Symbolic co-modelling of the bind allows the client to develop and
transform the bind at the interface between the conscious and
non-conscious mind. Which changes a rule that says 'people change cognitively or behaviourally or
unconsciously (or miraculously) or with many years of
. For many clients the construction of a metaphor
landscape becomes a necessary context for the metamorphosis of binds
which cannot be resolved within their own apparent logic.
'Logic', after all, is a cognitive construct -
a way of
organising perplexing multi-dimensional territory into
easy-reference, two-dimensional maps.
Moving out of two-dimensional duality into multi-dimensional metaphor
is a way of honouring complexity without sacrificing clarity. The
(Greek 'change' + 'conveyor' = 'transfer')
can carry a substantial volume of information, including experience
of trauma, aggregated into a more accessible and potentially more
transmutable form. (See figure 6)
Figure 6: Honouring complexity without sacrificing
In Part II we met Simon, a 29-year old
computer wizard addicted to overwork. "I can't stop working and
I must stop working," he said. A simple but highly effective
double-bind. How does he go about resolving it? Over several
sessions of metaphor therapy he develops the symbol of a twisted
cord, which for Simon represents a way he is both dividing and
combining himself. His double-bind could now be defined as a
paradox - something seemingly self- contradictory yet possibly
true. This paradox confirms Simon's belief in the insolvability of
his dilemma - how can he be both dividing and combining himself?
In a further session Simon remembers the extreme difficulty he
had as a seven-year-old, desperately trying to sever a gifted self
who was intellectually superior to his peers from a social self
who ached to associate with them. His rule as child had been
'you can't have the best of both worlds'. Over the years he
had codified this into 'doing two contradictory things is
After several more sessions Simon comes up with a change to
this rule. Instead of trying to both divide and combine
himself (impossible), he realizes he can do either
(allowing choice). His new rule simply says, 'having to do two
contradictory things is no longer the rule'! He has
transcended the apparent logic of his presentation of the problem.
And that may be enough. However I wonder whether this is only a
sideways change - the translation of one duality into another
rather than its transformation into a different thing altogether.
Meanwhile the shift at least allows him to review the old pattern
from a new perspective. As his work continues I have a suspicion
there may be more 'twists' in the plot before the drama finds
resolution, but symbolic modelling of the conflict has allowed the
theme to become clearer.
- A principle of convergence changes a rule that says 'different things come from separate places'
into 'apparently different things may come from the same
place'. I learnt this fascinating way of resolving duality
from Sid Jacobson. Say the client`s dilemma is 'I must stop
smoking and I can't stop smoking`. (See figure 7) The client
is asked 'What led to ...?'
- Figure 7: The common imprint of duality.
What led Nick, my journalist client, to 'Must smoke' was
'Smoking'. Asked what led to 'smoking', he identified
'Wanting to smoke`. Tracking back further took him to 'A
combination of taste and opportunity`. Further back still he
arrived at 'Kissing a girl in a cowshed in Cumbria`.
Quite separately he tracked the other strand of his duality. What
led him to 'Must not smoke` was 'Wanting to feel
healthier`. Before that 'Breathing freely`. Which came
from 'Walking and climbing`. Which was prompted by (you
probably guessed) 'Kissing a girl in a cowshed in Cumbria`.
- Nick's first adolescent experience of sex, or more accurately
his memory of that experience, had become entangled in his mind
with a positive anchor for smoking. The Part I neuro-biological
model of addiction will give you an idea of how this can happen.
Freudians may offer another interpretation. Make of this exercise
in convergence what you will (and it points to the highly
idiosyncratic nature of common imprints and the near-impossibility
of predicting them), but in half an hour Nick had information
about his addiction that might otherwise have been hidden forever.
Probably in the cowshed.
When it comes to resolving duality perhaps the simplest way - and
thus, for some, hardest of all - is just to allow it. Allowing
changes a rule many people have that says, 'everything
worthwhile is a result of struggle'.
