Thursday, 20 April 2017

Mind, Myth and Magic Weekend

The next Mind, Myth and Magic workshop is in Yorkshire on 1st - 2nd July. Join us!

For details and booking please go to:

Monday, 17 April 2017

Saddle Up The Unicorn

Grab that coaching book and a copy of The Secret, sit cross legged for a moment and give a little ommm. Pack your bags and saddle up your unicorn, we are going back to Jericho. It’s a whole new trip and you are all invited.

Sitting in front of a bookshelf whilst you talk about “my journey” is so yesterday and old fashioned. Facebook status updates about your happy clients will no longer pass muster. There’s a new trick in town. It’s an old trick made new. Rediscovered maybe, but never lost.

The medicine show died a slow death along with its gullible patients, but the gurus will always live on. At first, the new young things scene adopted their gurus and their gods. They paid them money, hung out with them, had their photos taken for all to see. Who you trained with, when you trained with them, your relationship with the God-like trainer was all so important, but alas that is no more.

The passage of time has rendered the old Gods so passé. Their message has been assimilated into the culture, so now is the time to express contempt for the new kids finding their message for the first time and who cite their message as new. We reject the old, forever on with the new. There are new gods in town and they no longer sit in front of bookshelves and talk about their journey.

These days these new gurus and gods in town talk about other people’s journeys, offering guidance and wisdom as they struggle to maintain their beatific state in front of the camera. They do offer up their experience, express their vulnerability, try to be open. Vulnerability is the new secret code. Expressing past mistakes and regrets is the new way of maintaining focus on the self, whilst imagining and pretending to be guiding others.

Mysticism is the new model, bringing the light into the darkness, bringing the darkness into the light of reason. The universe speaks to us, and we need to hear it’s message. Not just for us, but for all of humanity. We are the messengers, the intermediate, the messiah to whom the universe communicates the truth. And it is Truth that we now speak.

The debts that are forever mounting up, the failed relationships, the bankruptcy, the poor health. These are not signs of failure but instead are demonstrations to ourselves of the sacrifice that we are willing to make to dedicate ourselves to the truth. We suffer to take away the pain of others, we take the sin away from mankind. We didn’t ask for it to be easy, but you must know how we suffer so, but we won’t mention the current debt or letter from the tax man. Our worldly concerns and chronic unemployment are not your concern. But we will teach you how to be wealthy, happy and sane. Your devotion, loyalty, and money is all we ask.

Come and be in my company, we can sit silently and meditate. I can teach you magick and connect you to the orgasmic moment of creation. I will talk of Hermeticism, tantra, yantra, yoga, Yarker and Crowley. We can share of ourselves, give a little of us to each other, imagine we have changed the world by changing a little piece of ourselves. There is no suffering, there is only beauty. You just need to look and see, we will help you remove the blinkers that blind you.

We will raise the temple. There are no techniques, processes or therapies. Just Truth, Love and Hope. The new holy trinity that will cure all of mankind’s ills, if you all would only watch our youtube videos and talk to us via Skype for a small fee so that we may plan our next trip.

Workshop Survival Kit

I sold these back in 2010, if there is enough demand I'll restock them (please use the comments section to declare an interest or request a custom made badge).  Previously, the first badge on the list sold out completely the first day they went on sale.

The Training Workshop Survival Kit!
Badges for seminar/training/workshop attendees:
  • "Fuck off, I Don't Want a Hug!"
  • "I Attend Workshops."
  • "I Have Trained More Than you Have."
  • "I Am One Of The In-Crowd."
  • "Smug, Pious and Proud."
  • "7-Day Expert."
  • "...and who did YOU train with, Hmmm?"
  • "I deeply and completely accept myself, now fuck off!"
  • "Training Workshop Junkie."
  • "Wannabe Guru."
  • "I Talk Others Walk."
These will be available from The Fresh Brain Company, priced at £8.40 for a selection of any five badges. Others will be added soon.

Other products I am considering adding to the range include:
  • Branded spittle wipes to deal with the moist trauma of all those group hugs and air kisses.
  • A big shitty stick to beat off those fellow attendees stuck at the "How specifically?" phase.
  • "The Whoopee Glee" (TM).  Set to automatic mode, The Whoopee Glee (TM) emits enthusiastic whoops of joy at variable random intervals.  
  • The NLP Laughtastic 6000 (TM). Similar to the Whoopee Glee, this item is calibrated automatically to be able to emit the right type of laugh to fit in with the in-crowd in any live training situation.
  • "The Grinnatron Joy Mask" (TM).  The Grinnatron Joy Mask (TM) can be worn safely for up to 24 hours in a single session.  Now it is possible to grin all day without risk of facial injury or being asked about your limiting beliefs.
  • The Self Catheterisation Kit.  Useful for those workshops where the trainer gets a bit too carried away and forgets that the mortals need to do normal things like take bathroom breaks.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Just a small prick

One residential care environment that I worked in specialised in a particular method of annoying the insane.  It used the "are you sure?" method.  For those unfamiliar with this method it goes something like this.

Staff:  "Hi John, how are you feeling today?  Have you been feeling anxious?"
Patient: "I'm fine thanks."
Staff:  "Are you sure?" (spoken with a tone that suggests superior knowledge)

I saw the same routine occurring with the daily enquiry of, "any suicidal thoughts today?" The patient would deny suicidal thinking and the staff with the same tonality would ask, "are you sure?"

Here's another example.

Staff:  "Did you have breakfast this morning?"
Patient: "Yes."
Staff: "Are you sure?" (with that same tone as before)

It took me a little while to work out just what going on in that place, because it seemed to me that pretty much all of the staff used the same pattern; it was as if everyone was reading the same script.

I'd have hated to be a patient there, it all seemed so demeaning and really rather unproductive.  But I doubt any of it was intentionally so, because staff tend to adopt each others patterns and this often occurs in close-knit working environments.

In hospitals for example, cliche phrases, mannerisms and expressions emerge amongst groups of staff and these can differ from department to department and hospital to hospital.  For example, anyone that has received an injection in a UK hospital is likely to have heard the nurse say, "Sharp scratch!" as the injection is delivered.  It's what nurses say, it is part of the culture.  Personally I always preferred the, "you will just feel a slight prick" gag, but that is a different story.  Another common expression is the "...for me..." tag when asking patients to do something, as in, "stand up for me," "take a deep breath for me," "squeeze this for me" and so on.  Although this was more common on the elderly care units.

The adoption of these little cliches is in part the adoption of the local culture and this often happens without conscious thought or consideration.  It is almost Pavlovian in nature. For example, non-NLPers should watch out: Never say, "I am sure" to an NLPer.  They will nearly always fire back the Bandlerism of, "Are you sure enough to be unsure?"  NLPers can be strange like that.  I once bet a nursing colleague that she couldn't go through a day without saying, "sharp scratch!"  She took the bet and promptly lost it about 15 minutes later.  As Pavlov found, some conditioned responses can be very hard to extinguish without sufficient counter-stimulus.

People adopt cliches and mannerisms that shape the perceived role in which they operate.  For example, saying, "Sharp scratch" fulfilled the need to say something and was acceptable to the peer group.  It fitted in.  My line about feeling a slight prick, which oddly was always acceptable with doctors but almost never with nurses, simply didn't fit in with the language of the peer group.  I learned early in life that, for so many people, fitting in is more important than anything else.  It is frightening sometimes to not fit in.

Hierarchy emerges within groups and the person who best knows how to use the language peculiar to his group is the person who can garner the most status from the group.

Most institutions possess their own language.  The armed forces each possess their own linguistic pecularities, prisons have their own language and currencies and most major professions and institutions also adopt their own expressions and terminology, not least of all, the medical profession.  In medicine, the language used can sound foreign, or like some kind of weird code.

For example, "upon admission the patient was cyanotic, SOB and with pyrexia of 42 degrees" translates as he was blue, couldn't breathe and was pretty hot.  Every part of the body has a name and that name means something to doctors and related professionals.  The words, "he had a heart attack" doesn't actually mean very much from a medical point of view since there are so many variables of what actually constitutes a "heart attack."

All these variables have a name or a medical description that immediately translates meaningfully to those who understand the language.  Given the complexity of what is involved and the size of the subject, it surprises me not one bit that medical training takes so long and requires so much intense study and experience.

NLP has its own peculiar set of words and phrases.  My favorite and one that I like to never miss an opportunity to use is, "kinesthetic transderivational search."  This isn't a term I hear often from NLPers, but is readily understandable to the initiated and rather bewildering to everyone else.  Much like the medical terminology, many (but not all) of these terms are useful in communicating concepts and ideas, such as "a submodality swish" versus a "content swish" and other referential terms such as, "eye accessing cues", "presuppositions", "double binds", "submodalities" and "pacing and leading" function the same way.

