The Difficult Past of Neuro-linguistic programming
Neuro-linguistic programming has had a rocky past, with a number of lawsuits, rivalry, unsystematic development and intermittent progress. During the 1980s, the two founders separated after the lawsuit filed by Bandler. Bandler went on to file several lawsuits up to the 1990s, in an attempt to claim sole proprietorship on the NLP trademark, copyright status and intellectual property rights. In 1983, Bandler’s company even filed for bankruptcy.
Several books related to Neuro-linguistic training and concepts such as ‘Patterns I & II‘ and ‘Structure I & II‘ went out of print due to copyright violation allegations. In 2000, the United States Superior Court reached the verdict against Bandler, by declaring that Bandler had misused the incorrect claim of being the sole proprietor of trademark and intellectual property rights of Neuro-linguistic programming, by incorporating the claim in his promotional products and licensing agreement of services.
During this time, the UK practitioner Tony Clarkson also filed a lawsuit against Bandler in the UK High Court to withdraw the NLP trademark registered by Bandler in UK and make it a generic term instead. UK High Court ruled in favor of Clarkson by declaring Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) as a generic concept, and resulting in bankruptcy for Bandler in UK as well.
With such acrimonious litigations being filed across UK and US, several individuals attempted to develop on the concepts of Neuro-linguistic programming, offering Neuro-linguistic courses to uninformed individuals in an attempt to benefit monetarily, either through unethical methods using confusing and hyped brand names, or honest yet opportunistic techniques.
Several half-hearted efforts were made in order to bring an official, more regulated structure to NLP development somewhere in the 1990s, especially in UK. It was only in 2001 that the various NLP lawsuits were finally settled, and several representatives and individual contributors put their foot down to bring about a professional, regulated and consistent progress in the field of Neuro-linguistic training and Neuro-linguistic programming. Moreover, several certification organizations and national authoritarian entities were established including distinguished psychotherapy and psychological specialists, especially in UK.
Dr. Bandler and Dr. Grinder eventually parted ways on a amicable note at the end of 2000 after reaching a sort of agreement as to their mutual status as cofounders and equal creators of the Neuro-linguistic programming technology. They released a statement to that effect, recognizing each other’s contribution and dedicated efforts to the inception and development of Neuro-linguistic courses.
They further agreed not to interfere or condemn the others efforts in the field of Neuro-linguistics. With these claims settled, a steady foundation was then built in order to enable more systematic and controlled development in the field of Neuro-linguistic programming.
John Grinder started development on the New Code of NLP in collaboration with Judith DeLozier during the period 1982-1987. They derived influences from the anthropologist Gregory Bateson. The New Code was designed to set a pattern for NLP development and usage using the ethical and aesthetic principles.
This Neuro-linguistic recode was converted into a series of seminars named “Turtles All the Way Down”. The transcripts “Prerequisites to Personal Genius” were also published into a book. Grinder continued holding public seminars, in addition to promoting cultural change in organizations in the 1980s. He kept on perfecting the New Code of NLP with partner Carmen Bostic St Clair. The duo also submitted their recommendations to the Neuro-linguistic programming community as “Whispering in the Wind” in 2001.
Richard Bandler formed an alliance with Todd Epstein to explore the theory of submodality and its practice. After 1980, Bandler concentrated on the concept of submodalities, by interpreting the perception of the five elementary human senses. Bandler also wrote “Persuasion Engineering” along with John LaValle, and created “Design Human Engineering”. He wrote the books “Magic in Action”, “Using Your Brain for a Change” and “Time for a Change”. He continues giving lectures and producing material on Neuro-linguistic programming.
Several other NLP developers formed mutual alliances in an attempt to modify and develop Neuro-linguistic programming that resulted in an array of techniques and options.
During 1990s, due to the several legal battles and unsystematic progress of Neuro-linguistic programming, NLP was promoted as a new miracle universal remedy for all problems and individuals. Several objectionable models and practices were employed for higher profitability and market values. Such unethical practitioners became increasingly indistinguishable from the genuine ones, resulting in unreliable practice.
Neuro-linguistic training was also affected, with a variety of trainers emerging with their own ideas of training requirements and standards necessary for becoming an NLP practitioner. Some Neuro-linguistic training was meted out recognized practitioners, whereas some were trained by the New Age profit inclined individuals. Other Neuro-linguistic training was focused on niche areas of the field. This resulted in a wide variety of Neuro-linguistic training programs in terms of quality, length and reliability of the Neuro-linguistic course.
In 2001, Platt criticized this unreliability of Neuro-linguistic courses and practice, and urged an immediate prohibition of wild unrealistic claims by accepting the boundaries and limitations of NLP and its efficacy. With subsequent research and investigation on the benefits of NLP, it is now clear that NLP cannot be used to help all individuals and all problems. NLP is definitely not a panacea, and any such unrealistic and hyped claims made by NLP practitioners, exaggerating their training and competence, should be regarded with a critical eye.