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Archive for the ‘Psych’ Category

We didn’t need self-actualization after all

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Maslow's pyramid of needs, old version and new

Those of us with a fascination for the “P” in “NLP” may be delighted to learn that Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs has been updated to reflect the past 50-ish years of research.

The research team – which included Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Mark Schaller of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver – restructured the famous pyramid after observing how psychological processes radically change in response to evolutionarily fundamental motives, such as self-protection, mating or status concerns.

The bottom four levels of the new pyramid are highly compatible with Maslow’s, but big changes are at the top. Perhaps the most controversial modification is that self-actualization no longer appears on the pyramid at all.

What do you think? Will you stop striving for self-actualization just because a group of psychologists says you no longer need it? Does the new pyramid make more sense?

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 23rd, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Psych,Values

Shrinking Pain

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Yet another “NLP was here first” example. I saw this on a trivia buff’s blog, “Futility Closet:”

In 2008, researchers at Oxford University found that subjects could reduce pain and swelling in an injured hand by viewing it through reversed binoculars.

Conversely, a magnified injury was more painful. “If it looks bigger, it looks sorer,” said physiologist G. Lorimer Moseley. “Therefore the brain acts to protect it.”

A judicious Googling led me to the pertinent issue of Current Biology online. On the right-hand side of that page, there are links to PDF and HTML versions of the article.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 10th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Therapist Competence Matters

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We have yet another “NLP said it first” moment in an article in a recent issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology:

A new study underscores the benefit of receiving cognitive behavioral therapy CBT from a competent therapist who follows the guidelines for delivering CBT.

Prior studies have shown that while cognitive therapy is an effective treatment for depression, a clear understanding of the role therapists’ training and expertise plays in making treatment successful was unknown.

The new study suggests therapist competence may be a particularly important determinant of outcome for some patients.

I’ve heard this from my trainers from my first training with Richard in 1997. How is it that Psychology takes so long to catch up to NLP?

Go read the rest at Therapist Competency Important for Treatment Success on Psych Central.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 7th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Implicit Modeling? Watch out for this.

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I’m a bit of a money geek. Not too crazy, but I like to keep an eye on what I have. So I read a couple of personal finance blogs. Recently, Monevator had an article titled, “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and it pointed me to an interesting group of articles of interest to implicit modelers:

Appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the mystery of overimitation has been a long-standing one in developmental psychology. How is it that young children, who are able to learn and reason in so many impressively agile ways, can be utterly stumped by something as simple as the transparent Puzzle Box shown above? Specifically, when kids see an adult getting a prize out of that box in a way that adults — and even chimpanzees — can easily identify as clumsy and inefficient, they seem to lose the ability to figure out how to open the box “correctly”. Watching an adult doing it wrong, in other words, effectively blocks children from figuring out how to do it right. Children become stuck overimitating — or copying the adult’s wasteful strategy, even when doing so leads to bad outcomes.

We humans are too smart for our own good, and make things harder than they need to be. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary in discovering that. But I hadn’t heard of “overimitating” before. I’d heard that implicit modeling is the way we all do it from birth; it’s the way babies learn practically everything. At the same time, we forget how long it takes for babies to get it right. We don’t want to take seven to eight years to, say, learn a language… we want to hold a coherent conversation in a few weeks.

It’s important, then, when we model by imitation, to remember to take the model apart and find out what needs to be there and what doesn’t. We don’t want to have to tap stuff with a feather just because that’s how we learned to do it.

Read it all at The Mystery of Overimitation over at Hello Felix, a childhood development blog for parents.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 4th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Modeling,Psych

Aggression is In Your Face

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We’ve intuited for ages that faces reflect personalities, and that we can “tell just by looking at them” what a person is really like. Some new research is bearing out our intuition, at least in the domain of aggression:

Volunteers viewed photographs of faces of men for whom aggressive behavior was previously assessed in the lab. The volunteers rated how aggressive they thought each person was on a scale of one to seven after viewing each face for either 2000 milliseconds or 39 milliseconds.

The photographs were very revealing: Volunteers’ estimates of aggression correlated highly with the actual aggressive behavior of the faces viewed, even if they saw the picture for only 39 milliseconds.

