I learned a lot this evening about what not to do.

A friend invited me to a workshop on mBraining. A dozen of us met in downtown Berkeley to hear Lorna Bukkland-Vitetta, a New Zealand-based NLP trainer of 20 years. I should pay attention to my gut on these things. 20 years of NLP? Turned out half the people in the room were NLP trainers.

mBraining comes from Australia. It “integrates the arts and sciences of being human, including neuro-science, Positive Psychology, mindfulness, NLP and ancient wisdom traditions.” As Lorna told it, getting your three brains (head, heart, gut) in coherence improves decision-making, relationships, mood disorders, and health, among other things.

Lorna told us our self-image is entirely in our gut and everything emotional comes from our hearts. No  amygdala? No emotion in your head? Did the frog brain cede control to the gut brain? What the hell?

During the break I asked if there was any outside validation of the claims she was making. I said it would help me buy into this, especially given the checkered reputation of Neuro-Linguist Programming. (Wikipedia: “The balance of scientific evidence reveals NLP to be a largely discredited pseudoscience. Scientific reviews show it contains numerous factual errors,[14][16] and fails to produce the results asserted by Bandler & Grinder.”)

Lorna said there was evidence galore, hundreds of studies on the mBraining website. She hadn’t given any references in her presentation because she wanted to concentrate on the message and didn’t think people would be interested. You betcha.

She told me five times that the mBraining book would help me understand. I would explain that I liked to know something about what I’m getting into before committing time to it. The broken record again told me to buy the book.


I wrote my host, who is hawking Lorna’s services, “I went to Google Scholar. The only study I found was co-authored by an mBraining employee, hardly credible. No one else has validated this that I can find.”

You’re a pal and I don’t want to trash our relationship, but mBraining strikes me as a load of bullshit. Were I in your shoes, I wouldn’t want my reputation tarnished with it.
And Lorna? She needs some lessons in tact. Telling me that she knows the book will be good for me when she has no idea who I am destroys her credibility. Furthermore, from what I’ve found on the web, she lied to me about the existence of outside validation. Share this with her if you like.
My learning includes:
  • If something smells flaky at the outset, don’t waste time on it.
  • Don’t be a blind zealot thinking proof by assertion is enough.
  • Quote reliable outside sources to make claims credible. (I have too often muffed this one myself.)
  • Don’t tell your prospect what’s good for them when you don’t know their needs at all.
  • Acknowledge problems (e.g. NLP’s poor reputation) instead of pushing them under the rug.
  • Accept feedback graciously. I know how I feel; Lorna didn’t. She must have had an empathy bypass.
  • Crappy graphics are a turn-off.

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