Neuro Linguistic Programming


see,  hear,  feel,  moving toward pleasure,  moving away from pain,  framing

Thom Hartmann program, 05 January 2005

... And also in our second hour, second half of our second hour, tools for activism, our NLP class, how Dukakis became Willie Horton. And we're actually going to demonstrate that on the air. Not that specific, but that, the principle - how it works. Thus our quotes for the day. A couple of them. Why, you know, why do we have to have just one? Hermann Hesse, "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." This, by the way, attributed to Hermann Hesse, also long-standing, Freud called it 'projection'. Jonathan Swift, "We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another". I think that's a sweet one. And Faith Resnick, our final quote for the day, "People who hate cats will come back as mice in their next life." ...


... song: "Breakiní rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law and the law won, I fought the law and the law won" And welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. "I needed the money ícause I had none" See, it's all about framing, the stuff we've been talking about in our tools for activism course, our NLP course, which we're going to get into right after the bottom of the hour here, we're going to talk about how George Herbert Walker Bush turned Michael Dukakis into Willie Horton. But this fellow that we just had on with the AFA, he kept trying to frame the argument about the first amendment when its really about, in my opinion, his organization out there trying to stifle the civil rights of gay Americans. Period. That's it. Bottom line. In my opinion. And he would say, "No, no, there, first amendment, first amendment." Yeah, bring it back, bring it back. Twenty five minutes past the hour...


... And welcome back, my friends, 27 minutes past the hour, Thom Hartmann here with you. In our, this is our regular Tuesday afternoon, although held today on Wednesday, tools for activism course, using the tools of NLP, neurolinguistic programming, and others as well.

And what I want to talk about today is the way that we store information in our brain and how politicians are becoming very successful at using this. Now marketers, advertising in general, have known about this for some time and you will find this in advertising. But in politics it's been used in a very, very extraordinary and in many cases, in my opinion, insidious way. I saw this exact same thing happening in the Republican ads this year. The Willie Horton ads are probably more well remembered, but I saw the same thing in the Republican ads this year where they would show John Kerry in 'pointilated', is one of the words for where, the photo seemed kind of faded and dotted out whenever the Republicans showed a photo of John Kerry. And then they would show, you know, Bush and everything in full color and good production values, and all that kind of thing. This is a more simple example of it.

It was interesting, I didn't so much see this, in fact I don't recall any example of it, and I don't think this is my own personal filter, because I was expecting it, out of the Democratic ads. But, you know, so, do we call that Democratic incompetence or Democratic unwillingness to go into an area that shouldn't be gone in, I don't know, I don't know.

Well, but in any case here, this is how it works. The word for this, by the way, for those of you who are NLP nuts, is submodalities, but I'm not going to use that again because I don't want to get into techie speak here. Here's the bottom line. The way that we store information in our brain, the way that the mind knows to store something, is because there is an emotion associated with it. And we've talked about this in the past. How the stronger the emotion, the stronger the storage. And, you know, using motivation systems and things, if you can work up a strong emotion around moving toward pleasure, or even a moving away from pain motivation strategy, that that strong emotion will be a strong and powerful anchor that will keep that thought or that idea, or that ideal, or that vision or that story, whatever ever it may be, that it will hold it in place and keep it there.

On the other hand we sort, the brain, the way that the mind sorts information is not by emotion, but by sound and pictures. And here's how it works. This is the fascinating thing. Fascinating thing that they discovered back in the 60s and 70s when they were putting together this whole NLP thing. That if you ask somebody to describe an experience that they had that was say a minor annoyance, you know, like getting cut off in traffic. They may, now everybody does it differently, everybody has a different way of storing things, but they may for example say, when you ask them, well 'where's the picture of that?' they may say, 'Well, it's over there' and they'll point to an area that's, say, ten feet away in front of them. And you say, 'Is it color or black and white?', and they'll say, 'Well, it's black, it's color', let's say. And, 'Does it have a frame around it?'. 'Yes'. 'Do you hear sound?' 'No.' Whatever. It could be either one of all these things. But if you get all of the different variables that make up that picture.

So let's say, for example, that this is a color picture that's 7 feet away that's about 3 feet in diameter, that has a frame around it, there's no sound associated with it, they don't see themselves in it, all of these things the various dimensions of it, of this picture. And then you ask them to remember another time when they felt a very similar emotion, but another completely different event, and ask them, where, you know, what that, about that. You'll discover that it's a similar picture. I mean it's a completely different event but it's in the same, roughly the same distance, and the same, it's held in the same way. Whereas if you ask them about a picture of when they felt great joy, or even a negative emotion - great shame or great sorrow, or something like that, it would be different. It'll be larger, it'll be in color or in black and white instead of color, whatever, it will be somehow different. This reveals the sorting or storage system of the brain. The way that in our minds we sort and store information.

