Social Panoramas

Changing the unconscious landscape with NLP and psychotherapy

By: Lucas Derks


Products specifications
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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 408
ISBN : 9781904424031
Format: Paperback
Published: January 2005
  • Why am I unhappy with my social life?
  • How can I improve my relationships?
  • Why do I feel bullied and intimidated?

The answers to all these questions are to be found in your social panorama. Social Panoramas reveals the unconscious landscape of images and people that surrounds each of us. It helps us to sense the location of significant others within our mental space, teaches us to reshape our inner worlds and guides us towards the successful recreation of our perspectives on others and ourselves. By reading this book, your unique social panorama will become clear to you, leading to more confidence, greater self-esteem and dramatic improvements in your relationships with others. Social Panoramas offers coaches, therapists and counsellors a wide range of new tools and methods to solve clients’ relationship issues with a simplicity and precision previously unknown.

Picture for author Lucas Derks

Lucas Derks

Lucas Derks has worked as a psychotherapist and coach for twenty years, focusing on social cognition and relational issues.


  1. I -˜ll be honest, I found this a difficult book to get into. Perhaps the 361 pages of text was daunting and perhaps I did what the author, Lucas Derks, has discussed in the book “I perceived the topic was larger and more heavy going than I had hoped for and so my perception was slanted to it being “too big therefore too hard.”

    Just as well I persevered as I carried out some of the techniques the author provided and found the topic to be fascinating and well worth reading about. In fact, it has influenced the work I do with clients already.

    This book is about spatial perception. How we perceive self, individuals, family, groups, religion/spirituality and authority figures in relation to our position in the world. One -˜s social panorama.

    A recent client, when asked what he valued, totally disregarded “selfand when this was drawn to his attention, his right hand went down and behind him as he located where “selfwas in his “map -˜. I -˜ve asked him to move “selfup to where he had strong warm feelings about “familyand I -˜ll be interested to know if he becomes more caring of himself as a result of this perceptual shift.

    Many therapeutic interventions for increasing the self-confidence are indirectly aimed at increasing the intensity of the “feeling of self -˜. In this way therapists can quickly learn the non-verbal distinguishers of a weak “kinaesthetic selffrom a strong one. Popularly put, a strong “feeling of selfis accompanied by an increase in personal magnetism and presence.”

    “It is prudent, when carrying out interventions in the unconscious social cognition, to take into account the superior intelligence of the cognitive subconscious. Because of this great intelligence it is not necessary to induce a trance specifically in order to communicate with it (Lankton and Lankton,1983)”...just close your eyes-¦' is usually enough.”

    “Assume that every suggestion that the client has understood has already been followed and has been translated into changed constructions of meaning. In short, the social unconscious can deal much faster with much more information than the therapist may expect, and it acts on it at once.”

    This is hypnosis, this is counselling, this is psychotherapy, this is NLP. What a lovely mixed bag of techniques and concepts to draw on.

    Problems that a client may have such as submissiveness, a negative self-image, when someone needs more empowerment in a situation, neutralising feelings of hatred and diagnosing problematic family relationships are covered with techniques provided by the author that the client can be guided through.

    When looking at family patterns, the author looks at three different categories “Universal, Collective and Personal family panorama patterns. He gives examples that illustrate this concept.

    All in all, there is a lot in here both for the reader and the client. Creating an adjustment of one -˜s social panorama and one -˜s relative position in that panorama can create a whole new configuration and therefore a whole new way of being, affecting our thinking and our behavior. Not a book to be skimmed through, rather one to be savoured and digested.
  2. What is a social panorama and how can this book assist therapists to assist their clients?

