The Pattern OfMeta Model 111

Concept, lad James (1987) developed a specific use for the Meta-model by packaging it as a way to do "detailed questioning for a specific result." He initiated this use of the Meta-model by asking,

What question can I ask which, by the very nature of the presuppositions in the question itself, will enable a person to make the greatest amount of change by accepting the presuppositions inherent in the question?

The following pattern starts with a problem and invites a person (1) to articulate the problem content, (2) its cause, (3) failed attempts at solutions, (4) and possibilities for solution.

Then, things flip around and the following questions orient the person towards thinking about the solution. It invites the person (5) to first make specific the content of the change and (6) the time for the change (along with ¿in embedded command), (7) an invitation to generate suggestions (with a temporal shift), and finally (8), a confirmation of the beginning of a change. Source: This particular shortened format came from Bodenhamer (1996) who says that this pattern necessitates "deep rapport."

The Pattern

I. "What do you evaluate as wrong?"

2. "What has caused this problem?"

3. "How have you failed to resolve this problem up to this point?"

4. "What would it look, sound, feel like if you "went out in time out beyond the solution to your problem?"


5. "What would you like to change?"

6. "When will you slop it from functioning as a limitation to you?"

7. "How many ways do you know you have solved this?"

8. "1 know thai you have begun changing and seeing things differently."

#49 The Denominalizing Pattern

Concept. Within the Meta-model, we have a linguistic distinction known as a nominalization. This refers to both deleting a process or a set of actions and over-generalizing the process as we summarize it into a static noun form (hence the term nominalization). This naming of the actions distorts things. As a result we have a nominalization which thereafter sends several false signals to the brain. For example, when we use nominalizations, we cue our brain that our referent exists as a static thing rather than as a dynamic process ("decision," rather than deciding, "motivation" instead of "motivating," etc.). By implication, this typically suggests that we have no participation in the process. And if we don't play a part in the process, we consequently lack any ability or power to affect it. This represents some big-time unsane mapping of reality (e.g., "self-esteem" instead of self-esteeming, "relationship" instead of relating to someone, etc.)

Since so many of the words by which we report our experiences involve nominalizations, learning to de-nominalize empowers us to change "the frozen universe" back into processes and actions (a strong emphasis in General Semantics). Doing so empowers us to respond within, and to, the processes, and to recognize the choices available to us. Glasser (1983) noted the importance of this in his ongoing development of Reality Therapy wThen he began to disallow emotion and psychosomatic words to stand as nouns. He insisted on turning them into verbs: angering, guilting, depressing, headaching, etc.

The Pattern

1. Identify the nominalization. We can make a picture of a true noun (a person, place or a thing). Not so with a nounified verb. You can't make a picture of "motivation," "self-esteem," etc. These verbs-turned-into-nouns describe an ongoing process. I he stem, "an ongoing..." offers a way to flush out true verbs cloaked in a noun form. Hence, "an ongoing relationship" makes sense, but "an ongoing chair" does not.

2. Find the hidden verb lurking inside. When the term fits into the structure of "an ongoing..." then look inside it for a hidden verb. Inside "motivation" we have "motivate" or "move." Inside "self-esteem" we have the verb "esteem," which means to appraise. With some nominalizations, we may have to go back to the Linguage out of which they came or back to the context from which they originated. Hence, inside "religion" or "religious" we have the verb "to bind back." Inside "soul" we have "breathe."

3. Put the term back in verb form mid restore the representations of action, movement, and process. "Who relates to whom?" "What do you feel motivated or moved to do?" "How much would you like to accomplish that?" "What else appeals to you?"

#50 The Problem Defining/Formulating Pattern

Concept. When we construct a "problem" that we conceptually have no way out of, or when our problem formulation prevents a realistic solution, we can use this pattern to transform these limiting, constricting, and unsane maps. After all, "problems" only exist as linguistic constructions. Neither you nor I have ever seen a "problem." This represents another nominalization. And this one lures us to think of our "problem" as a thing, does it not? The map-language does not empower us to see, hear, or feel the specifics of any particular process. As a result, it seems so solid, permanent, unchangeable, etc. This describes the case with so many of the things with which we have difficulty.

Since such words refer to nothing "in the world," but everything "in the mind," first we have to recover the see-hear-feel referents. Then we have to move to our conceptual world of meaning (semantics). This enables us to recover our behavioral complex equivalence for "the problem."

For example, suppose someone complains about low "self-esteem." The Meta-model teaches us to not respond with "Yes, i know what you mean!" Instead, wTe might inquire about what see-hear-l'eel references they used in referencing this abstraction ("self-esteem") and what criteria, rules, values, etc., they used to make that determination. Look for the process. If the person meets their criteria, they will language themselves as "valuable, successful, right," etc. If they don't meet those criteria, they language themselves as "worthless, failure, without dignity and respect/' etc.

Ultimately, the person (and only the individual person) makes the decision to esteem or contempt his or her "self". "I value myself when I drive a new car." "I devalue myself when I get poor grades." "I value myself when I get a raise." etc. Either way, the person constructs this semantic reality by defining, equating, and attributing meaning to certain experiences. With this strategy, people can de-construct the old formats and re-construct newer and more enhancing ones.

The Pattern

1. Examine the "problem" in terms of the Meta-model distinctions. Check for violations to well-formedness. These will show up as lack of precise terms (vagueness), over-generalizations (abstract words and terms), and distortions in meaning, causation, presupposition, etc.

With "low self-esteem" the person states the "problem" as a thing, as something he or she does not "have." This frames it as outside their area of control or response. Denominalize to recover the self-esteem-ing process, then explore that process. 'Tor what reasons do you low self-esteem yourself? What would it feel like if you esteemed yourself? What stops you?"

