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The following reviews are specially written for this issue of New Nurturing Potential

The Origins of Neuro-Linguistic Programming edited by John Grinder and Frank Pucelik -  Reviewer Sue Knight

Full-On Learning, Involve Me and I'll Understand by Zoe Elder - Reviewer Caroline Jenner

Improving Mental Health Care, The Global Challenge edited by Graham Thornicroft - Reviewer Elizabeth Winder  (This is an interim report rather than a full review.  Elizabeth will be providing her full review for the review section of Potential Unleashed in October 2013)


The following reviews are reproduced from Potential Unleashed issues 4 and 5.

Brave Heads - How to lead a school without selling your soul by Dave Harris.  Reviewer Paula Anderson

The Magic of NLP Demystified  by Bryan Lewis.  Reviewer Michael Mallows

A High Price - The triumphs & failures of Israeli counterterrorism by Daniel Byman.  Reviewer Sep Meyer.

10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders - Leadership & Character by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green.  Reviewer Terry Goodwin.

The Mystery of Existence - Why is there anything at all?  Edited by John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn.  Reviewer Joe Sinclair

Focusing and Calming Games for Children by Deborah M. Plummer.  Reviewer Mark Edwards

Butterflies and Sweaty Palms by Judy Apps.  Reviewer Joe Sinclair

The Origins of Neuro-Linguistic Programming edited by John Grinder and Frank Pucelik.  Reviewer Joe Sinclair

Full-on Learning, Invoive Me and I'll Understand by Zoe Elder.  Paperback £18.99.   336 pages.  ISBN 13: 9781845906818
ISBN 10: 1845906810.  Published by Crown House Publishing.

Any teacher will tell you that education is a two way process, that talking at students will neither engage them nor educate them, but will more than likely bore the pants off them.  Research has shown more and more that interactive teaching will achieve the greatest success, in the words of Alfie Kohn:  Learning is something students do, NOT something done to students’ and this is one of the reasons why Zoe Elder’s book ‘Full on Learning’ is so useful and well thought through.  It is simple and accessible, encouraging the reader to engage with modern thinking on ways of learning and encouraging the next generation to be active and engaged decision makers, prepared to work confidently both independently and collaboratively in innovative and creative ways.

Elder works from the premise that all children can achieve, whatever their ability and that by thinking about our long term plans for our students, for example what type of learning do we wish them to achieve? What type of thinkers will be most valuable in the world today?  Once you have made that decision you can move forward with a style of teaching that is appropriate for the individual.

Full of the now familiar jargon of teaching manuals this book nonetheless is refreshing in its presentation.  The ideas are often illustrated with clear diagrams and the tabular format of many sections helps to make it attractive to read and easier to follow at the end of a long day in the classroom. Teachers generally are tired at the end of the day and for many ‘A Casual Vacancy’ might seem more attractive bed time fodder than ‘Full on Learning’ – after all for many of us full on learning is an everyday occurrence!

Although perhaps in places Elder’s ideas are buried in too much pedagogical detail, the concepts themselves are often excellent, taking both old and new practical ideas, often reinvented for the digital world.  She recognises that our teaching world is not so much about ‘knowledge acquisition’ but more about ‘knowledge creation’ as in the digital world we inhabit knowledge has been ‘democratised’.

There are many excellent teachers in the world but none of us is ever too old to learn something new or refresh the things we thought we had down pat.  This book does just that.  It helps to refocus the things we are acquainted with, such as the art of questioning; outcome focused planning; allowing learners to shape their own learning and many other familiar concepts in the context of an ever changing technological world, where the skills that the next generation need are often very different from those learned by ourselves, our parents or in many cases our own children.

In his foreword Ian Gilbert says that teachers are accountable to the children they teach and with that accountability there needs to be ‘a preparedness to countenance new ideas’. Spending a little time with this book will help sharpen up some of the tools in your teaching tool kit that have perhaps become a little blunt!   


Caroline Jenner




The Origins of Neuro-Linguistic Programming edited by John Grinder and Frank Pucelik.  Paperback £16.99.  288 pages.  1845908589 978-1845908584.  Published by Crown House Publishing Ltd.



I loved this book mostly because I just loved the gossipy nature of it. Everyone talking about everyone else and some not talking at all. But I do think that you would need to have been steeped in NLP for some time to really appreciate it.


 Nevertheless there have been so many stories about the origins of NLP, and it is great to read these different perspectives. And they do not seem to be that different, despite the commentaries on their accuracy or otherwise, which is also interesting given the emphasis on accepting unique ‘maps of the world’ in those early days of NLP.  I mean do the authors accept that people have unique perceptions and this is going to come through in their writing of that era, or not?