    Social Panoramas are the way we relate to people and how they relate to you, they are built from the inside and are basically the filters we use to decide where, in our internal hierarchy, people fit in. For example, do you “grade' a doctor as higher than a medical student ” would you accept the diagnosis from the med student as trustingly as from the doctor? In your internal hierarchy, is a famous world acclaimed therapist better than “Joe Bloggs' therapist? This book explores this and more”

    It also encompasses beliefs, emotions, social forces and interactions ” where and how we put these situations, as well as people, in our mind. It clearly explains and details (with the use of exercises) how our internal processes affect our external lives. And it helps the therapist to discover new ways to “unstuck” clients and move them forward.

    Lucas Derks book is entertaining, fascinating and thought provoking. Full of practical techniques, exercises and insights, with some great visual graphics, it is a must read.

  3. In the property market there are three keywords that count for success: location-location-location

    'Being is Location"

    In his book entitled Social Panoramas the author centres his therapy for resolving problems in human relationships around the 'location' we have created in our mental space for the images we form of self, others, groups of people, non-human social entities and invented personifications. These images are usually categorised in concentric circles. Based on distance, direction and position of images, location will equal relationship e.g. the closer the image in our mental space the more intimate the relationship. These images are formed through unconscious thought processes. Lukas Derks maintains that from childbirth, or even before, we begin to lay the foundation for thought through bodily experience. We, generally subconsciously, build up thought patterns through our experiences involving all our senses, thus laying the foundation for a map of our very individual reality of our social world. The prototype for these social constructions is the self-concept or self-personification that becomes the 'model' of how we see others. However, sometimes some factors are missing in our neural activity of gathering the building blocks for creating our social landscape. Consequently, problems may arise in relationships and social interaction. Through introspection and exploring the descriptions of the inner models of their social reality therapists can bring about effective intervention in dealing with clients' interpersonal problems. In his book, or rather manual, Derks has described no less than 61 techniques for intervention. He maintains that, over a 10-year period of using Social Panoramas techniques, he and some colleagues have successfully impacted hundreds of human relationships in a shorter therapy time than usual and with lasting results.

    These success stories make awesome reading.

    In his book, set out in eight chapters, Derks has well documented and thoroughly researched social and cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics and existing psychotherapy intervention techniques to justify his robust 'thesis' on the Social Panoramas model. He has also described various case studies. As a result, this manual, with a vast amount of background information and so many application techniques clearly and logically described, will be a great asset in the hands of therapists, counsellors and those who want to work on personal, professional and social development.

    The 'Dutchness' of the author comes across in his strong first person singular style, his example of a child's emotions connected with St Nicholas (Dutch equivalent of Father Christmas) and some illustrations with Dutch text. Derk's illustrations are powerful and humorous. They very vividly encapsulate the context on the one hand and enhance it on the other. This book, which is extremely readable and offers so many new and simple tools to help solve relationship problems, is a 'must-have' for any one involved in inter- and intrapersonal therapy.
  4. At last, the long-awaited publication - and wow - I cannot put the book down, it makes so much sense, and the implications are profound for the therapeutic community - it will indeed be rare for a client to need several sessions now :-)

    While the work bridges NLP and social psychology magnificently, it also provides a strong stepping stone from NLP to RAPSI and it explains theoretically my own 1-minute phobia cure, and gives me a whole new range of innovations to make change easy, fast and far less painful for clients.

    One challenge - Lucas asserts you can never remove a personification once created - actually, there is a technology for this (in addition to the wonderful ways presented as to how one can relocate and otherwise change them.)

    Lots of love to Lucas for a magnificent contribution to the eternal hall of knowledge.
  5. A brand new construction of the form and function of the unconscious landscape, one that is not only conceptually intriguing, but so much more importantly, one that directly invites us to reorganise our psychological furniture. The premises upon which Lucas Derks bases his blueprint for lasting personal change is plausible and simple but never simplistic. The same can be said of the plethora of practical exercises that prescribe the means we can easily use to identify any changes that are desirable and make them.

    Building on his backgrounds in NLP and psychotherapy Derks has discovered a less elusive and precarious bridge between the conscious and the unconscious processes of the mind.