Facial Features May Predict Volatility is on Psych Central.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 16th, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Calibration,Psych

An Easier Way to Detect Lies

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Cognitive Daily recently posted some research that may give us an easier way to improve our ability to tell when other people are lying to us:

But what if there was a shortcut in sniffing out a lie, relying on our own instinctual behavior? Would it be possible to improve the lie-detecting abilities of ordinary people without all that training? A team led by Mariëlle Stel had a hunch that our tendency to mimic the physical and facial expressions of the people we are speaking to might help us to tell when they are lying.

It isn’t what you are probably thinking. I think you’ll be surprised. Check it out:

Is There an Easier Way to Detect Lies Than What You See on TV?

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 15th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Reading Basic Emotions

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Eyes for Lies points to a sweet video by Dr. David Matsumoto, “Characteristics of Basic Emotions”. In it, Dr. Matsumoto explains the differences between the seven “basic” or “universal” emotions and the rest.

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 15th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Changing States

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I recently got ahold of Jonathan Altfeld’s “Automatic ‘Yes'” CD set, the subject of which is the powerful skill called “state chaining”. (I won’t define or describe it here. Hit the link for a full description of the course, and buy your copy before the special sale ends.) I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to the basics of Jonathan’s approach in the Master Practitioner training he co-trained with Doug O’Brien a little while back, and it was something I wanted to play with and get better at doing. Before the end of the training, I realized I’d been doing it in certain contexts all along, in shorter chains, and I hadn’t realized it.

Listening to the CDs reminded me that I’d never really spelled out how I think about how I do it, so I resolved to put it here. I’ll start with one particular aspect: how to shift someone from a high-energy unresourceful state, such as anger, to something a little more flexible.

Many years ago, I was an Emergency Medical Technician working for a private ambulance company, and I was stationed at a state psychiatric hospital. I happened to walk in on a training they were having for their nurses and technicians: Bruce Chapman’s Handle With Care Behavior Management System. I was immediately captivated by Master Bruce’s teaching style and his philosophy. I arranged to take the training for myself. What I’m about to share here is roughly based on something I learned in that class and in much subsequent reading of Chinese philosophical work such as the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Tai Chi Tu (click image for SVG source)

Tai Chi Tu (click image for SVG source)

Here we have the Tai Chi Tu, commonly known as the “Yin/Yang symbol”. This is the Taoist in-a-nutshell representation of the way the universe works. You’ve seen it many times, no doubt, but I imagine nobody’s really explained it. I’ll give it a shot.

First, you’ll notice that it’s a circle. No beginning, no end. Now, pick a spot, either at the top or the bottom, where either the black or the white is almost non-existent. Moving clockwise, you’ll see that the color you chose increases while its opposite color decreases… and that as soon as it gets to the point where it can’t hold any more, you’ll see that the opposite color starts to kick in, PLUS, there’s a little “seed” of the opposite color contained in the fullest part of the swell.

Now, I can’t find the citation at the moment, but there’s an old saying that hard winds don’t blow all morning and heavy rains don’t last all day. Physics tells us that energy constantly changes form. Biology tells us that we change or we go extinct. It isn’t just that change always happens; it’s that it must happen. So when I’m in front of an angry person, I know I don’t have to do anything at all to get them to stop being angry. All I have to do is get rapport, pay close attention to when their angry state changes to another state, catch the transition point, and steer it to where I want it to go. The best part is, if I can figure out what the “seed” of the next state is, knowing that it’s already there, I can speak to it… drawing attention, and therefore the other person’s energy, toward it… making sure that it really is what’s next.

Anger, and most other high-energy emotional states, cannot last long. It’s physically impossible to maintain it. It costs too much. Anyone who claims they’ve been angry about something for years and years… they aren’t angry. They may be bitter, but they aren’t angry. Anger is a flash, not a smoulder. (This is one of the ways the psych nurses know when someone is faking a condition, and why we keep people for observation for up to 72 hours.)

