The Emperor’s New Prose

by Steve Andreas

In recent years, Carmen Bostic St. Clair and John Grinder have proposed a number of distinctions and characterizations of modeling. A recent article (38) proposed that their kind of unconscious, second position, behavioral modeling is the only true NLP modeling, and that all other NLP modeling is of lesser value. Their book Whispering in the Wind (39) is almost entirely devoted to NLP modeling. They review the history of the modeling done jointly by Grinder and Richard Bandler prior to their separation in 1981, and they also comment extensively and unfavorably on the modeling that has been done by others. Underlying all this is the presupposition that they are experts in modeling. Since Grinder was one of the two original developers of NLP (with Richard Bandler) that seems to be a reasonable assumption. However in this article I will question that assumption, based primarily on their own published statements.

In their book Whispering in the Wind St Clair and Grinder present four excellent recommendations for the presentation of new models to the NLP community:

“Presentation of Patterning We urge that all patterns proposed in NLP modeling and presented in the field, either in the literature or through oral presentation, satisfy the following three minimal requirements (or their equivalents)-specifically:

“1. Description of the pattern: a sensory-grounded description of the elements in the pattern and their critical ordering (that is, the sequence in which those elements are to be applied-historically, in NLP, this has taken the form of steps in a format which define what the practitioner is to do first, second. . .).

“2. Consequences of using the pattern: a sensory-grounded description of what consequences the practitioner can anticipate through a congruent application of the pattern.

“3. Selection criteria: the identification of the conditions or contexts in which the selection and application of this pattern is appropriate (as known at the time by the modeler)-for example in the field of change work, making the distinction between the pattern’s appropriateness for 1st and 2nd order changes. This description should include any contraindications (conditions under which the pattern is expressly NOT to be selected and applied).” (39, pp. 53 and 351)

St. Clair and Grinder also propose an even more important fourth criterion for presenting a new pattern:

“The careful reader will have already noted that the phrase a relatively sensory-based description of occurs as part of each element of the proposed presentation format. This phrase points to the fact that it is doubtful in the extreme whether an adequate vocabulary exists for describing anything of significance in human patterning in sensory-based terms.

“The practical question remains in full force-how are we to present the results of our modeling and patterning in such a way that others can understand and appreciate what we are in fact, proposing?

“There is a quite practical solution to this question that has significant appeal-suppose that in addition to the presentation of the three minimum elements proposed above, we as a community, accept the requirement that the NLP practitioner proposing a new model or patterning submit along with the above delineated elements in a verbal description, a video in which the practitioner demonstrates one or more specific examples of the model or patterning being proposed. (39, pp. 351-352)
Our intention in presenting the above format, Presentation of Patterning, is to create a standard format whereby modelers can report their findings (patterning) in a manner that allows easy evaluation of their work, the ability to build on it with further patterning and a clear procedure for its application. Our inclusion of selection criteria is expressly designed to develop, refine and promote this less well-developed portion of reporting of patterning in NLP modeling.” (39, pp. 53-54)

I think that these are excellent criteria for the presentation of modeling or patterning. The last one is the most important, since it is the only way to present a sensory-based representation. I would also add the requirement that a videotape should always include a follow-up interview with the client a few weeks or months after the session, to verify that the changes made have lasted. Unfortunately, videotaped demonstrations are as rare in the field as raving testimonials are common.

In Whispering, (39) St. Clair and Grinder present their “New Code” model (originally developed by Grinder and Judith DeLozier in 1984-86) as follows:

“The Change Format for the New Code

1. Select from 3rd position some context in which you experience some behavior you wish to change/influence.

“2. Localize physically this hallucinated context and the image and sounds of yourself in that context performing the behavior you wish to change/influence and step into the position of the image of yourself (1st position) without attempting to change anything-self-calibrate. This is also the opportunity for the coach to calibrate your present state response to the context in question.

“Separator State

“3. Play the game (1st position) or equivalently, enter into the content-free high performance state (e.g. The Alphabet Game, the NASA Game…)

“4. At the end of the play (15 minutes or until the circuits are fully activated), the player (1st position) without hesitation and most importantly without attempting consciously to influence in any way his experience steps back (into 1st position) into the physical space where in step 2 occurred-that is, the physical space (on the floor) where he had located the hallucinated context in which he wanted to change something.” (39, p. 240)

This description of the “New Code” pattern uses some terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers. However, with the exception of the “NASA Game” these are described in the chapter in which the format above appears, (39, pp. 238-268)

St. Clair and Grinder also offer a “Partial Listing of New Code Patterning” containing nine items, listing 24 concepts (39, p. 239) yet only four of these are explicitly included in their description of the “New Code Format.” Accordingly it is impossible to know how the other items on this list (for instance, “reduced questions,” “logical levels,” “stalking,” “shunts,” “automatic movement to privileged states,” “characterological adjectives”) are used in the New Code change format. The last four terms are not described or discussed at all in the chapter in which the format and the list occur. Despite these troubling omissions, let’s assume that their format satisfies their first minimal criterion for presenting a pattern, description.

