NLP, Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Our Responsibility to Assist Clients in Self-Acceptance
somebody i met was asking me if NLP processes can change an identity layer as deep as sexual orientation.
Great question. Several ideas about it:
There are some aspects of sexual orientation that may extend into identity structures, but I am uncertain about the presupposition that there is where it lays--in fact, after seing hundreds of clients, for some people it creates tremendous internal dissonance when they finally admit to their desires because it is directly in conflict with their identity structures. In other words, I disagree with the presupposition in the question.
this guy is straight and very open-minded. i think he genuinely wanted to know about the range and reach of NLP. i did tell him that i did a training with richard bandler in 88 or 89 where he *claimed* that guys (terrified of aids) had begged him to "make them straight" AND he said that he did that!
Bandler may have in fact done that. Again, lots of "instant research" in the early days. But if Bandler did it and was bragging about it, I would be even more hesitant. Bandler once bragged in a video I watched about installing a phobia in someone so they would stop sitting in the front row. Ugh. However, there is a documented intervention [Laid out in "Heart of the Mind", I think] where a guy was effeminate, and supposedly gay, married, but did not enjoy sex with men [or something like that] and there was an event where he was going under anesthetic, struggled, and was put under. This was somehow tied to the effeminate-ness and cleared and his orientation "changed" to straight.
Again, not sure the guy was ever really homo-erotically driven.
NOW, i am open-minded, so i said i think that there are aspects of person's 'taste' for certain things could be altered and very likely even the cues for arousal. i am also aware that there is a big difference between chemistry/attraction and a constructed identity--so yes an 'identity' could be shifted. BUT I don't really know if the primary gender attraction could change.
Yeah. I agree with you here.
If someone came to me wanting to change their sexual orientation/gender attraction, I would probably decline to do so. But I would do it elegantly in this way ::: Get into communication wiht the part of them that feels like something is wrong with their desires [assuming consenting adults] and look at the guilt and shame that must be driving the desire to change and resolve that to make them okay with their mutually consensual, alternative, yet natural desires. Thereby sidestepping what I consider to be a questionable intervention.
To me, that is a more ethical approach, rippling out to areas in every aspect of their life, creating internal peace, and avoiding making change that is motivated in the ways this request for change likely would be.
It is not the thing itself [sexual orientation in this case] that is the problem, but the relationship to it the creates it as a problem.
And again, just because we can, does not mean we should.
Self-acceptance being one of the highest and deepest contributions we can make to our clients.