It is important to make a distinction between pain and bad feelings. In the brain neuroscientists identified two neurological circuits involved with pain. One processes pain data from the body and one is a backup system that can duplicate the data from the body in case the body stops sending this data. If people complain about pains it is a good idea to have them checked out by a doctor first before applying NLP.

Pain teaches us that the location of where the pain  is felt is a projection of the brain. There is the so called rubber hand illusion that shows that the brain is easily tricked into feeling pain (or any other feeling) in a rubber hand rather than in the body.

Pain is something different from pleasure – I mean to say, it is not its opposite. If the essence of pleasure has been accurately described as a feeling of more power (thus as a feeling of differentiation that presupposes comparison), this doesn’t mean the essence of unpleasure has thus been defined. The false oppositions believed in by the common people and consequently by language have always been dangerous shackles for the course of truth. There are even cases where a kind of pleasure is conditioned by a certain rhythmic succession of small unpleasurable stimuli: this leads to a very rapid growth of the feeling of power, the feeling of pleasure. This is the case, e.g., in tickling, including the sexual tickling in the act of coitus: here we see unpleasure working as an ingredient in pleasure. It seems a little resistance is overcome and is immediately followed by another little resistance, which in turn is overcome – this play of resistance and victory most strongly stimulates that overall feeling of surplus, excessive power, that feeling which amounts to the essence of pleasure. – The reverse, an augmentation of the feeling of pain through little interpolated pleasurable stimuli, doesn’t exist: pleasure and pain are, precisely, not the reverse of one another. – Pain is an intellectual process in which a judgement makes itself unmistakeably heard – the judgement ‘harmful’, into which long experience has accumulated. In itself there is no pain. It is not the wound that hurts; it is the experience of what grave consequences a wound can have for the organism as a whole that speaks in the shape of that deep agitation called unpleasure (in the case of harmful influences unknown to earlier men, e.g., from new combinations of toxic chemicals, pain bears no witness – and we are undone …). In pain, the really specific thing is always the long agitation, the after-trembling of a terrifying shock in the cerebral focus of the nervous system: one’s suffering is not actually due to the cause of the pain (some injury, for example) but to the long-lasting upset of equilibrium proceeding from that shock. Pain is a sickness ofthe cerebral nerve centres – whereas pleasure is by no means a sickness …- That pain is the cause of counter-movements may be supported by appearances and even by the prejudice of philosophers; but in sudden cases, if one looks closely, the counter-movement manifestly arrives earlier than the feeling of pain. I’d be in a sorry plight if, having stumbled, I had to wait until the fact struck the bell of consciousness and a hint of what to do was telegraphed back … Instead, I distinguish as clearly as possible that the counter-movement of the foot happens first, to prevent a fall, and then, after a measurable passage of time, a kind of painful wave suddenly makes itself felt in the front of my head. One does not, thus, react to the pain. Pain is afterwards projected into the injured place – but the essence of this local pain is, nevertheless, not the expression of the type of local injury: it’s merely a place-sign, appropriate to the injury in strength and tone, that the nerve centres have received from it. If the organism’s muscular strength drops measurably as a consequence of the shock, this by no means indicates that the essence of pain should be sought in a lessening of the feeling of power … To repeat, one does not react to pain: unpleasure is not a ’cause’ of actions, pain itself is a reaction, the counter-movement is another and earlier reaction – the two things originate in different places.

Notebook 14, spring 1888 paragraph 173

Peak experience

NLP is about having good feelings most of the time rather than peak experiences.

Faith in intoxication. – Men who enjoy moments of exaltation and ecstasy and who, on account of the contrast other states present and because of the way they have squandered their nervous energy, are ordinarily in a wretched and miserable condition, regard these moments as their real ‘self’ and their wretchedness and misery as the effect of what is ‘outside the self’ and thus they harbor feelings of revengefulness towards their environment, their age, their entire world. Intoxication counts as their real life, as their actual ego: they see in everything else the opponent and obstructor of intoxication, no matter whether its nature be spiritual, moral, religious or artistic. Mankind owes much that is bad to these wild inebriates: for they are insatiable sowers of the weeds of dissatisfaction with oneself and one’s neighbor, of contempt for the age and the world, and especially of world-weariness. Perhaps a whole Hell of criminals could not produce an effect so oppressive, poisonous to air and land, uncanny and protracted as does this noble little community of unruly, fantastic, half-crazy people of genius who cannot control themselves and can experience pleasure in themselves only when they have quite lost themselves: while the criminal very often gives proof of exceptional self-control, self-sacrifice and prudence, and keeps these qualities awake in those who fear him. Through him the sky above life may perhaps become perilous and gloomy, but the air stays sharp and invigorating. – In addition to all this, these enthusiasts seek with all their might to implant the faith in intoxication as being that which is actually living in life: a dreadful faith! Just as savages are quickly ruined and then perish through ‘fire-water’, so mankind as a whole has been slowly and thoroughly ruined through the feelings made drunk by spiritual fire-waters and by those who have kept alive the desire for them: perhaps it will go on to perish by them.

