Learning from the Soviet Union

Somewhere (New Left Review?) I read about some “neuro-linguistic programming” gurus who had met someone who grew up in the Soviet Union.  According to NLP (this is all from memory, I could be wrong), we all have a few ways of coping with the gap between what is going on in our heads, what we think we ought to do to be authentic and what “society” tells us we ought to do (internalised social norms, though of course that formulation suggests the existence of a Hobbesian State of Nature. But I digress).

So these NLP gurus were used to spotting 4 or 6 in a session with someone.  The Soviet guy, it was like a seismograph when the big one hits…

Something to be learnt, I think…

And a book – “States of Denial” by Stanley Cohen, to be read.

Two KGB men were walking together down the street.
One of them said to the other, “What do you think of this system?”
“I don’t know,” said the other one. “I probably think about the same as you do.”
“In that case,” said the first, “I’m going to have to arrest you.”


Ivan was going on holiday. He agreed a code to communicate with Boris, since they knew the KGB was reading their mail. Any message written in red ink should be disregarded as untruthful.
A week later Boris got a postcard, written in blue ink. “Everything is great. Hotel wonderful. Food wonderful. Women beautiful. The only thing that you can’t get here is red ink.”


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
This entry was posted in a little self-knowledge, competence, fear and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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