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Neuro Linguistic Programming
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10/06/2006 11:09 AM
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Due in part to its open-ended philosophy, NLP is controversial. It is at times criticized in the scientific community as unproven or pseudoscientific, and amongst those who watch for fraud, for exaggerated claims and unethical approaches by a number of practitioners. There is also some dispute among its developers and proponents regarding what NLP is and is not.
A disquieting direction became obvious in the 1990s when, partly due to the legally-driven fragmentation of NLP practice, and partly due to lack of a defining and regulating structure to oversee the rapidly growing field, it seemed for a time that NLP could be (and was) promoted as the "latest thing", a panacea, or universal miracle solution. Dubious models and practices burgeoned, in parallel with bona fide. For a number of these new practices, profit, marketability or New Age appeal proved a stronger motive than realism or ethics.
Training too became fragmented. A plethora of trainers, some renowned, some New Age and charismatic, and some focussed upon niches, emerged, each with their own competing ideas of what training and standards were needed to become a "practitioner". As a result, today there is a range of in duration, quality and credibility of different practitioner training programmes.
In this respect, Platt (2001) comments critically that NLP needs to temper its claims, and accept it has limits on its effectiveness:
"Does that make NLP bogus? No, it does not. But the research and the findings of the investigators certainly make it clear that NLP cannot help all people in all situations, which is frequently what is claimed and what practioners assert... The immoderate claims that are made for NLP might be viewed a little more critically when viewed against this background."
Likewise the Irish National Center for Guidance in Education's Guidance Counsellor's Handbook (current as of 2005) includes the following caveat about excessive claims made by some trainers:
"Unfortunately, NLP has a history of so-called NLP Practitioners overstating the level of their competence, and of their training." Guidance Counsellor's handbook, section 1.4.5:
Views on therapeutic classification
NLP is considered a "dubious therapy" by Dryden (2001)  and The Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies . In Crazy Therapies (1996), Singer  states that "the process involves pretending that a model works, trying it, then if you don’t get results, discard it and try something else".  ). Beyerstein (1990p31)  considers NLP to be a fringe or alternative therapy. Devilly, a professor of psychology considers NLP to be an "alphabet" or "power therapy" similar to Thought Field Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Emotional Freedom Technique and Traumatic Incident Reduction. According to Eisner, the various claims NLP proponents make have no clinical support and are grossly missleading.
Peter Schütz, Austrian management consultant, and psychotherapist who applies NLP to his profession, outlines the issues with varying length and quality of NLP training, and the difference between the hobbyist courses and full length training, he outlines some criticism of NLP saying it has even been, "labeled in unfavorable political ways (nazilinguistic programming)"
In reference to NLP, Lilienfeld  states "the characteristics of pseudoscience are more specifically shown thus", for example:
"The use of obscurantist language" (eg meta programs, parapragmatics, representational systems, submodalities etc)
"The absence of connectivity" 
"Over-reliance on testimonial and anecdotal evidence" 
"An overuse of ad hoc hypotheses and reversed burden of proof designed to immunize claims from falsification" 
"Emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation (eg reliance on asking how rather than why)"
"Absence of boundary conditions"
"Reversed burden of proof (away from those making claim (NLP promoters), and towards those testing the claim (Scientists))".
"The mantra of holism and eclecticism designed to immunize from verifiable efficacy" 
Robert Carroll  states that it is impossible to determine a "correct" NLP model. NLP is also based on some of Freud's most flawed and pseudoscientific thinking that has been rejected by the mainstream psychology community for decades.
Controversies and critcisms
NLP has been criticized by clinical psychologists, management scholars, linguists, and psychotherapists, concerning ineffectiveness, pseudoscientific explanation of linguistics and neurology, ethically questionable practices, cult-like characteristics, promotion by exaggerated claims, and promises of extraordinary therapeutic results.
Several reviews have characterized NLP as a "cult" , and mass-marketed psychobabble.
Sanghera, a columnist for Financial Times (London, 2005) writes, "critics say NLP is simply a half-baked conflation of pop psychology and pseudoscience that uses jargon to disguise the fact that it is based on a set of banal, if not incorrect, presuppositions".
