Is there such a thing as the unconscious installation of skills through storytelling?

This is a very important question- particularly as there are plenty of NLP trainers out there claiming that their training courses will “install” the effective behaviours of NLP unconsciously. All too often this can be a cover for them not really knowing what they are doing. You know? “Oh don’t worry if you don’t get it consciously .. it’s going in unconsciously” Yeah right!

I did my NLP Practitioner, Master Prac and trainers training with Richard Bandler who is certainly a master of storytelling. I’ve also listened to hundreds and hundreds of hours of the available audio recordings he’s done and I’ve used deep trance identification and behavioural modelling to learn his installation patterns. (This got me in a lot of trouble with John Grinder .. but that’s another story!)

Three experiences I had quite early on convinced me that there was something going on.

1) The trainings themselves. I’m a quick study anyway but after each training I did my skill level ramped up considerably, without the usual degree of repetition necessary to build an unconscious competence.

2) After listening to one of Bandler’s DHE trainings I started to spontaneously hallucinate a kind of transparent globe floating around people that made it much easier to keep track of eye movements and the location of images

3) After the Neuro-Hypnotic Repatterning training I found myself reacting with unexpected passion to a bad suggestion that my brother was giving himself and telling him very firmly to stop it. Immediately afterwards I recalled a moment from the training where Bandler had reacted in characteristic fashion to a suggestion from a doctor.

There are a number of different ways in which skills can be installed unconsciously. The general formula goes something like this:

Start nesting stories
Capture attention
Elicit good feelings
Elicit unconscious learning state (early learning sets a la Erickson)
Create strong associated identification with performance model (usually self)
Perform skill
Embed post hypnotic suggests for recall
Close loops.

You can hear this pattern in action in my interview with Igor, “Preparing for performance”

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