 I have been involved with NLP for over 30 years now and this just seemed to create a firmer base on which to stand, knowing the importance of the various themes and how they came about (and who did what to whom!). The different writing styles were interesting in their own right. Some of the introduction is a remarkable mix of sensory rich language and incredible nominalisations but then so is NLP! Stephen Gilligan’s style stood out for me and was like a drink of clean refreshing water in the middle of a dry spell!  I preferred the personal experiences rather than the deluge of facts that some of the authors seemed to prefer but then that is my preference.


Overall I think the book adds an important perspective to NLP today and why and how it is important, and more significantly it presents views (although not always actions)  that I believe counter some of the criticisms of NLP.  That does not always seem to have been translated into practice mind you!  It is a great way of getting a flavour of all the pioneers too and the influences that they all brought to the whole subject whereas the tendency for many has to been to think JohnandRichard only.


As John Grinder is quoted as saying in the book “We were interested in what works not what is proven”



Sue Knight


Improving Mental Health Care, The Global Challenge edited by Graham Thornicroft, co-editors: Mirella Ruggeri, David Goldberg.  Hard cover.  462 pages.  Price £74.99.    ISBN: 978-1-118-33797-4.  Publisher Wiley Blackwell.

This is a short report on ‘Improving Mental Health Care – the Global Challenge’, rather than a review. With contributions from around the world, the book is clearly an interesting and useful reference work which provides a snapshot of the current global situation. However as I have only read only half of it so far , I cannot yet comment on what might be out-of-focus or missing from the final picture, and indeed whether the publishers’ claim that ‘their (ie. service users) voice is heard throughout the text’ is actually true. My full review will appear in the next edition of Nurturing Potential. In the meantime I describe the scope of the publication.

Improving Mental Health Care – the Global Challenge is a tribute to the work of the Italian pioneer of community care for mental illness, Michele Tansella, as he reaches retirement.  It aims to provide clear guidance on the provision of mental health care both in high- and low-income countries, with contributions from round the world describing the global challenge, how to meet it, new research methods, and delivering better care in the community.

Improving Mental Health Care – the Global Challenge appeared in the same month as the UK Parliamentary Select Committee report on the implementation of the 2007 Mental Health Act in England and Wales, a report which identifies failings in implementation which lead to human rights violations. Shortly afterwards the police in England and Wales highlighted the lack of proper ‘place of safety’ provision for people found mentally disordered in a public place, who consequently are held in police cells.  These failures in a high-income country add perspective to the even greater challenge of delivering quality mental healthcare in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICS).

Section 1 – the Global Challenge sets the background and scope of the publication – the health care systems worldwide for mental, neurological and substance abuse disorders.  It describes the current state of research –challenges identified but not yet met, which include insufficient understanding of the interplay between biological, psychological, relational and environmental factors in causing disorders.  Thornicroft highlights that solutions must also deal with human rights violations and the stigma and discrimination which people suffering from these conditions meet. The development, use, and impact of the World Health Organisation Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) in low-and middle-income countries (LAMICS) since 2005 is also described. To maximise the resources available to mental health systems in LAMICs, WHO promotes the training of health workers and lay people to provide some care traditionally provided by psychiatrists in high-income countries (HICS). Peter Tyrer shows how the development of a community care system in a high-income country, the UK, has been affected by unhelpful government-initiated reforms and resulted in ‘nonsensical fragmentation’ and frustration for patients, families, and health workers alike. He states that it is the people who deliver the services who count rather than some abstruse model.

Finally in this section researchers examine how far the recovery concept, developed by service users and enthusiastically embraced by policymakers in English-speaking countries, can currently be integrated into mental health care delivery and the outcomes evaluated for the purposes of evidence-based medicine, while expressing doubt that the recovery concept can be made relevant for some indigenous populations.

 In Section 2 – Meeting the Global Challenge a magnifying glass is now taken to some sections of the globe and we see in greater details what the local conditions are into which mental health services are being introduced, or developed from what already exists. The difficulties include insufficient data on the incidence of mental illness in LAMICS, the different environments that mean service delivery models developed in HICs are inappropriate for use, the application of evidence-based medicine measurements and randomized controlled trials to psychological and psycho-social interventions, the implemention of clinical guidelines, the identification of at-risk people who would benefit from health promotion or very early intervention. The reader catches fascinating glimpses;  mental health workers hoping to enable traditional healers  to recognize – and refer on – people experiencing a first psychotic episode, peer support workers in South America, service users pressing for human rights in Chile, mental health workers in the Netherlands supporting their patients to return to work.