So, we have these two type of linguistic cliches - those that enable us to fit in, and those that enable us to understand.  I've never been too much of a fan of the former but must admit to being a bit of a fan of the latter.  I urge NLPers to watch out for the former, these "fitting in" cliches such as the "are you sure?" and the "are you sure enough to be unsure?" examples. Unfortunately, all too often, excessive demonstrations of "fitting in" tend to negate demonstrations of understanding to those outside of the peer group.

Now, it must be said that I didn't exactly fit in at the mental health unit from which I drew the "are you sure" examples, and an inverse relationship between how much my patients trusted me and how much my colleagues didn't trust me became apparent.  The staff tended to think that I didn't "get it" whilst my patients tended to disagree and suggested that I did "get it"; my employment at that unit was never going to last long, that much was agreed by everyone.

In the handover meetings between shifts, the reason for the "are you sure?" nonsense became clear.

The acting unit manager was an unusual individual in that she radically changed her appearance and identity so that she became sexually androgynous on the day she was "made up" to manager level and she would grill the staff about their handover reports.  It seems a bit bizarre now when writing this, but basically, she'd demand that the staff "check" what they wrote by asking the patients if they were sure.  Pettiness was taken to new extremes as in the following example:

Staff: "...and this morning John had a good breakfast before taking his medications..."
Androgyne: "What do you mean, he had a good breakfast?" (spoken with a slight tone of contempt)
Staff: "Well, he had cereal and toast."
Androgyne: "Which cereal?" (again, spoken with that same contemptuous tone)
Staff: "Ummm...not sure..."
Androgyne: "Well, go and ask him."

Yes dear reader, it really did get that petty.

That member of staff would then have to leave the office and go and ask the patient what cereal he had for breakfast whilst the rest of us waited.  I guess many people have been unlucky enough to meet managers like this, androgynes or not.  They don't actually have to do too much to create significant levels of stress in employees.  They also have the following effect.

Those that understand the necessary rituals and ceremonies that keep the manager happy will garner status with her, those that don't end up ostracised by the group.  Over time, the group becomes self-selecting and those who play the game will stay, those that don't will leave, and so a shared and delusional mindset emerges amongst the group.

It can become quite cult-like and it can be really quite unsettling; it is the Emporer's New Clothes all over again, only without the humour and nudity.

I have observed that many NLPers fail to model effectively and simply imitate instead.  I have lost count of how many people I have experienced doing a spontaneous impression of Milton Erickson, not based on their own experience of Erickson (via available audio-visual material) but rather based on a famous trainers' impression of him.  Meanwhile, I have noticed that NLPers no longer imagine things, instead they "hallucinate"; they no longer seem to have opinions, they have "maps"; they don't learn things, they "model" things and "install strategies."  Here are some other examples I experience far too often for comfort:

Me:  "Hi!"
Them:  "Very Hi!"

Me: "How you doing?"
Them: "I'm GREEAT!!  What about you?"
Me:  "Err...fine thanks."
Them: "Just fine?  You should be feeling GREEAT!"

Me: "I don't like that."
Them: "Don't like it how, specifically?"

For too many NLPers, being an NLPer depends upon using all the cliches, mannerisms and attitudes that they observe the rest of the NLP herd using and make attempts at garnering status within the "NLP Community."

Sadly, this can have the effect of distancing them from their own existing community who worry that their loved one has joined some kind of mind control cult.  People that behave in these ways do not always come across as especially functional human beings and I cannot help but wonder if there is a degree of a cargo cult mindset meeting The Field of Dreams - "build it and they will come" - as if the NLPer only need use the right words and parrot what they have heard other NLPers say then life success, happiness, wealth and status is as good as theirs.

Experience goes far deeper than the mere use of the right words.  Remember this before you find yourself abducted and deprogrammed by well-meaning people who "care."

NLP provides a great set of tools for building great states and mindsets, and there are as many states and mindsets as there are people. The emperor wore no clothes, an interesting choice and not one that I would necessarily choose for myself. Be grateful for that. But imagine if the crowd all chose the emulate the emperor, the sight might not be a such a pretty one; depending on where you are stood in the crowd, I guess.

As I see an increased uniformity amongst NLPers striving to reach that elusive but correct NLP mindset this is something that all-too-often tends to get forgotten. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Why don't doctors learn NLP/EFT/Hypnosis etc?

I want to tell you a short story. It's largely true, the bits that are not true arise merely as a result my faults in my memory, ability to recall and some deliberate obfuscation to eliminate identification of the subject of the story. The story comes from my time working in neurosurgery.

A young woman fell from a horse.

The fall was serious and the injuries were life threatening.

Initially the woman's survival chances were rated as very slim indeed. An expert paramedic team arrived on the scene, so did a surgeon and an anaesthetist. The woman was carefully moved to accident and emergency department where another team of people went to work before transferring her to intensive care whilst a bed in a specialist unit (neuro-intensive care) at a different hospital (the hospital in which I was employed) was found.

Transfer was arranged, and a nurse specialist, an anaesthetist and doctor accompanied the patient in the rather impressive mobile intensive care unit to bring her to the neurosurgical intensive care unit where the responsibility was handed over to one of the best neurosurgical teams in the country.
Time passes, a number of surgical procedures are carried out, injuries start to heal and against the odds the patient appears to begin to recover.

Her recovery reaches a stage whereby intensive care is no longer required, and the patient's care is downgraded to “high dependency” and she is moved to our unit whereby this lady came under the care of another expert team of which I was one of the most “junior” members.

This lady's neurological state was still appalling and her injuries still very severe, and a huge question lay over the prospects of long-term survival and, if she did survive, about the quality of life she might have to endure.

It's contentious I know, but if I was some of the patients I have seen, I wouldn't consider survival to always have been the best of the possible outcomes.

But survive she did. And a huge team of people ranging from pharmacists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, nurses, doctors, porters, cleaners, social services, technicians and so on, all contributed their encouragement and expertise to ensure her recovery.

Now, here is that all important detail. Throughout all of this, the family suffered enormously and one of the worst experiences for families of the seriously ill/injured is the experience of helplessness. It is the hardest thing to do to stand back and allow “care” to be delivered by strangers; strangers who may be faulted – most will be just fine of course, but some may have attitudes that we don't like, some may seem weak, may seem officious, some may even seem lazy or ignorant, some will be kind, dedicated and hard working, a few may appear at the edge of a breakdown themselves, and of course some will appear to have their own “issues” - and so on.

So, family need to be involved, they need to feel empowered, noticed and involved. But you know what? We didn't always have time for that as the patient was always the main priority, and whilst the patients were legion in number, time and resources were not.

So this gap was often filled by innovation on the part of the family. Maybe they'd play tapes of the patient's favourite music, bring in aromatherapy oils, vitamins, healers, prayer groups and hope.

This particular patient had a healer visit every day. Laying on his hands and channelling his mysterious energies into her body. The nurses are happy to allow such activities as long as the additional treatments being offered are medically approved in that they do not affect bodily processes in a way that conflicts with medical treatment, do not put the patient or anyone else at risk (i.e. lighting incense and burning herbs, etc), and do not interfere with any of the routines of running the department.

The patient survived and eventually went on to recover sufficiently that within a couple of years she was living independently again. A good result not only for the patient but also for the Accident and Emergency, Intensive Care, Neurosurgical and Rehabilitation teams, you might think?

Apparently not.

I was later told by “someone” the following line, and I hear similar lines a lot from the mouths of NLPers, healers, tappers and therapists. “The doctors said that she wasn't going to live and would die within 6 months. Well, we weren't going to take that so we employed a healer to see her every day. The doctors are baffled by her recovery, and it just goes to prove how well healing works. Doctors are so small minded, they really should look at all the evidence for healing.”


This was one of those rare occasions where I kept my mouth shut, but needless to say I was appalled. I regularly hear the immortal lines, “...and the doctors are baffled/amazed by his/her recovery....” which is rarely true of course.  They are mostly just very pleased.  So let's not delete out all the research, hard work, dedication, medical expertise and experience, and let's not forget the sheer amount of stress suffered by many staff, and let's not ignore all the physiological processes involved and simply nominalise the patient's recovery down to the fact that some strange man waved his hands around the room.

It used to be fashionable for credit to be given to pop stars or celebrities – the young patient's favourite pop star was persuaded to send in a tape or visit personally, and the subsequent recovery is put down to that event, and little to do with the efforts of the staff, routine biological processes or anything else that is a little complicated and multifarious.