    A postmodern mix of existentialism and solipsism reconciling the basic premise of the self as the centre of the social sphere (or Panorama) with the unfortunate necessity of having to deal with “others”. Whether this model is used to dissect the facets of the self or the facets of the self we project outwards in order to construct what we should sneeringly call reality, the results are always the same, a confirmation of our eventual responsibility and the liberation it brings in its wake ” Freedom. To understand one's position in the social sphere is to “find one's self”, but the ability to define your “location” is the holy grail of the human condition, namely the creation of the self!
  6. The Panoramic Mind Modeling Your Social World

    Defining NLP as “the study of the structure of subjective experience', presupposes that people somehow organise their experiences and end up with a “model of the world'. Bandler & Grinder (1975: 13) say that:

    ” when people come to us in therapy, they typically come with pain, feeling themselves paralyzed, experiencing no choices or freedom of action in their lives. ” these people block themselves from seeing those options and possibilities that are open to them since they are not available in their models of their world.

    The aim of therapy is to expand such limited models of the world in ways that help people get what they want.

    I have long been curious about how “models of the world' are created, how they are organised, and how universally true they are. The term “model of the world' is a useful shorthand, but finding a general definition is not easy. NLP books rarely define the term. So observe how your mind constructs your model of the world. I'll do this for a moment:

    When I shut my eyes it's dark, like a room with the curtains drawn. Oh. My inner world has just become a darkened room, thick velvet curtains. If I pull them back to let some light in ” Well, now I've created a particular window frame, and with lace curtains either side. The windows need cleaning “.

    “What's it like in there?” I can only think in term of metaphors. As soon as I think, “the mind is like a room”, it becomes a room. Think, “filing cabinet' and sure enough my mind is a filing cabinet, full of memories stored in manilla folders ” As soon as I think of mind as the vastness of outer space, I am surrounded by darkness and points of light.

    Was it like that for you? Did you find that you have this amazing ability to see the room, the window, the filing cabinet ...? But it happens too quickly; there is no way we can know how this happens. Mind is incredibly accommodating and flexible. In attempting to describe mind, it instantly becomes whatever you think it might be ” it fulfils the expectations of your words. When asked, “what's it like in there?' anything will do. As soon as someone else starts telling you about their reality, you create your version of that. But then it seems real, that it has always been like that, even though you just made it up! Mind is open, and in terms of what it is and how it does things, mind is unknowable. We can only talk in metaphors. And although some mental environments acquire a sense of continuity ” a landscape, a library, outer space ” the specific instances continually change.

    So instead of thinking that a model of the world has to be a particular way, just let it be whatever you want. You find out if your model -of the world serves you when you play with it, in the same way you would play with toys or computer games. This is how you discover their potential.

    Actually, you have been acquiring models all your life. If you have studied NLP or another discipline, you will have absorbed many models of reality which other people have found useful for bringing about change. You may have enjoyed exploring “time-lines' or “perceptual positions'. Each model offers possibilities; none are the “truth'. However, should you find people claiming that they are describing the essence of mind, remember it is just a model they have made up. Acknowledge their enthusiasm, remember that “truth' is forever evolving, and choose to be curious, to go exploring, as every new model may offer great wisdom and understanding.

    Models of Relationships

    The history of psychology contains numerous ways of modeling human relationships. In the 1930s, Jacob Moreno invented the “sociogram' as a way of mapping how people interact and communicate within groups. The group was represented spatially as a diagram in which the various members were connected by lines (single and double-headed arrows) that showed who was connected to whom, and how they communicated (one-way or reciprocated). Other kinds of organisation charts or networks show strength of connection by the thickness of the lines.