There is no “sensory-grounded description of what consequences the practitioner can anticipate through a congruent application of the pattern,” the second minimal criterion listed.

No criteria whatsover are presented for “the identification of the conditions or contexts in which the selection and application of this pattern is appropriate,” the third minimal criterion listed. In particular, no distinction is made “between the pattern’s appropriateness for 1st and 2nd order changes.” They also do not “include any contraindications (conditions under which the pattern is expressly NOT to be selected and applied).” The pattern is presented as if it were appropriate for any change whatsoever, whether or not there is any secondary gain, and there is no ecology check.

Finally, they do not provide a videotaped demonstration of the pattern. As they state, “it is doubtful in the extreme whether an adequate vocabulary exists for describing anything of significance in human patterning in sensory-based terms.” A video is the only way to really know what happens when someone actually uses a pattern with a client.

To summarize, St. Clair and Grinder’s presentation of their “New Code” pattern at most satisfies only one of the four minimal criteria that they themselves proposed for presenting a pattern to the NLP community. The other three criteria are completely absent, including the videotape, which they say (and I agree) is the most important of the four criteria.

Furthermore, upon close examination, the “New Code” change format appears to be a rather modest variation of a very old NLP pattern, integrating states by using anchors:

Step one identifies a dissociated representation of “some behavior you wish to change/influence,” what is usually called a “present state,” or a “problem state.”   

Step two elicits the present state by association, and anchors it to a location in space.

Separator state.

Step three elicits a resource state by engaging in a “content-free” activity in a different location.

Step four integrates the two states by moving quickly into the location that is an anchor for the present state.

This four-step pattern for integrating anchors was developed and taught widely prior to 1979, and it is only appropriate for “first-order” change in which there is no secondary gain, and the resource anchored is appropriate. The only innovation is using a “content-free” activity to elicit a resource state. As I have discussed elsewhere, (15) there is really no such thing as a content-free activity. Although a state that is elicited by an activity which is very different from the problem state can provide a unique resource that may be useful, there is no guarantee that such a state is appropriate for a particular present/problem state.

Output of Patterns As far as I know, “New Code” is the only pattern that Grinder has published since his separation from Richard Bandler in 1981, roughly 25 years ago, and this pattern was originally developed in collaboration with Judith DeLozier about 20 years ago.

In contrast, during this time Richard Bandler developed the Submodalities Model in great detail, a model that is more powerful, subtle, and differentiated than the Representational Systems Model-which St. Clair and Grinder describe as “the second model” in NLP. (39, p. 164)

Bandler’s submodalities modeling has produced quite a variety of different patterns that satisfy all four of St. Clair and Grinder’s criteria for the presentation of patterning. Among these are the following specific patterns for which published descriptions and videotapes and/or audiotapes have been produced: The Swish, (34, ch. 9; 32, ch. 3; 33) Eliminating a Compulsion, (32, ch. 5; 22) the Decision Destroyer, (9, ch. 4; 28) “The Last Straw” Threshold, (32, ch.6; 10) the Submodalities Belief Change. (34, ch. 7; 31)

My wife Connirae and I have used submodalities modeling to create patterns for Resolving Grief, (9, ch. 11; 16, 8) Shame, (9, ch. 14; 14, 17, 27) and transforming Anger into Forgiveness, (20; 19; 26) and how to Shift the Importance of Criteria, (32, ch. 4; 29) Each of these is a specifically tailored development of Bandler’s fundamental submodalities pattern called “mapping across with submodalities.” (34, ch. 6)

We developed the first detailed model of timelines in 1984, a structural submodalities model that is quite different from any of the foregoing, (32, chs. 1 &2; 2) and a Strategy for Responding to Criticism. (32, ch. 8; 30), a simple, but very useful utilization of dissociation.

Connirae independently modeled how to sort out and align perceptual positions, (7, 5) the Core Transformation process, (11, 1, 3, 4) an integration of several different individual patterns, (6) and Eye Movement Integration, (EMI) a kinder, gentler, and much more effective version of EMDR, (35, 23).

I have modeled the structure of self-concept in great detail (18, 24). More recently I have elaborated and expanded this model to describe the structure of all our thinking and experience, using the fundamental distinction between sensory-based scope, and the collections of these scopes that we call categories. (12) Collections of categories create logical levels of thinking. I have also written about my views of modeling in general, (21, 13, 15) and demonstrated these ideas in describing a number of the patterns of Virginia Satir’s work (25).

Curiously, the only pattern in the six paragraphs above that is even mentioned in Whispering is Timelines, and then only to take credit for developing it “in the early 1980s.”

