The Dark Side of NLP
This website wouldn't be complete without a look at the dark side of
NLP. Oh yes, in the same way that a pickup truck can be used to carry
food, or bombs, NLP is a toolkit that can be used nicely - or not.
The following is a list of the ways NLP can be used badly, the
shortfalls, and everything else negative about NLP of which your editor
is aware. After you read this page, you can consider yourself
well-informed and make your own decisions. In my opinion, when NLP is
used by well-meaning people, beautiful things can happen which make the
world a better place, and that outweighs this stuff here.
* NLP can be used by salespeople who have only one goal - to
sell their product to unsuspecting citizens. (On the other hand, when
used by scrupulous salespeople, NLP can enhance the communication so the
customer gets exactly what is wanted, and both parties win.)
* NLP is not a sufficient toolkit for people who have serious mental
illness. Too often, NLP practitioners start to think of themselves as
psychologists or even psychiatrists, and take on everything - with
* Regression may be dangerous,
especially if attempted by an inexperienced programmer. Imagine
getting a subject who has no conscious memory of incest at an early age.
The programmer helps the subject remember that, but cannot guide the
subject gracefully through the adjustment necessary to accommodate the
new-found memory. I have never heard of this happening, but imagine it
could be a possibility. Along the same lines, there is a concept called
"faux memories," in which the
subject 'remembers' things that never actually happened, which can
potentially damage family relations.
* NLP does not require a license or even
certification. In America
and many other countries, anyone can
legally call themselves an NLP practitioner, even if all they did was
read "NLP for Dummies." Of course, I don't think I'd actually want
licensing. NLP is too wide a range of techniques, and too subject to
individual interpretation to standardize. It also infringes on a basic
freedom, imposing testing and paperwork. You may or may not agree with
me, but I think you can see the potential for problems with total lack
of regulation. If you haven't seen the movie Mumford, check it out
- I think you'll enjoy it. It's about a mental health practitioner of
some sort... well, I won't tell you the story.
* A programmer who doesn't really have the spirit of NLP could make
things worse instead of better. Some people might forget to honor the
present state, the subject, the
subject's parents, and so on, resulting in
all sorts of small damage to relationships.
* There is a minor stigma on NLP. Occasionally you'll run into people
who don't want to have anything to do with NLP, having memories or
having heard stories of an NLP session that went badly, or a
practitioner with evil intentions.
* The "programming" part of the term Neuro-linguistic
programming sounds like a dangerous cult thing to some people.
* Not all sessions are super-successful. Sometimes subjects may feel
they didn't get their money's worth, or the programmer may feel
* NLP is often critiqued for not being original. Although there have
been many original additions, NLP started out as a compilation of what works
from the various field of psychology and personal development. Isn't it
interesting that that's a critique?