    Similar kinds of maps have been created by family therapists, given the importance of understanding “networks' and “systems' of relationships. Virginia Satir (1972: 141"169) would literally connect people with rope or string. In the 1970s, in a forerunner of “reality TV', BBC2 ran a series of programmes called All in the Mind, showing group process in action. In the accompanying book, Gaie Houston (1976: 120) says:

    ” the idea was for someone to volunteer to place all the group the way he or she “saw' them at the moment ” who was near whom, who was out of things, and so on. The jargon word for this exercise is “sculpting'.

    Individuals could map their understanding of the group by arranging the other members of the group in space around them in ways which felt “comfortable.'

    Over the last 40 years, Tony Buzan (see ReSource issues #1 and #2, plus book reference and Figure 2: Mind-map) has been using his Mind-Mapping technique for relating any concepts and ideas, including people. In Understanding NLP (Young, 2004: Chapter 12), I describe the Meta-Mirror technique for changing someone's perception of the other person within a problematic relationship. By shifting their point of view, you change someone's behaviour.

    Social PanoramasLucas Derks, in his new book, summarises the work he has been carrying out over the last decade in his therapeutic practice in Holland using his “social panoramas' model of reality. This builds on the earlier models, adding further refinements to the descriptions of ways in which people represent relationships. From his list of nine factors important for relationships, Derks puts Location in first place. Essentially he is using submodality work to explore the metaphors of relationship, especially those which are kinesthetic. A major influence is the work of linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1999). People conceive of a relationship as a container; this gives rise to feelings of belonging when you are “in' a relationship; other people are “outsiders'. In terms of distance, there are people you are “close to', maybe “too close for comfort', or even “in your face'. Other people are “distant' or may have “turned their back on you'. Height measures relative status: “lowly', “put-down' or “being one-up' on someone.

    Our language is full of evidence of how people fill their model of the world with “personifications' of others. A “personification' could be of an individual or a group. I take this as the ability to turn a person into a “thing' in your mental space, which will have location, distance, orientation, symmetry, height, and so on. He references Keith Johnstone's (1979) work on status (using the higher/lower metaphor) and centres. Given the way someone's worldview is configured may explain why some people respond as they do, and why conflict often results. Derks takes familiar NLP techniques such as submodalities, time-line, applying resources and so on, to a further level. For example, when working with hated out-groups: first deal with the anger and hatred, and then find forgiveness so that you are able to endow those others with the resources they need ” which may then change their location. This works not just with the living but also with the ghosts of those who are dead. You are literally changing someone's outlook on life.

    Derks suggests (p. 7) that “Once they are formed, personifications cannot be removed; they can only be transformed or moved around in the social panorama.” To reduce possible overload, individuals are bundled into categories. I wrote an article (Young, 1995) describing where various “nominalisations' or concepts were located in my mental domain, thus extending the idea of “eye-accessing cues', familiar to NLP practitioners. For example, when you remember something visual, your eyes often look up, and you see it again. I found that when I thought about certain places (“Switzerland”) my eyes would look in a precise and consistent direction. This was also true of concepts such as “love' and “honesty', which were also “stored' in certain parts of my visual field. I suggested the metaphor of the icons on a computer screen; these locations acting as “gateways' to further information or activity.

    In Relationships with groups, Derks gives his findings on how people place whole groups or stereotypes, such as “the Belgians', in their social panorama. In other words, these generalised concepts are sorted and positioned in a similar way to individual personifications. However, it is only when someone suggests looking at the world in this way that you notice these arrangements.

    Family therapy

    Of family panoramas he says (p. 204): ” this book fits within a new family therapeutic paradigm, in which interaction patterns are seen as the result of how people give “pictorial' shape to one another in their thinking.” Perceiving the family as a system is only one way of holding the world. Family therapy is an active area of human model-making, and disputes and conflicts have arisen because of certain beliefs about what is important, and the best way to do it. But instead of the attitude that “the others are wrong”, consider: “What has this model got to offer? How can I use this practically for creating change?”

