Magic of Fritz Perls demystified. Part Two.

Written by Lilia Moskalchuk - 15.12.2014


Fritz Perls was a kinesthetic representator. He didn’t consciously know what he was observing. He had feelings that told him what to do next. How did he develop those feelings? Over years and years and years of experience of trial and error.

His psychotherapeutic approach was the following: he believed all internal conflict was about the aggressive part of you smashing the sensitive part of you. And these two could never cooperate. And his job was to bring them together.

The Calibration.

In the early days of NLP, when Grinder, Bandler and Pucelik modeled his genius by watching the videos of the phenomenon described in Part One of this article, they noticed something very subtle. When he was talking to the client, asking them questions about their parents, every time he would say the word “parents” he would see a microexpression on the client’s face that looked a little bit negative to him. We can say he saw change. And every time he saw it, his shoulders would slightly move forward. The change was a little flicker in most of the people. And he was very sensitive to that. But he wasn’t consciously aware that he saw it.

So when he asked demographic questions and saw the little flicker on the word “parents”, he’d continue – Do you, live with your father? – Nothing. – Does your mother live in the same city you do? – Flicker. – And your father? – Nothing. – Do you get along with your parents? – Flicker. – Do you see your mother often? – Flicker.

What psychologists also noticed was that Fritz didn’t take action the first time he saw the flicker. It would take him five times to see that calibration before the shoulders move forward enough for the feeling in his chest to be strong enough for him to act, that’s why he repeatedly asked similar questions.

The Meta Model violation.

And he’d also hear the client say phrases like “The world is against me”, “everything happens to me”, “nobody likes me”.

In NLP that’s called a reversed reference. When the person makes themselves the receiver of the action of the verb, not the actor of the action of the verb (e.x. instead of starting a sentence with “I”, they end a sentence with “me”).

What you may discover is when you hear a person who talks like that, that is a person who’s a victim of their life. If the person talks like that a lot, then they lose the control of their life, they are a result of everybody else’s feedback. This is a person who will find excuses for their failure.

So Fritz heard 4 or 5 backward sentences. If you turn around the sentence “the world is against me” – you have “I am against the world”. But not the world in this case. That’s too ambiguous. Think back to the flicker that Fritz saw earlier: I am against mother. He knows that a client’s negative calibration is the missing blank. That’s where the pain is, there’s where the history, where the garbage is.


What NLPers summed up their modelling with was a simple pattern that allowed Fritz to perform his magic every time he came across it in a client: spot reversed reference and a negative calibration for a specific individual, and Gestalt chair work is the key.

No wonder Gestalt was considered a miracle.

Have you had modelling experience? Tell us about it below!

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