States of Equilibrium

By: John Burton


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 256
ISBN : 9781899836895
Format: Hardback
Published: September 2002

This cutting-edge work represents a major step forward in both our understanding of the human personality and our ability to attain a higher level of human development.

John Burton’s unique theory of personality asserts that every person strives to achieve a state of emotional and mental equilibrium. This state of inner calm allows us to respond effectively to the challenges of everyday life - as opposed to unresolved internal conflicts which often create chaotic internal states. States of Equilibrium thoroughly explores the strictly internal relationship between these states of mind and emotion within the individual, with the aim of helping us move towards a state of mental balance.

By presenting a variety of human development theories as well as NLP concepts, such as meta-stating, Burton equips counsellors and NLP practitioners with all the tools necessary to neutralise stress and anxiety in their clients.

Picture for author John Burton

John Burton

John Burton, EdD LPC holds a Doctorate in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University as well as a Masters in Clinical Psychology. He is licensed as a Professional Counselor, Counselor Supervisor and holds certificates as a NLP Master, Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Reiki Master. He currently maintains his own counseling practice with over 30 years of professional experience. He also conducts regular workshops in the U.S. for The Sacred Sequence and Clinical Hypnotherapy. Dr. Burton co-authored one book and was sole author for two other books published by Crown House.


  1. A solid book about personality, growth and change - eclectic, covering psychodynamics to NLP, and challenging, providing an integrated theory of how we evolve and take control (or not) of our emotions.
  2. A gem of a book that builds on Erickson's key presupposition that we are naturally driven to find a state of mental, emotional and psychological balance. Our innate healing energies, and therefore good therapy, leads not to a single fixed outcome but a dynamic journey of growth and change, wherein outcomes are enjoyed through lucid and flexible state application and the accompanying processing patterns. Doctor in Human Development Counseling, John Burton draws on a wide and relevant research and theoritical base, from cognitive psychology to modern theorists such as Maslow, Watzlawick, Erik Erikson and Loevinger to provide an accessible but robust structure to personal development theory. Clearly and attractively laid out, read it from cover to cover or just dip in and absorb.
  3. In States of Equilibrium, John Burton makes a significant contribution to our understandings of the psychology of human learning and development and the structure of personality. In a scholarly and engaging manner Burton integrates the major schools of psychological thought"psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, humanism, and behavioralism to present a unified theory of personality development and personality disorders. He helps even lay readers to understand the developmental antecedents and underlying dynamics of depression, anxiety, obsessions, and pessimism, as well as those traits that comprise optimism, hope, inner peace, and resilience. He makes excellent use of metaphor and case studies to promote clarity and understanding. His is a coherent theory about how we evolve as conscious beings exercising free will over our emotions. This is a book that should be included in every university psychology curriculum in “theories of personality” courses.
  4. When John Burton learned NLP and Meta-States through his trainings with Bob Bodenhamer, it was immediately obvious to Bob that John Burton's natural creativity would lead him to use the models in exciting ways. Bob knew that John would find new uses and applications for NLP and Meta-States. And so it was. A couple years ago Bob assisted John in writing, Hypnotic Language. But that was only the beginning.

    Now John has done it again! With his background in Developmental Psychology, he has used Meta-States to write a book that integrates in a most extensive way the best of Piaget, drive theory, Kohlberg, Maslow, Rogers, Skinner, Erickson, Jung, and Cognitive-Behavioral therapy to create one of the most extensive descriptions and applications of Meta-States as applied to personality, therapy, and change. It is the most extensive presentation of Meta-States outside of anything I've written. And it offers numerous new applications of Meta-States, applications that I had not thought of!

    States of Equilibrium is an entire book on states. It's about primary states, meta-states, and gestalt states. It's about pathological states, sick states, personality disordering states, and about glorious states, empowering states, healthy balanced states, the highest states possible, the “ultimate meta-states.” The thesis is that “the human personality is organized around achieving states of equilibrium.”

    If you are a therapist, this is a must read. This book makes an excellent follow-up to The Structure of Personality: Personality Ordering and Disordering with NLP and Neuro-Semantics (2000) that I wrote a couple years ago with Bob, Richard Bolstad and Margott Hamblett. John has filled the book with case studies and lots of practical suggestions. For therapists you will find fascinating descriptions and case studies around addiction, learning dysfunctions, obsessive- compulsive states, depression, fight/flight responses, anxiety, fear, and much, much more. John's analysis of fear is absolutely brilliant. Would you like a taste of it? Here goes:

    “Fear is what might happen instead of what is happening. Even during an event that scares us, the fear springs from what could happen if the situation progressed beyond its current status. I believe fear never concerns itself with the here and now, but with what the here and now might become. ... Fear takes a slippery and elusive form. For in survival, fear must remain at least one step ahead of the present. Living in the present, imagining only solutions to any challenge, makes fear disappear. Fear simply cannot exist when we look into our future for solutions while gazing from the present. Your future does not know your past. ... Fear, and in fact all emotions, attempt to provide us with vital information ... leaving the translation up to us.”