Currently, there is criticism from psychotherapists about the promotion of NLP within psychotherapy associations . NLP certification for therapists in most countries still does not require any professional qualifications 
Human resource experts such as Von Bergen et al (1997) consider NLP to be inappropriate for management and human resource training . NLP has been found to be most ineffective concerning influence/persuasion and modeling of skills .
Hardiman and Summers claim NLP is dubious and not to be taken seriously in a business context . Within management training there have been complaints concerning pressured adoption of fundamental beliefs tantamount to a forced religious conversion.
Psycholinguist Willem Levelt states that (translated into English by Drenth) "NLP is not informed about linguistics literature, it is based on vague insights that were out of date long ago, their linguistics concepts are not properly construed or are mere fabrications, and conclusions are based upon the wrong premises. NLP theory and practice has nothing to do with neuroscientific insights or linguistics, nor with informatics or theories of programming" .
NLP has been classed as a pseudoscientific self help development  , in the same mold as EST (Landmark Forum) and Dianetics(Scientology).
Von Bergen et al  state that "in relation to current understanding of neurology and perception, NLP is in error", and Druckman et al (1988) say that "instead of being grounded in contemporary, scientifically derived neurological theory, NLP is based on outdated metaphors of brain functioning and is laced with numerous factual errors".
Ethical concerns of NLP’s encouragement towards manipulation have been raised due to NLP book titles such as "The Unfair Advantage: Sell with NLP" and “NLP the New Art and Science of Getting What You Want”. 
Therapy and coaching fields require an ethical code of conduct (eg: Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia Ethical Guidelines). It has been found that NLP certified practitioners often show a weak grasp of ethics . 
In addition, Beyerstein  states that "ethical standards bodies and other professional associations state that unless a technique, process, drug, or surgical procedure can meet requirements of clinical tests, it is ethically questionable to offer it to the public, especially if money is to change hands".
NLP is also criticised for unethically encouraging the belief in non existent maladies and insecurities by otherwise normal individuals.
Drenth 2003 explains that NLP is driven by economic motives and "manipulation of credulity" of clients, and explains that "often pseudoscientific practices are motivated by loathsome pursuit of gain". Drenth clarifies this with reference to the well known "financial exploitation of the victims of scientology, avantar and similar movements".
Hunt says, NLP can be seen as “similar to new religions of eastern origin that trace themselves back through a progression of gurus, and to esoteric movements claiming the authority of authenticity through their descent from previous movements". 
Barrett (2001:238) states that "Like many alternative religions, particularly the Estoeric movements, there is a career ladder within NLP. Many people find the introductory seminar interesting and thirst for more. Practitioner training is the place to go next.
For these reasons NLP is sometimes referred to by journalists and researchers as a kind of cult or psychocult.  A German educational ministry banned the use of NLP in education and stated that it has a close similarity to Scientology.
Critics say NLP is adopted as a pretext for applying ritual, authority control, dissociation, reduced rationalization, and social pressure to obtain compliance from the cult's victim or to induce dependence. According to Devilly it is common for pseudoscientific developments to set up a granfalloon in order to promote in-group rituals and jargon, and to attack critics. Thus, although NLP's effectiveness is disputed, it nonetheless operates as a fake science. 
NLP has also been described as a commercial cult, and has been criticised within the business sector for being coercive.
notes and references:
[Sharpley C.F. (1987). "Research Findings on Neuro-linguistic Programming: Non supportive Data or an Untestable Theory". Communication and Cognition Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1987 Vol. 34, No. 1: 103-107,105.
Beyerstein.B.L (1990). "Brainscams: Neuromythologies of the New Age.". International Journal of Mental Health 19(3): 27-36,27.
Lilienfeld,S.O. (2002). "Our Raison D’etre". The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 1(1): 20.
Michael D Langone (Ed). (1993.). Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse. New York, NY: W W Norton & Company. -. ^
Tippet, Gary. "Inside the cults of mind control", Melbourne, Australia: Sunday Age, 3 April 1994. ]
[link to en.wikipedia.org]
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