I look forward to reading Section 3 New research methods, which includes a contribution from a survivor researcher – perhaps the only service user voice in the publication? -  and Section 4 Delivering better care in the community.  Then – watch this space!

Elizabeth Winder



Brave Heads - How to lead a school without selling your soul - by Dave Harris.  Paperback.  180 pages.  £18.99    ISBN 13: 9781781350485.   Publisher: Crown House Ltd.   Also Kindle ebook.  ISBN 10: 1781350485



For any new Head or for those considering Headship this is one to read as it is written by a Principal with thirty years plus of experience who has clear insight into the challenges faced by a Head in an ever changing educational environment.  The useful tips at the end of every chapter serve to be practical and are summarised at the end of the book too.  The content throughout focuses on what is really important in building a school community and allows the reader to examine their own situation.

There is good use of analogies to explain a point in an interesting way, encouraging the reader to remember the point being made.  Dave Harris explains how common sense should prevail when he sets up his five essential school rules, how bravery is ‘keeping your eyes on the marathon whilst you are performing the sprint’ and not of course forgetting the ‘wonder’ room. 

He cleverly describes examples where, if there is a problem to be addressed, this is done through positive means rather than highlighting the issue.   In other words he would support or arrange anything that would serve to develop self- esteem and a new found enthusiasm for learning.

In one chapter he outlines four types of leadership as fat controller, nurturer, gardener and corporate executive which all serve to illustrate that you can be any combination of these at any given time, but that you do not have to be a successful leader to fit a specific profile.

He captures the reader’s interest in every chapter which encourages you to want to read on.

Paula Anderson



The Magic of NLP Demystified  by Bryan Lewis, 197 pages. Paperback.   ISBN 9781845908034, 1845908031. £16.99 . Published by Crown House Publishing.   Also available in kindle version.

The Magic of NLP Demystified, according to its author, is "the culmination of decades of training and self-exploration within the confines of a specific sphere of study". 

The book will be of interest and benefit to anyone whose work or interests include or require effective communication; teachers, trainers, entrepreneurs, managers, mediators, parents, salespersons and, of course, coaches, counsellors and therapists.

It explains some of the basic building blocks of NLP, which can be thrilling for newcomers to discover, and even 'old hands' who are steeped in NLP might enjoy a revisit and, dare I say it? Some revision!  

The first edition of this book (1990) was one of the books I most  frequently recommended to people who asked me  for an accessible introduction to NLP. I was – and remain – enamoured of NLP and was (over?) zealous in lauding it whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Byron Lewis met Frank Pucelik and Leslie Cameron (now Lebeau), who took him through 'a powerful therapeutic experience' that had a lasting effect.  He wanted to “learn that kind of Magic!” and became a member of a small experimental-research group in California. He joined a growing number of people who were studying the magic of therapeutic growth and change. Two charismatic individuals – Richard Bandler and John Grinder – were the epicentre of the group, and the author started to keep notebooks that detailed his learning experiences. In time he developed his own style, and labelled his notes “A Model for a Process Theory of Personality” thinking he had found 'the right track.'  In time he realised he had set a trap for himself. 

He discovered that his model was continually stretched, extended, expanded, and enlarged. It was also shrunk, crushed, pierced, and mutilated. He created 'a symbolic representation of the wonderful (and enjoyable) contradictions confronting him', and 'recognition of the trap he was escaping'                                           

The book presents models of basic Meta principles which underpin the 'magic' of communication that is intended to influence change. Lewis alerts us to the need to avoid the trap that we might (and I certainly did) fall into if we get snared or limited by a model if we do not remain open to experience.

The book is divided into four sections, all about models:

     Pages 5 – 32                Models

Pages 39 – 73              The Communication Categories Model

Pages 77 – 136            The Meta Model

Pages 143 – 161          The Visual Model 

The language is elegantly lucid, despite the inevitable 'jargon' because, for newcomers, the 'technical terminology' can be a tad daunting, but it's well worth staying with it for the wealth of information and inspiration that is to be found within. 

The bibliography lists 70 or so books, not all about NLP, but all relevant to what the book is about. 

I'd like to quote a paragraph from Tosey and Mathison (2007(1)) that Lewis refers to, because it sums up what, in my opinion, facilitates and enhances the best of what NLP and NLPers should be about.  I think this book, like its predecessor, does – only more so!

“In common with the aspirations of the human potential movement, NLP takes issue with the archaeological emphasis of Freudians, on digging into the past in order to understand the present. NLP is firmly constructivist in the sense that it perceives all experience, including memories, as (re)created in the present” (p.5).