Now, if you can get access to a person's sorting system, you can change the meaning of events in their mind. Very powerful statement. And I'm telling you, everybody in Madison Avenue understands this and the Republicans have been using this for a long time very successfully, starting with the George Herbert Walker Bush campaign. And what they did with that campaign was they had these ads with Willie Horton and they put him, they put out pictures of him in a particular way, you know, black and white, with a particular type of music behind them and particular production values, the motion slowed down a little bit, all that kind of stuff. And they anchored that, in other words people saw that enough times that they just had this awful feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they saw this murderer-rapist on TV. And then, once they'd done that, they started showing Michael Dukakis in what seemed, you know, in seemingly issue ads, more innocuous ads, but using that same submodality set, that same set of the same video qualities, the same kind of music qualities. And so what it did was it brought up that same emotion. And morphed in people's minds over time Michael Dukakis into Willie Horton and/or vice versa, as the case may be.

So, we store emotion, we store memories by emotion, but we use sound and pictures as our filing system. Now there's also, there's a way that you can use this personally in your life, and that it's used in therapy, and, that really illustrates this. And for this, I've asked Glen in our chat room to come on the line with us. Glen's in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hey Glen! "Hi, Thom." And the reason I asked Glen is 'cause Glen has actually been in a workshop where I taught this stuff in, where was it, Saint Louis, was that, last workshop we did on this? "Yeah, I think Saint Louis, and Chicago Abussi, what was, the one in Virginia, Norfolk?" There you go, Norfolk, yeah. And the reason why is 'cause Glen is a coach for people with ADHD and CoachGlen is his handle in the chat room and you use this kind of stuff in your work and that's what I was teaching, but I asked if you'd be a guinea pig, and you volunteered, I'm assuming that you're, this is still a voluntary phone call? "Yes." OK. Great, just had to have that on the record. What I, and one of the neat things about this kind of stuff, by the way, is that you don't need to get it, we don't need to know the details although in this case, just to make the, just to illustrate it, I'm going to ask you to share some of the details with us, Glen, if that's OK. "OK."

What I'd like you to do is think of a time, without telling us the details yet, think of a time in the recent past that was a minor negative emotion, a minor annoyance or, you know, upset, or something, not a big deal, just something. And something that you'd just as soon not feel bad about any more, but that right at the moment you have kind of a negative feeling around. "OK." OK, and is it one that ultimately when we're all done with this exercise you are willing to share with us? 'Cause if you're not, that's fine and we just, I just won't ask you to share it with us. "Can this be... now, explain again the type of event you want me to remember." OK, well I'm trying to respect your privacy here. "OK, just the type. Something that I wanted to happen that didn't happen, or a mistake, or an accident that happened?" Anything like that, anything that's, you know, a minor negative emotion.

What we're going to do is we're going to turn a negative emotion into a neutral emotion, basically. "OK, right, I've seen you do this." So you've got a, yeah, yeah, so you've got an event, right? "Yes" And, now when you, when you look at the picture of that event, is it color or black and white? "Color." And how far away from you is it? "6, 7 feet." OK. Is there sound associated with it? "No, not yet." OK. Is it a movie or is it a still picture? "It's a movie." OK. And, do you see yourself in it, or do you see it as if you were there? "As if I was there. Well, it's like I'm looking at a scene in front of me of, in a restaurant." Of the event, OK. "Yeah." All right. So, and you don't see Glen in it, you're looking through the eyes of Glen, as when you were there. "Yeah." OK. "I'm not seeing 2 people there, just, I mean I'm just looking out from as if it, I didn't exist, from behind my eyes." OK, and what word would you use to describe the emotion that this event evokes for you? "Regret."

OK, fine. Now, I'd like you to take that regret movie, and first of all push it a little further away from you in your mind. And now I want you to turn it black and white and just let me know when you've done that. "OK." All right, now first of all, do you notice any change in how you feel about it so far? "Well, it immediately seemed much more in the past." Interesting, yeah, 'cause this is a very common thing, by the way. OK, great. Now what I would like you to do is, I would like you to see yourself in that picture, so you're disassociating yourself from it. You're seeing it as if it's a movie that you made and you're in that movie, so you see yourself in the picture. "Right."

And I want you to fast forward it all the way to the end and freeze frame it at the very end. "OK." You know, the resolution, as it were, and now in just a moment I'm going to ask you to play this movie backwards in your head, only this time, before you do this, I want you to paint rainbow colors over the movie and I want you to draw, I want you to take the ears of all the other people involved and pull them out and make them into donkey ears, you know, like in Pinocchio? "Uh huh." And I want you to come up with the silliest music you can think of, whatever for you is funny, silly music. For some people it's circus music, for some people it's oompah oompah music, you know, whatever it may be, the silliest, funniest music you can think of. And as you run this movie backwards, in just a moment, you're going to hear that music, you're going to see the movie running backwards with these funny colors through it and all these people with these donkey ears, and everybody, of course, is going to be talking backwards, you know, they're going to be going [wordless Donald Duck impression] like Donald Duck, the way people do when movies run backwards and they'll be moving backwards like, you know, in a bad Charlie Chaplin movie. Ready? "Yeah. One question." Sure. "Am I to impose the rainbow colors over the black and white image, or?" Yep. Yep. "OK. " Yep. "All right." Got it? OK, now run it backwards in your mind right now, from the end all the way back to the beginning and then stop it at the beginning. Shooooop! Got it? "Yes." OK, cool.