The reason I write this is because three times this week I have been asked by NLPers, “Why don't doctors bother to learn NLP?” As scorn is heaped upon the medical profession for their sheer stupidity in telling patients such awful negative suggestions such as, “this injection might hurt a little.” (If it does hurt, that isn't necessarily because of the suggestion or belief of the doctor. It might just be due to the fact that some injections hurt. Some hurt a lot. Some don't hurt at all.)

Recently I'm hearing and reading a lot of biased criticisms by NLPers about things doctors say and do, as though all the suffering in the medical world is caused by negative suggestions that doctors say, and all healing results purely from the mental might of the patients to overcome such powerful negative programming.

Such criticisms are often accompanied by lamentation as to why don't doctors learn NLP?  After all, if they did, devastating travesties such as negative suggestions could be avoided. To which I can only reply the following: Why don't NLPers learn and practice medicine - might that not be easier?

I'll write more on this later.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

More Tapping Ranting

It’s been some years since I put together the website  It was a fun site, mostly, and a wry look at a therapeutic process that I consider to largely consist of total nonsense.

However, the complaints continue to arrive in a slow but steady trickle.  I care not, probably because I am exactly that which call me. My two favorites that I showed Laura, "You seem to think you are Jesus" and "You seem to think everyone else is an idiot except for yourself" to which my ever loving wife replied, "Well, they are both right about that."

Yep. Anyway...

I did experiment with tapping a few years ago, the results were underwhelming and I quickly got over my initial interest in tapping as a therapeutic tool.  What stood out and grabbed my interest were the huge claims made for tapping by its advocates, its simplicity and the fact that a few respected friends swore by it.  A few still do.

But then people used to fervently burn “witches” at the stake, believe that the world was flat, the sun revolved around the earth, mercury was the grand cure all, and many other strange things that turned out to be total bollocks.

I’ll be clear about my stance here.  Tapping as a therapeutic tool is total bollocks, but it seems to be an exceptionally popular bollocks.  I just know that I’ll get more emails from fervent tappers telling how my skepticism needs addressing; how I have limiting beliefs, and how dare I deny the powerful set of evidence that proves tapping is effective.  How dare I?

I’ll say it again.  It is all bollocks – and you are probably deluded if you think otherwise.

In the tappers dream future the following situations would arise…

Patient:  “Doctor, please help me, I am so terribly depressed, I want to die.”
Doctor: “Fear not, young man, do this, tap your face and repeat after me… ‘Even though I am terribly depressed I deeply and completely accept myself.’…”

Patient:  “Doctor, I have this lump, I fear it might be cancer…”
Doctor:  “Fear not, young woman, please tap your face and repeat after me…..”

Nurse:  “Doctor, a patient has just arrived with the most frightful psychotic symptoms!”
Doctor:  “Now, young nurse, do not panic, please break out the manual and look up which meridian we must get him to tap on his face…”

It’s all total hogwash, hokum, bollocks.  The client taps their face, the therapist taps their wallet.  It’s a good deal…for the therapist.

On YouTube I’ve seen such crap as “tapping for the troops” – some young idiot without any combat experience, military training, medical training or pretty much anything other than training as a “pick up artist” and a bit of face tapping teaching people how to “tap for the troops” and cure them of their combat experience.  I say let’s send these morons to Baghdad, where they can best employ their services.  They won’t suffer from the heat, the danger, the prejudice or the fear of course, they can simply tap that away and endure anything.

YouTube is awash with such hokum for using tapping to overcome hunger pangs and obesity, anorexia, depression, anger and even fear of the Illuminati.  All the videos posted by enthusiastic tappers all showing you how to tap your face in order to cure pretty much anything and everything.
Repeat after me.  Even though this is total bullshit, I deeply and completely accept myself.

Whilst this might be bad enough for some, there is far, far worse.  I hope that maybe some day those people will look back and find it all a little embarrassing, remembering the era of the mad tappers where the solution to all the world’s problems lay in getting people to tap their faces.  In the 60’s LSD had similar advocates and to those advocating it looked like the solution to the world's problems – if only everyone tried it, they thought, then maybe everyone would be open minded and wars will end.

So get on the phones everyone, call Al Qaeda, call North Korea and Jeremy Kyle, spread the word and get the bloody fools to tap their faces before it is too late.  Spread the word, spread salvation, they banned LSD, maybe they will ban tapping too.  The powers-that-be fear its power, and tremble in the face of the liberation and freeing of imprisoned minds.

The solution is so simple, why can’t these people understand and open their minds just wide enough to see?

The zeal of the Christians never went away; the missionaries took up their positions with the natives to spread the seed of their religious fervour.  Soon the natives were converted and the great Word spread unhindered.  The natives converted to the correct version of reality, their souls were saved and the Truth set them free.

And anyone who disagrees be damned; freedom works a bit like that.

And whilst there may not be so many Christian missionaries these days, but as I say, the zeal continues – God simply got replaced by therapy.  Priests and pastors become counselors and therapists, and the word to be spread became not the words of the Christ, but rather the immortal mantra, “Even though I am blah blah, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

And so the charities began and the overseas rescue missions planned.  To Africa they said, and to Africa they went, armed with their mantras and tapping fingers and taught the Africans how to cure malaria.

“Tapping can relieve the suffering of malaria” they claimed, and to a desperate population, remote and impoverished, these well fed and well-intentioned “therapists” and “healers” taught them the new gospel and creed.  It was the creed of “energy medicine”, of great medicinal claims and of a mysterious force that man can learn to manipulate to bring about relief from suffering and death. 

Here’s a quote from some purveyors of this astonishing cure:

"If the study supports our previous anecdotal evidence that TFT is beneficial in relieving symptoms and effects of malaria, the ATFT Foundation will need to proceed with the second stage of the project, which is to determine the most effective methods for disseminating and teaching the appropriate TFT techniques and protocols to vulnerable populations.
“Recently, the missionaries in Tanzania invited the ATFT Foundation to send a team of TFT teachers and researchers to explore the uses of TFT to reduce physical and emotional suffering associated with the deadly disease of malaria, and to set up a study to determine the effects of TFT on that population. Local personnel will continue the study once the team has left. It is anticipated that two to three follow-up visits by Foundation members will be required for supervision, further training, and monitoring purposes."

I don’t doubt the sincerity of the people involved, any more than I doubt the sincerity of the people who collected the firewood following the witch trials in the 16th century, and as Bateson suggested, if you are going to send a message of deception, you better get an honest man to carry it.

I’ve seen a recent shift in the claims made by tappers from the ability to “cure” malaria, to “relieving the suffering caused by malaria” but they take not medicines, quinine based drugs or intravenous fluids.  No, they take pseudoscience and proper sounding algorithms; they offer false hope and come home with impressive mission statements and of course the all-important feel-good factor and photos of having helped the less fortunate and ever grateful Africans.

Mind you, it could be worse.  The Mexicans got "Tappy Bears", but I’ll rant about that later in the week.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Phantom Limb Pain Treatment | Mirror Box | Training Videos

The entire workshop of Phantom Limb Pain - Effective Assessment and Treatment is now available as streaming video. No cost other than your email and your soul.

Video 1.
00.01 Introduction and background
04.00 Amputations in hospital, patient experience of visual representation and feedback
05.50 Patient experience of kinaesthetic representation and feedback
06.50 The mirror box, rationale for choice of style and construct
08.25 Vilyanur Ramachandran, Phantoms in The Brain.
09.25 Phantom limb pain case study/example (edited to remove confidential details)
12.30 Ramachandran, change the picture
12.57 Assessment of patient (PTSD)
23.10 Assessment of patient (delayed organic depression)
26.24 Assessment of patient (dysmorphic distress)
32.10 Assessment of patient (secondary depression and anxiety)
36.45 Assessment of patient (pre-morbid conditions)

Video 2.
00.01 Trapped in relationships
00.50 Assessment of the phantom (remapping phenomena)
09.09 Assessment of the phantom (eliciting the phantom image)
13.00 Assessment of the phantom (position of phantom, contractures)
15.45 Demonstration of repositioning phantom
19.12 Assessment of the phantom (mobility of phantom)
21.30 Congruity and incongruity between image and kinaesthetic representation
24.19 Overlap between phantom and physical pain
25.48 Question and demonstration of testing amputee for remapping
37.57 Demonstration with brachial plexus injury patient 

Video 3.
00.01 How to use the mirror box
08.30 First non-amputee experimentation with mirror box
12.18 Second non-amputee experimentation with mirror box
13.20 Getting results, expectations, time pressures on appointment duration
15.25 What to do with the prosthetics when using the mirror box
25.15 Treatment session structure
30.00 Considerations of limb transplants
32.30 Patient expectation management
34.55 Instructions to patient
37.00 Question from audience about medication for pain relief
38.50 The stages of the treatment session (Expectation and anticipation)
40.49 The stages of the treatment session (Focus)
42.00 The stages of the treatment session (Reaction)
43.00 The stages of the treatment session (Emotional reunion with limb image)
44.05 The stages of the treatment session (Abreactional states)
45.55 The stages of the treatment session (Fascination and Exploration)
48.18 The stages of the treatment session (Fatigue)
49.00 Results and effect of mirror box session (Telescoping phenomena)
50.40 Demonstration with upper limb amputee
73.50 end

Video 4.
00.01 Demonstration with hand injury
09.39 Questions from audience
15.16 Demonstration with brachial plexus injury, pre-amputation
28.00 Questions about demonstration and discussion
39.31 End

Qualified clinicians may be interested in the complete video recordings of treatment sessions here: Phantom Limb Pain Treatment Sessions.

