Saturday, October 20, 2007

Be Like Derren Brown Part 2: Practice Anchoring

In his book, Tricks of the Mind, Derren Brown is somewhat critical of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

For those who don't know, NLP is a movement/school-of-thought within psychology. It focuses on individuals' subjective relationship with the world, emphasizing that humans experience the world through the lens of their own beliefs. NLP practitioners tend to be pragmatic, using techniques derived from various other methods of therapy.

NLP has a cult-like following, and that seems to be DB's main problem with it. There's no denying, however, that he uses many of NLP's techniques. One technique he uses routinely in his shows is anchoring.

Anchoring is the process of attaching an emotion to a sensory input. For example, if every time you feel sad you rub your elbow, you will eventually find that when you rub your elbow you feel sad. Your mind creates a connection between the emotion and the sensory input, and that allows the sensory input to evoke the emotion.

DB has developed numerous creative ways to use this effective technique. In one excellent segment of his show, DB uses anchoring to convince Simon Pegg (star of Shaun of the Dead) that he wants a red BMX bike for his birthday.

To do this, DB asks Pegg to vividly imagine how it feels to find the perfect gift you have been looking for. As Pegg is doing this, DB touches a specific place on his arm. Throughout the ensuing conversation, DB touches the same place whenever he uses a word relating to a BMX bike (e.g., saddle, wheels, bar, etc.). Pegg unconsciously associates the feeling of finding the perfect gift with these BMX words, and ends up claiming that what he really wants is a BMX bike.

You can practice anchoring easily. First, do it on yourself. Create an emotional state in yourself and anchor (e.g., by touching a spot on your arm). Later you will find that you can use the anchor to recreate the emotional state. Second, try using anchors on others. As long as you are not too obvious, there is little risk of detection.

Even if you're not interested in developing the skill of anchoring, understanding it will help you appreciate many of Derren Brown's mind tricks.

For more "Be Like Derren" info, see the list of Recommended Materials.


Stanton Carlisle said...

Derren doesn't like or use NLP. You may think he uses it, he may imply he uses it however, he doesn't.

infinite archetype said...

If he doesnt use it, then alot of the stuff he does is either staged and/or a lie. as there is no way in that simon pegg skit that he could have gotten him to change his mind to a bike from a jacket without NLP unless he is lying. fact. So derren is a liar then?

derren also states MANY times (try the end of something wicked this way comes) that he is planting words to the audience and this is influencing their decisions.

im sorry, i know about magic, but either derren is using psychology/NLP (some of NLPs techniques are based on psychology, others are bogus) or he is just a big liar and uses stooges.

Mick James said...

"there is no way in that simon pegg skit that he could have gotten him to change his mind to a bike from a jacket without NLP unless he is lying"

But Pegg didn't change his mind...

William_Tapscott said...

After years of watching Derren (and reading hundreds of articles, interviews, etc.), my best guess is that the slip of paper was a fake (i.e., that Simon Pegg never really wrote that he wanted a leather jacket).

Maria Ribeiro said...

To link NLP and Psychology is a fallacy. NLP is a tool that was created to break away from psychology, and the techniques are not based on psychology, they are the result of modelling some very successful therapists, such as Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson, who unlike most psychologists/therapists had results with what they did. They did what they did unaware of how they did it, Richard Bandler observed them and gave it structure.
As for DB, yes it's possible to do what he does using NLP. If you're very skilled in it, you can do it.