Michael Mallows

(1)Tosey, P. and Mathison, J. Neuro-Linguistic Programming: A Critical Appreciation for Managers and Developers. Basingstoke, UK:Macmillan, 2009



A High Price - The triumphs & failures of Israeli counterterrorism by Daniel Byman.  464 pages.  Paperback.   Price £14.99.   ISBN 978-0-19-993178-1.  Published by Oxford University Press.

'Israelis are people who never take "yes" for an answer' wrote Abba Eban in his Autobiography.

It had been on my bookshelf, unread, for some 3 decades before I began reading it a few weeks ago, delighting in the crispness and lucidity of Eban's English, and the introduction to the behind-the-scenes diplomacy to which he was heir for so long, during such an exciting period of history and, in particular, the painful birth pangs and subsequent growing pains of the Israeli nation.

This may seem quite a digression from a review of A High Price, but it actually is not.  By a piece of Jungian synchronicity, the review copy of A High Price was offered to me just as I was approaching Eban's account of the diplomatic and military background to the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and very close to the end of the Autobiography itself.  I was thus already immersed in Israeli matters and ready for another "blockbuster" to replace the Eban, particularly one whose first three chapters covered the same period, before carrying the story through the remainder of the 20th and the first decade of the 21st centuries, albeit from a totally different vantage point.

Diplomacy some may regard as the antithesis of counter-terrorism; it may, in effect, equate to Churchill’s “jaw-jaw” as an alternative to “war-war”.  In fact it is not that clear cut.  The jaw-jaw of diplomatic efforts to secure agreement to unacceptable political solutions (as Byman’s book makes clear) regularly exists pari-passu with military and terrorist activities and their counter-terrorist corollaries.

The main problem Byman faces (or, perhaps it would be more correct to say, gives himself) throughout this book is his effort to be fair and impartial to all parties involved in these activities.  This intention is wholly admirable, but produces a morass into which Byman has to avoid stepping.  From the very beginning of its existence as a Nation, Israel has had to combat blatant attacks on its national integrity from the Arab countries that surround it.  In these circumstances it was inevitable that a counter-terrorism policy needed to be adopted.  The difficulty that is faced by anyone studying, or writing about, this situation is to identify where and when counter-terrorism becomes terrorism and vice versa.

To examine and identify how effective have been Israel's counter-terrorism policy and methods it is necessary to consider what have been their consequences.  What cannot be denied - indeed what Mr Byman does affirm - is that the effect of Israeli counter-terrorism has been to act as a catalyst for the development of Palestinian resistance movements such as the PLO, the Fatah movement, Hamas and Hizbollah.

Each of these organisations may be identified as originators of a variety of terrorist activities against and within the State of Israel.  Each of them may, with justification, point to similar acts of terrorism performed by Israeli factions to which they "have merely responded".  In fact, if one is considering the ebb and flow of terrorist and counter-terrorist activity, the significance and justification of each is merely a matter of degree and not legitimacy.  Counter-terrorism may be very effective in the short-term; in the case of Israeli counter-terrorism, however, it would be hard to deny that its long-term effect has been to increase resistance and exacerbate the reasons for disaffection.

And yet it is hard to know what alternative exists.  Certainly none is proposed by Mr Byman.  But then this presumably is not in his brief.  Over the years, Jewish response to actual or perceived outrages has been more instinctive than calculated.  Yet Byman has pointed out that on at least one occasion Israeli reaction to a terrorist situation has been considerably less than would have been an United States response to the same situation.  Another major difference between the parties has been the ostensible Israeli reliance on legality, a concern that apparently is not shared by some of its adversaries.  But given the nature of the different shades of character within Israel, the religious and secular divides, the right-wing and left-wing concerns, even that major difference counts for little in the face of some of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of - if not by - Israel.  The Lavon Affair, for example, that dragged on for years from 1954 when Jewish conspirators in Cairo were arrested (two of them executed), to 1969 when Pinhas Lavon was cleared of complicity (unconvincingly to some), to be set against, for instance, the Munich Olympic attack.  How does one weigh the pros and cons in the balance?

Daniel Byman does his best.  But he admits that he has no really satisfactory answer to these questions.

So I have merely scratched the surface of Mr Byman's admirable work of scholarship.  The background he provides - which he has so effectively researched - to much of the history of Middle Eastern intrigue makes fascinating reading.  And if the conclusions are, in fact, inconclusive, this must be because there can be no hard and fast conclusion in the shadowy world of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Many decades ago, in one of his comedy sketches, American comedian Shelley Berman had his ‘wimpish’ protagonist complain to his accusatory girl-friend:  “Ah, Shirley, I can’t go along with that.  When two people are holding hands, who can say which hand is doing the sweating?”

When adversaries are facing each other, with arms upraised, across the counter-terrorist divide, who can say which hand is holding a rifle and which an olive branch?