Daybreak paragraph 50


NLP often gets confused with positive thinking. NLP is different though. NLP is all about having the freedom to chose what you want. Nevertheless, most people when they have the power to chose, chose good feelings over bad ones for instance. Yet, when NLP is applied correctly it doesn’t want to paint a rosy picture of a fantastic future. No, not at all. It is much better to paint an uncertain future where problems happen, but where you see yourself reacting calmly to trouble and where you see yourself solving any issues that come up.

Mental imagery about the future where you see yourself work as an instruction video for the unconsciousness. If you imagine a future without any problems then your brain doesn’t know how to react in case there are issues in real life. By imagining that things can go wrong and seeing yourself reacting calmly and correctly, solving the problems, then your brain knows what to do if there are issues.

My new path to ‘Yes’ My new version of pessimism: willingly to seek out the dreadful and questionable sides of existence: which made clear to me related phenomena of the past. ‘How much “truth” can a spirit endure and dare?’ – a question of its strength. The outcome of a pessimism like this could be that form of a Dionysian saying Yes to the world as it is, to the point of wishing for its absolute recurrence and eternity: which would mean a new ideal of philosophy and sensibility. Understanding that those aspects of existence previously negated are not only necessary, but also desirable; and desirable not merely with respect to the aspects which have previously been affirmed (perhaps as their complement and precondition) but for their own sake, as the more powerful, more fruitful, truer aspects of existence, in which the will of existence expresses itself more clearly. To devalue those aspects of existence that have previously been the only ones affirmed; to draw out what it is that actually says Yes here (first the instinct of those who suffer, second the instinct of the herd, and that third instinct, the instinct of the majority against the exception). Conception of a higher kind of being as ‘immoral’ according to existing ideas: the beginnings of this in history (the pagan gods, the ideals of the Renaissance).

Notebook 10, autumn 1887 paragraph 3



NLP practitioners often praise others. Sometimes they think that praise is positive feedback. But there is no positive feedback, as all feedback is negative. One can present feedback through strategies that combine negative feedback with praise. For instance in the hamburger method of feedback or two stars and a wish.

What is praising? Praise and gratitude on the occasions of harvest, good weather, victory, weddings, peace – all these festivals require a subject towards which the feeling is discharged. One wants everything good that happens to one to have been done to one, one wants the doer. The same contemplating a work of art: the piece itself is not enough, its maker is praised. – What, then, is praising? A kind of settling up in respect of benefits received, a giving in return, a demonstration of our power – for the praiser affirms, judges, estimates, passes sentence: he grants himself the right to be able to affirm, to be able to mete out honor … The heightened feeling of happiness and life is also a heightened feeling of power: it is out of this that man praises (- out of this he invents and seeks a doer, a ‘subject’ -) Gratitude as the good revenge, most strictly required and practiced where equality and pride must both be maintained, where revenge is practiced best.

Notebook 9, autumn 1887 paragraph 79

In Applause. — In applause there is always some kind of noise: even in self-applause.

Gay Science paragraph 201

Against those who praise. — A : “One is only praised by one’s equals!” B : “Yes! And he who praises says : “You are my equal!”

Gay Science paragraph 190


NLP is very critical of what psychologists do. In fact the stance in psychology of distance, observing and empathy is exactly what NLP found doesn’t work.

Moral for psychologists. — Not to go in for backstairs psychology. Never to observe in order to observe! That gives a false perspective, leads to squinting and something forced and exaggerated. Experience as the wish to experience does not succeed. One must not eye oneself while having an experience; else the eye becomes “an evil eye.” A born psychologist guards instinctively against seeing in order to see; the same is true of the born painter. He never works “from nature”; he leaves it to his instinct, to his camera obscura, to sift through and express the “case,” “nature,” that which is “experienced.” He is conscious only of what is general, of the conclusion, the result: he does not know arbitrary abstractions from an individual case. What happens when one proceeds differently? For example, if, in the manner of the Parisian novelists, one goes in for backstairs psychology and deals in gossip, wholesale and retail? Then one lies in wait for reality, as it were, and every evening one brings home a handful of curiosities. But note what finally comes of all this: a heap of splotches, a mosaic at best, but in any case something added together, something restless, a mess of screaming colors. The worst in this respect is accomplished by the Goncourts; they do not put three sentences together without really hurting the eye, the psychologist’s eye. Nature, estimated artistically, is no model. It exaggerates, it distorts, it leaves gaps. Nature is chance. To study “from nature” seems to me to be a bad sign: it betrays submission, weakness, fatalism; this lying in the dust before petit faits [little facts] is unworthy of a whole artist. To see what is — that is the mark of another kind of spirit, the anti-artistic, the factual. One must know who one is.

