Purported Spontaneous Psi Events and Neurolinguistic Programming Model

By André Percia de Carvalho


The author is going to suggest correlations between aspect of the Model from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and observations and studies made in parapsychology, specially the study of purported spontaneous phenomena, as well as suggest the potential insights and contributions that NLP can make to parapsychology such as enlarging the dynamics’ understanding. Purported spontaneous psi studied by many authors seem to be consistent with the NLP presuppositions and also with NLP concepts of TOTEs, Logical Levels, Representational Systems and concepts such as Deletion, Distortion and Generalization and the Unified Theory for NLP.


What became known as NLP started with Richard Bandler in California in the mid 70’s. As he says, “I did not look for “what went wrong” or the “whys”. I did not look for cures. I looked at whatever worked, no matter how” (Bandler,2008). For him, “NLP is an attitude and a methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques”(Hall and Bodenhamer,2008).

According to John Grinder, one of the co-founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (Hall & Bodenhammer, 2008), NLP is “an epistemology… it offers the opportunity to explore, it offers a set of path finding tools”. Later in their book Hall and Bodenhammer write: “The context of NLP concerns accessing the mindset, state and skills necessary for understanding and bringing about successful communication and personal change”. NLP has some presuppositions which, according to these authors, came “…from the theoretical underpinnings that were found in the systems that were modelled: gestalt psychology, family system therapy, Ericksonian hypnotic-medical communication, general semantics, cybernetics, information systems, transformational grammar, cognitive-behavioural psychology, and Batesonian anthropology”. O’Connor considers (2001) NLP to be the “study of excellence and the structure of the subjective experience”.

In the beginning of the 1990s I presented to the “psi community” a very modest model called the “psi defence mechanism” as part of a “system of integrated factors” which could function as an extension of ordinary psychological processes within purported spontaneous psi events (Carvalho 1992, 1994, 1995). I postulated that this could be triggered when the ordinary psychological defenses might fail. This model reinforces the previous ideas published by other authors who believe that psi experiences seem to be connected to psychological dynamics.


In a series of papers published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and presented at parapsychological conferences, I presented many case studies illustrating what doday I would call the “early version” of this model (de Carvalho, 1992, 1994, 1995). In addition, I have personally observed clients (and research participants) while they related purported spontaneous psi events in their lives. Below I summarise some of these observations as the same time I start to correlate it with some of the NLP concepts and ideas which came from the evolution of the concepts early developed by Bandler and Grinder:

1 – These clients present a limiting and restrictive belief system about their identities and believe that the solution for their problems lie in people, entities, things and circumstances “outside” themselves (such as spirits, God, discarnate entities).

2 – The belief system in which they had been immersed (familial, cultural, religious) supports and even provide theology, metaphors and symbolism that serve as references or even as models so that the clients can find resonance with their personal dynamics justifying events considered “fragile” and “problematic”. That belief system assumes that manifestations that transcend human competencies (e.g. spiritual agencies) can interfere in human interactions with different purposes.

3 – I could notice something dimilar to observations that were made by Ehrenwald (1977), in which some clients who I studied could have produced such manifestations while working with me due to transference, perhaps in search of my approval regarding their dynamics. In some cases this was immediately obvious to me. In other cases, I became aware of it over the course of the therapeutic sessions.

4 – Clients in my case studies were often involved in practices considered “favourable to psi manifestations” (religious trances, meditation, self-hypnosis etc.). NLP trance states are ways to gain access to unconscious resources. Could psi states be unconscious resources that are triggered in order to restore balance to the system (what NLP calls internal ecology)?

Some clients believe in “spiritual guides”. In NLP one could interpret the guides as NLP “parts”. For Tad James (2004), “Parts are part of the unconscious with a purpose/intention and a function/behaviour. They are functionally detached, always represent minor personalities, meaningful people (imprinted), some believe to be managing the system to protect (and continue) a non-integrated behaviour”. Parts as “spiritual guides” could have helped to structure the motivational meaning that justifies the strategy dynamics, creating a “state” favourable to purported psi experiences. NLP elicits people’s strategies to produce something. Now it seems that my earlier studies were already “mapping” a systemic strategy which at one time I have called a “system of integrated factors” (Carvalho, 1995) which the dynamics seem to be consisted with Dilt’s “Field Mind” for NLP (2011).

