Other maps for the same territory… or the Structure of Magic I and II

Richard Bandler & John Grinder, in 1975 published The Structure of Magic I & II, based on the work done modelling Virginia Satir, Gregory Bateson and Milton Erickson. A must read of course, and if you like linguistics you will fall in love with these two volumes, the explanation of deep structure versus surface structure and its implications or applications.

As the authors explain, ‘When humans wish to communicate their representation, their model of the world, they form a complete linguistics representation of their experience; this is called the Deep Structure. As they begin to speak, they make a series of choices (transformations) about the form in which they will communicate their experience,’ (Vol I, pg 35) these choices (usually our unconscious filtering) leading to the Surface Structure we actually use for our communication. Human language becomes only a way of explaining our world -our reality- simply just another map of the territory. Through volume I, Bandler and Grinder present the foundation of the Meta-Model, full of fascinating details and great transcripts to review, coming to the fantastic conclusion than language is simply a way to express another map for the same territory (digital system), similar to the other representational system (analogical system like body and voice quality), where mismatch can lead to incongruity or incongruent communication.
Volume II explores the application of the theory -how to make the best of the Meta-Model- assisting in better understanding the notion or representational system.  To cite the authors, ‘First, we, as humans, create models of our world which we use as a guide for our behaviour. Second, we have a number of different maps available to represent our experiences -kinesthetic, visual, auditory, natural language, etc.’ Following up on the notion introduced of incongruity in volume I, volume II part 2 studies further incongruent communication, the key point being that none of the messages are meta to any other (Mis-aligning with Bateson assumption than the non-verbal communication was meta to the others). The authors also introduce the Satir Categories, four archetypes in body language/attitude, which people adopt under stress, and associated with specific body sensations and syntax (Placater, Blamer, Computer, Distracter)*, and with the next section look at the Fuzzy functions. This volume II is simply a gold mine of information on what  you want to be able to do to fully read people when coaching them, and if I was to tell you how often I have read it already… You will be laughing.

This notion that all channels are messages and none are meta to any others, will be reviewed again in ‘frogs into PRINCES’, leading to a point really dear to me on body language: ‘People have always tried to turn body language into a content vocabulary, as if holding your head back meant that you were reserved and crossing your legs meant that you were closed. But body language doesn’t work like words work; it works differently. Eye movements and body movements will give you information about process.’ (frogs into PRINCES, pg 47)


* Note there is in fact five identified Satir archetype categories, in addition to placater, blamer, computer, distracter we have the leveller.
© 2012 Florence Dambricourt – talking4good.com

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