Article by Tony Sokol
Former football star Michael Strahan isn’t afraid to mix things up during scrimmage. He set sack records, but the former New York Giants defensive end gets clipped by a fear of snakes. NLP developer Richard Bandler stopped by “Live! With Kelly and Michael” to coach the record-setting co-host through his snake phobia.
Dr. Richard Bandler developed the cognitive method of programming the subconscious called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) forty years ago. Bandler learned how the brain is wired by focusing on neurological configuration and linguistic structure and created a new psychological technology.
“NLP could be the most important synthesis of knowledge about human communication to emerge since … the sixties,” wrote Science Digest. But could it stop an oncoming blitz of serpents? Strahan was reportedly so afraid of snakes that he would scream or run off the state whenever he was confronted by a snake. It didn’t matter if the snake was real or fake.
Dr. Bandler made a house call on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” to help cure Strahan of his severe fear of snakes. Over the course of the segment, Michael was able to approach and touch the snake, and ultimately hold it.
NLP allows people to program their brain in much the same way that techies program a computer. NLP takes people to a higher level of cognitive thinking.
In the segment, Bandler instructs Strahan to picture the snake and then shrink the image “down to the size of a quarter” as a first step toward decreasing the emotional response. When the football player shrinks the image and positions it lower in his visual field, it becomes less important. Bandler also tells Straham to picture the snake in “black and white” which further reduces the emotional impact. At one point Bandler asks Michael, “Remember when she threw the snake at you?” While Bandler talks Strahan through the visualization, he keeps his left hand behind Michael’s back. This is an anchoring technique.
After the commercial break Bandler instructs Strahan to clear his mind and then shows him the picture of the snake again. The doctor asks the football player to “try to be afraid.” Michael finds that no matter how he tries, he has to admit “I’m good.”
While keeping his hand behind the talk show host’s back, Bandler further pushes Michael to picture himself being terrified or touching a snake, and choose which he’d rather be. Michael says he prefers being terrified, but when Bandler asks whether he pictures himself being afraid Michael admits that he doesn’t.
Bandler points out all the time that Strahan wasted by being afraid of snakes, which he estimates at about “ten minutes a day, 352 days a year,” before the show cuts to another commercial. When the show resumes, Kelly Ripa is seen holding a big snake. Bandler walks Michael over to the snake. He is able to touch and eventually hold it.
While we don’t know how long the effects lasted, Dr. Bandler was able to help Strahan override years of accepted behavior for at least the time of a televised show.