Considering Rex Stanford’s the PMIR (Psi-Mediated Instrumental Response) the “psi responses” that I have suggested in the cases could be seen as instrumental strategies that would keep the person congruent with the beliefs, values and rules that are associated with the system in which they were operating (NLP TOTE). In this specific case we could be observing a “PMIR TOTE”.


An analysis of the case studies that I have published (Carvalho, 1992, 1994, 1995) when compared with some of the basic presuppositions of NLP (O’Connor, 2003) reveals:

1 – Clients responded to the meaning of their experience and not to reality itself (To NLP, “People respond to their experience and not to reality itself”).

2 – Clients made choices and used elements that they had at their disposal to find a way to deal with limiting threats (To NLP: ‘having one option or choice is better than not having any choice”, and “people make the best choice that they are capable of making at any given moment”).

3 – PMIRs and spontaneous psi events are responses that “differ from the ordinary” although they may be context-congruent. That demands flexibility (To NLP: “The person with the most flexibility exercises the most influence in the system”).

4 – Following some spontaneous psi experiences, clients seem to reorganize their lives. The purported psi events had some deep meaning, changed something, and somehow influenced the situation’s dynamics. Within the NLP perspective, this reorganization could have happened in the client’s TOTEs (Test, Operation, Test, Exit) a mechanism which keeps what I would now call “Psi Neuro-linguistic Strategy” (PNS). Operating the established TOTE seems to have restored enough inner and outer balance to the subjects, somehow adapting or readapting them to the systems’ demands (NLP presuppositions: the unconscious mind counterbalances the conscious mind, the person is part of a system, and, all communication should increase choice).

5 – The religious or social context supports the meaning developed by the clients, enabling the expression of inner dynamics. In other words, they could explain themselves through religious/culture presuppositions and accept that as a part of their theology or belief system. It is helpful if purported psi events are not labelled as “weird” or are regarded as a taboo, but instead come to be viewed as something with a very special meaning – sometimes for a whole community (To NLP: “The meaning of the communication isn’t just what you aim for, but the response that you obtain”; “modelling successful performance leads to excellence”, and, “if you want to understand something you take action”). Joining a religious practice opened to psi is a way of “take action”.

6 – Clients seem to have an unconscious strategy for dealing with and managing limiting questions (To NLP: “All behaviours have a positive intention”, “all actions have a purpose”, “we already have all the resources that we need or we can create them” and “mind and body create a system, and we process all the information through our senses”).

7 – In my case study, clients manifested limiting and immature beliefs, dissociated and unconscious presupposing of some kind of “restriction”. This demand at the conscious level seems to create a need to control meaningful events because it was learned as something considered to be “important” (what NLP calls “positive intention”), and functions to maintain the client’s balance or internal ecology. In the experiences in which purported psi could be operating, a limiting and resource-less TOTE (Test, Operation, Test, Exit) keeps running over and over. Altough “immature” to some clients, in the field or system’s perspective it turned aout to be a “mature” solution so that it (the established system) could keep on existing and functioning. Additional presuppositions of NLP supporting that are, “the one who sets the frame for the communication controls the action” and “meaning operates context-dependently” (Hall & Bodenhamer, 2008).



Richard Bandler wrote recently (2008b) “Early in my work, I realized that people get themselves into trouble because they engage in habitual behaviour that keeps looping”. Observations with purported spontaneous psi suggests that somehow subjects seem follow a psychodynamic pattern that keeps operating consistent to their beliefs and structured TOTEs.

Even considering the hypothesis of “Extrasensory Perception”, assumes that it is “translated” to the senses via language. NLP states that the Representational Systems can be visual, auditory, auditory digital, kinaesthetic, olfactory, and/or gustatory). Sometimes people’s reports of purported psi events (spontaneous or in laboratory experiences utilizing Ganzfeld, remote viewing, or dream telepathy) involve “seeing images”, “hearing voices” and “feeling things” inside or outside of their minds. For example, the work of Louisa E. Rhine (1983), which examines the various manifestations of purported spontaneous psi (realistic and unrealistic dreams, intuitions, and hallucinatory experiences), reinforces the NLP model (both internal and external) being used in this psi process. This is related to the phenomena described by NLP as DELETION, GENERALIZATION and DISTORTION. For example, unrealistic dreams seem to be more distorted than realistic dream reports. Hallucinatory experiences seem to be external experiences, and spontaneous PK phenomena could be distortions of physical energy.