Simon has already translated his perception of
the combining/dividing bind from the impossible ('I cannot both
combine and divide myself at the same time') to the feasible ('I can
do either'). My sense of his process is that he hasn't yet
transcended the logic. He's still playing the duality game by
its own rule of two, believing he has to be one thing or the
other. At the end of session 15 he makes what seems to a
qualitatively different shift. Cognitively it sounds very obvious
when he says it, but in the context of the emotionally charged
patterns of Simon's addiction to work, which had made him quite
miserable, I recognise its potential for transforming his whole way
of being in the world: "I can be happier if I just allow the
combining and dividing," he says. "Being a part of ordinary
society while enjoying my own special talents. I will be happier as I
allow them. Yes, this sits well."
I see him embodying the learning as he settles in his chair. He
just looks more comfortable."What kind of allow?" I ask. "Well, to
allow dividing and combining is not the same as embracing them - I'm
not giving in to either. And I'm not fighting them. I'm just, you
know, allowing them." I reckon from his beatific expression that
he is probably transcending them.
Simon is happy enough with the new pattern he has created, but in
the next session goes further. He decides that 'allowing' is just one
option: the third angle of a 'fighting/giving in/allowing' triangle.
If you remember Kosko's 'paradox at endpoints, resolution at
midpoints', Simon is at a midpoint. Later in the session he goes
further still: "Actually I can create a hundred options between
the two ends ... and that's easier to do than creating exactly the
right third option."
Figure 8: An infinite number of midpoints
In other words: paradox at endpoints, resolution at an
infinite number of midpoints. (See figure 8)
Don't expect unaddicting to be easy. Its course is elusive and can
be difficult to track. Remember that trial and error are
prerequisites for progress in any kind of audit. If relapse occurs,
the cause will not likely lie in the present, but in the involuntary
incompleteness of an earlier stage.
Whatever the difficulties, being witness to the emergence of a
client's internal self-reliance is as fulfilling and considerable an
experience as bringing new life - a baby, a book, a gourmet sauce -
into the world. If addiction is the physician's provider, the
provision is not only difficulty but delight.
© 2000 Philip Harland
(1) Types of
addiction. Many of these encompass a
variety of sub-types. Internet
addiction is a particular case. Compulsive
computer use of any sort can lead to altered states of consciousness
which may be psychologically rewarding. Internet addiction would come
into that category, and also cover cybersexual addiction (compulsive
use of cybersex and cyberporn websites); cyber-relationship addiction
(over-involvement in on-line relationships); and compulsions such as
web surfing, game-playing, on-line gambling and shopping. Note
however that sex addicts, relationship addicts, gamblers, shoppers
etc may use the internet as another place to indulge existing
and desire. Adapted from a client
quotation in an article by Gillian Riley, The Therapist Autumn 1997.
psychotherapy: this is not to deny
totally the potential value of drugs in helping to break addictive
patterns, particularly if a client is severely damaged or has severe
symptoms. However I find fault with the systemic addiction of many
physicians to drug therapy at the expense of talking and body
therapies. Aspirin may dampen your headaches but won't stop you
getting headaches. Naltrexone, the supposed new
wonder-drug for addictions and compulsions, has been around since the
1970's, and came to prominence recently in alcohol studies (and is
now in use in ControlAl clinics) only in conjuction with six months
to a year of intensive counselling. I reckon that's long enough to
expand someone's internal representations and activate change without
drugs, and without side effects.
forming in experiential-constructivist
(NLP) terms is a
cognitive, linear process. The outcome is always expressed positively
(ie is not something the client doesn't want), is within the client's
control, has built-in evidence and monitoring procedures, and a
systemic and ecological check which explores the possible costs of
achieving the outcome against the possible benefits of not achieving
it. Thus NLP
psychotherapy is conditional on having a well-formed outcome at the
start, and this outcome becomes a later measure of success or
failure. In symbolic-constructivist (Grovian) terms, the client's
conscious outcome may be expressed or not at the start, but in any
case will evolve intuitively and integrally as part of the
therapeutic process, which means that the client will
only get what they truly want. For
articles about how metaphor therapy and symbolic modelling work see
back numbers of Rapport or The Developing Company's website at
'mirror-model' a guide to
reflective questioning, Philip Harland,
Rapport Autumn 1998 and the website in note (4). A model of
conversational change to help someone stuck in a Present frame of
reference shift their attention and learning into Context, Past,
Future, Higher and Metaphor frames.
