The Origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming

By: R. Frank Pucelik , John Grinder


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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 288
ISBN : 9781845908584
Format: Paperback
Published: April 2013

Edited by John Grinder and Frank Pucelik, the book’s contributors include: Robert Dilts, Stephen Gilligan, Judith Delozier, Byron Lewis, Terry McClendon (author of the first history of NLP, The Wild Days).

The Origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming brings together the recollections and thoughts of some of the main protagonists from the very early days of NLP. In 1971 Richard Bandler and Frank Pucelik were students at Kresege College at the University of California Santa Cruz. They had a strong mutual interest in Gestalt Therapy, Frank because of his traumatic time in Vietnam and because he had been working with some disaffected and drug-addicted kids, and Richard because he had been working with Science and Behavior Books on transcribing and editing Fritz Perls’ seminal work, The Gestalt Approach and Eyewitness to Therapy.

They started a local gestalt group and ran 2-3 sessions a week collaborating and experimenting with the language of therapy. They started achieving some brilliant results but were having problems transferring their skills to others and so Richard invited one of their college professors, John Grinder, to observe what they were doing in order that he would, hopefully, be able to de-construct what they were doing that was so effective. John was a professor of Linguistics and was instantly impressed with the work that they were doing. He was able to add more structure and in due course the three of them formalised what is now known as the Meta Model. NLP was born.

John and Frank and each of the other contributors give their own personal account of this period of collaboration when something magical was happening in northern California. Of particular interest is the role Gregory Bateson played, particularly in bringing John and Richard together with Milton H Erickson.

An extremely insightful and riveting read for anyone interested in NLP.

Picture for author R. Frank  Pucelik

R. Frank Pucelik

R. Frank Pucelik, Ph.D. is widely recognised as one of the world's finest trainers in interpersonal communication and success strategies for change. His zest and profound skills also make him one of the most entertaining presenters in the field of Meta communication today.

After leaving Santa Cruz with several of the original NLP research team in 1976, Frank established META Institute and META International in San Diego California. These organisations provided consulting, training, and seminars in the US and Europe through the mid 80s. After a number of very successful management consulting and training programs conducted in Russia and the Ukraine (some sponsored by the Peace Corps USAID program) Frank relocated to that part of the world where, in addition to continuing to work with business management, he set up and directed drug treatment programs, for young people, and now has six centers in Russia and the Ukraine. Currently President of the Pucelik Consulting Group, the company has its headquarters in Odessa, Ukraine. Yearly, Mr. Pucelik and the PCG staff consultants train over 2,000 middle and top managers of client companies throughout the Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Turkey, Poland, and the Baltics.

Picture for author John  Grinder

John Grinder

Co-developer of NLP John Grinder has been teaching and training in the field for over 30 years. His books include the classic The Structure of Magic Volumes I & II and Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, Volumes I & II (with Richard Bandler), and more recently Whispering in the Wind (with Carmen Bostic St. Clair). John now teaches New Code NLP, developed originally with Judith Delozier and more recently with Carmen Bostic St Clair. The New Code streamlines and brings significant enhancements to the now thirty year old Classic Code of NLP. John makes his home in the Santa Cruz mountains of central California and his passions include acquisition of foreign languages (he's presenting working on the 9th one), training and riding Arabian horses, and rock and ice climbing.


  1. I loved this book mostly because I just loved the gossipy nature of it. Everyone talking about everyone else and some not talking at all. But I do think that you would need to have been steeped in NLP for some time to really appreciate it.

    Nevertheless there have been so many stories about the origins of NLP, and it is great to read these different perspectives. And they do not seem to be that different, despite the commentaries on their accuracy or otherwise, which is also interesting given the emphasis on accepting unique -˜maps of the world' in those early days of NLP. I mean do the authors accept that people have unique perceptions and this is going to come through in their writing of that era, or not?

    I have been involved with NLP for over 30 years now and this just seemed to create a firmer base on which to stand, knowing the importance of the various themes and how they came about (and who did what to whom!). The different writing styles were interesting in their own right. Some of the introduction is a remarkable mix of sensory rich language and incredible nominalisations but then so is NLP! Stephen Gilligan's style stood out for me and was like a drink of clean refreshing water in the middle of a dry spell! I preferred the personal experiences rather than the deluge of facts that some of the authors seemed to prefer but then that is my preference.

    Overall I think the book adds an important perspective to NLP today and why and how it is important, and more significantly it presents views (although not always actions) that I believe counter some of the criticisms of NLP. That does not always seem to have been translated into practice mind you! It is a great way of getting a flavour of all the pioneers too and the influences that they all brought to the whole subject whereas the tendency for many has to been to think John and Richard only.