    Isn't that great? Oh yes, another quote about fear.
    “Fear is feedback from our future that tells us to take some sort of evasive action. This evasive action comes to us through our resourceful states, which can prescribe solution options.”

    You've got to have to book, right?

    If you have any question, any doubt that NLP and especially Meta-States can address the “more serious psychological disorderings” of personality, this book will quell those doubts. As an educator turned therapist, Burton has amply demonstrated the power of recognizing the meta- level structure of states. He integrates the psycho-social states of development of Piaget into the Neuro-Semantic model. He integrates the role of meta-programs into the construction of a painful Matrix of frames, which he describes as limitation states.

    It's also a must read if you are a coach or work with people in a coaching way, that is, facilitating the best in people.

    As I read the manuscript, the only regret I had was that John wrote this before we had published The Matrix Model (2002) because much of what he has written fits so nicely into that model. He speaks about the cognitive styles of information processing from child developmental psychology and the distortions that we all naturally experience in growing up. He relates it to how our states can go wrong. With that analysis and profiling, John then shows what we can do about it using the formulations of Neuro-Semantics.

    While not an academic book, States of Equilibrium is not light reading. It will challenge you to think. It will invite you to read and reread the book. You will be able to harvest new learnings with each reading. If you have people who dismiss NLP for being too much of a light-weight conceptually, buy this book for them. It is solid.

    I loved some of John's words and phrases, “The Structure of Personality: It's Just a State of Mind.” “Anxiety amounts to a phobic reaction to a particular state.” “The State of the State: The Emancipating Proclamation.”

    This is also a book about Meta-States. Burton describes and defines the Meta-States model in new ways and exciting ways.
    “Meta-stating is like climbing an observation tower. Each successful step lets you see and know more, which results in a greater awareness. A hallmark of human developmental theories is that each successful level of development endows the person with expanded awareness. So we find that meta-stating a person directly elevates the person's level of human development, allowing positive change in thought, emotion, and behavior. Our well-being results from our relationship with our states.”

    “Meta-stating expands our awareness of the behavioral driving forces that have been out of conscious sight. Expanding our consciousness illuminates our higher states. This increased consciousness allows access and restores conscious choice.”

    “A meta-state in our unconscious mind can dictate to our lower states, requiring that we operate from sadness. Past experience may have led to aversive feelings associated with freedom. In this case, then, to exercise freedom as if it endangers the individual. We may ascend the meta-state ladder going to higher and higher meta-states unless an injured state exists at a certain height. ... The injured meta-state puts a ceiling on further development until it experiences the freedom that healing brings.”

    John plays with the layering of states and offers incredible descriptions of highly complex toxic states. For example he writes this.
    “Some people fear that if they become convinced of their competence, for example, they would then experience a state they fear even more.”

    Did you catch all of the meta-states or layered frames in that? No. Then consider it again: is
    “Some people fear (fear state) that if (subjunctive state) they become convinced (conviction state) of their competence (primary state), for example, they would then experience a state they fear even more.”

    On a personal note, I love how Burton has also begun to extend and expand the Meta-States model. This is good. Unlike some in NLP, I want the history of Neuro-Semantics to never, but never get into fights over “intellectual property.” If an idea or model is brilliant, if it maps new places for us to go, and new things we can do “then it is bigger than any one of us, and bigger than all of us together. And it should continue to develop and grow. And it will give to ever new models. John has creatively described new things in this field: injured meta-states, laying the meta-train track for a meta-state strategy, climbing and evoking others to go all the way up the meta-ladder, meta-motivation, “injecting a limited meta-state with an awareness boost,” crossing “state lines,” etc. So even though John is not yet a Neuro-Semantic Trainer or Coach, his creativity in this work certainly exemplifies what I'm writing and talking about as the spirit of a Neuro-Semantic Developer.

    And even without knowing about the Matrix model, Burton describes the same:
    “The layers of Meta-States vary from person to person. We might find that each layer gets “born' into awareness, or recruited, resulting from life experience. The more layers present, the more need for intervening states. Adverse experiences seem especially likely to prompt additional states into the mix.”

    Are you interested in balance, focus, mental and emotional health, emotional intelligence, running your own brain, eliminating stuck and limited states, getting on top of anything internal that might sabotage you? Get States of Equilibrium!
  5. This is more a book about theory than it is about techniques and interventions. And let's be honest, as therapists we do need to know more than just a bunch of techniques ” we also need to understand the how, the why and the theories behind the techniques that we use or we become robots. This book is interesting and informative, bringing together many of the major schools of though in psychology and, in the process, making you give more thought to the how's and why's you do what it is that you do. It is a refreshing read and certainly should be read by students and newly qualified therapists although I personally think that all therapists should at least give it a go.

    I would recommend this book.

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