NLP in the world - Interview Series

Michael Blackstone – USA – Left? Right? Start talking together please…

It’s my pleasure today to welcome Michael. Michael works from USA, Phoenix Arizona. He can be contacted on LinkedIn or directly on his web site Intrapersonal Conflict. To follow more discussion on Intra-personal conflict, you can also join Michael’s LinkedIn Group, Alliance for Resolving Intrapersonal Conflict.

Talking4good (T4g): How did you come into contact with NLP?
Michael: First, I’d like to thank you from my heart for this opportunity to talk about NLP and my experiences <Smile>. I first heard of NLP in 1983 from one of my college instructors teaching a psychotherapy course. He had a flair about him and was quite a personality. His enthusiasm was infectious. He talked about studying with Bandler and Grinder and put me onto my first NLP book, Frogs Into Princes. I was enthralled. I thought, ‘Here is finally something tangible that really works.’ And the format, transcripts from live seminars, was perfect for me. I could imagine being right there. That led me to Reframing, then Trance-Formations. I can’t tell you how many times I read those books. They remain, in my opinion, the best initiation I could have had into NLP. Of course, I practiced on everyone who would let me, playing with eye accessing cues, collapsing anchors, 6-step reframing, trance language, I loved it all.

T4g: What NLP qualification do you have?
Michael: My dream was to study with Bandler and Grinder. But I couldn’t make that happen until 1988. By that point, Bandler and Grinder had split. I was pretty disappointed, I had to choose and I took John Grinder’s and Judith DeLozier’s practitioner training that August in Santa Cruz. I was on the tail end of some big life changes. I got divorced, remarried, had just moved across country to Phoenix, and was determined to change careers and become an NLP trainer. When I got to Phoenix in June, I immediately started marketing a series of NLP trainings scheduled for September. I got a bunch of sign-ups but I didn’t have any certifications from anyone yet, save a little certificate for attending a 2-day seminar with David Grove (now passed away but a brilliant trainer specializing in clean language and metaphor). When I got to Santa Cruz in August, I told John and Judith that, even though this was only a practitioner course, I wondered if they would be willing to consider certifying me as a master practitioner (note the language, <Laughs>), given the five years of “experience” I already had. They said they would consider it. Of course, I had a lot riding on it, but I never spoke to them again about it. Well, as luck would have it, they didn’t teach any of the NLP techniques I thought I would shine at. That was the first year of John teaching the “New Code.” I’m a little embarrassed to say I was in a “daze” through most of the program, thinking, ‘I don’t get this new code at all.’ As the training came to its end, they passed out everyone’s certificates, and mine said Master Practitioner. I took John’s Train the Trainer program immediately, then went home and delivered my first NLP seminar in September, 1988, and in 1989, I was well into executive coaching, delivering corporate seminars in public speaking, sales training, leadership, when I took Robert Dilts’ and Todd Epstein’s program for business application of NLP, called the “Unified Field Theory,” which did completely transform my executive coaching, the two main takeaways being -Robert’s SCORE Model -and the Neuro-Logical Levels of Personality. Finally in 1996, I got to experience Richard Bandler in Hollywood and was licensed at the practitioner level, pretty interesting. Of course, Richard, as was his custom, made it just a two year license, so technically, I am no longer certified by Richard. At the same time, however, he licensed me as a certified Co-Developer of NLP. Figure that out…

T4g: Which NLP association would your qualifications be accredited by?
Michael: There were no associations to speak of back then, and when they came along I was too busy working in the field.

T4g: Have you now joined an NLP association?
Michael: No.

T4g: What do you like best in NLP?
Michael: The speed… The fact that there are real processes you can use to work with someone, get their outcome without needing 6 months or more to get it done.

T4g: Tell us about integrating NLP with intrapersonal conflict resolution?
Michael: Since about 1991, this has been a big focus for me. In the population I work with – business people in corporations- it seems intrapersonal conflict or inner conflict, what I explained as conflict within one’s mind, is very prevalent. I find about 1 out of 3 people experience problematic inner conflict. Interestingly, the more outwardly successful they appear to be, or the higher up in the organization they are, that ratio jumps to almost 2 out of 3. Inner conflict, for them, is both good and bad. Good because it drives their success, bad because it doesn’t allow them to enjoy it and get the most out of relationships, either personal or professional. Ironically, the original 1/3rd I spoke of, disproportionately cause more interpersonal conflict -conflict with others- within an organization than the other 2/3rds combined. This seems generally true in the regular world. It is this fact that turned intrapersonal conflict, and how to resolve it, into my personal mission of my professional career. Now, I had to learn pretty quickly how to work with inner conflict and it didn’t take me long to settle on “Parts Integration” as the technique of choice. But I had to modify it considerably, to make it more acceptable to business people. They just do not put up with processes that appear too “woo woo.” If you ‘Google’ Parts Integration on the internet and do, as well, a YouTube search, you will find its being done pretty primitively. On my side, I developed a number of  sub-processes using accepted Jungian theory, and started “lacing” my explanation for why parts integration worked with “logic,” using Batesonian systems and “emergent properties” theories that took most of the woo woo out of the parts integration process. Then in 1993, I discovered Roger Sperry, the great cognitive neuroscientist, and it all got so much easier for me. Parts integration is considered a metaphor -just a story we tell clients to help them accept the interventions. Sperry’s work with “split brain” patients took the fundamentals of parts integration out of the realm of metaphor right into the realm of literal scientific reality. He demonstrated each hemisphere of the brain has its own personality and he showed, in the lab, how these two personalities can conflict with each other! With neuroscience on my side, I renamed what I was doing “Split Circuitry Integration,” to more literally match what neuroscience says is going on between the hemispheres of the brain, via the “circuits” of the corpus callosum. I then add to this timeline work with re-imprinting or change of personal history. Almost every ‘split circuitry integration,’ massively benefits from following it up with Time Line Therapy® work. Thank you, Tad James.