How do you feel about it now? "Well, it wasn't that big a deal. " But I thought, I thought it was. "Well, well I, yeah, I re-, yes, I..." Have your feelings around it changed? "Yeah, I, it's, it's, I'm, I was, I think I was putting, I feel like I was putting too much importance on it." Ah hah! "On one aspect of it." That's great.

See now, what you have just revealed is, is, now this is the therapeutic context of it, but, you know, you can see how powerful this is. You can see how it can be used in politics. What you've just revealed Glen is the extraordinary thing about this is that we all have this place in our mind where we, another storage space, you know, we have some that are called "regret", and some that are called "joy", and some that are called "sorrow". We also have a storage place, and it's a fairly large one, and it's one of the most useful ones, and it's called, "Gee, I learned from that". You know, it would have been better if it hadn't happened, or maybe not. Maybe it's a good thing that it happened because I learned from it. And it's over. It's in the past." And it sounds like you just moved that memory out of the "regret" storage place and into the "Gee, I learned from that" storage place, or whatever you would call it. Is that accurate, or am I, am I ... "That's fairly accurate, yeah. It's, thinking about it a little differently." That's, you see, and that's exactly what you hear from people. That's, they will say, "I'm thinking about this differently, it looks differently to me."

You can collapse all of the pictures, all of the frames of the movie down now into a single, into a single picture and push it far away, you know, as far away as you feel is appropriate. And put it wherever you feel is appropriate or just leave it how it is. "Right." But now you have control over it, right. You can decide, and see, the neat thing is that once a, once an event, an emotion, a memory, moves from an intense feeling like regret, or embarrassment, or shame or whatever, you know, once it moves from that into "Gee, I learned from that" it will stay in "Gee, I learned from that" because that's a useful place. Your brain, your mind just knows, that's the useful place for it.

And, and what'll happen is, you'll start extracting lessons from it. You'll actually start, you know, over the next few hours, probably a couple of things will pop into your mind about, about actual lessons that you learned from that event that you can apply in your life. In fact, it's possible one has already popped into your mind. "I was just going to say I'm already thinking of one." There you go, OK. So, you're, great example of that. You, do you want to share any of the details of this event with us Glen, or? "Sure. I didn't pick any terribly horrible thing. My wife just had her birthday on the first of January and I regretted that I, my present to her was just taking her out to brunch, and so I just, the thing I learned from it is, next year if I just plan a little better, I can probably come up with something better than that." There you go. OK, good. And you can feel OK about that and you can apologize to her, and she can, if that's necessary. "Well, that's what she asked for, for her birthday," Yes. "but I felt it was " Ah. "sort of because I just couldn't come up with any ideas." Oh, interesting. So, actually, it was the right thing in any case. "Yeah." Well, that's great.

Glen, thanks so much for being our guinea pig today. "You bet!" And for calling in, I do appreciate it. "OK." Have a good one. "Right." This is an example, and thanks so much to Glen for this, I mean, that was so generous of Glen to share his moment out of his life with us and allow us to show how this works.

And what it demonstrates is how powerful, how incredibly powerful, this whole storage system is, that, you know, in our brain, that where we relate emotions to events, just the whole idea of relating emotions to events, and that the way that we, way that we connect those emotions has to do with these, these so-called submodalities, that is, whether its black and white or whether its color, whether there's sound associated, whether people have donkey ears on or not, all those sorts of things. And the power of doing this in politics is extraordinary, and you will start noticing now how, when Bush wants to make a particular point, he will use a word over and over and over again with a particular tonality, and particularly in the advertising. Over and over and over again, and boom until pretty soon its anchored. Ten minutes before the hour...


... President Bush: "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier. Just so long as I'm the dictator." Song: "You gave 'em the old 'stay the course, I'm your man, while he'll flip-flop yer.' He has no strength to lead, yes this you feared while soldiers jobs and surplus disappeared. Gave 'em the old w double-speak, yes with folks swindled them. No-one could hear the truth above the roar." Ah, yes. "And though your debating was a stinker, they bought it all hook, line and sinker. You razzle-dazzled them and they gave yer four more." Now, if you saw the movie, "Chicago", that's an anchor. There's an auditory anchor for you. ...

Transcription Queries

Chicago Abussi? ( 101:00 )

Or am I, am I what-ing? ( 107:30 )

yes with folks swindled them? ( 116:00 )

© 2005. Copyright Thom Hartmann.