    Derks tells us something of what is happening in the rest of Europe. (Unfortunately many references are not in English). In particular, he devotes 20 pages to describing “charismatic' Bert Hellinger's Family Constellation Method of having people to play the parts of your family members. What seems to happen is that a constellation takes on a life of its own, and reveals things about the family that were hidden. How the group “knows' these things is a mystery.

    When he gets onto Spiritual Panoramas, we enter another world, that of the ancestors, shamans, and channeled material. Fascinating as it is, Derks is riding pet hobby-horses, though it is not clear what he actually believes about these things.

    The final chapter on Training, teaching and teams explores the inner panorama of the trainer standing in front of a group, and offers practical ideas for building teams. In his experience, “trainers imagine their favourite groups ” close by, just a little lower than they are, colourful, homogeneous and moving” (p. 325). He also tells us how charismatic teachers maintain their world. To remain a guru ensure that you “are represented too far away to be identified with”, to ensure that “Their students will never fully learn what they are taught because no identification occurs; they will always have to come back for more” (p. 348).


    Lucas Derks' Social Panoramas model suggests practical ways of helping people change their own models of the world. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding, and at over 360 pages, has a great deal to offer practitioners, family therapists, trainers, as well as everyone who is part of a family or group. Derks provides many case studies, and 61 Exercises. The model has numerous applications: for resolving conflicts, harmonizing relationships within the family, within society, within the classroom. Diagnostically the metaphorical descriptions of relationships come to life, and you now have a way of dealing with them.

    Social Panoramas will delight those people who enjoy exploring the other people's models of the world. The Social Panorama Model enables you to intervene appropriately and creatively in someone else's model of the world -” when they are stuck and need help ” by giving them an alternative point of view. This is essentially what therapy is about. It will also widen your own panorama of the world, and you could be surprised at what you find there!

    Is this how the mind works? No ” despite Derks' uncritical use of “universal quantifiers' (always, everyone “). Every model is just a way of holding the world in order that we may take appropriate action. What matters is how useful the model is in helping people change what they are doing to something that serves them better. What emerges from Derks' work is that even though you may be imposing a structure on someone's reality that was not there before (or that they had never thought about), once the model is in place it acquires a degree of validity, consistency and dependability. It allows you to play.

    '©Peter Young 2004

    • Bandler, Richard & Grinder, John (1975) The Structure of Magic, Palo Alto: Science & Behavior Books.

    • Houston, Gaie (1976) All in the Mind: The making of an interpersonal group in a television series. London: BBC Publications.

    • Johnstone, Keith (1979) Impro, London: Methuen.

    • Lakoff, George & Johnson, Mark (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh, New York: Basic Books.

    • Moreno, Jacob L (1943) Sociometry and the Social Order, Sociometry (6) 299"344.

    • Satir, Virginia (1972) Peoplemaking, Palo Alto: Science & Behaviour Books, pp. 141"169.

    • Young, Peter (1995) Windows of the Mind Rapport #27, pp. 3"5.

    • Young, Peter (2004) Understanding NLP: Principles & Practice, Carmarthen, Crown House Publishing.

  7. A Book about patterns in unconscious social thinking and cognitive therapeutic interventions to improve human relationships in the broadest sense

    Written by Lucas Derks a social psychologist, who became fascinated by modelling the core principle of Neurolinguistic Programming he evolved a qualitative ” quantitative type of research which he calls “population modelling'. Closeted with psychotherapy client's who had social problems, he developed the Social Panorama Project.

    The book is aimed at coaches, therapists and counsellors, and the cover suggests a wide range of new tools to solve client's relationships focussing on social cognition in the client's inner world.

    Written more like a research thesis, the book lacks a user friendly access to its methodology. Wordy, and with no real stimulus to persist in gaining entry to it's “tools', I would be more curious if I had a research and psychology background than a holistic psychotherapy and medical experience. This book may well contribute in the field of wooing psychologists into NLP, and not the other way around.

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