10 Ways to Protect Yourself From NLP Mind Control (1)
By Jason Louv
NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is one of the world’s most prevalent methods of mind control, used by everyone from sales callers to politicians to media pundits, and it’s nasty to the core. Here’s ten ways to make sure nobody uses it on you… ever.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a method for controlling people’s minds that was invented by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s, became popular in the psychoanalytic, occult and New Age worlds in the 1980s, and advertising, marketing and politics in the 1990s and 2000s. It’s become so interwoven with how people are communicated to and marketed at that its use is largely invisible. It’s also somewhat of a pernicious, devilish force in the world – nearly everybody in the business of influencing people has studied at least some of its techniques. Masters of it are notorious for having a Rasputin-like ability to trick people in incredible ways – most of all themselves.
After explaining a bit about what NLP is and where it came from, this article is going to break down 10 ways to inoculate yourself against its use. You’ll likely be spotting it left, right and center in the media with a few tips on what to look for.
Full disclosure: During my 20s, I spent years studying New Age, magical and religious systems for changing consciousness. One of them was NLP. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum: I’ve had people ruthlessly use NLP to attempt to control me, and I’ve also trained in it and even used it in the advertising world. Despite early fascination, by 2008 or so I had largely come to the conclusion that it’s next to useless – a way of manipulating language that greatly overestimates its own effectiveness as a discipline, really doesn’t achieve much in the way of any kind of lasting change, and contains no real core of respect for people or even true understanding of how people work.
After throwing it to the wayside, however, I became convinced that understanding NLP is crucial simply so that people can resist its use. It’s kind of like the whole PUA thing that was popular in the mid-00s—a group of a few techniques that worked for a few unscrupulous people until the public figured out what was going on and rejected it, like the body identifying and rejecting foreign material.
What is NLP, and where did it come from?
“Neuro-linguistic programming” is a marketing term for a “science” that two Californians – Richard Bandler and John Grinder – came up with in the 1970s.
Bandler was a stoner student at UC Santa Cruz (just like I later was in the 00s), then a mecca for psychedelics, hippies and radical thinking (now a mecca for Silicon Valley hopefuls).
Grinder was at the time an associate professor in linguistics at the university (he had previously served as a Captain in the US Special Forces and in the intelligence community, ahem not that this, you know, is important… aheh…). Together, they worked at modeling the techniques of Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt therapy), family therapist Virginia Satir and, most importantly, the preternaturally gifted hypnotherapist Milton Erickson.
Bandler and Grinder sought to reject much of what they saw as the ineffectiveness of talk therapy and cut straight to the heart of what techniques actually worked to produce behavioral change. Inspired by the computer revolution – Bandler was a computer science major – they also sought to develop a psychological programming language for human beings.
What they came up with was a kind of evolution of hypnotherapy – while classical hypnosis depends on techniques for putting patients into suggestive trances (even to the point of losing consciousness on command), NLP is much less heavy-handed: it’s a technique of layering subtle meaning into spoken or written language so that you can implant suggestions into a person’s unconscious mind without them knowing what you’re doing.
Though mainstream therapists rejected NLP as pseudoscientific nonsense (it has been officially peer reviewed and discredited as an intervention technique), it nonetheless caught on. It was still the 1970s, and the Human Potential Movement was in full swing – and NLP was the new darling. Immediately building a publishing, speaking and training empire, by 1980 Bandler had made over $800,000 from his creation – he was even being called on to train corporate leaders, the army and the CIA.
Self-help gurus like Tony Robbins used NLP techniques to become millionaires in the 1980s (Robbins now has an estimated net worth of $480 million). By the middle of the decade, NLP was such big business that lawsuits and wars had erupted over who had the rights to teach it, or even to use the term “NLP.”
But by that time, Bandler had bigger problems than copyright disputes: he was on trial for the alleged murder of prostitute Corine Christensen in November 1986. The prosecution claimed that Bandler had shot Christensen, 34, point-blank in the face with a .357 Magnum in a drug deal gone bad. According to the press at the time, Bandler had discovered an even better way to get people to like him than NLP – cocaine – and become embroiled in a far darker game, even, than mind control.
A much-recommended investigation into the case published by Mother Jones in 1989 opens with these chilling lines:
‟In the morning Corine Christensen last snorted cocaine, she found herself, straw in hand, looking down the barrel of a .357 Magnum revolver. When the gun exploded, momentarily piercing the autumn stillness, it sent a single bullet on a diagonal path through her left nostril and into her brain.
Christensen slumped over her round oak dining table, bleeding onto its glass top, a loose-leaf notebook, and a slip of yellow memo paper on which she had scrawled, in red ink, DON’T KILL US ALL. Choking, she spit blood onto a wine goblet, a tequila bottle, and the shirt of the man who would be accused of her murder, then slid sideways off the chair and fell on her back. Within minutes she lay still.
As Christensen lay dying, two men left her rented town house in a working-class section of Santa Cruz, California. One was her former boyfriend, James Marino, an admitted cocaine dealer and convicted burglar. The other, Richard Bandler, was known internationally as the cofounder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a controversial approach to psychology and communication. About 12 hours later, on the evening of November 3, 1986, Richard Bandler was arrested and charged with the murder. ˮ
Bandler’s defense was, simply, that Marino had killed Christensen, not him. Many at the time alleged he used NLP techniques on the stand to escape conviction. Yet Bandler was also alleged to actually use a gun in NLP sessions in order to produce dramatic psychological changes in clients – a technique that was later mirrored by Hollywood in the movie Fight Club, in which Brad Pitt’s character pulls a gun on a gas station attendant and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t pursue his dreams in life. That was, many said, Bandler’s MO.
Whatever the truth of the matter, Bandler was indeed let off, and the story was quickly buried – I’ve never spoken to a student of NLP who’s ever heard of the murder case, I’ll note, and I’ve spoken to a lot. The case hardly impeded the growing popularity of NLP, however, which was now big business, working its way not only into the toolkit of psychotherapists but also into nearly every corner of the political and advertising worlds, having grown far beyond the single personage of Richard Bandler, though he continued (and continues) to command outrageous prices for NLP trainings throughout the world.
Today, the techniques of NLP and Ericksonian-style hypnotic writing can be readily seen in the world of Internet marketing, online get-rich-quick schemes and scams. (For more on this, see the excellent article Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online monster by my friend Joseph Flatley, one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the Web.) Their most prominent public usage has likely been by Barack Obama, whose 2008 “Change” campaign was a masterpiece of Ericksonian permissive hypnosis. The celebrity hypnotist and illusionist Derren Brown also demonstrates NLP techniques in his routine.
How exactly does this thing work?
NLP is taught in a pyramid structure, with the more advanced techniques reserved for multi-thousand-dollar seminars. To oversimplify an overcomplicated subject, it more or less works like this: first, the user (or “NLPer,” as NLP people often refer to themselves – and I should note here that the large majority of NLP people, especially those who are primarily therapists, are likely well-meaning) of NLP pays very, very close attention to the person they’re working with.
By watching subtle cues like eye movement, skin flush, pupil dilation and nervous tics, a skilled NLP person can quickly determine:
a) What side of the brain a person is predominantly using;
b) What sense (sight, smell, etc.) is most predominant in their brain;
c) How their brain stores and utilizes information (ALL of this can be gleaned from eye movements);
d) When they’re lying or making information up.
After this initial round of information gathering, the “NLPer” begins to slowly and subtly mimic the client, taking on not only their body language but also their speech mannerisms, and will begin speaking with language patterns designed to target the client’s primary sense.
Read the second part of the article
March 2, 2020