This list is only partial, and does not include the modeling done by many others. For instance, Robert Dilts has modeled a number of patterns, (36, 37) and others have proposed additional models (although very few of these offer videotaped examples). My goal is not to provide a complete list of other models, or to downplay others’ developments, only to show that many useful NLP models have been proposed that satisfy all, or most, of St. Clair and Grinder’s minimal criteria for presenting a new model to the field.

In the 25 years since Grinder and Bandler parted company, St. Clair and Grinder have proposed only one new pattern, which is a variation on a traditional NLP pattern of integrating states, and their description of it at most satisfies only one of their own four minimal criteria for proposing a pattern.

This suggests another possible criterion for considering different views about modeling: how successful is a particular methodology in actually producing new patterns? I suggest that the public modeling “track record” of anyone proposing views be given thoughtful consideration.


1. Andreas, Connirae. “Core Transformation” Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive. (video/DVD) 1994

2. Andreas, Connirae. “Changing Timelines” Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive. (video/DVD) 1993

3. Andreas, Connirae. “The Identity Process” Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive. (video/DVD) 1993

4. Andreas, Connirae. “The Aligned Self” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1992

5. Andreas, Connirae. “Aligning Perceptual Positions” Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive. (video/DVD) 1992

6. Andreas, Connirae. “Parental Timeline Reimprinting” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1992

7. Andreas, Connirae. “Aligning Perceptual Positions: a new distinction in NLP.” Anchor Point Magazine. Vol. 5, No. 2, 1991

8. Andreas, Connirae. “Resolving Grief” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1987

9. Andreas, Connirae; and Andreas, Steve. Heart of the Mind: engaging your inner power to change with Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 1989

10. Andreas, Connirae; and Andreas, Steve. “The Last Straw Threshold Pattern.” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1986

11. Andreas, Connirae, and Andreas, Tamara, Core Transformation: reaching the wellspring within. Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 1994

12. Andreas, Steve. Six Blind  Elephants: understanding ourselves and each other, Vols. I & II.  Boulder, CO, Real People Press, June,  2006

13. Andreas, Steve. “Modeling Modeling.” The Model Magazine, pp. 2-9, Spring, 2006

14. Andreas, Steve. “Resolving Shame” demonstration (video/DVD) M. H. Erickson Foundation, Phoenix AZ 2005

15. Andreas, Steve. Book Review: Whispering in the Wind, by Carmen Bostic St. Clair  and John Grinder. Anchor Point, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 3, March 2003

16. Andreas, Steve. “Resolving Grief” Anchor Point Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 2, February, 2002

17. Andreas, Steve. “Resolving Shame.” Anchor Point Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 17-29, March, 2002

18. Andreas, Steve. Transforming Your Self: becoming who you want to be. Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 2002

19. Andreas, Steve. “Diffusing Reflexive Anger” (The Forgiveness Pattern) (videotape/DVD) Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, 1999

20. Andreas, Steve. “Forgiveness.” Anchor Point Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 5, 1999

21. Andreas, Steve “Modeling with NLP” Rapport: The Magazine for Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Winter, No.  46, p. 7, 1998

22. Andreas, Steve. “Eliminating a Compulsion” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1996

23. Andreas, Steve. “Eye Movement Integration” with a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD (video/DVD with booklet) Steve Andreas, 1221 Left Hand Canyon Dr. Boulder, CO, 80302, 1993

24. Andreas, Steve. “Building Self-concept” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1992

25. Andreas, Steve. Virginia Satir: the patterns of her magic. Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 1991

26. Andreas, Steve. “The Forgiveness Pattern” (audiotape) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1991

27. Andreas, Steve. “Resolving Shame” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1990

28. Andreas, Steve. “The Decision Destroyer” (audiotape) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1988

29. Andreas, Steve. “Shifting the Importance of Criteria” (videotape) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1987

30. Andreas, Steve. “A Strategy for Responding to Criticism” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1985

31. Andreas, Steve. “Changing Beliefs” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1985

32. Andreas, Steve, and Andreas, Connirae, Change Your Mind-and Keep the Change. Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 1987

33. Andreas, Steve, and Andreas, Connirae, “The Swish Pattern.” (video/DVD) Evergreen, CO, NLP Comprehensive, 1986

34. Bandler, Richard, Using Your Brain-for a Change Boulder, CO, Real People Press, 1985

35. Beaulieu, Danie. Eye Movement Integration. Carmarthen, Wales, UK, Crown House, 2003

36. Dilts, Robert, B. The Encyclopedia of NLP. Santa Cruz, CA, 2000

37. Dilts, Robert B. Sleight of Mouth: the magic of conversational change. Capitola, CA Meta Publications, 1999

38. St. Clair, Carmen Bostic; and  Grinder, John. “A Proposed Distinction for Neuro-Linguistic Programming  (NLP)” The Model Magazine, Vol. 3, pp.  1-3, 2005.

39. St. Clair, Carmen Bostic; and  Grinder, John. Whispering in the Wind. Scotts Valley CA, J & C Enterprises, 2001