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NLP Representation and Eye Movement – Maybe a VAK-uous Observation

Posted on the 07 November 2011 by Combi31 @combi31

It appears in every book, manual or video about NLP and yet there is conclusive evidence to point to the fact that eye-movement and the link with an individuals internal representation system may be tenuous at best.NLP announces itself to the world as the ‘user manual for the brain’, however it appears that one of the greatest theories about how an individual moves their eyes in response to certain types of sensory concepts has been shown not just to be inaccurate, but completely false.VAKUnder the NLP scheme, when people look in a certain direction they are either accessing or creating memories or thoughts that have their basis in one of the core ‘modalities’. These are Visual (for mental pictures), Auditory (for sounds and speech) and Kinesthetic (for touch or feeling), with the Visual being up, Auditory in the middle, and Kinesthetic being down.Now these are generally how people react (so says NLP) and you can tell what people are thinking by watching their eye-movements, so you can spot them making up stories, telling themselves things and so on.Recent research now shows that this just isn’t true. There is no universal eye-movement pattern, and it varies from person-to-person, and (quite importantly) varies in a person depending upon the context.So, if this is wrong, how come the NLP fraternity stick by it, and why, when people go on an NLP training course do they come away with the distinct belief that this is an accurate representation of the world.Belief isn’t FactNLP is based upon belief, if you believe it, then it must be true (for you), and when people go to an NLP training session, they go in with a closed mind-set (I know that NLP zealots across the globe will be sharpening their axes, but bear with me on this). People who attend NLP training sessions go to learn NLP, they don’t go to question the validity of NLP, because they have this mental attitude, anything they are told by the trainer is extremely persuasive.If the trainer at an NLP course says ‘people look in a certain direction when they are making picture’, then 95% of the people in the room will take that as a command, and will follow orders. And, yes, unsurprisingly when it comes to the exercise, guess what happens. The eyes move as the participants have been told.I actually came across this on a training course I was attending as an observer of training style. The trainer had got his signals crossed (literally) and was telling everyone on the course that the representations were the other way around (he had swapped over left and right), and sure enough the audience all found that he was right. But shouldn’t he have been wrong?And so we come to the problem of eye-movements. What the mind believes to be the truth, the body will make the truth. So, a ‘truth’ constantly repeated, and believed by everyone becomes the truth, even if it is wrong.The upshot is this. A few weeks after going on the course, people start trying their new found eye-movement detection skills, only to find that they don’t work, the answer is simple they weren’t observant enough, so they try again, and again, and again, until they find a match…hoorah it works, and so the myth gets perpetuated.Does It Really Work?So what is the answer, and do eye-movement patterns really work?Yes, eye-patterns are useful, and they do work. What doesn’t is the gross generalisation that the NLP fraternity has applied to the subject. People will use eye-movement to create and remember across the different modalities, however where they look is dependent upon the individual and the context.The result…to use eye patterns properly, you will need to re-calibrate with every individual and in every context. In this case there really is no one-size fits all.As to the eye-movement patterns, where did they first come from? I’ve heard more than one trainer (and one of the originators of NLP too) state that you only have to look at cartoons to see that the idea of eye-movements have been around for a long time.However, I personally would be a little concerned if we based our view of the world on cartoon physics. An anvil on the head kills; you can’t buy person-sized catapults from ACME Inc; and eyes don’t pop out of the head when one is surprised. If none of those are true, why should eye-movements be given any credence, maybe they shouldn’t, only more research will tell. In the meantime beware of generalisations.The eye-movement theory is a fundamental part of NLP, and yet it appears flawed. How much of the rest of NLP is truth and how much hype is yet to be seen. The key is not to believe everything that you are told on a training program, and remember an open-mind is a questioning mind, not a suggestible one.Author: Lee S. AveryArticle Source: EzineArticles.comProvided by: Beading Necklace

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