From: L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections – 2010 – #11
March 15,  2010


To keep up with the field of NLP I read a 2008 book this past week on a flight home.  The title?  Provocative Hypnosis.   Sounds like it would be a book about hypnosis, but it wasn’t really.  The subtitle actually reveals more about the content, The No Holds Barred Interventions of a Contrarian Change Artist.  So what is the book about?  Therapeutic interventions in the style of Bandler with the theoretical assumptions of Grinder!  I have to give it to Norway NLP trainer, JØrgen Rasmussen, for how he imitates the “in-your-face,” “I’m not here to be your friend” Bandler-like style, although I wouldn’t recommend that style.

Anyway, the book is mostly a tribute to John Grinder and so constantly quotes him and presents the old 1985 “new code” as if it was cutting-edge technology.  And Grinder’s Preface sings the praises of the book without any reservation (which given his mismatching is a major miracle) calling Rasmussen a genius.

But in reading the book, my first and last thoughts was one and the same:  Do not listen to John Grinder, his advice and ideas will not help you, but will in fact, make you less effective and less able to actualize your highest and best.  Severe?  Over-stated?  Too strong?  Perhaps.  You make up your mind from the evidence of the following facts.

1) Fact 1.

In the Preface, John Grinder writes the following:

“We especially, rail against the type of professionalism that locks agents of change into tightly constrained boxes of conventional interventions like understanding, empathy, support for the client— all of these are choices but choices from a very large set.  Yet, of course, there are clients that require precisely these transactions but they typically need one hell of lot more and what they need is not contained in the conventional descriptions typically available.”

Hard to read?   Well, welcome to Grinder’s typical way of writing.  So read it again.  Conventional interventions lock agents of change into tightly constrained boxes!  Oh, that must be terrible!  And what are these “conventional interventions” that do such terrible things?  Why, understanding, empathy, support for the client.  Yes, that’s right.  Reread the paragraph if you need to!

So go ahead and scream in horror!  Get it out of your system.  And shake your head as you consider just how bad understanding, empathy, support for the client is.  “How and why would an agent of change do such a thing to a client!?  Tisk, tisk.”

Of course, we in Neuro-Semantics not only disagree with that, but we have this terrible idea— everything should start with understanding, empathy, and support for the client.   That’s just how bad we are.  But then again, somehow I got that idea from the foundations of NLP itself.  Wasn’t “rapport” one of the first things modeled from Virginia?

And if you think I’m exaggerating, here’s what Rasmussen writes in the book when speaking about some of his difficult clients:

“The only problem is that I did feel contempt, disgust, and wanted to beat the snot out of some of these clients as if they were a red-headed stepchild.  Yes, I admit it!  Sometimes I have felt these ‘bad’ emotions when working with clients.  At times I projected my own unresolved stuff onto them, and at other times I think that my so-called negative emotions were highly justified and very useful in help them change.  If I pretended to be a machine with no emotion, then I wouldn’t be doing justice to what happened in these sessions. Guess what, all that crap psychologists have told you about the client liking the therapist being the most important part of getting results … sorry, but ‘No’!” (p. 18)

I guess he doesn’t think much of understanding, empathy, and support for the client if he wants to beat the snot out of them and thinks that projecting his own negative emotions might be very useful in helping them change!  Well, JØrgen if you come to Meta-Coaching with that attitude you won’t get you past Day 1.  We start with the Releasing all Judgment Pattern and end Day1 with The De-Contamination Pattern to get the ego out of the way.  A very different approach, wouldn’t you say?

For the author, the choice is either-or.  Either “a compassionate and touchy feeling approach” that is “grandma-style compassion” or it is getting results (p. 19).  Could this either-or frame itself be the problem?  He then speaks about ethics:

“I think ethics is simple.  Understand that your job is to get results and if you can get results, then do it.  If you don’t get results, then don’t charge money.” (58)

Hmmm.   So the end of the intervention— the results is the only ethical issue?  And so does this mean that the means justifies the end?  All that I read there leads me to this reflection: My recommendation is that you do not listen to John Grinder or Rasmussen!

2) Fact 2.