    As John Grinder is quoted as saying in the book “We were interested in what works not what is proven”.
  2. Wonder, excitement, passion, fascination, discovery, creation, revelations - some forty years after the origins of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) two of the three originators and seven of the early contributors write about the beginnings of a method of doings psychotherapy and modelling behavior. I must admit that I read this book in just a few days because the saga of this seminal approach kept me rivetted. Most people (including me) believed that NLP was developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. It turns out that Bandler and Pucelik, who were students at the innovative Kresge College of the University of California at Santa Cruz, got fascinated by Fritz Perls's Gestalt Therapy and started running groups based on Perls's work. Bandler invited John Grinder, a faculty member specializing in linguistics and someone he knew, to sit in on a group session and use his linguistic knowledge to model and make sense out of what was occurring in the group. Grinder was “hooked” in the first group he attended, and this was the beginning of a systematic study of communication and modelling of human behavior in which all three were major contributors.
    In addition to those cited above, the other chapter contributors are: Terry McClendon, Judith deLozier, David R. Wick, Byron Lewis, Joyce Michaelson, Stephen Gilligan, James Eicher, and Robert Dilts. Since memory is malleable and not perfect, we are treated to differing perspectives on the origins of NLP and the contributions of all of those involved. There is general agreement on the basic story. In the ferment at Kresge College in the late 60s and early 70s creativity and experimentation were in the forefront. The word “experimentation” needs to be emphasized for they were endlessly experimenting with procedures and models, refining them, and debating what they were doing. Contributions were also made by the dozens of group members.
    The most significant contributor and mentor and guide was Gregory Bateson whose ideas and encouragement permeated the work of the three founders. Initially, the work of Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir were modelled. The third genius whose work influenced NLP was Milton Erickson. Bateson's introduction of the Santa Cruz group to Erickson moved them onto another and seemingly contradictory avenue. Their original Meta Model was linguistically based and quite structured. However, they found that Erickson was getting remarkable results by “violating” most of the Meta Model's precepts! Thus, the two structure of magic books on the Meta Model were followed by two books introducing the “patterns” of Erickson's work. The originators were able to integrate these two apparently opposing approaches.
    Grinder added several informative commentaries on specific contributors, and also an excellent summarizing commentary. The prologue, and especially the epilogue, by Bostic-St. Clair provides a most useful perspective on the origins of NLP. The dedication by the editors of the book is to Richard Bandler who chose not to contribute to it. Although it is perfectly clear that the genius of Perls, Satir, and Erickson inspired and contributed to what became NLP, it is also clear that the three originators and their many and diverse colleagues added their own genius to NLP which permanently changed psychotherapy. I know that it had such an effect on me.

    This book entrances and intrigues and fascinates and illuminates. Read it!
  3. Finally! 42 years later the true origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming are revealed which up to now have only been the subject of mystery and legend. This is a must read book for any student of Neuro Linguistic Programming. In it we learn what actually happened during the first 9 years of Neuro Linguistic Programming that set the stage for everything that has followed. Today everyone claims to be one of the developers of Neuro Linguistic Programming. Now we learn who the real developers actually were. Further, we are reminded that the meta model is the real heart of Neuro Linguistic Programming and that it can only be mastered through on going practice. We learn that there were three and not two creators of Neuro Linguistic Programming and are introduced to Frank Pucelik who many people in Neuro Linguistic Programming have tragically never heard of. Frank lives in Odessa in the Ukraine and continues to pioneer developments of Neuro Linguistic Programming in business and in working with at risk youth. Also John Grinder makes several points that the Neuro Linguistic Programming world today desperately needs to hear and apply. He warns of the danger of content and categories and pre-mature labeling and redirects us to focus on process. He also emphasizes the power of patterning, modeling and testing in the creation of what is today called Neuro Linguistic Programming. In short, devour this book, imitate the same rigorous methods that were used by the developers, and bring this rigor to develop the next generation of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

  4. Thank you John Grinder and Frank Pucelik for your work in providing us with an account of how Neuro Linguistic Programming began as seed and rapidly grew during the 1970s. Neuro Linguistic Programming is now in its fifth decade and for the first time, we have a reliable book that offers a history of Neuro Linguistic Programming. The Origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming is both a story and collection of stories. The theme of the main story is the creation of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the collection of stories is a rich anthology of the people who were there at the beginning and others who came along after the foundation was in place. The stories within this book capture the commitment of Grinder, Bandler and Pucelik and the spirited people they attracted to radically experiment with patterns of human excellence. What makes this book exciting is the multiple voice narrating their personal experience of Neuro Linguistic Programming during the heady days of 1970s. However, there is much more than history inside these pages. If you focus at a deeper level you will find something very rich and missing in modern Neuro Linguistic Programming and that is the fearlessness, the radicalism, the desire to experiment, the commitment to model, the willingness to undertake thousands of hours of practice. Without these elements we would not have an Neuro Linguistic Programming today. As you read and enjoy the voices inside these pages you may want to consider how Neuro Linguistic Programming would be more colourful in the current age if we embraced the attitude of the people who gave us so much in inspiring and creating the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

  5. Different voices, different histories...this multiplicity of sometimes conflicting pespectives is a salutary reminder that, as Neuro Linguistic Programming has been at pains to point out, we each have our own map. Or as Robin Williams once said, "Reality - what a concept!"

  6. We have been waiting almost 40 years for this book -” a first-hand account by some of the people who were there in the beginning at one of the most creative times in history. The Origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming can be enjoyed as several interwoven narratives, and you can model the modelers for their process of discovery, testing, trial and feedback. Whichever filter you choose, this engaging book will provide more about the original spirit of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

  7. An enjoyable, exciting and informative adventure through the brilliant and quirky origins of Neuro Linguistic Programming This book is a hymn to the spirit of curiosity, creativity, collaboration and adventure.

  8. This is a big important book for the -˜distinct and radical' field of Neuro Linguistic Programming, it's trainers, practitioners and critics.

    With contributions from a core of the original developers from the 70's, here is an inspiring, sometimes contradictory, multi-layered account of the cultural and intellectual background, the key colourful characters, the playful collaborations, the role of artistry and the creative unconscious, the adventures in modelling, research and rigorous testing as well as some fine examples of early successful Neuro Linguistic Programming applications.

    This sets the scene for the real questions being posed - what really is Neuro Linguistic Programming? And where is it going? Is it now merely a set of techniques you can learn by rote in a few days? Or does Neuro Linguistic Programming still deeply propose a subtle, skills-based and fundamental opportunity to further expand and deepen our knowledge and practice of the arts of human communication, learning and change?

    An exceptional and essential read for everyone involved in Neuro Linguistic Programming and interested in contributing to its future.

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