Anchoring (an NLP term) is defined as the process in which a specific behaviour of other people (or even of oneself), e.g., smelling coffee in the above example, triggers almost consistently a specific internal experience within the individual in question, e.g., having the desire to drink a cup of coffee. (The stimulus which triggers the process of Anchoring is called the Anchor.)

Although it is obvious that Anchoring is closely related to Pavlov's Conditioned Reflex, there is a clear distinction between the two; namely, the latter necessitates a certain number of repetitions of the loop of "stimulus/response (and possibly, reinforcement)" for its establishment, as shown in the case of Pavlov's experimental dog; while the process of triggering the specific internal experience of the former is usually established through only one single stimulus. (This difference is found because Conditioned Reflex is related to the conditioning of "external behaviour/external behaviour" [hearing the bell/salivating, in the case of Pavlov's dog], while Anchoring is connected rather with the conditioning of "external behaviour/internal behaviour"; further, it seems to be due to the fact that sensitivity towards internal behaviour [experiences] in human beings [and possibly, in dogs as well] is much greater than that towards external behaviour [experiences]; for instance, Heinz Von Foerster points out in "The Invented Reality", edited by Watzlawick, that the nervous system of a human being has 100 million sensory receptors and about 10,000 billion synapses, and therefore that we are 100 thousand times [!] more receptive to changes in our internal than in our external environment.)

Here, it becomes clear that the deconditioning of our behavioural patterns means to become aware of the processes of Anchoring, which are usually left unconscious, and thus to be able to control these processes or to become free from them.

(NB: The text of this page is a quotation from Guhen Kitaoka's paper "NLP and Spirituality" with relevant amendments.)

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