The Structure of Magic

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The Structure of Magic is a book by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, two of the founders of Neurolinguistic programming. The main promotional message of the book is that NLP is an extraordinarily fast, almost miraculous therapy (cf. Frogs into Princes, They Lived Happily Ever After). The main flavour of the book is conveyed by these two contrasting reviews .

  • Supporter 'If you're serious about understanding where NLP comes from, begin with this book and with Chomsky. Since Structure of Magic relies on an understanding of transformational grammar, it may be necessary to read Chomsky (and a good textbook on transgrammar) first. Additionally, you may find it valuable to have a general psycholinguistics text handy, and to have at least a passing understanding of psychoanalytic/psychological therapeutic technique (since Structure of Magic looks at the practices of particularly highly-performant psychologists/analysts)'.
  • Detractor 'Hideous mishmash of linguistics, hypnosis and pseudo-psychology written by two college students in the 1960s who had no experience or degree work in any of the mental health sciences, and both of whom engaged in conduct that is very possibly unethical, both at the time of the book's publication in the 1960's and subsequently. Bandler, in particular, has had a checkered career that the reader should research before investing in this book, or in any of the "ideas" that comprise NLP. The book consists of a series of self-invented formulas that use bits and pieces of linguistics and psychology to present "concepts" that were already laid out clearly by other authors years before. The book uses these pseudo-scientific diagrams and many unnecessarily complex, wordy explanations in order to (a) confuse the reader and (b) impress the easily impressionable as to how intelligent they are. This book belongs in the same category as L. Ron Hubbard's books on Scientology or Werner Erhard's "EST." Bandler and Grinder based this book on their observations (which were apparently not very good) of Milton Erickson's psychotherapeutic techniques, which are outlined in much more comprehensible detail in other books. This book, however, is hogwash' [1].