The answer must be that there are no easy answers.

 Sep Meyer




10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders - Leadership & Character by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green.  220 pages.  Price £14.99.  ISBN: 9780470672303.  Published by Wiley-Blackwell.



This is a book of two parts.  The first is an introduction to the qualities of leadership, with the emphasis on ethics.  The second considers the qualities of various "leaders" through the centuries, in no immediately obvious chronological or consecutive order.  Looking at the Table of Contents, I wondered why.

There are - as the authors themselves acknowledge in their prologue - already far too many books that focus on the idea of leadership.  They also then pose the question: why are they offering another book on the subject? 

I read my review copy of the book hoping that, by the end, I might have the answer to both questions.

I did!

Firstly, let me say it is a "good read".  Some of the subjects for the authors' investigation were a bit unexpected.  But they were actually more interesting on that account.  Thus I was a bit surprised to find Oprah Winfrey nestling between Winston Churchill and three American Presidents, the last of which (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) obligingly relinquished a substantial part of his section to his contemporary (though hardly similarly ethical) leader Adolf Hitler.

But I out-gallop myself.  The first section of the book, subtitled Character Leadership was, for me, the most enlightening. It deals with the philosophical considerations of leadership according to the authors' set of values.  The ethical basis of their thesis, springing from the contention* that leadership ultimately is judged by results, is traced back more than 2000 years, drawing for examples on, among others, Platonic and Aristotelian ethics and St Augustine's De Civitate Dei.

They call leadership without ethics misleadership. (p.xiv) and in Chapter 2 go on to define and illustrate this concept.  Chapter 3 is devoted to "character", while the following chapter concerns itself with leadership in business and the workplace.  It is the last chapter in this first part of the book where we finally get to grips with the Ten Virtues.  These are not only identified and described, but are each associated with a specific leader who demonstrates the specific virtues of that characteristic, and are then examined in detail in the second section of the book. 


1.  Deep Honesty.  The example chosen for this virtue (or trait of character) is James Burke.

2.  Moral Courage.  Epitomised by Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks.

3.  Moral Vision.  The "ability to clearly understand the moral stakes of a decision . . . " was one of the traits that characterized Winston Churchill.

4.  Compassion and Care.  Empathy is a major characteristic of Oprah Winfrey.

5.  Fairness.  This has to be seen and recognised by everyone was a belief of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

6.  Intellectual Excellence.  The authors have given this virtue two components: curiosity and open-mindedness.  They have chosen Franklin D. Roosevelt as the exemplar.

7.  Creative Thinking shows itself in "new ways of accomplishing organisational goals" as demonstrated by Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines.

8.  Aesthetic Sensitivity.  "I want to put a ding in the universe" is the quote that heads the section on Steve Jobs.

9.  Good Timing.  "Great leaders possess this virtue and exercise it in their most important strategic decisions."   As did General Charles de Gaulle.

10. Deep Selflessness.  If the words do not sufficiently impart the meaning, then the choice of Martin Luther King as its model certainly does.  I guess Albert Schweitzer might have been equally acceptable, but who am I to quibble over the choice of an American by American authors.

So we come to the second and lengthiest part of this book, subtitled Leadership in Action.  This, I venture to suggest, will be the section of most interest to the majority of readers and, to describe why it is provided and what it is intended to produce here is what the authors themselves have written at the end of their Prologue.

". . . this is a book about characters with character. After several chapters that ground the importance of ethics in business and present the key virtues of outstanding leaders, we turn to those leaders themselves. As Aristotle argued, we need examples, the testimony of others, to understand how to form ourselves as leaders. In what follows, chapter by chapter, we depict individuals who in real-life situations act out the virtues that marked them as great leaders. Learning virtues is very much a matter of habit and imitation. By holding up these paragons of virtue, we aim to provide a useful tool for enhancing excellence in organizations."

If this was, indeed, their intention, I believe they have been entirely successful.  Also, as I said earlier, it's a very good read.  And, if that phrase seems to trivialise it, let me add that it includes an abundance of references and signposts to sources of further study, which gives it undoubted academic cachet.

All in all, a very welcome addition to the businessman's (and potential leader's) library bookshelf.

[PS: One minor "gripe":  Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but it still grates on me to see "mutual" used, when "common" is more accurate, as in ". .. changes that reflect their mutual purpose and goals" (p.5), where the authors clearly do not mean the purpose and goals they each have to the other, but purpose and goals that they share.  Yes, I know, I'm a pedant where language is concerned!]

* Hardly theirs alone, but shared by the majority of writers on the subject of leadership.