Tapping for Trump

I'll just leave this here:

The Tapping Challenge

I'll call this project, "The Tapping Challenge" and I will gladly assist where possible any tapper who wishes to take on any of the challenges outlined below.

Tapping Challenge #1.
A team of tappers meet and camp outside a regional psychiatric outpatients clinic for one month.  Every person entering the clinic is shown where to tap for their own given personal distress and encouraged to tap daily for an entire month (just to be sure, you understand).  At the end of that month, will the staff inside that clinic have anything left to do?

Tapping Challenge #2.
A team of tappers will camp outside the Youth Criminal Courts of Justice.  All young persons leaving the building are taught to tap away their problems and are also encouraged to tap daily for one full month.  By the end of the month, the recidivism rate should be reduced and crime statistics for that region will be affected accordingly.

Tapping Challenge #3.
For one month, patients on a leading oncology unit are divided into two groups.  Those that receive only tapping and those that receive only conventional medicine.  The test here is to see if the staff will be able to tell any difference in survival rates between the two groups.

Tapping Challenge #4.
Since tapping is allegedly so effective in dealing with cravings, all attendees at a selected drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre are taught tapping prior to entering the system.  By camping outside the centre, all arrivals and departures can be captured and taught the appropriate tapping algorithms.  The staff will need to look for alternative employment as a result.

Tapping Challenge #5.
Since tapping is so effective in dealing with cravings such as hunger pangs and chocolate cravings, I propose a team of tappers set up a project to rival any of the existing weight loss and slimming clubs. This could be lucrative in the extreme.

Tapping Challenge #6.
This is my favorite.  Hospices.  It works like this, tappers work in hospices and tap like fury.  Within a month or two, there should be a major problem with the noticeable lack of dying.  Media worthy for sure.

Poor taste?  You bet, but nothing like the poor taste that is offered to seriously ill and vulnerable people, people with serious life issues, physical disease and mental distress who are handing over money to individuals that they believe to be trained professionals - only to learn that the secret to health is to tap on their face.

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Dark Side of Tapping

Picture the scene.  It's a fictional scene but one that I have witnessed played out in a multitude of ways in different locations and with different players.  The scene is set in a residential psychiatric unit, the day is Wednesday.  Billy, a chronic schizophrenic patient, enters the office and is a little anxious and distressed.  An earlier encounter with a member of staff has left him unsettled.  Most encounters with that member of staff leave Billy unsettled for a really simple reason.  That member of staff who we will call John in grand the tradition of things is a bit of an asshole and it must be said that his colleagues don't like him much either.

John has a number of key character traits - he isn't particularly bright, he drinks too much alcohol at weekends, he likes rules, status and power and he feels very comfortable and enjoys himself most when around vulnerable people.

But back to Billy.  Billy enters the office, his distress is clear.

Billy is concerned that John may convey a negative impression of that earlier encounter to the staff, and that what gets recorded in the notes may not be quite accurate about what really went on.  Those notes form a patient's "permanent record" and never go away.  What gets recorded can massively affect the future of any person in such a situation of "total care."  

But these staff don't see it from Billy's point of view.  No.  They see it only from their point of view as psychiatric workers.  Billy's distress is obvious, and these staff are there to relieve distress, are they not?

"I want to talk to you about this morning," Billy splutters whilst jigging side to side in his agitation. "I don't want John to set me up."  It's a reasonable concern, really, I wouldn't trust John to care for a dead cat, let alone vulnerable schizophrenics.  I hated the guy, but then he had no power over me so he wasn't really that much of a concern to me, but I did use to worry what he got up to at work when no one was watching.  I've known bullies before and I know how quick they can be with their little jabs and jibes so that no one else other than the victim actually sees them.  Sometimes you only need turn your eye for a second and the bullying occurs, unwitnessed.

Also, it possibly isn't the best thing for a known paranoid schizophrenic to express concerns about "being set up."  It doesn't look good, not at all, at all.

Now, Billy wants to talk, he wants to explain, possibly he wants the staff to see it from his point of view, but most of all he wants these trained professionals to understand. (As attendees to my IEMT training will be familiar, these are strategies I seriously advise people who lack power to not do.  Ever.)

Of course, Billy lucked out.  As usual.

What he got was, "You looked distressed, Billy, have you taken your medication this morning?"

I learned from improv training that this is known as a "block."

Billy tries to argue that this isn't a medication issue, but it is too late.  The frame has been set and the power differential against Billy is simply too great to be beaten.  Billy reluctantly agrees to an extra "PRN" dose of a neuroleptic medication to "calm him down."

Order is restored and the status quo of power is maintained.

It was for these reasons that I usually refer to medication as madication.  Sometimes I hated psychiatry and sorely wished for an alternative.

Enter "tapping."

"Tapping" is touted as a "gentle" therapeutic tool that can resolve a huge array of human and non-human maladies, can operate remotely without the patient even being present and works like acupuncture without needles upon the bodies energy system.  It is also total bullshit.

But, whilst not obvious to many, this "therapy" does have a dark side.  If you want to see it for yourself, simply type "tapping" and "children" as a search term into YouTube.

Tapping is the tool of choice for dealing with children's anger by parents who have the tapping bug.  YouTube is filled with videos of strange men and strange women demonstrating their tapping prowess and how and where to get your children to tap if they get angry.

I'm with the legendary educationalist, John Holt, on this one.  As a child, when someone is hitting you with a stick, at least you know what is being done to you.  But when someone is giving you "therapy" the situation can be very confusing indeed, and possibly quite damaging.

I have seen too many occasions where madication is used oppressively by people with well-meaning intent, who remain ignorant about their actions.  Imagine the same situation where madication is simply replaced by tapping.  The outcome is the same.

Now watch this....

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Bastard Tappers

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has taken the time to email me, 'phone me and message me on Facebook regarding my recent blog entries on "tapping."

There are a number of themes to the messages, but the primary theme seems to be as follows: "Countless people have benefitted from tapping, including myself and I have seen people benefit from tapping with my very own eyes, so how can you say that tapping is bollocks?"

Well, that is quite easy. Tapping as a therapeutic modality is bollocks. So, how can I deny all the evidence? Why do I let a few "bad apples" spoil the field? Here's how. In the USA, many millions (4 to 8 million) of people believe that alien abduction is real.

Fewer, but still rather a lot, believe that they were themselves abducted by aliens.

Why do they beleive this? Well, because they have evidence. Many therapists believe that there is a massive global satanic conspiracy, brainwashing people with sexual abuse, satanic rituals, and freely use innocents as "brood mares" for their cults and so on.

This leads to MPD and DID, and whilst the law enforcement agencies worldwide fail to find any proof of such activities, these therapists succeed. They believe and they know. How? Evidence!

Countless people believe in God, and have killed in his name.

In past centuries, to reduce the level of mass killing, world religions have wisely tended to harmonise and agree that there is only one God, but he is known by many names. And how do they know this?


Huge numbers of people, such as David Icke, believe that there is a vast conspiracy, involving aliens, shape shifting reptiles, the Freemasons, the Illuminati and the banking system.

We are all being farmed for the conspirators' personal gains and agendas. How do they know this?


Man never landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong is a liar. How do we know? Evidence. Diana, Princess of Wales was killed by the Queen and MI6, there's a big man's face on Mars, the earth is hollow, aliens walk amongst us, the earth is only 4000 years old, evolution is a lie, Jesus died for our sins, 9/11 was an inside job and transcendental meditation can cut crime and teach you how to defy gravity and levitate.

