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Review: Michael Hall and the History of NLP

Michael Hall is a well-known trainer of NLP and the founder of neurosemantics. I have not met or trained with Michael, but recently I have been reading or re-reading some of his books which include:

  • Mind-lines: Lines For Changing Minds
  • The Spirit of NLP
  • Users Manual of the Brain (Volumes I and II)
  • Figuring Out People
  • Communication Magic
  • Winning the Inner Ga,e

Over the next few months, I hope to get around to posting reviews of some of these books.
Michael Hall also writes about the history of NLP in a very informative manner. Although his viewpoints are quite strong and critical in places and they may be questioned by some people within the field, NLP values multiple perspectives, so I would recommend reading his history of NLP articles if you are interested finding out more about where NLP came from or why it seems such an unintegrated field today.
Along with Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier and some other trainers, Michael Hall seems to be one of the most effective writers in drawing the field of NLP back together and setting it on a more solid research footing. However, he has set up what can be viewed as a repackaging of NLP under the name Neuro-Semantics.
To be fair, his use of the term, Neuro-Semantics seems to come from Korzybski’s writing in which the terms neuro-linguistic and neuro-semantic were used. Korzybski’s field of General Semantics is also still a relatively strong movement and Hall’s tying of the two areas together may be ultimately useful for NLP. His focus on carrying out research-backed work is also very admirable. Since Hall writes about history, it will be interesting to keep reading his work and remember the old adage:

Those who do not study history are destined to repeat its mistakes.

That is not to say that those like Michael Hall who study history won’t repeat its mistakes and produce further divisions and splits. There is even the potential criticism that the writing of a history is a very political act in itself.¬† Was it Winston Churchill who said:

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

What the field of NLP could certainly benefit from is less of what Hall cleverly called The War of the Magicians. Instead, NLP could move towards becoming a more unified field that supports solid research into its techniques and yet retain the flexibility that continues to encourage the attitude of curiosity that is at the heart of NLP.

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©Copyright 2010 by Dr. Brian Cullen

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