Terry Goodwin




The Mystery of Existence - Why is there anything at all?  Edited by John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn.  314 pages. Paperback.  Price £17.99.  ISBN 978-0-470-67355-3.  Published by Wiley-Blackwell



"I ofen looked up at the sky an' assed meself the question - what is the moon, what is the stars?" - Captain Boyle, Act I, Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey.

I defy any thinking person to deny that they have ever considered the origins of life and matter.  I recall, as a grammar school teenager in  South Wales, walking the streets of Llanelli with a school friend one evening, debating cause and effect.  Trying to work out how it might be possible to arrive at a First Cause which would not inevitably be the effect of a previous cause.  I think it gave both of us headaches.

To the question "Why is there anything at all?" there is a simple answer.  Why not?  Any other answer is absurd.  It is because it is.  And if it were not, it would be even more absurd to ask: "Why is there nothing at all?"

Given the circumstance that the foregoing paragraph has any merit, a reviewer might be excused for thinking: "Why, then, publish an entire book on the subject?"  And why, even more absurdly, produce a commentary on that publication?

Which is precisely what I am trying to establish.

The thing is that the editors have collected views on the existence of reality from the most prestigious thinkers in the past and the present.  They have taken the views of theologians, cosmologists, philosophers and scientists.  Prominent among these are Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, Bertrand Russell, Einstein, Stephen Hawking, John Polkinghorne and the Dalai Lama. They have annotated these views, editorialised each section, and made suggestions for additional research and further reading.

But, if my opening comments have any validity, notwithstanding the eminence of the contributors to this book, is it not possible that their conclusions have no more basis in reality than the conclusions (or lack of them) of two fifteen-year-old schoolboys roaming Stepney Street, Llanelli, in 1945?

I remember the first book of philosophy I ever read.  That too, coincidentally, was in 1945 in Llanelli.  I got Cyril Joad's Guide to Philosophy out of the public library and immersed myself rapidly and excitedly in the concept of subjective idealism.  Locke, Berkeley and Hume.  Joad was very strong on the subject of reality and the fact that "recent" developments in physics were bearing out the philosophical belief that we could not trust the evidence of our senses.  When we press our thumb to a table, we cannot be sure that we are touching something that really exists.  Physics teaches us that electrical impulses in our thumb are being repelled by similar impulses in the object we are trying to press.  I was amazed.  I was delighted.  I was beginning to question and to doubt.  Locke suggested that we could not be certain of existence.  If we left a room, how did we know it continued to exist?  Bishop Berkeley said: "Simple!  It exists in the mind of God!"  David Hume, did not believe in God.  For him therefore the room ceased to exist when it was no longer observed by him.  And I had, in my reading, thus arrived at the theory of solipsism.  Inevitable conclusion: I can be sure of no existence except my own!

Back to The Mystery of Existence.  Back to my doubt of the benefit in questioning the existence of anything or nothing.  And I suddenly read, starting on page 261 in a section that has apparently been contributed by Robert Lawrence Kuhn: "No matter how sensible and controlled I may seem to be, Why Not Nothing still drives me nuts.  Every time I revisit the stupefying question, I want to scream.  Why this Universe?  Does God Exist? , , , Why is there anything at all?  That's the magisterial Question. . . .  Why is there Something rather than Nothing?  Why not Nothing?  If you don't get dizzy, you really don't get it."

So here I am, back in Llanelli again, 68 years ago!  And nothing has changed.  My head is beginning to ache.

Read the book by all means.  It's well written.  Inevitably.  After all its contributors number the greatest brains known to man.  But I think it has been misnamed.  The Mystery of Existence(There really isn't anything to concern us.)

Joe Sinclair




Focusing and Calming Games for Children by Deborah M. Plummer.  Paperback, 145 pages.  Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-84905-143-9   £15.99



As someone who works therapeutically with children and young people I was attracted by the title of this book, as I think anybody would be who works in education or health.  I have always been enthusiastic about using games in an educational context and like the author am a fan of such books as ‘The Gamesters Handbook’, one of a number of books referenced by the  author. As Plummer says in her introduction, many of the games contained in these pages are recycled from earlier material – and there is nothing wrong with that. As an ex-teacher I have observed there has been a shift over the course of the last twenty five years or so away from child centred education toward school- management centred education which increasingly seems to exist to provide the Government of the day with dubious ‘evidence’ of academic progress. The result seems to be stressed teachers, stressed parents and stressed children.

This book emerges in the context of an ever increasing pressure on children and families, a pressure that is exacerbated by the explosion in media availability which further erodes children’s ability to focus and really notice what is going on around them. Plummer rightly emphasises the importance of social interaction; the games encourage this to happen with real, solid  people, rather than in the two-dimensional realm of cyberspace.  It is an antidote to what many describe as a somewhat toxic twenty-first century experience of childhood and as such it is to be welcomed.