Twilight of the Idols, Skirmishes of an Untimely Man, paragraph 7


NLP has been developed in 1970s by Richard Bandler as a criticism of psychology. His criticism was that psychology was wrong to think that they could get objective knowledge about mankind. NLP on the other hand focuses on the subjective experience people have rather than a hopeless quest for objectivity.

However gratefully we might approach the objective spirit – and who hasn’t been sick to death at least once of everything subjective, with its damned ipsissimosity! – nevertheless, in the end we even have to be cautious of our gratitude, and put an end to the exaggerated terms in which people have recently been celebrating the desubjectivization and depersonification of spirit, as if this were some sort of goal in itself, some sort of redemption or transfiguration. This kind of thing tends to happen within the pessimist school, which has reasons of its own for regarding “disinterested knowing” with the greatest respect. The objective man who no longer swears or complains like the pessimist does, the ideal scholar who expresses the scientific instinct as it finally blossoms and blooms all the way (after things have gone partly or wholly wrong a thousand times over) – he is certainly one of the most expensive tools there is: but he belongs in the hands of someone more powerful. He is only a tool, we will say: he is a mirror, – he is not an “end in himself.” The objective man is really a mirror: he is used to subordinating himself in front of anything that wants to be known, without any other pleasure than that of knowing, of “mirroring forth.” He waits until something comes along and then spreads himself gently towards it, so that even light footsteps and the passing by of a ghostly being are not lost on his surface and skin. He has so thoroughly become a passageway and reflection of strange shapes and events, that whatever is left in him of a “person” strikes him as accidental, often arbitrary, and still more often as disruptive. It takes an effort for him to think back on “himself,” and he is not infrequently mistaken when he does. He easily confuses himself with others, he is wrong about his own basic needs, and this is the only respect in which he is crude and careless. Maybe his health is making him suffer, or the pettiness and provincial airs of a wife or a friend, or the lack of companions and company, – all right then, he makes himself think about his sufferings: but to no avail! His thoughts have already wandered off, towards more general issues, and by the next day he does not know how to help himself any more than he knew the day before. He has lost any serious engagement with the issue as well as the time to spend on it: he is cheerful, not for lack of needs but for lack of hands to grasp his neediness. The obliging manner in which he typically approaches things and experiences, the sunny and natural hospitality with which he accepts everything that comes at him, his type of thoughtless goodwill, of dangerous lack of concern for Yeses and Noes: oh, there are plenty of times when he has to pay for these virtues of his! – and being human, he all too easily becomes the worthless residue of these virtues. If you want him to love or hate (I mean love and hate as a god, woman, or animal would understand the terms –) he will do what he can and give what he can. But do not be surprised if it is not much, – if this is where he comes across as fake, fragile, questionable, and brittle. His love is forced, his hatred artificial and more like un tour de force, a little piece of vanity and exaggeration. He is sincere only to the extent that he is allowed to be objective: he is “nature” and “natural” only in his cheerful totality. His mirror-like soul is forever smoothing itself out; it does not know how to affirm or negate any more. He does not command; and neither does he destroy. “Je ne m´eprise presque rien”, he says with Leibniz: that presque should not be overlooked or underestimated! He is no paragon of humanity; he does not go in front of anyone or behind. In general, he puts himself at too great a distance to have any basis for choosing between good or evil. If people have mistaken him for a philosopher for so long, for a Caesar-like man who cultivates and breeds, for the brutal man of culture – then they have paid him much too high an honor and overlooked what is most essential about him, – he is a tool, a piece of slave (although, without a doubt, the most sublime type of slave) but nothing in himself, – presque rien! The objective person is a tool, an expensive measuring instrument and piece of mirror art that is easily injured and spoiled and should be honored and protected; but he is not a goal, not a departure or a fresh start, he is not the sort of complementary person in which the rest of existence justifies itself. He is not a conclusion – and still less a beginning, begetter or first cause; there is nothing tough, powerful or self-supporting that wants to dominate. Rather, he is only a gentle, brushed-off, refined, agile pot of forms, who first has to wait for some sort of content or substance in order “to shape” himself accordingly, – he is generally a man without substance or content, a “selfless” man. And consequently, in parenthesi, nothing for women. –

Beyond Good & Evil paragraph 207