday lives.

[page 15] Another difficulty with most psychology is that it studies broken people to find out how to fix them. That's like studying all the cars in a junkyard to figure out how to make cars run better.

This whole business of fixing people seemed to me a little backwards - instead of fixing things that are broken, I thought, why not break things that work in people's life to give them results they don't like. Probably an idea that Bandler first implanted in my brain while I was laughing. So I told people, "I don't fix people, I break them." Here's an example of how that kind of thinking might work.

[page 17] I've always thought John Rosen's approach to psychosis was the most useful: enter the psychotic's reality and then spoil it for him.

"That sounds like a risky endeavor," some of you may be thinking and perhaps Bandler would agree, now that he's actually tried it. It was reported to me that Bandler entered a room with a psychotic and a woman. The woman was shot and Bandler was indicted and tried for her murder. He was acquitted, but it certainly demonstrates the dangerous nature of entering a psychotic's reality. There is a strong element of truth to the statement that if we wish to understand another person we must enter their reality. If we manage this feat and then "spoil it for him" we may be said to have broken him, and for the better, for a change.

On page 26 Bandler gives an example of a woman having a great time at a party for three hours, who, just as she's ready to leave, spills coffee on her dress. Does she say, "Oh, well, I had a great time and was ready to go anyway." - no, she says, "Oh, now the whole evening is ruined!" This process happens in divorce cases commonly: eleven years of happy marriage, then a divorce and suddenly the marriage is labeled "a failure." I've been married three times, once for eleven years, once for five years, and now for over 23 years - to me that's like hitting a single, a double and a grand slam home run in one baseball game! I tell people I consider myself a "three-time winner" and I mean it. I had three happy marriages; some lasted longer than others. Something else that Bandler probably slipped into my brain while I was cataleptic from laughter in one of his seminars.

In the chapter on Point of View, Bandler covers something that few people give much thought to, but can make a dramatic change in their lives: the point of view from which they view the world when they have a memory. You have two choices: associated - you view the world from inside your body looking out of your own eyes, and dissociated - you view the world from outside your body looking at yourself from a distance.

[page 41] When you recall a memory associated, you reexperience the original feeling response that you had at the time. When you recall a memory dissociated, you can see yourself having those original feelings in the picture, but without feeling them in your body.

Why would this be important? Well, if you're interviewing a rape victim and need information, which process would you want to suggest as a way for the victim to recover information in calm, rational fashion? Certainly not the associated state where all the original feelings will arise. These two processes of memory are important in phobia and grief work for therapists. A person with a phobia sees themselves in a frightening situation in an associated fashion. A person with grief sees themselves with a loved one who has died in a dissociated fashion. If you could teach the phobic the grief process, they would always see the frightening situation from outside their body and not be frightened anymore. The grieving person would see themselves in an associated fashion being with their departed loved one and would feel all the good feelings of when the events of the memory actually happened. Again this important insight came to me during some state of consciousness during a Bandler seminar.

If you can get to a Bandler seminar, do so. The next best thing would be to use your brain for a change and read this book.

---------------------------- 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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