T4g: What about using NLP for leadership coaching?
Michael: Many senior leaders experience severe intrapersonal conflict; because of their position, they keep it a closely guarded secret, even from their spouses. They often don’t understand it or see it as a defect, making the hiding even more imperative. When I explain the neuro-scientific basis for their inner conflict, they experience a sense of relief -they are not flawed, their inner turmoil is functionally explained by the architecture of the brain. For the lack of this knowledge, they suffered for years with their fear. That, to me, is unacceptable.

T4g: You know I disagree with your theory… I see intrapersonal conflict as a lack of integration unconscious mind and conscious mind, without the traditional logical approach left/right brain that you seem to take. I actually do not abide by the theory of separate right/left brain but by the one of an intrinsic complex collaboration processes between our two brain sides. I actually really like NLP for that integration UM/CM. What do you think?
Michael: Yes, I know you disagree <Laughs>, and I relish that. But to hear how you just laid out your question, there is not much I disagree with. First, a point worth making: there is no such thing as unconscious mind, at least, relative to itself. Relative to itself, it is very conscious and very aware making the term an oxymoron. That’s why many in the NLP community, for years, objected to the term and proposed calling it the “other than conscious mind.” That expression proved pretty cumbersome, however. The term subconscious mind works just fine as it defines its thinking, or consciousness, as just below the threshold of awareness of the conscious mind. Based on years of reading and study of Sperry’s split brain research and other cognitive neuroscience researchers, in combination with experiences with clients, I have come to the theory the subconscious mind resides in the right hemisphere. The conscious mind resides in the left. So, you see, we agree, intrapersonal conflict comes about due to a lack of integration of the subconscious and conscious mind. Our difference is I take it a step further and localize where conscious processes and subconscious processes occur in the brain. I also support interplay between the hemispheres is an ongoing complex collaborative process (carried on through the corpus callosum) that is intrinsic to a human mind—its essential nature. Yet, amazingly, the research demonstrates a reality—this is not a theory—that is at first difficult to fathom—that each hemisphere carries on its own stream of consciousness, independent of the other hemisphere. That each has its own set of preferences, beliefs, values, and personal style of communication. Hence the basis is laid for that interplay to, at times, be intra-personally conflictive between the hemispheres. This is so fascinating, and so much more to it. In the monthly series of articles on the LinkedIn group, I hope I can get it all laid out within a year.

T4g: You still have not bought me on the left/right brain distinction <Laughs>. Just curious now, in the NLP context of ‘being at cause,’ by taking that logical approach are you not giving a golden stick for people to avoid being at cause? As you said, their inner turmoil is then functionally explained by the architecture of the brain.
Michael: Hum… I need to consider that question… “Golden stick” implies the psychological concept of secondary gain, that a client gets something positive from their symptoms and thus will not easily give them up. In the population I work with, business folks, the most common secondary gain from inner conflict is, ironically, career success and career advancement. If one result of inner conflict is driving themselves, and they are very bright besides, they will appear outwardly to be successful, but their inner experience will be one of dissatisfaction. No one I can remember of, after I have explained the neuroscience of inner conflict and shown them the way out of it, has ever opted to stay in their conflict.

T4g: What opportunity do you have to meet with other NLP practitioners?
Michael: These days, it’s all virtual, through the LinkedIn business network. I highly recommend anyone with interest in NLP, certified or not, join, then join a half dozen or so, of the NLP groups there. You will truly enjoy your connections with others and the information you find there.

T4g: What about NLP and research?
Michael: Well, I dream of it being done in a legitimately scientific way, with the researchers involved coming from a place of genuine scientific curiosity. What little I’ve read about seems intended to discredit NLP. I don’t pay it much attention, my clients certainly don’t.

T4g: Any specific NLP research you would like to be involved with?
Michael: Yes! With the evolution of real-time brain scanning equipment, I want to see a brain scan of collapsing anchors. I also would like to be part of real-time brain scanning of the integrations I do. Both would be so fascinating and hugely informative. Maybe someday I can have my own PET scanner in my office, or a portable one I can take with me. Another dream I have is to take the Wada Test, where one hemisphere can be put to sleep leaving the other awake. I want to know exactly what it is like to experience my right hemisphere consciousness, all by itself; and then the same with my left hemisphere consciousness, all by itself. I know Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuro-anatomist, wrote of her experience having a stroke and then experiencing mostly her right hemisphere consciousness, but I want to do it myself…well, not by stroke, of course <Laughs>.

T4g: What would be your next step with NLP?
Michael: The next five years of my professional career, at least, will be completely committed to making knowledge about intrapersonal conflict -its symptoms and cure- as ubiquitous as possible.

T4g: A last comment to conclude?
Michael: After that, I want to learn to play Beethoven’s Fifth on my 5-string banjo, seriously.

© 2012 Florence Dambricourt –

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