Recognition, or re-cognition, is what happens when a person brings
into consciousness what David Grove calls 'tacit knowledge', or
'knowledge you didn't know you knew until you knew it'. The knowing
again, or re-cognizing, process is a key factor in self-generated
questionnaire: frames are in generally
ascending order, with what should be the least challenging first.
Questions acknowledging a negatively connoted present are set in the
tense of a convenient past ('were...?'
'what has been...?'), thus the addictive
past is presupposed to contain resources for the present and is not
assumed to constitute an immutable future. Questions anticipating a
positive future are phrased in the accessible present
('what is...?' 'what
may...?'), implying that a non-addictive
choice is available now. I give examples of particular NLP or Grovian
interventions from my own limited experience. Add or substitute your
own (and please share them with me). Remember that client answers are
open at any time to linguistic deconstruction, or 'meta-modelling',
to clarify or reframe potentially limiting cause-effect relations,
complex equivalences, mind-readings, presuppositions and the like.
For all you need to know about the meta-model read Richard Bandler
and John Grinder, The Structure of Magic
I, Science and Behaviour Books 1975.
(8) Levels of
experience: based on Dilts'
categorization of 'logical levels' (environment, behaviour, skills,
beliefs, identity and spirit) and incorporating Hall and Bodenhamer's
proposition that environment, behaviour and skills are actually at
one inter-dependent 'primary level' that describes the person,
whereas the others are at 'meta-levels' of beliefs about beliefs,
identity and beyond that describe emergent properties of being a
person. Or at least I think that's what they mean. See Michael Hall
with Bobby Bodenhamer, Systemic NLP Part
III, Rapport 44 Summer
1999. My version
conflates environment, behaviour and skills into a 'primary level',
ascribes an emergent 'secondary level' to beliefs and identity, and a
'tertiary level' to beyond self. Bearing in mind what we say in this
paper about triadic thinking in psychotherapy, this presupposes many
(9) 'Error' used here in the Gregory Bateson sense of any learning
superior to zero learning proceeding of necessity by trial and error.
'Feedback', in the cybernetic sense.
(10) Swish pattern for changing unwanted behaviours is outlined on pages
174-6 of Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour, Introducing NLP, Aquarian Books
change references: McDermott and
O'Connor, NLP and Health, Chapter 4. Robert Dilts, Changing Belief Systems with NLP, Meta Publications 1990.
work utilises the smallest elements of
our sensory-based experience in a way that particularly affects the
importance we attach to it. Pages 41-45 of Introducing NLP for the
with the addiction: AA gets a great
deal of stick for its standard 'I am an
alcoholic' introductions at AA meetings,
but for anyone struggling with who they are (identity) and what they
might belong to (beyond-self or community), the use of the phrase in
context is an ingenious means of putting the two together. AA would
say you are an alcoholic forever. My sense is that if you can get to
say 'I am an ex-X-aholic', you have made a significant shift in your relationship with
X, and if you can get to say, 'I am a
person who used to X', where X is no
longer an issue, you have made a fundamental change.
transformation process developed by
Connirae Andreas, NLP Comprehensive 1995. Elicits the client's core
state(s) of being, which the client then learns to access at
Reframing, or what Gawler-Wright calls 'integrating the hidden
purpose of the problem'. See Bandler and Grinder, Reframing: NLP and the Transformation of Meaning,
Real People Press 1982. O'Connor &
Seymour outline the standard 6-step self-generated process
in Introducing NLP. I don't personally recommend using Dilts'
'sleight-of-mouth' language patterns for reframing, as O'C and S
suggest. Too dialectical and directional for my taste. I believe the
pupil, not the teacher, knows best. The 'mirror-model' (note 5) has a
simpler non-directionalising alternative.