In times of old many, if not most, people believed that the earth was the centre of the universe and that God made the universe to revolve around the earth.

Nay sayers were tortured and even tied to trees and set alight. Nasty business, but it was for the greater good. They had evidence, you see.

Witches, do I need to mention witches?

Lots of evidence there too and the believers squashed them under rocks and burned quite a few of them for good causes and always with positive intentions and clear consciences. I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.

One valid question came up though.

On an old webpage (I think from 2006, but I'm not too sure) on my main site I had clearly written:
"Learn and practice the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Buy at least the basic training DVDs and practice daily. When done properly this is possibly one of the best treatments for anxiety I have come accross." 
It's true, I did write that, I even did believe that one time.

But then... I used to believe in the tooth fairy. Really, I did, because I had my own personal evidence. I used to believe in Father Christmas.

I believed in him too, because, well, not only was it apparently rather advantageous for me to do so, but I also had that all important evidence.

I never believed in the Easter Bunny - that always seems a bit stupid to me, even when I was little.

I used to believe in psychics and mediums.

Again, because I had that all important evidence. Add tapping to that list. But you know what?

What I find most impressive is the spite being expressed in my direction by a few Tappers who want revenge upon my very soul.

Apparently karma has been invoked in one quarter, legal action is being called for in another and my professional conduct is being discussed on a number of tapping forums.

The hit-rate on my website is at an all time high (really, it is, but I did expect that), so thanks for that guys. So it looks like I have upset the tappers.

It's like telling a bunch of school children that there is no Santa Claus this Christmas; he got crucified in the name of religion.

Yet another hypnotherapist

I cannot pretend anymore.  I am often embarrassed to call myself a hypnotherapist.  When socialising, for example at parties, business network meetings and so forth, I dread that question, "So, what you do?"  It was great when I worked in brain surgery and accident and emergency because the conversations used to go something like this:

"What do you do then?
    "I work in brain surgery."
"Ha!  Funny, so what do you really do then?"
    "No really, I work in brain surgery.  I'm a nurse, I work on the neurosurgical unit."
", that is amazing!"

And people usually were amazed too.  I'm not sure if they were amazed because I didn't seem the "type" (many of my former colleagues would probably agree that I wasn't) or because normal people don't think that other normal people do that kind of thing.  When I was a child, I lived opposite a man who was a Concord pilot.  I always used to imagine that conversations at school would go the same way for his son,

"What does your dad do?"
    "He flies Concord."
"Ha!  What does he do really?"
    "He flies Concord, really, he does."
"John, listen to this, Michael here reckons his dad flies Concord!  Hahahaha!"
    "Yes I know, that is because he does."

I think it might also be the rarity factor.  Not many people actually piloted Concord, not many people work in brain surgery.  Actually, from experience, not enough people work in brain surgery, but that is a different story.  Hypnotherapy meanwhile, well that is also a different story.  It was quite fashionable to be a hypnotherapist one time and it seems that you cannot go anywhere without bumping into one, or, for me at least, being introduced to one.  "Oh, you must come and meet Sylvie, she's a hypnotherapist too!"  Inwardly, I must confess, I groan.  I just know that me and Sylvie will have about as much in common as my pet rat, Minky, and Laura's Siamese Cat, Nai Ling.  Both are pets, right?

Hypnotherapists are bleedin' everywhere.

A quick experiment here - think the word "hypnotherapist" - what image springs to mind?  Chances are I don't fit it, but people many do.

Here are the most common types of responses I get from people:

- someone who knows about the mind and knows how to help people.
- someone who can put people into a trance and tell them to do things.
- the stage hypnotist making people think that they are Elvis or chickens or wotnot.
- someone with evil powers to control the mind of other people, so you better not look them in the eyes.
- someone who helps people stop smoking and increase confidence.
- well, they read scripts and try to get people to stop smoking.
- well, I saw one once, nice enough guy, but I don't think I was really hypnotised, it was expensive and didn't work.
- I saw one once, never touched a cigarette since.

One effect with so many hypnotherapists being around these days is that a lot of demystification has occurred, which for some may be a good thing.  Hypnosis isn't seen so much to be a mysterious force owned by an elite minority.  Ahh, how I miss those days, but as they say, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.  Now I need to find another way of being "special."  Maybe I should tap.

So, this week, I begin a tour of some of the more stranger aspects of what passes for "hypnotherapy".  This might be fun, because whilst tappers cannot agree on what constitutes proper "tapping" I find that hypnotherapists cannot really agree on what constitutes hypnotherapy. (I know this about tappers because I received more than just a few calls and emails from "professional" tappers saying that the examples I posted on earlier blog entries were not representative of what "professional therapeutic tapping" actually is.  Which is strange, because all the examples I posted came from people claiming to be representative of professional therapeutic tapping!)

The following are all things that can be classified as hypnosis:

- past life regression
- future life progression
- deep trance identification
- 6 step reframing
- abreaction therapy
- missing time exploration and regression for alien abduction
- plenary trance
- direct hypnosis/indirect hypnosis
- stage hypnosis
- street hypnosis
- hypnosis without trance

And within each of these, there are of course different schools of thought, an unbelievable number of "registration" and "accreditation" bodies and groups all claiming to be doing that all-too-important action of "promoting professional standards" and other such bullshit (few actually are doing anything like promoting standards, of course, most are just there to make money and claim status for their boards and panels and members).

Those who feel compelled to call me in anger need to know that I am in India at the moment, so you will need to wait until I get back.  If this proves to be a problem, email me and I'll connect you to some very good, upstanding and professional tappers who will know what to do.

A tonic for the troops?

Ever wondered what happen when someone doses a bunch of army guys with LSD?

Split Brain Patients

From Wikipedia: "The corpus callosum is a structure of the mammalian brain in the longitudinal fissure that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres. It facilitates communication between the two hemispheres. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain, consisting of 200-250 million contralateral axonal projections. It is a wide, flat bundle of axons beneath the cortex. Much of the inter-hemispheric communication in the brain is conducted across the corpus callosum."

Curious things happen when this inter-hemispheric communication is interrupted...

Oliver Sacks - Charles Bonnet Syndrome

"Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnett syndrome -- when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations. He describes the experiences of his patients in heartwarming detail and walks us through the biology of this under-reported phenomenon."

From Wikipedia: "Sufferers, who are mentally healthy people with often significant visual loss, have vivid, complex recurrent visual hallucinations (fictive visual percepts). One characteristic of these hallucinations is that they usually are "lilliput hallucinations" (hallucinations in which the characters or objects are smaller than normal). 

Sufferers understand that the hallucinations are not real and the hallucinations are only visual, that is, they do not occur in any other senses, eg: hearing, smell or taste. 

The prevalence of Charles Bonnet Syndrome has been reported to be between 10% and 40%; a recent Australian study has found the prevalence to be 17.5%. Two Asian studies, however, report a much lower prevalence. 

The high incidence of non-reporting of this disorder is the greatest hindrance to determining the exact prevalence; non-reporting is thought to be as a result of sufferers being afraid to discuss the symptoms out of fear that they will be labelled insane. 

Other symptoms include sufferers, who are predominantly female, complaining of electrical sensations in their perineum.

People suffering from CBS may experience a wide variety of hallucinations. Images of complex coloured patterns and images of people are most common, followed by animals, plants or trees and inanimate objects. The hallucinations also often fit into the person's surroundings."

"Inside Out lifts lid on North East's hypnotherapists"

I'm on the BBC in a regional program for the North East and Cumbria region.

From the BBC press release on the show:

"The show's investigation shows that while there are several hypnotherapy organisations none of them is regulated by law and there are no standard qualifications.

This worries hypnotherapist Andy Austin who blows the whistle on his own industry.

He says that internet forums are full of clueless hypnotherapists and says that: "People are often spending their money in good faith, believing that the person they are paying the cheque to is fully registered, fully qualified and is a proper professional."

The programme ends with some of the organisations with whom George the cat was registered applauding Inside Out's investigative efforts.

Yet, one organisation responds by saying that they don't check their applicants because they're just a member benefits company."


This video clip is interesting as it is a natural demonstration of what appears to be delusional behaviour.  The man speaking starts off relatively normal in his speech and affect, but begins to derail as he talks.

Tardive Dyskinesia

This is an extract from a training video for psychiatrists and medics.  It details involuntary abnormal movements.  It is worth noting that these movements are all drug induced, primarily by neuroleptic medication (i.e. anti-psychotic medication such as chlorpromazine, stelezine and so forth) and often do not resolve upon cessation of the medication.

