Now I’m confused…how many NLP presuppositions are there?


Okay, this is a strange title. But it’s exactly how I feel at the moment. I was planning to do a series on the presuppositions of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). In my textbook for the NLP Practitioners training I’m following are 8 (eight) presuppositions, but they’re in Dutch. So I set out to find the correct English translations for them on the internet. I figured I could easily find them somewhere.

And I did. Boy I did, I found about 20 of them! And now I’m confused…how many are there? And why are there only 8 in my book, including one that I can’t seem to find anywhere on the net? I’m going to start discussing them anyway, there seem to be a handful that come back in every list, so they’re first. But I can’t tell (yet) where the series will end…

If anyone knows more about the presuppositions of NLP and their origins, I would be grateful if you let me know where I can find it. I’m eager to get the complete overview. Thanks!

Posted in 15 bean soup on Wed 2007.08.22


Ben Licher August 22, 2007 at 16:22

You can find Bndler’s original 8 presuppositions as he is still teaching them today here:

Ypu can find the Dutch translation here:

Have fun!

Lodewijkvdb August 22, 2007 at 21:04

Hi Ben,
Thanks. I didn’t realize those 8 were Bandler’s original presuppositions. They’re not the same as the 8 I have in my book though. Numbers 1, 3 and 6 are not on my list, and number 8 is broader than my textbook. The one from my list that I can’t seem to find is: “The subconscious thoughts are equally important as the conscious thoughts”. Have you heard of this one before? It makes sense to me as a presupposition.

And I found somewhere that Micheal Hall and Bob Bodenhamer in their book -A user’s manual for the brain- distinguish up to 21 presuppositions. Pretty confusing.

Ben Licher August 22, 2007 at 22:03

Sorry for the typos in my earlier comment :-).

Haven’t heard of “The subconscious thoughts are equally important as the conscious thoughts” before as a NLP presupposition and it doesn’t make sense to me :-). I think subconsciuos thoughts are much more important than the conscious ones. The conscious ones are learned, studied, full of restricting beliefs. The ‘un’conscious ones are the thoughts which are really based on intuitive knowing. Knowing what’s good for you. The deep down real you of you. And I don’t call them subconscius – as if there is a hierarchy – I call it unconscious).

The “Essentie van NLP” has 21 or so presuppositions. Study them and you will find Bandler’s 8 in almost all of them.

One more presupposition for you, to add to your confusion:
“Succesful communicators accept and utilise all communication/behaviour presented to them” (Paul McKenna).

I teach the presuppositions and make fun of them. The positive intention behind all behaviour is always a difficult one. Dilts’s article about it is really good: We make our own presuppositions.
NLP is about freedom. Freedom of choice and the freedom to use your brains for a change :-).

Bedtime, 4 o’clock this week?
Preview doesn’t work.

Lodewijkvdb August 23, 2007 at 05:18

Unconscious sounds so knock-out :) But I think I understand where you’re getting at. I think I’ll just have to work my way through a lot of presuppositions. I’ll start with Bandler’s 8 and then move on.

The one about positive intention I did not find that difficult. It makes a lot of sense even for people who did very bad things. Given the situation, given the knowledge and given the skills at that time, they did what they thought was best for themselves. But I’ll make sure I read Dilts’s article about that one.

Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it.

I’ll look into the preview function. Thanks for notifying me.

Ben Licher August 24, 2007 at 06:51

I’m going to add to your confusion. Every NLP presupposition is a Meta Model Challlenge :-) challenge as well.

“The moment of chaos is the only moment to learn”. Before any Aha erlebnis there is an Uhu??? moment.”

Lodewijkvdb August 24, 2007 at 22:19

I noticed the meta model challenges already. Since I’ve had that part of the training, I seem to have quite an antenna for these (which isn’t that helpful at time :D ). And yeah, frustration comes before a breakthrough. So I’m not confused enough yet :P

Evelyne April 28, 2010 at 09:55

Just found your site. And yes, I was confused about the presuppositions. But then I learned that there are 2 main principles, or presuppostions, in NLP and all the others are based on those. The first one is that The Map Is Not The Territory and the other one is that Mind And Body Are One System. When you look at all the other ones, 21, or 16, or even 13 as some NLPers say, you see that they all fit in one or the other.
I must say, these two made sense to me when I first learned about NLP. I’m curious to know what you think.

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