As an undergraduate, I remember a social-psych professor raving about a book called The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) by Milton Rokeach. Ypsilanti is a small town between Ann Arbor and Detroit on I-94 (that road probably did not exist in ’64). Rokeach was a hot-shot professor at U of M in Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti State Hospital was home of a bunch of people who had been declared insane for one reason or another.
Three of the inmates all claimed to be Jesus Christ. Rokeach got the idea of bringing all three together in a sort of group therpay program. He figured that when confronted with each other’s delusion, it would force them back to reality. Not so. To cut to the chase, the three Christs came together in what amounted to a “mastermind group” to help each other further their delusions along. So much for group therapy.
And before I get hate mail from the psych dudes and dudettes, let me acknowledge that it is a classic. It is well worth reading — and my recollection is that it reads more like a novel than an accademic tome.
Fast forward a decade or so and shift west 2200 miles or so to another mental institution in CA. Here they have only one “Christ” at the moment. Richard Bandler gets called in for a consult–this was the hot-n-heavy times after the Time Magazine cover for the two modest saviors of therapy.
On his first visit, Bandler interviews “Christ” for a few minutes and tells him he will see him later. A few days later, Bandler returns dressed as a blue collar worker. He was wearing a tool belt and dragging two huge boards. When he came into the room, he did not even acknowledge “Christ.” Bandler set about working on the boards and measuring “Christ’s” height and wing span.
Of course, “Christ” is becoming more and more curious and keeps asking questions, which Bandler ignores. Finally, displaying a fair amount of annoyance, Bandler turns to him and says more than asks, “I’m busy. I have to get this done. So you are Jesus Christ, right?”
“Christ” responds, “Yes.”
Bandler says, “Okay, it seems to me we have a destiny awaiting us. You are Jesus Christ. I am a Jew. Easter is just around the corner. I have to get this thing put together to fulfill my part of our destiny.”
At this point, “Christ” decided he was not really Jesus. He was just Joe the Plumber or whatever he had been before being committed. Bandler was more committed to his delusion than he was.
My point is not to poke fun at the mentally ill. When you are working with other people, you can try to force them into your world (group therapy approach) or you can climb inside their world and work from there. That is what you learn to do in NLP. It is a far more effective approach–sanity or lack thereof is not an issue. This principle cuts across all levels of society.
My whole Basic NLP class is available on CDs. It is a great way to learn these skills at your own pace in the privacy of your home, office or car.