These kinds of movements are often associated with "madness", but so few people realise that they are iatrogenic in origin (i.e. induced by the treatment, not the problem being treated) and serve to add immeasurably to the individuals problems.

Schizophrenia Interview

As I have posted previously, I have mixed feelings about videos such as these.  At one level I worry about the morality/ethics of displaying someone in such a way who is unlikely to understand the implications.  However, that said, I think that such videos are hugely valuable in helping people understand the nature of psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia.

NLP and Unemployment

Once again I might upset a few people here, but since I do it so well....  I'm going to make a claim.  It is a claim that is based purely on my observation and is true in some, but not all, cases.

Here's the claim:  NLP training can be a very fast way to unemployment.

Here is what I am seeing: In an field so obsessed with perfecting the map, so many seem to be ignoring the territory.

There.  Brash, isn't it, especially coming from myself who has recommended, and continues to recommend NLP training to so many people, has assisted some of the "names" in NLP, written a book that is reflective of NLP, and so on.

Yet I see so many people who have attended NLP workshops/trainings and then given up the day job expecting hoards of high-fee paying clients to form a queue at their door.  With several thousand of people having NLP training in this country every year, it is probably best not to believe the hype.  I have known one or two people who actually gave up their job first and then went to the NLP training with the high hope of the riches and wealth that awaits them.

The mistake is that whilst NLP can be taught, and for some, taught quite brilliantly in a short space of time, and the personal results achieved from this training can be immense and positively life changing, it doesn't alter the fact that building a thriving business is bloody hard work, requires a lot of man-hours and significant amounts of experience, understanding and knowledge that exists outside of a week-long NLP workshop.  Many people naively miss this important detail:  NLP might give instant results for many things, but it doesn't make the competitive market of economic forces conform to one's high hopes and ambition.

Expecting instant business success is a demonstration of poor business judgement and it leads to a very unfortunate situation:  A bittersweet army of armchair NLP experts.  An armchair expert always knows the ways things are and the way things should be, but they do not participate in any of those things themselves.  They consider themselves above all that.  They are practitioners without a practice.

The armchair experts are those who have attended training courses and not actually achieved anything different on the outside of their minds as a result of that training.  They may start attending further courses for personal development, or even in the hope that one day they will achieve success in the field, but none-the-less, they are now experts operating from a theoretical perspective.

They may turn into newsgroup regulars on the internet and garner some respect and status from the other newsgroup regulars as their opinions and attitudes harmonise and homogenise. They may seek and acquire internet enemies - person's whom they have never met, nor care to meet or converse with, yet about whom they know everything apparently, simply because that person - that enemy to the club - "is well known for that sort of thing".  Facts and evidence be damned, running with the wolves is a far superior type of fun and with it brings instant gratification.

Whilst `in-groups` form and `out-groups` form, their reality gets filtered, distorted and significantly bastardised.  An `in-group` has it heroes, an `in-group` has its enemies, an `in-group` has its own club-mentality and unspoken rules and etiquette.  Like a school-yard gang, the group is intolerant of anyone whom it sees as a threat to these club-rules and harmony and will attack as a single entity, as a seemingly well organised pack.

And along with this something significant begins to emerge: The illusion of status and the illusion of importance.  To the newcomer, it can seem impressive - a tight in-group, with established (yet informal) hierarchies, attitudes, all the grandiose titles....and an evident overwhelming sense of self-importance of the group.  It can be tough to join, even harder to get accepted, but still people want `in`.

Yet if one were to scratch beneath the surface, you might start to see some interesting patterns emerging - the unusual hours people keep (revealed by the times of newsgroup postings), the problematic mental health histories (which may not be all that historical for some), the drink problems (just look at their facebook photos, where many have endless photo after photo of drinking exploits and "great nights out", pictures that accidentally say to future employers, "Hey, I'm popular, I don't get drunk alone.") and back-patting, mutual congratulations and lashings of mutual intellectual masturbation.  

But you know what?  So many of these armchair critics and success coaches don't actually see any clients (because they found that the promised hoards and referrals never actually formed that queue at their door), and few have ever successfully run a training/workshop or offered any demonstration of their competencies beyond newsgroup postings.  Many are unemployed, and for all the hyperbole, so few have any actual experience other than attending workshops along with all the usual suspects.  But they are seen on the scene, and being seen by others is important.  It is an illusion of success.  It is a scene that says, "I am successful because I belong."

Lobotomy, Psychosurgery and Walter Freeman

This website is  packed with information on lobotomy, including case histories and personal experiences.

Here's a video about Walter Freeman and lobotomy, the stuff of nightmares:

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

IEMT in New York

2009 - I was in Manhattan, New York City.  A big bustling city and scene for pretty much every Hollywood monster and apocalyptic movie ever made.... and the host city for the IEMT workshop. The workshop was videoed by a UK video production company for future release on DVD.  These recordings are now available via the website. 

I have often wondered why New York City was known as "The Big Apple" and I have only just thought about finding out why.  Here's an extract from Wikipedia:

"The Big Apple was first popularized as a reference to New York City by John J. Fitz Gerald in a number of New York Morning Telegraph articles in the 1920s in reference to New York horse-racing. The earliest of these was a casual reference on May 3, 1921:

J. P. Smith, with Tippity Witchet and others of the L. T. Bauer string, is scheduled to start for "the big apple" to-morrow after a most prosperous Spring campaign at Bowie and Havre de Grace.
Fitz Gerald referred to the "big apple" frequently thereafter.  He explained his use in a February 18, 1924, column under the headline "Around the Big Apple":

The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There's only one Big Apple. That's New York.

Two dusky stable hands were leading a pair of thoroughbred around the "cooling rings" of adjoining stables at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and engaging in desultory conversation.

"Where y'all goin' from here?" queried one.

"From here we're headin' for The Big Apple," proudly replied the other.

"Well, you'd better fatten up them skinners or all you'll get from the apple will be the core," was the quick rejoinder...


I must thank Steve Andreas for drawing my attention to this brilliant short movie.

Watch it, show your friends.

Gabrielle Roth - 5 Rhythms

The much copied and imitated Gabrielle Roth. Sadly Gabrielle Roth died from lung cancer aged 71 in 2012.

Broca's Aphasia - Tono

Here is an interesting example of Broca's aphasia.

The unfortunate man in this video is unaware that he is only saying the sound "tono" - all of his non-verbal communication is congruent with the message he is trying to say, and the submodalities of his verbal communication are also present as far as the content ("tono") permits.

Towards the end of the video he is able to produce words for counting.

This is not unusual, and often Broca's aphasia patients are quite easily able to produced "pressured speech" often consisting of a swear word.

To understand more, please see the articles here:

Brain surgery - patient awake

The squeamish may prefer to look away, go make a cup of tea or email someone on Facebook instead of watching this video.

I worked in neurosurgery on the wards for some time in a fairly junior capacity, it was possible the most stressful job I have ever had and isn't something I would ever do again.  Not ever.  But I loved it and have good memories of my experiences there, and the dedication and expertise of my colleagues still inspires me today.

This video clip is impressive for a number of reasons - mainly the way the ongoing feedback of the patient helps direct the surgery and the calm manner of everyone involved, especially the patient. 


The Shit Sandwich

This week I have received two emails that reflect the Shit Sandwich – I got given some unsolicited and rather confusing “feedback.”

 I thought the shit sandwich had long gone, but then that might just be that I left the world of normal work some years ago.

I no longer have to deal with management reviews, 360 degree feedback, pointless planning meetings and the endless sensitivities produced by the complex and incomprehensible social politics of the corporate office environment.

In the health service, where clinicians deal daily with such things as spilt bodily fluids, MRSA, festering sores and those random turds that nurses find in strange places, feedback processes are somewhat different from the world of corporations.

Some might call them “coarse.” Health service feedback takes two forms.

1. Where person “A” has to give negative feedback to person “B”. Person “A” approaches person “B” in full view of everyone else and shouts directly at person “B” with as much belittling as possible. Person “A” and Person “B” never speak again. Everyone else gossips.

2. Where person “A” has to give negative feedback to person “B”. Person “A” utterly ignores person “B” and instead tells everyone else what a complete arse person “B” is. Person “A” and person “B” continue to socialise and act like best friends.  Everyone else gossips.

In the much more refined and dignified world of corporate, things are supposed to be different. More adult, more professional.

Or at least, according to schools of managerial systems things ought to be different; good clean communication is the name of the game.

Where communication is good, everyone is happy and we all profit, apparently.