Grinder is quoted as saying that the “NLP modeling has absolutely nothing to do with eliciting strategies or finding someone’s beliefs.” (p. 79).  It has nothing with asking questions about an expert’s ideas, beliefs, understandings, decisions, etc.  It only has to do with watching the expert in action and doing an “unconscious uptake” of his or her actions, repeating the micro-movements in your own body.

Hmmmm.  So that makes sense when you are modeling an athlete or someone engaged in a physical activity, but what about someone who over a period of a decade creates abundant wealth?  What about a person engaging in leadership that takes several years?  What then?  And what about modeling when the expertise in the area of the conceptual?

When I modeled wealth creators, first-generation rich millionaires, the object of the modeling was long-term processes that involved multiple stages occurring over many years.  If I could only look for micro-muscle movements, that would have been useless.  It would have provided nothing.  So again, I say, Don’t listen to John Grinder if you want to model complex states beyond drumming or rock climbing.

Fact 3.

Throughout the book the fuzzy wooly booly “the unconscious” is constantly referred to.  The author says that John Grinder often states this:

“The conscious mind is superb at organization, framing, and categorization, but lacks the power to do any significant change.  The unconscious on the other hand has enormous capabilities for change, but little capacity for organization.” (p. 194)

“Grinder points out that the client’s conscious mind is the part of the client least qualified to decide what the end state should be.”   “Grinder’s perspective is that which end state and resources to be used are decisions best left to the unconscious.” (p. 255)

So let’s see: Don’t be aware or conscious of what you are doing because your conscious mind “lacks the power to do any significant change.”  It can’t choose a valid objective, it can’t decide on what to do, it can’t help with motivation or creation or integration (to mention the four change mechanisms in the Axes of Change).  So the best choice then is to trust what you don’t know and aren’t aware of.  So does that mean “the unconscious mind” doesn’t make mistakes?  Doesn’t create migraines, allergies, auto-immune system diseases?  Later (see Fact 4) in the New Code Change format, step one recommends that the “client consciously select the context.”  Hmmmm.  My recommendation, Don’t listen to John or JØrgen—they are just too fuzzy and confused about all of this.  I think they need to learn “The Newest Code” of Neuro-Semantics (see my article on this at

Fact 4.

Then quoting “Grinder’s New Code Change Format,” Rasmussen does a meta-stating process, although he doesn’t seem to realize this.  In the following pattern he explains that he changes Grinder’s term “high performance state” to “flow state.”  I have shorten the process so you can quickly see the basic steps that he presented.  The things in [brackets] are my comments.

Step 1: From third position (observer) select some context where you find yourself stuck.  See yourself over there in the context where you experience X the most.  Have client consciously select the context (255-256). [So you start by taking a meta-state like the observer state to “select” or choose a stuck state.]

Step 2: Have the client physically walk over to the hallucinated context on the floor.

Step 3:
Have the client step out of the context.  Then have the client play a New Code Game (Alphabet or NASA game).  Play the game until the client goes into a flow state (256-258). [Next, you use the meta-state process of stepping back from a primary state and then bring the meta-state of “flow” to the stuck state, a meta-stating process.]

Step 4: When client is in a flow state, have the client reenter the context that they stepped into (Step 2).  Lead the client there (259). [Meta-state stuckness with flow.]  Calibrate signals from the unconscious.  Change should be obvious from step 2.  Troubleshooting: If the change isn’t there, you might want to re-do the game.  Is client in the feeling stated connect to the context?  Does client have a strong flow state?   Do you have a strong bridge between state and context?

Step 5: Future pace.  Challenge the client a bit.

Now if you know the meta-stating process, about bringing one state to another and putting one state in a higher position to the second so that the first state frames the second, then you will immediately see the invisible structure to this “New Code Format.”  Actually it is a meta-stating process— meta-stating stuckness with a high performance, flow, or genius state.

This same process occurred earlier in the book about emotions.

“The whole idea is to have the person feel the emotion and just observe it with precision.  This is a great way of releasing old pent-up emotions.”  (p. 248)

Observing with precision (one state) how you feel an emotion (a primary state) is what we do in Meta-States when we use the Meta-Stating Emotions pattern.  For this one — Do what John Grinder is doing unconsciously, but doesn’t understand.  So follow what he does; but don’t listen to what he says about it.  That will only mess you up.  To understand the process— find an APG course and let a Neuro-Semantic trainer show you the meta-state structure that governs the richest of human experiences!