positions: fuller descriptions of the
process in NLP and Health (page 141 'a mirror on relationship'), and Introducing NLP (page 76 'triple
description'). Addicts are likely to be stuck in 1st (self) position;
habitual rescuers or codependents in 2nd (other); and associates who
deny any involvement in 3rd (observer). (Gawler-Wright and Rhind,
Working Successfully with
Addictions). Dilts' 'meta-mirror'
introduces a 4th (meta) position, from which client observes the
relationship between self and observer as a mirror of the
relationship between self and other, leading to a meta-position
consideration of 'What can observer do to
help self more?'
(17) Patterns of
organization: the quote is from
Chapter 2 of Tompkins and Lawley's forthcoming book on symbolic
modelling, working title Metaphors in Mind,
which will surely become required reading
for every therapist.
(18) More on the addictive society in Part I,
and from Anne Wilson Schaef: "The helping
professions are in the same relationship to an addictive society that
the enabler is to the addict. We take the pressure off and keep
things going just enough to prevent society from 'hitting
more about this codependency in Part I. More about perceptual positions in Part II,
and see note (16) above.
(20) Negotiating duality. Bandler
and Grinder's powerful version of polarity
therapy is in The Structure of Magic II . There's a succint account of internal conflict resolution by
O'Connor and Seymour in Introducing NLP.
John McWhirter's hemisphere integration process
is outlined in Re-modelling NLP part 3,
Rapport Autumn 1999.
(21) Homeostasis: a term coined
some years before cybernetics by Walter B. Cannon in Wisdom of the Body, New York
1932. He explained how the body maintains equilibrium through
'negative feedback' signals to the brain, stimulating such things as
the regulation of temperature through the mechanism of perspiring
when the body is too hot or shivering when the body is too cold.
Cannon articulated homeostasis as a fundamental physiological
principle of survival.
Look in the phone book under Addictions Anonymous, Adult Children of
Alcoholics, Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous,
Co-dependants Anonymous, Council for Involuntary Tranquiliser
Addiction, Debtors Anonymous, Depressives Anonymous, Emotions
Anonymous, Families Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Helpers Anonymous,
Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Pills
Anonymous, Secular Organisation for Sobriety, Sex Addicts Anonymous,
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Workaholics Anonymous.
John R Searle, The Rediscovery of the Mind,
Press 1994; Mind, Language and Society
Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1999
Gerald Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire; On the Matter
of the Mind, Allen Lane 1992
Susan Greenfield, ed. Mind Explained, Cassell 1996
Anne Wilson Schaef, Beyond Therapy, Beyond Science,
John Firman and Ann Gila, The Primal Wound, a Transpersonal
View of Trauma, Addiction and Growth, State University of New
York Press 1997
Craig Nakken, Addictive Personality: Roots, Rituals and
Recovery, Hazelden Foundation 1996
Chelly M Sterman, ed. Neuro-Linguistic Programming in
Alcoholism Treatment, Haworth Press 1990
Mara Selvini Palazzoli et al, Paradox and
Counter-Paradox, Jason Aranson Inc.
Ian McDermott and Joseph
and Health, Thorsons 1996
Sid Jacobson, A Summary of Important Considerations in
Quitting or Controlling Smoking, South Central Institute of NLP
Tina Stacey, NLP Addiction and the 12 Steps, ANLP
seminar 1998 and personal communication 1999
Laurena Chamlee-Cole, personal communication 1999
David Grove, Clean Language and Metaphor Therapy
trainings and personal work 1996-99
Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, Symbolic Modelling training and supervision, 1994-99
Pamela Gawler-Wright and Alistair
Rhind Working Succesfully with Addiction seminars. Full of
sound sense and good humour informed by experience and supported by
principle. BeeLeaf Communication Training - RecommendedThanks
to Penny and James and to Carol Thompson for their constructive
suggestions and attention to detail.