Reverse Meta Model: Selectional Restriction Violation


Reverse Meta Model: Selectional Restriction Violation

A “Selectional Restriction Violation” is when someone ascribes to a thing something, usually a feeling, that is technically impossible for it to possess (at least as far as we know). So if you hear someone say something like, “the grass was feeling annoyed at the moles.” We might be tempted to employ the meta model to clear up this distortion. “Precisely how do you know what the grass was feeling?” We also might be tempted to suggest that our client lay off the grass for a while.

But, when we reverse the meta model, it can be very useful to violate a selectional restriction.

As an example if, in the course of my telling a therapeutic metaphor, I were to say, “You can listen to the cheerful trees and sit on this noble divan while your hands decide which of them will lift up first,” I’d be employing this pattern three times. First, with the “cheerful” trees, second, with the “proud” divan, and thirdly with the hands being able to decide for themselves what to do. This pattern is especially useful while telling metaphors.

Because the listener realizes on some level that the selected thing can’t actually feel these feelings, they will personally identify with the feelings. This is especially true when the speaker uses a shift in tonality consistent with an embedded command. This is referred to as an interspersal technique.

Readers who have read Bandler and Grinder’s “Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson M.D., vol. 1” will remember the section (pp.26-50) about the farmer named Joe who was suffering from cancer. Erickson spoke to Joe about tomato plants and how they feel good and comfortable when they grow.

That little seed, Joe, slowly swells, sends out a little rootlet with cilia on it…
…they must make the tomato plant feel very good, very comfortable

So you, dear reader, are probably thinking that you could write a trance induction of your own using this and many of the other language patterns explored this year.

What a terrific idea! I wonder how much fun you could have doing that? Tell you what, send in your happy finished product and I’ll post it. Providing it’s appropriate content, of course… I reserve the right to not post it. Keep in mind, that while I can promise I won’t use it, other readers will have no such obligation. The possibility exists it might be “borrowed.”

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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