Thus, introducing the shit sandwich:

1. say something nice and lovely about the victim to the victim.
2. tell the victim what an utter arse he is.
3. say something nice about the victim.

THIS ladies and gentleman is good and effective communication skill in action. It builds rapport and trust and eliminates all gossip as everyone is happy.


So, next time you enter the office to hear the words of, “Now, first, I’d like you to know how much we appreciate your unique perspectives…” you just know what is likely to come next.


This is a quick post.  It is regarding the seemingly never ending overuse of the word, "powerful" that coaches and therapists use to describe their techniques.

The technique is always "powerful" and quite often is also "secret", giving us, "the secret powerful technique."

It isn't of course.  Steam locomotives are "powerful"; Jet engines are "powerful"; a Barrett M82 is pretty powerful too.

But getting a person to shift a picture or two around inside their head or to recite a poxy affirmation is not "powerful."

Really, it isn't.

I cannot help but get the feeling that the desperate need to feel that their techniques are "powerful" and can cause harm as well as good, reflects the therapists need to feel and be important.

I wonder if the word powerful and its synonyms were made unavailable, how different the descriptions might be.

Submodalities in Language

This was something I posted on NLPWeekly a while ago.  Someone asked about matching/mismatching modalities and submodalities as a possible exercise atpracticeise group:

You may want to consider the submodalities that are expressed in language as well, this is commonly missed, even by many master practitioners I see...

Some people fail to focus in on a concept and see it really clearly.  The concept remains too far away from their understanding, and stays distant and outside of their frame of reference.  By sharpening their observation skills and becoming able to pay attention to the finer details they can find that their world is not quite as black and white as it might appear.

I once had a client arrive, in tears, who stated to me right from the off, "I want to separate myself from the memories of my husband, put them behind me and move forward in my life."  In Magic in Action, Bandler had the lady who "wanted to be able to get some distance from her problem" (or something pretty similar).  It is amazing how precise some people are when you ask them what they want.

Unfortunately the issue of mis-matching remains endemic in the field.

Imagine the following....

Client:  "I want to get some distance from my problem."
NLPer: "OK, now think of a really good time in your life and let's anchor that...."

Now that anchor would be really useful if the thing anchored involved a scenario whereby the client distanced the problem from herself.  But alas, my experience in NLP is that mostly these things go unconsidered.

Client:  "I need to get some clarity."
NLPer: "OK, let's do the swish pattern or the 6 step reframe!"

You get the idea.

Try this - get your submodality list and start noting down every verbal reference that reflects that submodality.

For example, size:

"It blew out of all proportion."
"He is so small minded."
"It's a big problem."

And so on.

Once you listen for them, you will hear them everywhere.

Be well,

Andy Austin

A New Psalm for NLP Practitioners

I need to have another little rant here.  There is a pernicious cliché afoot that is beginning to really irritate me, and just when I thought I’d seen the last of it, it keeps re-appearing fully accompanied by an ever-present level of crass ignorance and stupidity.

Yes, it is NLPer bashing time once again.

The best thing about the past is that it is over” seems to be the new mantra.  It’s another Bandlerism, quoted utterly out of the original context that has become one of the New Psalms of NLP Practitioners™.  I keep seeing it posted on people’s Facebook pages, often met with large numbers of “X likes this” and supportive comments written afterwards.

My guess is that these fools who post this don’t ever actually work with real living human beings as clients.  For so many troubled and emotionally/psychologically distressed people, the past is anything but over and to even suggest otherwise might really be rather insulting.

Here’s some simple examples:

One client was raped.  Her husband couldn’t cope with this, labeled her “soiled goods” and left.  She is now depressed, taking industrial strength psychiatric medication.  Oh, she also now has herpes.

Another client suffered the unexpected death of their child (he was 22 at the time of his demise).

That loss is unlikely to ever be “over”.

Someone else, who worked in a popular shop in a small town, worked up until a few days before the birth.  There were complications during the delivery and the child died a few hours later.  Now, everyone she meets who is unaware of this detail asks her how the baby is.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

When I was 19 and a nursing student, I had a brief placement on a mental health unit for a couple of days.  One of the ladies who was in her late 20’s that worked there was on her first day back after a prolonged absence following the accidental death of her husband (he was killed crossing the road).  It was a difficult day for this lady as it was, and it was made all that much more difficult when an apparently well-meaning older member of staff commented cheerfully, “Well, look on the bright side dear, at least you are young enough to get married again.

It was an awkward moment I shall never forget.

For so many people the past is not over – there are after effects firmly rooted in the past that will continue for the duration of life, and there are some problems that no therapy in the world is ever going to be able to fix. Also, to attempt to disconnect a person from their past in an attempt to improve a person’s existence in the form of “we are doing NLP, but it isn’t therapy” is hugely problematic and is ethically highly questionable.  It’s cult like.  It is sick.  Why not go the whole hog and get the client to change their name to “Star Child”, wear a white robe and disconnect from their family members altogether.

Oh fuck, isn’t that what so many long time NLP trainers/assistants are doing themselves already?  It certainly seems that way to me.

I might just start stocking up on the Kool-Aid.

It’s almost as crap as the gusto with which some NLPer-but-I’m-not-a-therapist go about using dissociation with traumatic events in the vain hope that everything will be fine.  I know I’ve said it before, but I think it worth saying again, that suffering and human experience goes far deeper than the quality of the pictures a person makes in their head.  It isn’t a difficult concept to grasp really, yet so many people exposed to NLP training seem to struggle with this.

There, my rant ends.  I fully expect to receive the usual round of “he’s attacking NLP again” (I’m not, and never have “attacked NLP” – but my frustration at so many of the practitioners of NLP that I meet is obvious to all, I think) followed by a short time delay before I see those very same people posting this as their own on some popular NLP forums as an original idea.

Tea or Coffee?

The “tea or coffee” bind is a very useful predictor for how well a session may go.  Whilst I use an offer of a hot beverage, any bind of alternative choices will do.

Here is how it works.  When the client arrives I quickly show them in, point out where the toilet is (many have traveled far) and offer “Tea of coffee?”

This is a bind of comparable choice.  I have not asked, “Would you like a drink?” which is a simple “yes or no” question.  The bind is to accepting a drink, and the choice is either tea or coffee.

Here are the possible answers that a person might give.
  • Tea.
  • Coffee
  • Neither thanks
  • No thanks
  • Oh, I’ll just have a glass of water please
  • Do you have herbal tea?
  • I’ll have whatever you are having
This might sound a bit daft, but the response that is given can be a remarkable predictor on how well the client session is going to go.  The person who accepts either tea or coffee will invariably be co-operative and engaging in the therapeutic process.  This doesn’t mean that they will be easy to “cure”, but certainly will be easy to work with towards that “cure”.

Not everyone drinks tea or coffee, and some, having traveled far and arrived early, may have just come from the café around the corner, but don’t want to reject what is offered.  These are the people who will say something along the lines of, “Oh, I’ll just have a glass of water, thanks.”

Independent thinkers will request an alternative such as “herbal tea.”  Nearly always, these are the clients who come to learn rather than be “therapised”, and will actively ask questions, discuss, argue and apply what they learn to themselves.

The people who say, “oh, I’ll have whatever you are having” have usually come to be therapised and look to be led and directed in their responses.

The client who rejects the offer outright will nearly always be the “difficult” client.  Difficulties emerge in their response sets along the lines of: 

Most answers to most questions begin with “I don’t know…”

When pressed, the client will just sit there silently, as though in deep inner contemplation, and then eventually look up and ask, “What was the question?”

“Yes, but…” is a common expression for them

“What if…” is their preferred style of questioning (“What if…” is a way of generating a counter example to any generalisation that is created)

Any responses that are given tend to be tangential (basically, they don’t answer the question)

The client will tend to focus on the performance of their therapists, past and present and offer critical reviews on these performances.  They can be very good at not talking about themselves but preferring to discuss the behaviours of others.

The client will expect the therapist to “fix” them without their own active engagement in any process.  This is what my colleague Nick Kemp refers to as “The Magic Wand Mind Set.”

In younger and more naïve times, I would attempt to do “therapy” in the face of all these behaviours.  It rarely went well.  Now, I will actively address these behaviours – address what is happening in the here and now, what is right in front of you.

In my book, “The Rainbow Machine” I give the example of the man with “low self-esteem” who thought he was unlikeable (he was pretty much right about that).  What his previous counsellor had missed, or ignored, this man’s ongoing behaviours, his dress sense, his level of hygiene, his hair cut (all of which were appalling) and instead chose to focus on the therapeutic goal of raising this unfortunate man’s self-esteem.  

