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Talking to yourself again?

By on February 26, 2015
Picture courtesy of stock images and free digital

Much of the history of neuro linguistic programming (NLP) is based on wondrous stories of Richard Bandler using sub modality shifts to change his clients. He would take a psychotic who could not differentiate imaginary snakes from real snakes, or false memories from real memories, or inner voices from outer (real) voices, and teach them to differentiate the real from the imaginary using submodalities.

Madness as this might sound, there could be some basis to Dr. Bandler’s method. Recent research shows that inner speech (‘talking to yourself’) involves stimulation to the supplementary motor area, meaning that to talk to yourself you need to, well talk to yourself. Even if you don’t actually say anything, your mouth still wants to move. But if you hallucinate voices, then in a way it’s not your voice, so you don’t have to speak, you just ‘hear’.

These subtle differences in how the brain processes information may lead to the ability to ‘sense’ one type of experience from another. After all if a specific part of your brain is firing off in one experience but not another, could it lead to ‘traces’ of experience that the thinker could differentiate, using subtle distinctions in their sensory experience, for example through sub modalities or cross-submodalities (a cross-submodality is something like a kinesthetic submodality associated with a inner picture, or an inner voice).

Submodalities are based on individual experiences. Of course some submodalities have wider application, for example if someone senses a visual image as being ‘higher’ this may well indicate more importance or status. But for the most part you need to calibrate your client very carefully to determine relevant differences between one type of experience and another.

So in the research from Aalto in Finland (see below), the difference between the voices (inner self-talk versus hallucinations) might be predicated on feelings in the throat (vocal chords), i.e. cross-submodalities.

Another approach that Dr. Bandler uses is to use abstracts in sub modalities. These are submodalities that are not sensory in nature but rather are symbolic. A typical abstract or symbolic submodality would be the visual sub modality or ‘framed or unframed’. Actual visual stimuli in nature are not contained within ‘frames’. However ‘framing’ can be a key submodality non-the-less.

When you are working with a client keep an NLP eye out for cross-submodalities and symbolic sub modalities. There may be more information there than you at first realize!

This is the phenomenon that psychologists call inner speech, and theyve been trying to study it pretty much since the dawn of psychology as a scientific discipline. In the 1930s, the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky argued that inner speech developed through the internalisation of external, out-loud speech. If this is true, does inner speech use the same mechanisms in the brain as when we speak out loud? Talking to ourselves: the science of the little voice in your head | Peter Moseley | Science

Picture courtesy of stock images and free digital

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