The book is divided into two sections: the first comprising theoretical and practical background.  As a social constructionist I am aware of the importance of context and the author spends time on explaining how to create the optimum environment in which to practice the activities and exploring the concept of ‘mindfulness play’.  Little nuggets of intrigue abound; I was very interested in, for example, a reference to the pre-frontal cortex and its importance in self – regulation and was prompted to explore this further (in cyberspace!). This section is well structured and referenced providing a sound ‘evidence base’ for the activities.

The latter part of the book describes the games and activities themselves and is structured in five sections which include warm-ups and ice-breakers and games that develop the ability to concentrate for longer periods. Each game is given a ‘time’ and pointers toward the specific skills it develops, using a handy visual key. There is a list of games at the front for easy reference.

As I said at the start of this review,  a lot of the games and activities are not new but they are all the stronger for it. Play has always been central to childhood as encouraging social interaction and developing sensory awareness; we need to bang the gong for books such as this. Let’s hope that our ears are still sufficiently attuned to be able to hear it.


Mark Edwards



Butterflies and Sweaty Palms  (25 sure-fire ways to speak and present with confidence) by Judy Apps.  Paperback  192 pages.  £16.99.  ISBN 978-184590736-5.  Published by Crown House Publishing Limited.



I was a self-help junkie.


Maybe I still am.  Maybe that is why I asked Crown House for a review copy of Judy Apps' book.


But with dozens of personal growth and self-help books lining my shelves and filling boxes in my garage, it would have to be a very special work to grab my interest and - even more relevant in this context - to transfer such interest to readers of this review.  So, before introducing any negative notes, let me tell you what there is about Butterflies and Sweaty Palms that might encourage you to part with your cash.


It is well written.  It addresses its subject-matter - the provision of techniques whereby the reader might speak confidently in public - with verve and enthusiasm.  It is liberally assisted by pertinent cartoons and illustrations.  It features quotations, side-bars, case studies and exercises that are interesting, relevant and helpful.


All in all, therefore a book that might do more than grace the bookshelf of a self-help junkie - self-confessed or otherwise - but will provide an effective tool for those readers who actively desire to improve their presentation and enhance their public speaking skills.


Now for the negative note.


With the hundreds of self-help books that are already available, it might be pardonable to ask: why bother to publish another one?  [Which may be something of an impertinence from one who was himself guilty of such a sin (1)] After all, it is less than one year since the death of Susan Jeffers, whose Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway has been selling for more than 25 years and has reached millions of readers.  Of course Dr Jeffers' book is directed to a more general readership than speakers and presenters, but most of its techniques and suggestions are not vastly dissimilar from Judy Apps's. 


Much the same could be said of, for instance, the books of Wayne Dyer, Dale Carnegie, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and many, many others.  (Actually, the daddy of them all, Self Help by Samuel Smiles dates from 1859 and a copy - not a first edition! - still graces my shelves.)   But perhaps the main justification of the book under review is evidenced by its Bibliography section, which doesn't even give a passing nod to Jeffers, but is overloaded with NLP recommendations.  And, indeed, NLP techniques are in evidence throughout this book.


Which is not an adverse criticism and, indeed, could alone provide a very compelling justification for publishing the book.


So, there it is.  Whether you're a junkie of the self-help or the NLP kind, or simply someone who wants to discover a series of techniques (25 of which are guaranteed to be "sure-fire"), then Judy Apps's book may be for you.


(1) Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake.  Joseph Sinclair and Michael Mallows.  Crown House, 1998.



Joe Sinclair






The Origins of Neuro-Linguistic Programming edited by John Grinder and Frank Pucelik.  Paperback £16.99.  288 pages.  1845908589 978-1845908584.  Published by Crown House Publishing Ltd.



I have found this a very difficult book to review.

My instincts have swung ambivalently from pole to pole; from an initial gut reaction of “Why the hell hasn’t Richard Bandler contributed to this work?”; through "Why was it not sub-titled Therapist Treat Yourself!?"; to believing it might profitably be recommended to all readers who want a “rounded” view of the phenomenon that is NLP.

To the extent that I believe it is possible to learn as much – if not more – about a subject from the petty bickering and disputes indulged in by its practitioners, as from the more prosaic and academic works they produce and edit –so to speak – with their public faces hagiographically on display, readers will have their eyes well and truly opened by this book.  (To say nothing of their ears being well and truly bent, and their senses decidedly titillated.)

