Frank Pucelik. NLP originator

Interview with Frank Pucelik.

from informal interview with Frank at NLP Conference 2010

“Model is a funny word. For us modeling starts from copying.   When you can copy and actually do what other person can do because you just copy their behaviours.”

“Every person is a walking miracle.”

“The war taught me a lot.   War taught me a bullet gets you if it gets you.   You can be green, you can be purple,  a colonel or a major or a corporal.   You’re nobody special.”

Frank NLP seminar

Frank Pucelik at the Neuro Linguistic conference 2010

“Equality starts with each person.   If I have the ability to meet each person without knowing what they are, to experience them joyfully.   Every person is a walking miracle.   Imagine aliens,  I  don’t know anything about them, and so I get to explore a whole new universe.  A completely different experience.  Without any  judgement , arrogance, or  disrespect.  It is only possible to listen and learn.

Frank Pucelik was one of the three originators of NLP.  One of the  Top-100 US business-trainers, consultant to the Peace Corps and he supports five rehabilitation centers for youth with drug addictions in Ukrainian .

“Richard (Bandler) and I were college kids, studying Fritz Perl and copying what he did.   But we didn’t really understand what we were doing.   Richard  was in his early 20s and I  was returned from Vietnam,  to be a student at the  University of California, Santa Cruz.   Kresge College was an Arts college, what we called touchy feely, it drove us nuts.  This was about 1971.

We damaged people were looking for anything anyone to put ourselves back together.
Frank has some harrowing stories , particularly the damaged men  who came home. PTSD, unheard of, unrecognized and untreated.  He quotes the statistic that 57,000 US soldiers died in Vietnam, while a further 65,000 US soldiers committed suicide in the ten years immediately following the Vietnam war.

You kind of don’t notice Frank come into the room, then he’s telling a story to make us laugh.   Frank is larger than life with bags of charisma, and the ability to transform him self from psychiatric patient, to melting 3 year old on the memory of the smell (most powerful) of wet wool.

Its a surprise to discover he is just normal height and ordinary man of his time and generation. A charismatic and inspirational teacher.  But he is also a  Vietnam  Vet which has a special meaning.   “Americans found themselves fighting a war, not against the bad guys , but anyone and everyone. The children smiled at you in the day, and would kill you at night.”

 John Grinder was a professor, about 10 years older, who had been involved in the war.   He had been involved behind enemy lines, for the American Government.  John was excited and curious about the language and he was able to identify stuff for us, as a linguist, he could see what we were doing.  So NLP was born.  John had worked with Chomsky  at the Rockefeller Center and other special people,  and I had experience of Carl Rogers.   It would seem that both Virginia Satir and Fritz Perle were the pre-cursors of NLP.  After us, Bandler Pucelik and Grinder there were about 4 5 or 6 who joined in, Robert Dilts, Judith DeLozier, Leslie Cameron, MaryBeth Anderson.

But when Richard asked Frank to leave, he went developing NLP intuitions all  over, especially dealing with drug addiction, which is how he was invited to the Ukraine, because of his successful drug addiction programme in USA.

Listening to a Vietnam veteran.
If you want a Vet. to open about his bad feelings, you ask him to talk to you about fun time, close time, when he was laughing like crazy. What was it about? And get them to talk about when the guy shot his soup or killed his mattress.

They can laugh about those things, they can open up about those things. And once they get opened, once they start to have some other feelings – then if you’re smart you say: “OK, OK, maybe the next session tell me some more of fun stuff”. And after 4, 5, 6, 7 times of telling you fun stuff they’ll start to open the door a little bit about some of the not fun stuff.

At that moment the counsellor must hold still while the person is talking about those things. So when they start to open that up – just sit and listen. Passive positive calibration (see below). Don’t move, don’t move toward him, and when they finish: “Thank you, thank you, I very much appreciate that, that was a privilege that you were willing to do that, thank you, and now let’s talk about something else.”

Frank Pucelic NLP

Frank Pucelik

I was born in Nebraska, but brought up in San Diego and learnt to speak Spanish, to make people laugh, or if not, to  run like hell.

I joined the Navy to avoid being sent to war, but was then trained as an army medic and sent to Vietnam.   After the war, we broken people were looking for a way to put ourselves back together.

After Vietnam there were no support groups, nor recognition, no post traumatic stress recognition. People spat on us in the street and called us baby killers.   I was back from Vietnam.  It was just me and 15 guys in the jungle, us and the bad guys. We would be out for 6 weeks at time, waiting for a throat to be cut.

I had a fantastically valuable time in the jungle.  The jungle destroyed me.   I needed to be destroyed.   I was not a happy kid. I had left home at 18.   I wished I never been born.    I would never go back to those people.  But I told myself if I ever had kids, it would be different.

I was gone: ethics gone, values gone, beliefs gone, belief in God destroyed.  If he exists, if I ever meet up with him, I’m going to kick his ass. He’s no friend of mine.

I was brought up as a Catholic, and the Catholic priest after the war, talking about free will!  I saw little children blown to pieces, a 2 year old child shot in the head.

One of the great moments in my life was having  the privilege to be in the room with a father and son who made contact for the first time in 25 years. He was a strong powerful businessman who said, “If I’d have know, you needed a Pop,  I’d have thrown away all the money, all the work.

The most surprising thing, was I survived the war.    I went to the war to die.  Joined the navy to avoid it, then they trained me as a medic and sent me to Vietnam.

My most learning were the  times when John (Grinder) gave me feedback, that was not fun to hear. He didn’t give a damn about my feelings and it hurt.  Things I needed to hear and to change.  I am incredibly proud of that. I was more important to him than thinking about my feelings. No politeness. Brass tack, Bang hard.   A good friend.

My core value is honour. Without honour I wouldn’t be here!

I will go to do the hard things that are right, at any price.

Calibration is an NLP term meaning:  managing your state and observing the speaker.

Frank’s Advice

The listener is equally responsible for the conversation. Control your own reactions.

Positive active    happy, warm, do more

Positive passive: comfortable relaxed, interesting, you’re on the right track.

Negative active: angry frustrated

“ You create your moods. Nothing happens to you.”
YOU do you.

Practise getting angry so you know how not to do it.

Negative passive, sad depressed, anxiety is killing me

Interest: really curious, gimme

Managing the state you’re in

You control your emotion, know when explosive is coming

Breathing is the key to freedom. Stop.   Breathe.

Memories are keys to freedom, especially smell.

The keys to the past.

What past? you choose, the good or the bad.

Go away and practise 10mins for 90 days your listening reactions, from passive attentive to active attentive to interest to engagement.   Its not about you, its about what you hear.


from informal interview with Frank at NLP Conference 2010



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