Try this in your next client session.  Offer tea or coffee.  If the client rejects it, do this.  Say, “It’s not a choice.  Do you want tea or coffee?” and do this dead-pan, don’t be tempted to break the emerging tension.  This is difficult to do at first, as it goes against what so many of us do naturally.  I like to allow the tension to rise a little and watch how the client handles this.

Either the client will acquiesce, or a stand-off will emerge.  The stand-off takes as long as it takes.

Wherever possible, I like to get the stand off out of the way before the session begins proper.  It makes things much easier that way.

Problem Clients

I’ve been thinking about problem clients recently, as it is something I get asked about quite often by fellow therapists, especially those just starting out.  “How do you deal with problem clients?” is a common question so I thought I’d write it up as a blog entry so I have something to refer people to in the future.

The first thing to consider is just what is a problem client.  “Problem to whom, specifically?” is an important consideration point.

We need to differentiate between those clients who, despite all the help they are offered, fail to change, and those clients who are a royal pain-in-the-ass for other reasons.

It is common, especially amongst brief therapists, to view clients who fail to change, or who reject our methods, or argue with us as being a “problem” – they do not fit into the models of understanding of the therapist and thus not only damage our own fragile ego states, but also bugger up our success rates (or at least the success rates that we claim!)  My advice in these situations is that maybe the therapist ought to change their view on things a little.  Maybe from the client’s point of view, the therapist is a problem therapist, i.e. inexperienced, uncertain, lacking the relevant skill base and so on.  Or maybe, the client simply isn’t going to change, because that is just how they are.  NLPers hate that – “Everyone can be changed!” is something they like to claim.  I disagree.  I have met many people that are unlikely, or indeed are unwilling, to change their behaviour despite all the therapy, training and change work in the world.

I don’t see these situations as a problem, it is mainly a function of time.  The majority of people do change over time, clients as well as therapists.  And of course, experience can only be gained with time.  I tend to be very wary of people who like to hold someone’s lack of age and lack of experience against them.  I think it is a way of maintaining a fragile status position over other people.  I know a number of trainers who do this, and it isn’t a nice thing to do.   

Now, I am not talking about the classic, “You are not what we are looking for, we really require someone with more experience, maybe come back in a year or two” type of thing.  But I am talking about the, “You weren’t there back in 1984, you young whipper-snapper, so don’t try and tell me that….” Where the speaker uses the person’s age and experience level as a direct criticism of the person.  Age and experience are a function of time (and effort) and to a large degree are outside of the control of the person, so isn’t something that they can do much about.

For some difficult clients, much of the difficulty may result from simply a lack of experience.  Young, recently affected schizophrenics can have a very hard time in understanding and dealing with their symptoms.  They can become very confused, frightened and helpless quite easily.  Older, more experienced schizophrenics handle things quite differently, primarily owing to their level of experience.  This is true for so many psychological problems and conditions.

Thus, for me, a problem client is not a person who fails to conform to the therapist’s wishes and intents.

Here is a little list of things I see as a problem:
Incessant midnight phone calls
Mad or abusive text messages/answer phone messages
Turning up on the doorstep outside of appointment times
Unwarranted/inappropriate/nuisance complaints
Blaming the therapist for their own behaviours, alcohol/drug consumption etc.
Threats of violence, threats against property
Given the client group that I tend to work with, and the volume of clients I tend to see, I average one ‘serious’ problem a year and three lesser issues per year also.  These are rarely “serious” in a life threatening kind of way, but can prove problematic.  Over the years I have developed a number of strategies which prove effective in both minimising the number of problems but also dealing with them when they arrive.

Without any shadow of a doubt, the clients that generate the most problems are the drinkers/alcoholics.  Some will arrive slightly edgy and act as if they are simply looking for a reason to take offense at something I do or say.  I wondered if this was just me – after all, I’m not exactly known for my love-and-light approach to change work – but I have seen exactly the same behaviours in support group and other change work sessions I have observed.  The pattern, though, is consistent.  
The drinker who behaves in this way is the drinker who is not interested in giving up alcohol, but rather wishes to “control their drinking” - abstinence is not an acceptable outcome for them.  Now, others may well disagree, but personally, I think getting a problem drinker to a position of “controlled drinking” is not much different from trying getting a heroin addict to a position of “controlled heroin use.”

Now, at the first point of contact (usually email/’phone) I will put this proposition to the client with the drink problem, and the potential client who rejects this and demands that they get a service which enables them to have “controlled drinking” is not accepted as a client.  I wish them luck and move them on.  This reduced the number of problems significantly.  If I am not connected to the outcome that the client requests and the client is not willing to reconsider their outcome, then clearly it is foolish for me to try and work with them – I am the wrong therapist for them.

Another thing that reduces significantly the number of problems is demanding that the assessment form be filled in correctly.  The forms that get returned to me with only token information in the form of one-word-answers and no real information get rejected.  The client is sent the form back and asked to fill it in fully and correctly.  It interests me how one or two people will refuse to do this and simply either get angry or take a “oh, I can’t be bothered, forget it” type of attitude.  It is good to know this early on. Those clients do not get an appointment.

And another much less common thing is how many people do not put their address or contact details on the form.  Everything else gets filled in well, but not these parts.  Small detail, but important.  OK, I already have their details because I have sent them the form in the first place, but still, I send the form back asking for the form to be completed.

Most people are happy to comply.  One client responded with, “Why didn’t you do this for me?”  Whilst I don’t wish to `thin slice` here, but when I hear this, I suspect this attitude might extend into other contexts.

Alarm bells also ring when people reject all available appointments that are offered and instead insist on a time or day that is unavailable.  And I must say, I am pretty flexible with my appointment times.  Without an exception, every single time I shifted my schedule to suit a client in this way, I regretted it.  These are the clients who are either late or simply don’t show up, and then expect another appointment.

In the last 18 months only two clients have failed to show.  Both were people who wanted appointments on evenings where they were not offered and both were clients who I volunteered to see for free.  So, I booked out evenings for people who aren’t paying and then they don’t show up.  Not my preferred thing at all.

I am clear with my clients that if they are late, or fail to show up, I never offer a second appointment.  Both those clients complained about my lack of “caring.”

Two other indicators that I have found prove to be a 100% predictor of a “problem” client. (i.e. problem to me, not to themselves in terms of chronicity).

They arrive bearing a present and I have never met them before.
They reject the offer of tea/coffee/water.

People who arrive bearing presents or songs of praise for me on the first time we meet tend to make me nervous.  A pendulum will swing both ways and at the same speed.  People who buy favour will often withdraw it at the same speed.

Now whilst it isn’t common, some clients will arrive with a present and offer it at the end of the session.  Whilst they are paying a fee, some people will still feel a degree of debt.  So this isn’t the same as people who offer a gift at the beginning – it creates a mutual degree of appreciation and for many will help balance things out. At workshops, it isn’t uncommon for people to arrive with biscuits or cake to add to the refreshments table.  This is a good thing and, I’d just like to add, homemade fruitcake is my favourite.

Thus the client who arrives offering the gift puts me in a position of gratitude to them before we have even started.  It’s an interesting dynamic and from experience isn’t a good one.  It is difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude and act in a therapeutic manner at the same time.  Gifts offered at the beginning of a session tend to act as a Trojan horse.  Be aware.

This has only happened once in the past two years, and the individual who did so went on to make numerous late night phone calls, abusive text messages, threats against property and unpleasant emails and Facebook messages.

My advice to anyone on the receiving end of such action is to respond only once asking what the problem is.  This gives the person an opportunity to properly record what their grievance is.  For some people there is no reason, they just enjoy being aggrieved – it’s their thing - and so are unable to tell you exactly why they behave in this way.  

Cease all further communication and simply record in hard copy where possible all evidence of the abuse.  I keep impeccable records of such actions.

Therapists tell me that they worry about being sued by such individuals – maybe as a therapist they did or said something wrong during the session to provoke such a reaction.  Well, it would make for an interesting court case, don’t you think?

“You see, it is like this your Honour, I didn’t like what the therapist said to me, so yes, I threatened him, send abusive messages, harangued and generally acted like an asshole for the past 6 months.  Now, I want you to award me some compensation.”  

The other predictor is whether the person accepts the offer of “tea or coffee?” when they arrive.  I’ll save this for another blog entry, but basically, at the first offering the person receives, they reject it.  It tends to set the precedent for how the session will go subsequently.

Time is pressing.  The sun is shining and I have a busy day off ahead of me so will add more later.