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The ability to twist and distort language so that you can construct new ideas and concepts.

Blog Image | The ability to twist and distort language so that you can construct new ideas and concepts.
Blog Image | The ability to twist and distort language so that you can construct new ideas and concepts.

Our Distortions & Outcomes.

The ability to twist and distort language so that you can construct new ideas and concepts holds the power to create exceedingly inventive things that can make life a hundred times better and the power to invent things that make life a living hell. It is the same power either way. This means that language can be used for both good and evil. It means that language can go far beyond merely representing what is there and doing so with accuracy and precision. You and I can use language that invents concepts that do not exist naturally in the world.

Welcome to the realm of distortions!

Nominalizations distort things by turning verbs into nouns. Mind-reading distorts things by second-guessing what another person is thinking, feeling, or intending. Cause-effect constructs “causation” out of correlation or out of nothing. Complex equivalence makes two things the same which are not, and presuppositions construct premises and then hide them in assumptive frames.


“You are upset with me.”

“You are really angry.”

“You are intending to take advantage of me.”

These mind-reading statements start with the word “you” and then assert something about a person that is an internal state of thinking, feeling, and/or intending. Even if what is asserted is true, the statement is still just a guess. In that case, it would so happen to be a correct guess, but a guess nonetheless. To assume that you can “read” someone’s mind is a tremendously big distortion. Well, try to read your own mind! What are you thinking? Feeling? What are your intentions? Actually, it is challenging enough to read our own minds. Assuming that you can read another’s is a form of megalomania. You can’t. You can guess. But your guessing is your meaning-making, not the others. a mind-reading statement, therefore, distorts the information by assuming it is true about the other person without checking with that person.


“She makes me angry.”

“He makes me feel appreciated.”

“That job is depressing.”

In a cause-effect relationship between two things, there is a direct causational mechanism and this is what we search out in every science — How does X cause Y? Science is devoted to figuring out how something works and what are the variables make it so. The problem is that we live in a process world (Korzybski) such that there are usually multiple factors contributing to generate something.

What is distorted in the statement, “She makes me angry,” is the over-simplification. And the key factor that is “causing” the anger has not only been left it, but it is also completely missing. Factually, each person is responsible for his or her own emotions. If I am angry, I am making myself angry about something. My anger is a response to thinking that something is violating my values and it occurs inside my neurology. That’s what anger is. So perhaps “she” did something that the speaker thinks, evaluates, assumes, etc. constitutes a violation of his values. Still, he has to see that, makes that interpretation, mobilizes the neurons in his brain to activate certain ideas, release certain neurochemicals in his system, and on and on. What a distortion to say that “she makes me angry!” At best, she only provided a stimulus for him to go to work to create the experience of anger. Neither the world nor the people in it are so simple.

Complex Equivalence

The distortion here is making two things equivalent or the same which are not the same.

“His harsh tone of voice is disrespectful.”

“I know what she means by rolling her eyes when I talk, it is dismissing my ideas.”

Here something internal is equated with something external. External: harsh tone, rolling of eyes. Internal: disrespect, dismissing ideas.

Equating external things with internal things is the structure of meaning. It is how you and I, as meaning-makers, make meaning. By itself, nothing is something else. Each thing is what it is and that’s all it is. But when you add in a human being, now you are inventing a formula for meaning. Now the human connects X with Y and lo, and behold, meaning is constructed. But it is a distortion. Now it might be a distortion that works in your favor and makes life better or it may work against you and create all sorts of problems for you. And for that reason, we always want to run a quality check or ecology check on the meanings we create.

“On the surface, the statement sounds like a simple equation. Just adding two things together, so how is it a complex equivalence?”

The complexity arises from the fact that each exists in a different dimension or level. One inside, the other outside. One phenomenological, the other empirical. Then, they are equated as if they were from the same dimension, and that’s the complexity.

Dr. Michael L. Hall, NLP Cognitive Psychologist &
Nicolas Hagen, B.Soc Sci (Psych), Licensed NLP Meta-Coach.
Equity Rise (pty) Ltd | Property Coaching

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