Written and Produced
by Andy Bradbury
(author of "Develop Your NLP Skills", "Successful Presentation Skills", etc.)

Reviews: Part 4  

The Title
Name(s) of the Author(s)
ISBN Number [this will be for the paperback version except where the number ends with (Hb)]

Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson, M.D.  Vol. 1
Bandler & Grinder
Described in the Epilogue as "the first in a series of studies of the patterns of hypnotic techniques employed by Milton H. Erickson" (the "series" only runs to 2 books), this is a definite 'curates egg'.

The book is actually divided into three parts:

Part 1 - Identification of Patterns in Erickson's Hypnotic Work
Part 2 - Familiarization with Pattern's of Erickson's Hypnotic Work
Part 3 - Construction of the Patterns of Erickson's Hypnotic Work

though the divisions turn out to be somewhat arbitrary since the authors repeatedly cover the same ground, not always with any discernable benefit.

One of the problems with writing a groundbreaking work is that it is likely to become either irrelevant or out-dated.  Despite the usual pseudo-academic style Bander and Grinder were doing a very valuable service by bringing Milton Erickson's work to a wider audience.  The problem, twenty years on, is that the meat of this book has now been dealt with at greater length, in more detail and with greater insight, by a number of writers - including, through their seminar transcripts, by Bandler and Grinder themselves.

To put it quite bluntly, the coverage of Milton Erickson's work has been done more effectively (see Jay Haley's Uncommon Therapy, for example), whilst much of the linguist material merely mirrors the contents of the two volumes of The Structure of Magic (which are constantly referenced in this work).
Only the final section - barely one-fifth of the total - really knuckles down to the task of showing the reader how they, too, can replicate some of Erickson's hypnotic techniques.
Even here, however, much of the material is simply a re-run of what has already been covered and it really isn't enough - at this point in time - to justify the sort of price that you'd find on a brand new publication.

To sum up, an interesting book, from a historical perspective, but if your purpose is to learn Ericksonian hypnosis then Training Trances (also reviewed on this site) is a far, far better buy.
Recommended for interest rather than learning potential * * *

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Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson, M.D.  Vol. 2
Grinder, DeLozier & Bandler
0-9169-9002-8 [Hb]
1-5555-2053-7 [Pb]
Another home-grown Bandler/Grinder production (albeit with the additional influence of Judith DeLozier) this is another typically mixed package.
On the plus side I felt that the ealier sections of the book were more concise, more comprehensible and more useful to the average reader than much of Patterns 1.  Likewise the quotes from Erickson's own work were more succinct, more instructive and better explained than in Patterns 1.

So why do I still have reservations about recommending this book?
Most importantly I still found much too much in the way of commentary and far too little straight Erickson.
Secondly, this is essentially a one idea book, and the idea isn't nearly big enough to sustain an entire book.  The idea in question is simply that communication, including Ericksonian hypnosis, revolves around the main representational systems, generally referred to here as the 4-tuple (i.e. R(V, K, A, O) at the conscious level, and ~R(V, K, A, O) at the unconscious level).

Calling this a one-idea book may seem a little churlish, given that pages 119-237 are taken up with the transcripts of the video tapes of two hypnotic sessions carried out by Erickson.  Except that the phrase "taken up" is flagrantly misleading.
In practice each page is split into three equal columns.  From left to right, column one contains the transcript, column two contains abbreviated references to items in the transcript such as presuppositions, causal modeling, embedded commands, etc., and column three contains other comments.  Put another way, if column two is 100% text, then column one is about 70-80% text, and column three is more or less entry.
In short, one cannot help but get the impression that the transcripts were included when it became clear that the VKAO material was far short of a book'sworth.  Even then, given the inherent difficulties in describing a hypnotherapy session in words alone, this second part of the book is little more than mere filler.

Despite the good bits, because of it's price, the poor standard of the editing, and the lack of consistently valuable content I can find no reason to give this book a serious recommendation.  Perhaps it's just as well that the oft-promised Patterns 3, on the subject of metaphors, never materialised.
Not recommended *

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The Pawns of Null-A (Part 2 of the Null-A trilogy)
(original title:  The Players of Null-A)
A.E. van Vogt
Also serialised in Astounding Stories (Oct 1948-Jan 1949) before its publication in book form, Pawns continues the story of Gilbert Gosseyn as he continues to seek a meaning for his double brain (now massively enhanced by his null-A training) and the fact that there are at least three identical bodies scattered around - including his own.