2. Rnn an ecology check on the "problems" formulation. "Does it serve you well? Do you find low self-esteeming useful? How? In what way? How might it undermine your experiences? Does it make your life more of a party? Less of a party?"

3. Examine the presuppositions in the "problem." "Does the 'problem/ ¿is defined, offer any solution? Or has it put you in a corner?" I.anguaging problems as static things, beyond anything you can affect or control, constructs a map for disem-powering. Challenge dysfunctional presuppositions.

4. Use the "as if' frame to explore possible new formulations of the problem. "Suppose you act as if you have high self-esteem— how would that affect your life? Would that enable you to have a higher likelihood of success?"


\LP exists ¿is a model of other models that provide specific content to "the structure of psychotherapy" (the "talking cure"). Accordingly, NLP highlights how language crucially and centrally affects human consciousness (thinking, emoting, experiencing, etc.). NLP also highlights the field of psycholinguistics through its central and originating model—the Meta-model.

The Meta-model offers an explanatory scheme for how language -works and, more importantly, how to work with our own and others' languaging. NLP began with the Meta-model as its central methodology. Almost all of its technologies grew out of this core.

This model informs us about how we use language to create our mental maps of the world—and the mapping problems that we sometimes generate. Recognizing these mapping processes (deletion, generalization, and distortion) gives us a pathway to facilitate change in our model of the world, as well as the models of those with whom we communicate. Even more crucially, this model installs within us a tentativeness about language. As a consequence, we can overcome our "semantic reactions" to words and ideas, we can develop a "thoughtful" response to language as symbolic or semantic reality, and we can begin to use language as only a map and not reality.

Most of the patterns in this chapter depend upon an understanding of the Meta-model of language. In human affairs, "magic" can and does occur when people talk. This becomes especially true in the therapeutic context. It also holds just as true for the communication that occurs in close and intimate relationships where people talk about the things that really matter to them. With this model, we can now work more methodologically and systematically with our languaging as we communicate.

For more "magic" utilizing developments in General Semantics, see my (MH) recent work, The Secrets Of Magic (1998), which revisits The Structure Of Magic. In Secrets, I have updated the Meta-model by extending it with additional "missing" Meta-model distinctions gleaned from General Semantics and Cognitive-Behavioral psychology.

Afterword For Chapter 7

In the years since the appearance of the Meta-model, a great deal has changed in the field of linguistics. Grinder and Bandler originally developed the Meta-model from I he language patterns that they heard and modeled from Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir, and later from Hrickson. They did so in their original work using the tools of Transformational or Generative Grammar (TG)—hence the lengthy Appendix A on TG in their book, The Structure Of Magic, Volume I. They even noted the newer developments then occurring in Generative Semantics (p. 109, Note 6).

Actually, prior to that 1975 publication, TG had suffered what I larris (1993) called The Linguistic Wars. There he detailed the wars in Linguistics as newer "schools" arose to defeat Chomsky's (1957, 1965) Interpretative or TG. Harris also noted the death of Generative Semantics in the early 1980s.

Lakoff (1987) later explained why TG failed as a linguistic model. He described it in terms of the philosophical difference between a formal mathematical model and the way people actually think and process information—a constructivistic embodied grammar. Earlier, he, McCavvley, Ross, Postal, et aL, had taken Noam Chomsky's model and sought to find meaning in the Deep Structure. However, the more they pushed in that direction, the more they found irregularities, anomalies, and exceptions. And the more they moved in that direction, the more Chomsky backed off, went on the attack, and ultimately reformulated TG. He eventually eliminated Deep Structure as an explanatory device as he sought to explain all transformational rules exclusively in Surface Structure devices.

As TG became more problematic, both it and Generative Semantics gave way to other theories and models: Fauconnier's (1985) space grammar (later "mental space"), Langacker's massive two-volume Foundations Of Cognitive Grammar (1987,1991), etc.

Where does this leave NLP and the Meta-model? llow much does the Meta-model depend upon IG? lo what extend does the Meta-model need the Deep and Surface Structure format?

Interestingly enough, the Meta-model actually does not depend on the TG model at all. Bandler and Grinder certainly did bring over much of the terminology of the Meta-model from TG (mod a Is, universals, nominalizalions, transderivational search, etc.—all come from linguistics). They also brought over the general two-level model of Deep and Surface Structure. Yet no subsequent author in NI.P ever repeated the TG Appendix in The Structure Of Magic. This actually indicates how little NLP depends on TG.

The NLP Meta-model needs only a concept about "levels of abstraction" as postulated by Korzybski (1933/1994) in order to operate. Korzybski constructed his levels of abstraction from his studies of human neurology. His levels refer to the fact that the nervous system abstracts first at the sense-receptor level as it transforms the energy manifestations of the world and codes them into various neurological processes. Yet the nervous system does not stop there. It abstracts again from the cell activation at the end receptors and transmutes that "information" into bio-electric impulses which it sends to the central nervous center (the brain). Next it abstracts from those neurological processes and translates the impulses using various neuro-transmitter chemicals.

The Meta-model assumes such abstraction levels—that surface expressions differ from deeper or prior expressions by the abstracting processes. In this way, the Meta-model actually never had a marriage with TG—only an affair! In that fling, it only appropriated the language of linguistics.

Today in Cognitive Linguistics we see many new developments that 1 find much more fitting for the NLP model of representation, logical levels, frames and contexts. Langacker's (1991) work, Image, Metaphor, and Concept speaks ¿ibout three central processes of mental representation.

Hypnosis Plain and Simple

Hypnosis Plain and Simple

These techniques will work for stage hypnosis or hypnotherapy, however, they are taught here for information purposes only. After reading this book you will have the knowledge and ability necessary to hypnotise people, but please do not practice hypnosis without first undergoing more intensive study.

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