NLP techniques can help parapsychology better understand their participants. Experiments could be designed based on Representational Systems preferences and perhaps the results would increase if we applied visual stimuli to visual participants, and likewise, kinaesthetic stimuli to kinaesthetic people. There also is a need to work with sub-modalities (specific ways a participant deals with a specific representational system such as colour, size, or dimension).

From an NLP perspective, participants who have demonstrated psi either from purported spontaneous experiences as well as from experimental research could be modelled. For example, they may have been running an entire unconscious strategy to produce the purported psi events. These strategies could be taught to new participants. These strategies would include many activities studied by NLP, and can also be found in my studies, as well as Louisa Rhine’s cases, and others that represent a strategy of modelling picked up from family members and/or through culture. My case studies suggest generations in the same family reporting apparent psi events. Their conscious and unconscious strategies could be identified and used for modelling. However this modelling might also include Neuro-linguistic strategies such as beliefs, use of representational systems and sub-modalities, processes of distortion, deletion and generalization operating in a TOTE help to keep the process running and functioning.

One of the greatest developers of NLP, Robert Dilts, proposed a theory of unified fields for NLP (Dilts & DeLozier, 2000) in which he considered the Overall Problem Space within which change takes place (SOAR Model), The Path of Change to be Undertaken (SCORE model), the Fundamental Feedback Loop by which the steps in the Path of Change are Accomplished (TOTE model), and the specific Cognitive Processes, Linguistic Patterns and Physical Cues that are the “Neurolinguistic Operators” through which the Steps of the Path are represented and Implemented. In the cases that I have reported, the client’s dynamics fulfil many if not all the NLP models that compose this generative theory. If a correlation between the NLP model and psi research results is confirmed, it might enrich future investigations, experimental design, and observations, which in turn, could contribute to greater replication rates and perhaps even psi training. The SOAR model, for example, relates logical levels (environment, behaviour, capabilities, beliefs and values, identity, and system) to how a person perceives him or herself relating to others (NLP Perceptual Positions) – including time zones (future, present, past). When psi is involved, it may lend meaning to the unconscious processes that produce telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance, enabling a real step into different time zones, not just psychological representations as regularly developed by NLP. Maybe a “specialized” type of NLP that deals with psi phenomena could be termed PARA NLP (Para Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

As for the purported psi experiences about which I and others have published, we can see that the frameworks of religion and culture support the “extraordinary” appellation (Gods, spirits, etc.). It needs to produce people capable of manifesting some gifts in a way consistent to the culture belief’s and religious stereotypes. This could explain why people often are reported manifesting purported psi “mixed” with their religious or cultural standards. Psi experiences of people who are born in cultures that have those “collective demands” could account for the fact that many people who are not directly involved with the rituals are manifesting psi, because it is also part of a systemic process which is inserted in everyday social and family routines and dynamics.

Dilts (2011 P.243) points to what he describe to be the “Field Mind” as part of the “3rd Generation of NLP”. It “is essentially a type of space or energy produced by relationships and interactions within a system of individuals… relationship itself is a “third entity” generated between those involved… the relationship becomes a container that holds, processes and evolve the thoughts, emotions and experiences of those involved”. My case studies as well as other researcher’s point to a systemic of “field” interaction process because what happens relate not just to a subject experiencing purported psi but to the whole system or field in which he or she is inserted. This “Field Mind” interacts with the “Somatic” and “Cognitive” minds (Dilts 2011) creating the “structure of subjective experiences”. In my studies there were intense correlation between field, body manifestations (trances, symptoms) and cognitive processes, supporting Dilt’s description being accurate in the purported spontaneous psi dynamics. Parapsychology could contribute to The 3rd Generation of NLP suggesting a “Psi Mind” and a “Psi Field”.

At the same time that the purported spontaneous psi phenomena participants attend to their own demands through their strategies, they also attend to a systemic demand, because as NLP states, we are all part of a system.


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