This second book is much more definitely sci-fi in nature than World, with interstellar invasions, and Gosseyn regularly using his new ability to transport himself through time and space by means of the distorter function of his second brain.  It also has a much clearer General Semantics theme, with a brief statement of some aspect of GS thinking as the preface to each chapter.

A coherent follow up to The World of ... and again well worth reading on whichever level(s) you prefer.
Highly recommended * * * * * *

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Persuasion Engineering
Bandler and La Valle
0-916990-36-2 (Hb)
Bandler teams up once again with a co-author to present an edited transcript of one of his seminars - in this case, on the application of NLP to sales - and an excellent job they make of it.
Bandler has a very direct, some might say confrontational style of presenting his material, which tends to put some people off.  That said, RB is still one of a very small number of leading edge explorers of the upper reaches of NLP, and in my opinion anything he reports back is worth checking out.

I've recently re-read Persuasion Engineering, mainly to check out the examples of sleight of mouth.  Both times I've found myself going into a more creative frame of mind.
Is this "unconscious installation" in action?  I don't know.  But I'm certainly more convinced than ever that this book is well worth reading, and re-reading, for anyone involved in any kind of sales or marketing function.

Highly recommended. * * * * * *

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The Power of Business Rapport
Michael Brooks
Where did Michael Brooks learn NLP - in the back room library of a New England back woods general store, if the introduction is accurate!
Yes, this is pretty basic stuff; yes, this is the guy whose previous book was on how to use NLP to get dates; and yes, he isn't above some pretty overt manipulation.  And having said that, this is really quite a good (VERY basic) guide to the use of NLP in business.
Qualified recommendation * * * *

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Practical NLP for Managers
McDermott & O'Connor
0-566-07671-3 (Hb)
I suppose it's an obvious case of "when you're hot, you're hot", and the writing partnership of O'Connor and McDermott continues to be, in the best sense, a hot property.

According to the authors, "The unwritten subtitle of this book is 'managing the human imagination' ".  I can't say I'd've spotted this if it hadn't been mentioned, and I'm not too sure what they had in mind, but either way, it doesn't detract from the overall quality of the book.

Like Principles of NLP, this new book takes a somewhat gentler, chatty approach to its subject than you might expect, with a nice line in brief, relevant anecdotes backing up the various points.
Based largely, it seems, on Ian McDermott's consultancy work, the book rings true for today's business environment, and I particularly enjoyed Chapters 6, 7 and 8 - Organisational Values, Individual Values and The Motivational Minefield.  It was also good to see the strong warnings, in Chapter 10, against using meta programs to stereotype people.

My only reservation regarding the book, apart from the rather uninspiring cartoons, concerns the bibliography at the end of each chapter.  I've nothing against self-advertisement, but if these lists are to be believed there's almost no-one worth reading other than Tom Peters (4 citations), Peter Senge (3) and - guess who - someone called O'Connor, Joseph (12 - 6 of which include McDermott, Ian).  Hmmmm!

It has to be said that the price tag may seem a little steep (32.50 for a book of 200 pages, including the index).  On the other hand, I imagine the book is primarily aimed at corporate customers, whose pockets may be a little deeper than those of the average 'civilian'.  Still, if you aren't put off by the price I'm impressed enough to make it -
Strongly recommended for managers past, present and future   *  *  *  *  *  *

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Way of NLP
McDermott & O'Connor
New glossy cover, larger print - but this is in fact just a re-named reprint of the lads' 1996 publication Principles of NLP.  Five years down the line the text seems a lot more pedestrian that it did at the time of the original publication (see next review), and is now most notable, perhaps, for its bibliography - one of the few times that McDermott and O'Connor, seperately or in tandem, have acknowledged that anyone other than themselves has written any books about NLP.
Recommended (for newcomers)   *  *  *  *

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Principles of NLP
McDermott & O'Connor
I'm never particularly impressed by book cover blurbs that say things like "The only introduction you'll ever need" (a strapline for the whole series), and I was little surprised to find a book on NLP included in the same series as Principles of Tarot and Principles of Colonic Irrigation.
But these strange bedfellows are not there by accident.  The book is aimed straight down the middle of the road, presumably designed to give readers what the authors think they want rather than concentrating only on information about genuine NLP and NLP-related techniques.

Thus the book is built around two main frameworks - Robert Dilt's so-called neurological levels, which are most certainly not a part of the authentic NLP-related techniques, and the authors' selection of thirteen NLP pre-suppositions.  These choices appear to give the book a sense of coherence and direction, but only at a cost.
to be fair, despite having considerably less space to work in than many other books on the subject (Principles is 60 pages shorter than Introducing NLP, for example), O'Connor and McDermott cover most of the main features of NLP - Rapport, Pacing and Leading, Congruence, 'States', Anchors, mental strategies, maps, representational systems, etc. in adequate detail for an introductory text.