In defence of which statement, I would direct your attention simply to Grinder and Pucelik’s “sidebar” to Richard Bandler that precedes the Contents page [it starts: "Your voice is not here, only echoes of it . . . "], and Grinder and Dilts’s brief exchange on pages 171 and 173 [where Grinder comments on his failure to comment on Dilts's article, and Dilts comments briefly on Grinder's non-comments].  Now which NLP presupposition, I find myself wondering, does that most closely exemplify?

If you want to know how NLP is supposed to work, just consider these examples (and the several others that I have not drawn attention to) of how leading practitioners of this amazing tool for effective communication, are apparently unable to make effective use of it in their own lives.

I have no intention of regurgitating a situation that deserved to be put to rest many years ago – despite the efforts of some pundits, who might have been thought to know better – to keep it “alive and kicking”.

But I still want to admit to a feeling of sadness and loss that one of the two names that were synonymous with neuro-linguistic programming when I was first introduced to it is missing from editorial attribution.  Nevertheless I am, at the same time, delighted to see the dedication to Richard Bandler by editors John Grinder and Frank Pucelik, and it is equally reassuring to note that Bandler was offered the opportunity to contribute, but declined. 

Editorial modesty has been a hallmark of Nurturing Potential’s ethos from its inception.  For a change, however, I propose to indulge in a slight case of editorial hubris in my review of this book.  In writing and publishing my own An ABC of NLP I stated that it was intended to bridge a chasm that resulted from the slippage between the language of NLP and the message it sought to convey. I think that many of the articles comprising The Origins of NLP provide a good demonstration of this belief. 

I do not agree with some of the comments by contributors to the frontispiece of the book that this is a welcome addition to NLP literature for students of the subject.  I think it is rather a book for the “old hand”  for whom, indeed, it is an indulgence, just as for the writers it is a self-indulgence.  This  is not a negative criticism (and this comment, in itself, is not framed in the NLP presuppositional jargon that tells me all feedback is positive!) but is intended as positive applause. 

Such old hands will find much of interest in the reflections of well-known NLP adherents such as Carmen Bostic St Clair, Judith DeLozier, Byron Lewis, Stephen Gilligan, Robert Dilts and others.  Most of them enhanced or marred (depending on your personal belief system) by the subsequent commentary on each by John Grinder.

My principal concern, however, is with the masturbatory nature of many – I might almost say “the majority” – of the contributions to this book.  Of course, this may be precisely what will appeal to most of its readers.

Joe Sinclair






SUE KNIGHT is a business consultant, an NLP trainer, an author, a coach and a speaker working with leaders and companies throughout the world.

She has had articles published in Personnel Today, Training Buyer, The Independent and Success Now, Training Zone, Rapport and her work and books have been featured in The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and the Sunday Observer.

Sue runs open programmes leading to certification in NLP in the UK, France, India and Australia..

A revised new edition of her book NLP at Work is available on Amazon.  It previo
usly won the Business Book of the Year award.



PAULA ANDERSON is Deputy Head Teacher at Bromley High School (GDST)



MARK EDWARDS lives in Exeter and works as a Primary Mental Health Worker in South Devon.  He has a developing interest in working systemically and the focus of his work is with children and families.  He runs a successful course for parents on Managing Challenging Behaviour  





MICHAEL MALLOWS is an Honorary Fellow within the Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.  He developed the Crafty Listening approach to developing Emotional Intelligence.  He coaches individuals and trains teams and groups in the voluntary, public and private sectors.  Michael is the author of The Power to Use NLP and co-author of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake.




TERRY GOODWIN was a senior marketing executive at Finexport Ltd in London and Bangkok until his retirement in 1992, since when he has been in private practice as a marketing consultant.  Terry has been the persona of our business editor since the inception of Nurturing Potential.


JOE SINCLAIR is Managing Editor of New Nurturing Potential as well as the publisher of Potential Unleashed.  He is the author of eleven books including An ABC of NLP.



SEP MEYER is a graduate of the London School of Economics and, since his retirement from a commercial life, has occupied himself with writing poetry and drama, as well as articles in the area of sociology, politics and current affairs.  It is, in a way, appropriate that he is contributing this review.  In Issue No. 3 of the original Nurturing Potential he provided a review of Charles Townshend's Very Short Introduction to Terrorism (, and in Issue No. 12 (, his article Going to Hell in a Hand Basket was concerned with the Israeli building of a wall as a counter-terrorist measure against insurgency.




CAROLINE JENNER is a graduate of Warwick University.  She teaches English and drama at Bromley High School (Girls' Day School Trust) in Bromley, Kent.




ELIZABETH WINDER has worked in mental health in the UK for several years, earlier managing a mental health advocacy service in Oxfordshire, England.