It all began with Richard Bandler who at the age of 17 was very interested in music and helped put on rock concerts. He was asked by the wife of Dr. Robert S. Spitzer to teach their son Dan how to play the drums. Becky Spitzer was impressed by Richard's interest in philosophy and the intellectual approach he used for teaching music.

The Spitzer's had a cabin in the country near Santa Cruz, and when Richard switched his studies to the University of California, Santa Cruz, he became a caretaker of the property and built himself a small place on the property. It was in Dr. Spitzer's cabin that Richard first met Virginia Satir at a family reconstruction she was doing for an Israeli friend. Dr. Spitzer was also president of Science and Behavior Books and asked Richard, who was working there, to audio tape and transcribe a month long workshop Virginia Satir was to conduct in Canada. Richard spent several months transcribing the audio tapes and, after a while, developed many of Virginia Satir's voice patterns and mannerisms. He said that this was how he learned music by listening to the work of someone  he admired over and over again until he sounded just like the person he was imitating. This was a form of deep identification process.

Richard Bandler also helped edit Fritz Perls’ last manuscript which was published as "The Gestalt Approach." Science and Behavior Books published another book "Eye Witness to Therapy" which was essentially a transcription of teaching films made with Fritz Perls. Richard spent weeks wearing earphones while watching the films, making certain the transcription was accurate. He came out of this having adopted many of the speaking and acting habits of Fritz Perls. Apparently, the habits were so convincing that Robert Spitzer found himself accidentally calling him Fritz on several occasions.

With all his knowledge Richard started Gestalt groups on campus as an undergraduate. Leslie Cameron was doing the practicum for her MA in clinical psychology by helping run Richard's gestalt group. According to John Grinder's recollection Richard Bandler approached him and said the linguists had elegant models of the unconscious process of understanding and generating language and, that perhaps they should try making models of other unconscious processes. The idea was to identify units of communication other than linguistic components and to work out a "grammar" of communication.

Robert Spitzer had a videotape of some of Virginia Satir's work and was contemplating a book which was published in 1975 under the title "Changing with Families." Richard Bandler and John Grinder worked with the video upon which the book is based, and was able to understand thoroughly some of Virginia Satir's "favourite licks" as they expressed it at the time. They were able to show Virginia Satir the tape and translate what she did into their own terminology. Her methods of clarifying the presented problems were the precursor to the Meta Model. They also noticed that Virginia Satir would speak to some clients in primary visual terms, to others in auditory terms, using more kinesthetic oriented language with still others. Satir had been unaware of doing this herself.

They wrote up their findings in "The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1, 1975 and Vol. 2 1976. This had started out originally as Richard Bandler's master thesis. This book became the first NLP book to be published. In the spring of 1976 the name Neuro-Linguistic Programming was adopted as the official name for what they were doing. They used ideas from different fields like Systems Theory, including the work of George Miller (John Grinder had studied with him at Rockefeller University) and Gregory Bateson, who happened to be Grinder’s neighbour. Virginia Satir wrote a foreword and Gregory Bateson wrote an introduction to the book.


Richard Bandler and John Grinder had become the centre of a group of students which included David Gordon, Judith DeLozier, Robert Dilts, and Steve Gilligan.

At one point Gregory Bateson had suggested that they study with Milton Erickson M.D., the famous Hypnotherapist in Phoenix, Arizona. Milton Erickson M.D. opened up a whole new world for them and greatly influenced NLP from then on. Bandler and Grinder used their unique approach to model Erickson by immersing themselves into his world and become masters of hypnosis themselves.  They published "Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson. M.D." in 1975 and a second volume in collaboration with Judith DeLozier in 1977. This is a major contribution to the field of hypnosis. Milton Erickson M.D. himself wrote:

"Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. by Richard Bandler and John Grinder is a delightful simplification of the infinite complexities of the language I use with patients. In reading this book, I learned a great deal about the things that I've done without knowing about them."  

There was not much interest in the modelling technology itself. However, there was great interest in the results of modelling a wide range of successful people. Consequently NLP has become known largely due to the effectiveness of these patterns.

The core group broke up in 1981 because the differences in their approach could no longer be ignored. Richard Bandler, the "enfant terrible" of the group, formed his own NLP organization and later introduced his Design Human Engineering  (DHE) concept which he still promotes together with a few other trainers he personally selected. Richard Bandler often gets embroiled in controversial situations and, as a result, his genius is sometimes obscured by controversy.

NLP is already a part of human knowledge and therefore can not be registered and owned by any single person. Also, it was  developed by a group of people not only Richard Bandler and John Grinder. In fact NLP is still developing today and will continue to do so in the future.

John Grinder and Judith DeLozier formed a company they named "Grinder, DeLozier and Associates" under which they conducted training sessions in the early 1980's. Several modelling workshops were conducted with interesting people such as Canadian Actress Viola Lagere and Irish touch healer Finbar Nolan. In the late 1980’s John Grinder and Judith DeLozier introduced a workshop they called "Prerequisites to Personal Genius," out of which came their book "Turtles All The Way Down," published in 1987. The "New Code" of NLP came out of the work on personal genius and now familiar concepts like perceptual positions were introduced in these workshops. In 1989 John Grinder decided that he wanted to pursue his interests in the business world as a consultant.

Judith DeLozier has from the very beginning, been active in NLP both as a developer and as a trainer all over the world. In 1990, Judith DeLozier together with Robert Dilts and the late Todd Epstein, formed the "NLP University" where every summer they conduct a series of NLP Certification programs. These programs are considered by many to be among the very best in the NLP world. We are fortunate to have Judith DeLozier with us in Asia helping us to make NLP available to people living in this part of the world.
Leslie Cameron formed a company she called “Future Pace” through which she conducted NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner training. Leslie Cameron was instrumental in many of the central concepts of NLP. For example she developed most of the Meta Programs which grew out of the work she was doing with “Form and content.”

Leslie Cameron is perhaps best known for her work with patterns of competence. Published in “The Emprint Method, 1985, and “Know How,” 1985 with co-authors David Gordon and Michale LeBeau. Also her work with relationships and sexuality is published in “Solutions,” 1985 and the “Emotional Hostage,” 1986 with co-author Michael LeBeau.

Leslie Cameron’s last NLP project was the “Imperative Self” before she retired from active involvement with NLP in 1989.

Robert Dilts became part of John Grinder and Richard Bandler’s group when he joined the University of California, Santa Cruz. It is impossible to give Robert Dilts enough credit for what NLP is today and what it can become in the future. He keeps evolving NLP into new areas, like spirituality as in “Tools of the Spirit” which he conducts together with Robert McDonald, and “Love in the face of violence” together with Stephen Gilligan.

Robert Dilts wrote a paper titled “NLP: A new psychology” which later became his first book “NLP Volume 1,” 1978. This was  co-authored with John Grinder, Richard Bandler, and Judith DeLozier. This was the first of many books from the keyboard of Robert Dilts. The latest is a series of volumes called “Strategies of Genius,” In a way these are the volumes promised by the first book NLP volume 1, which were never realized since the founders of NLP went their separate ways. 


The Structure of Magic

Patterns 1

Patterns 2

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