But having said that, I can see little reason to recommend this book, simply because it is so bland it fails to compensate for its faults.  It definitely is not recommended for newcomers, who would probably be unable to sort the good stuff from the "levels" rubbish; and more knowledgeable readers may well find the book too basic to be much use to them.  So who is left?
Not recommended   *

(By the way, if this really is "The only introduction you'll ever need", does this mean that the publishers - HarperCollins - are going to drop their other publication, the bestselling, award winning Introduction to NLP by O'Connor & Seymour?  I don't think so!)

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Bandler & Grinder
The trouble with transcribing a seminar into book form is that something always has to be left out.  Which may partly explain why this is possibly the least satisfactory of the many Bandler & Grinder seminars transcripts edited by the Andreas'.

In the first place reframing is not really a complete subject in its own right.  As one of the presenters comments:

"I don't do reframing as a separate chunk except for demonstration purposes in seminars.  It's integrated into everything else that I do; ... Every piece of work I do has reframing as a component part."

Reframing is divided into just six chapters, on Content Reframing, Negotiating between Parts, Creating New Parts, Advanced 6-step Reframing, Reframing Systems and Reframing for Dissociated States.  Chapters 2, 3 and 4 each end with an outline of the technique under discussion.
Personally I found the first four chapters over-long, especially Chapter 4 (where the outline is nearly four times longer than the chapter!), whilst Chapters 5 and 6, by contrast, seemed far too short.  Having said that, readers who enjoy heavy doses of anecdotal material may find the style very much to their liking.

Because of the subject, and the fact that this is original Bandler & Grinder material, I expect that Reframing will continue to enjoy healthy sales for some time to come, which makes it unlikely that the text will be subjected to the kind of thoughtful editing it needs and deserves.
Qualified recommendation * * * * *

Note:   This book is no longer being published, but should be available through secondhand book dealers from time to time.

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Righting the Educational Conveyor Belt
Michael Grinder
According to a survey carried out by the National Education Association, 82% of all classroom communication is non-verbal.  And how many hours of a teacher training course are taken up giving a good grounding in non-verbal skills?
Non-what skills?

In the 1990's classroom, teaching has to be about something more than learning the kings and queens of England, or whatever, yet the current debate in the UK is mired down in questions like:

  • How much homework should be the norm?  (None - why aren't normal school hours enough?)
  • How often, and how early should children take tests? (In the US they're test mad, and they have some of the lowest educational standards in the world!
    Incidently, the only thing a good test mark indicates is that the candidate met that particular examiner's criteria. It's all very subjective.)
  • Should schools choose their pupils, or should parents choose the school?  (And where does the real consumer - the pupil - come in on this?  And why aren't all schools aiming for such high standards that choices would be irrelevant?)

What we really need to be doing right now is to start believing our own slogans - and acting on them.  If "learning is for life" it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that you need to make learning a positive experience right from the off - and keep it that way.
John Grinder's book shows some of the ways in which we could achieve that goal.  As an ex-teacher I found myself aching at times at the thought of how much I could have improved my own classroom technique if only I'd had this book to hand.
The book covers all the main areas where NLP and related skills can be applied in the classroom for greater effect with less effort and less stress all round.  It also includes plenty of space for recording your own ideas and experiences so as to make this very much 'YOUR book' for every reader.
Get this book and Super-Teaching (see below) and start to bring some magic back into your classroom!
Very highly recommended   *  *  *  *  *  *  *
(And yes, Michael is related to John Grinder - they're brothers.)

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Science and Sanity (5th ed., 1994)
Alfred Korzybski
0-937298-01-8 (Hb)
This is a BIG book (100 pages of introductions to the five editions + 761 plus pages of text plus a massive bibliography), and a hard read unless you are used to academic texts.
If you really want to see how General Semantics got started then this is the text.  If you just want to understand what General Semantics is about I would recommend the books by K.G. Johnson and S.I. Hayakawa referred to elsewhere in this list.
(Korzybski coined such terms/concepts as "Neuro-linguistic", "the map is not the territory", "mind and body are a single system", etc.) With all due respect for Korzybski's work, for the reasons above I only give this a qualified recommendation:   *  *

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Andy Bradbury can be contacted at: bradburyac@hotmail.com