Blog Reviews

Review: Conversations with Richard Bandler

Conversations with Richard Bandler
by Richard Bandler and Owen Fitzpatrick
The title of this book might be considered to be slightly misleading, or perhaps it was just my own expectations of the entire book being transcripts of conversations with Bandler. The back cover does describe the content of the book more accurately: “Conversations with Richard Bandler recounts Owen Fitzpatrick’s journey to discover the true nature of personal freedom and what is possible for the human spirit.” While the book does feature short extracts of conversations with Bandler on many topics, the majority of the book is written by Owen Fitzpatrick as a contextualization of Bandler’s ideas in terms of his own life.
This personal journey covers many different aspects of Fitzpatrick’s life and he does a good job of showing how Bandler’s NLP techniques have helped him immensely in taking control of his own feelings, working with his own clients, financial success, relationships, and spirituality. The personalized content took a while for me to get into, but by the end of the book I generally appreciated his anecdotes and descriptions of how NLP had helped him to achieve his goals.
The front cover of the book also gives the subtitle: “Two NLP Masters Reveal the Secrets to Successful Living”, and it is clear that Fitzpatrick (or perhaps his publisher) is using his association with Bandler to boost his own status in the NLP world. While I didn’t enjoy all of Fitzpatrick’s long clarifications and reiterations of Bandler’s ideas, it is evident from the book that he has a very strong mastery of the concepts of NLP and has successfully modelled Bandler’s methods of change-work and training. According to the book, Fitzpatrick became the youngest master trainer of NLP in the world at the age of 23 and if he can find his own voice a little more clearly, he is likely to go far beyond Bandler’s ideas and to bring positive change to a huge number of people.
Fitzpatrick frames the book using the metaphor of “chains of the free.” At the beginning of the book, he tells a story of a group of people who were “constantly criticized about what they did …. made to feel horrible each time they made a mistake …. victimized and given so many conflicting messages that they became insecure and unsure of who they were and what they could do.” After further description of these horrible living conditions, he reveals that the group of people are the human race and that their captors are their own minds. It is a powerful metaphor and one that will resound with anyone who has had a critical voice in their own head at some time telling them that something is impossible or wrong, i.e., every one of us. This metaphor underlies the whole book and all the techniques in the book are presented as increasing our personal freedom, taking responsibility for our own freedom, and giving us tools to achieve that freedom. Readers who follow the exercises will certainly achieve much in this direction.
In terms of NLP techniques, there is little new presented in this book for people who are familiar with Bandler’s work, but it is an extremely valuable contribution for NLPers who wish to understand Bandler’s way of thinking and his underlying presuppositions more deeply. For people who are unfamiliar with NLP, the techniques presented can probably best be supplemented by reading another of Bandler’s books such as Using Your Brain for a Change. I wish that the book had featured longer extracts from Bandler’s side of the conversation, but Fitzpatrick has had close access to Bandler for many years and his close modelling of his mentor does certainly allow him to act as a reasonable proxy. One minor criticism of the formatting of the book is that it is not immediately clear when the ‘conversation’ has finished and where Fitzpatrick takes over in commentary. This may have been a publisher decision, but I felt that clearer formatting would have been helpful to separate the conversations from the commentary. Overall, however this book provides a much closer look into the thinking of Bandler than has been available to date.
This book was published in 2005, and since then Fitzpatrick has continued his close collaboration with Bandler, editing some of his talks into books.

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