Jonathan suggests in the Automatic “Yes” CDs that, to move someone out of a high-energy unresourceful state, we should turn it up rather than try to turn it down. I agree. Several times I’ve been called to the psychiatric unit where I work because a patient is scaring the staff and the other patients despite the fact that he isn’t actually doing anything. He’s got a clenched jaw, closed fists, and knitted brow, and he’s pacing, and he’s been doing it all day. When I respond, all I do is engage the guy in some sort of conversation and then do something that I think will annoy him. Not anger him; just irritate him. It adds energy to his stuck state, and then he has to choose which side of the fence he’s going to crawl off on. Is he going to start throwing things and kicking walls and cursing, or is he going to start talking? As soon as he gets to the decision point, I lead him to the state I want him to have. Usually I just tell him what it is: “It’s gotta be frustrating,” I say, or “I’d be scared too if I were in your place.” Sometimes I offer a path to follow instead: “You just have to wonder what’s going on, but the more questions you ask the more answers you get.”

(Of course, I’m ready if he decides to go the other way, too. It’s never actually happened, but if it does, at least he’ll have resolved his stuck state and can work from there.)

I can take these more energetic states and ride/drive them to something a little more useful for the other person and a lot safer for those around them. Which is, essentially, what state chaining is about.

I strongly recommend Jonathan’s “Automatic ‘Yes'” CD set to you and to anyone else who wants to take their social skills to the next level. And I want to thank him publicly for helping me to think more clearly about one of the things I’ve been doing without realizing it.

The US Federal Trade Commission requires that I add: While Jonathan did ask me for a product review, it should also be noted that I bought my copy of this audio program directly from his Web site, and that my recommendation is not a form of payment for the product.

Written by Michael DeBusk

October 31st, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Painful memories

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We’re often asked to help someone who has a painful memory. Whether it’s a phobic response, grief, post-traumatic stress, or what-have-you, NLP gives us the tools we need to help.

Sometimes, though, I question whether or not we should. I see value in grief, myself, and believe it should be left alone unless it’s crippling. According to my CISM trainer, post-traumatic stress should be left alone too, at least for the first 24 hours, to give the client’s own coping abilities time to work. And as I mentioned in this thread on NLP Connections, I believe altering or eliminating the memory of a painful event could have negative effect in and of itself, by preventing the client from learning from the event.

I actually learned this from a client, a good friend of mine. She had been sexually abused as a child, and had a phobic response whenever someone patted their thigh in a “come sit on my lap” sense. She’d talk about it, and every time I’d offer to help her with it, she’d refuse. She was wise enough to know she wasn’t done with it, and knowing she could have my help with it gave her the strength to face it on her own, as much as she could, drawing knowledge and wisdom from the event. This went on for many months. When she finally gave me permission to help, it took all of fifteen minutes. (I can’t tell you how gratifying it was when, a couple of days later, she came over to me and sat on my lap.)

Anyway, today on the Freakonomics Blog, author Steven Levitt wrote:

My son Andrew died exactly ten years ago today, October 23, 1999, nine days after his first birthday. No one would describe me as emotional. And yet the wound still remains remarkably raw.

I say there’s nothing wrong with that.

Please read the rest of the article: Naming the Child

The title of his article is taken from the book of the same name, which he recommends. It looks quite compelling. (If you choose to buy the book, please go ahead and follow the amazon referral link from his article, rather than the one here.)

All I’m suggesting is that we, perhaps, consider ecology before we do anything like this. We humans evolved with the ability to feel fear, anxiety, sadness, grief, and the like, and there’s an evolutionary advantage to them. Let’s not just toss them away.

Written by Michael DeBusk

October 24th, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Subtle is the New Micro

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I love, love, love Lie To Me. I’m fairly good at reading micro-expressions, having gone through an abbreviated version of Paul Eckman’s METT training a few years ago, and my NLP training and practice have improved my calibration and time-distortion skills. And I check out the Eyes for Lies blog every day, too, which led me to this article: Subtle Expressions Key to Detecting Deception:

New research in a paper called Detecting Deception from Emotional and Unemotional Cues by Gemma Warren, Elizabeth Schertler and Peter Bull suggests that subtle expressions, not microexpressions, could be a more accurate tool in detecting deception.

It’s an interesting distinction. Micro-expressions, which Eckman’s work covers, are full manifestiations of a facial expression which last only a fraction of a second. Subtle expressions, though, are the tiny twitches and incomplete movements that indicate a facial expression is on its way, even if said expression never makes it.

More cool stuff to learn.

Written by Michael DeBusk

October 21st, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Calibration,Psych