the “Human Operating System”

by Francis Evans

These days most people have some experience with computers. Every computer has an essential piece of software called an operating system. IBM type computers use either DOS, UNIX or OS/2, and Apple simply call it the SYSTEM. The operating system is like a palette of colours waiting for an artist to combine in clever and practical ways. It has to be installed before anything else will work. Behind every Windows application is the Disk Operating System. DOS determines what happens when you press each of the keys on the keyboard, drag your mouse or shift your joystick. DOS determines the computer’s responses to outside stimuli. DOS sets the responses that other programmes have to your interaction with them, it determines where and how your computer stores and retrieves data.

As computer applications become more and more sophisticated over time the DOS needs upgrading, new elements are added and old ones deleted. Files within the DOS are re-engineered to be more efficient. Sometimes you have to reorder the way you computer system stores its information, by carrying out a defragmentation of the hard drive. The DOS collects data belonging to one programme together so that access is easier and faster. Unless the DOS is working correctly, all you get on your monitor is garbage, little smiling or glum faces and other unintelligible symbols, garbage. The same happens if you try to read some data that was stored in a different DOS system.

It requires an understanding of computer programming language to change the DOS. The human mind also has an operating system (we could call this HOS). The Human Operating System is a strategy dependent memory storage and retrieval system which is based on a set of internally recognisable codes. The HOS works with a variety of systems, which must be determined before any resorting, deletion, or major overhaul of the system can be started.

The Human mind operates as a neurological electro-chemical computer, the most sophisticated neural network known to man. While we can use our minds to process many interesting functions like driving a car or following a recipe, behind the scenes the neural network is busy making connections. The Human Operating System stores the experiences on certain predetermined segments of the brain cortex. Like the hard drive, the cortex stores the information, but is not the information it stores. The mind sorts the information in predetermined ways, much like the computer programme, yet the mind is still not the information it sorts. The information, the data exists in consciousness, a vast shared multidimensional repository of interrelated bits of information. The relating of these bits creates beliefs and truths.

There are some other correlations between the electro-mechanical computer and the electro-chemical version. Let us say that certain program files reside in specific locations in the storage system. Once the operating system is installed it remains in a unmovable position, as fixed files. These can only be changed by installing an upgrade. The operational program files of a word processor can be moved as long as certain relationships are maintained. These files have this relationship because they have to run a sequential strategy to operate correctly.

There are specialised small programs whose purpose is to check the integrity of the system. They collect misplaced information and either restructure it, isolate it, or delete it. By doing this, such data has no chance of interfering with legitimate program operation.

There are viruses, small programs created by unethical people to corrupt operational files. Such programs are self-replicating and are repeated over and over. They install and replace true data with garbage. Sometimes the human computer contains such garbage producing data, but such ideas are always installed through external contact.

In consciousness there can also be worms. Worms eat up data, though are rarely self-replicating or mutating. Worms can be conditioned to be white (good) or black (bad). White worms can be activated to ferret out destructive data, and even viruses, and to consume them. An example of a worm may be holding the belief that “What I believe to be true, is so only from my personal perspective, at this moment in time, at this position in creation, and from this point of evolution, and may not be valid from any other perspective”.

Many of the responses we have at the time of our old experiences are outdated. Yet often we still respond in the same way to this stored information, a way that is no longer appropriate. While these outdated files simply contain information that is no longer valid, they also determine which connections follow from them. For example, you go for a job interview and the man behind the desk looks like dad. The mind accesses “dad”. “How do I act around dad?” Certain old patterns of behaviour that are seemingly beyond your control begin to happen. Afterwards, you wonder why you did or said that.

