The central idea of NLP is that the totality of the individual interacts in its components (“language”, “beliefs” and “physiology”) in creating percepts with certain qualitative and quantitative characteristics, the individual interpretation of this structure means the world. By modifying the meanings through a transformation of the perceptual structure (called the map, that is the symbolic universe of reference), the person can undertake changes in attitude and behavior. The perception of the world, and consequently the response to it, can be modified by applying appropriate techniques of change.
NLP therefore has among its aims the objective of developing successful habits / reactions, amplifying “facilitating” (i.e. effective) behaviors and decreasing “limiting” (ie unwanted) ones.
Change can also occur by precisely reproducing (“modeling”) the behaviors of successful people in order to create a new “layer” of experience (a technique called modeling). NLP was originally promoted by founders Bandler and Grinder in the 1970s as an extraordinarily effective and rapid form of psychological therapy, claiming that it could aid in the treatment of phobias and learning disabilities, even through a single one-hour session. .
Despite the abundance of supporting claims already at the time of publication, the authors were unable to bring any supporting empirical evidence. This fact, together with doubts about the validity of the mechanisms presented, meant that NLP did not receive the support of the scientific community.
Neurolinguistic programming is not considered part of the mainstream academic current of psychology today, and has only had a limited impact in some psychotherapy and counseling techniques.
NLP has for some time been associated with various psychological manipulation techniques: Milton Erickson responded to these accusations by stating that we all “manipulate” ourselves for different reasons and often for good, as does a mother who takes care of her children and transmits them ways, thoughts and values, or how a teacher does with his students.
Neuro-linguistic programming is today a discipline that brings together various areas of the study of human communication, and is proposed as a tool to influence factors such as education, learning, negotiation, sales, leadership, team-building. It has also found application in decision-making and creative processes, in sports and in counseling.
Proponents of NLP focus attention on the person targeted, arguing that humans already have all the resources they need, even though these resources are undeveloped or unexplored. The role of the “programmer”, that is of the NLP practitioner, would therefore be to help the person explore his “world map” by asking specific questions to stimulate this process of the recipient.
The analysis of the different points of view of a problem is used to define and eliminate beliefs considered limiting, and through the exploration of “ecology”, that is the fabric of relationships of a person, we try to define the consequences of achieving predetermined goals and influences on a person’s well-being.
NLP is not considered a science, but a pseudoscience: its claims are not based on the scientific method, and many of the techniques it uses are based on theories that have no basis in the current body of medical and psychological knowledge. A second frequent criticism concerns the absence of empirical evidence and structured research regarding the theories supported by NLP, some of which are contrary to current knowledge.
The theories behind NLP may be ridiculous and based on made up or outdated assumptions, but that’s not in itself enough to say it doesn’t work in some way. The problem is that the vague and adaptable nature of this pseudoscientific discipline makes it impossible to test in a way that is satisfactory to the practitioner. For example, when psychologist Richard Wiseman and colleagues proved that it was not possible to tell if a person was lying by eye movements , some experts began to deny that the claim really belonged to PNL .
In fact, there are few scientific studies that support it and systematic reviews have regularly rejected it . And to say that there were high expectations : even the American army (remember The Man Who Stares That Goats? ) Was interested in certain New-age techniques that were spreading in the 1980s, including PNL, and asked a committee of the National Research Council to evaluate them. Of the PNL he was particularly interested in the part that would allow to influence others, but at the end of the two years of investigation the response of the committee was negative.
Even though it was born as psychotherapy and with the aspirations of a scientific revolution , the only niche where NLP could logically survive was that of self-help and coaching and these sectors, in fact, are the only ones to enthusiastically produce the evidence of its operation. It is a pity, however, that these proofs of effectiveness are exclusively anecdotal : why no one systematically checks how a representative sample of customers reacts to Pnl techniques, and if a certain effect is really attributable to Pnl and not to other factors? In the meantime, anyone can enter the business , because lawsuits have ruled that not even the founders have the right to exclusive rights on the name , so anyone who wants can register their favorite combination, if it arrives in time.