Like the electronic computer, all is not lost. A person skilled in the art and science of a Human Processing Language can upgrade these old files. Enter Neuro Linguistic Programming known as NLP. NLP was first proposed in the early 1970s by two graduate students of psychology. John Grinder was a professor of linguistics and Richard Bandler was a graduate of mathematics and computer studies. They asked themselves the question, “What makes one person more successful in what they do over a similarly qualified person? How does excellence happen ?” They began to study the language and behaviour of a number of well-known people engaged in personal change therapy, including Virginia Satir, Gregory Bateson, Fritz Perls, Moshe Feldenkrais, and Milton Erickson. From this early work Bandler and Grinder developed a systematised approach which continues to be taught throughout the world. NLP is a science based on breaking down what we do as humans into small steps, and changing the steps or fine tuning them.

While NLP has not been widely acceptable to psychiatrists and psychologists, it has been keenly adopted by many therapists, trainers and educationalists looking for techniques that help people make significant long term changes. NLP sessions are brief encounters. One of the major premises of NLP is that the brain learns quickly, it might take many lifetimes getting to the point where it is willing to learn, but when learning comes it is instantaneous. First you don’t know, then you do. There isn’t a point where you only half know.

NLP offers ways that change the processing paths in the mind. It isn’t so interested in the past, what has happened, but is directed towards what one wants to become. Some therapy methods suggest that unless you fully experience a past experience, it is unlikely to be released. NLP doesn’t go against this theory, it just asks the questions, “How many times and for how long do you want to re-experience this past before you’re bored with it, and move on?” If you are helping a teenager who is angry with their parents for some past pain, what is it that will motivate them to move on and get on with their lives? Often the answer is generated by eliciting their personal values and presenting them with options that move them towards fulfilling these value judgements.

One of the most interesting question of all is, “Why would anybody, particularly me, want to learn NLP ?” Language is the method of choice used to manipulate people. Politicians, Media, Advertising, Sales all use specialised language patterns to lead us to make certain assumptions that benefit them. They appeal to the inner drives of most people and link them to something else, another thing that usually has little or nothing to connect them together. Learning NLP languaging skills primarily allows you to identify the control patterns and disentangle oneself from hidden and often sinister assumptions. Secondly, these language skills allow you turn the tables around and bring out the hidden messages and agendas of the manipulator. Therapy is the act of disentangling people from the distortions, deletions and generalisations they perceive as the “real world.”

From a therapeutic perspective, we all live within our self-delusions. These delusions are turned onto ourselves and our dear ones in a manipulative fashion, in an attempt to gain what we feel is missing in our lives and relationships. This is actually the bottom line for all personal and interpersonal difficulties. The NLP practitioner uses the same language skills, perceptual techniques and strategic interruptions to surface the manipulation into consciousness, and then teaches new behaviours that really fulfill the original intentions of the old behaviour. New behaviours engender flexibility and freedom, for psychological pain is always associated with the inability to have more than one way of behaving.

NLP is a serious study of human behaviour trained by people who are committed to the evolution and practice of NLP.The skills allow you to become more fully in the world, and to facilitate others. NLP is the foremost powerful change tool for business, teachers and the individual. It’s primary concern is what is known as second order change. First order change can be defined as when lots of changes are happening, but the whole game remains the same, and second order change is when the underlying game changes. Most of industry attempts to change, but really wants to keep hold of the power, a first order change. After such an attempt, participants feel frustrated and cheated, usually without understanding why nothing is improving. Likewise, much of the current psychotherapy models work at the first order change level. Inevitably nothing really changes, no matter how many visits for counselling one makes. There is no substitute for second order change!

A later development from the early work of NLP came from Michael Hall in the form of Neuro Semantics and Meta-States. Essentially these two are concerned with the application of meaning to primary experiences. Francis Evans is an INLPTA qualified Master Practitioner of NLP. He has studied the application of linguistic methods in brief psychotherapy and hypnosis, and has developed a method for applying these methods as experimental exercises on-line.

Francis is one of the foremost practitioners of NLP and NS in Auckland, New Zealand. Private one-to-one sessions are available in Auckland and on Waiheke Island, and on-line world-wide.