I was responding to a post on the www.myNLPresources.com forum recently where a fellow-NLPer was asking about a demonstration of a timeline technique he'd seen a video of me doing on the site. His question related to the "removal & replacement" of memories.
(Declaration of interest: www.myNLPresources.com is a new NLP site I've launched that includes videos, audios, articles & an online forum).
There's a classic NLP technique called "Change Personal History" developed by Bandler & Grinder. You know how if a person's feeling blue then they seem to remember sad memories etc, whereas when you're feeling happy, you remember the good times & have a generally sunny outlook?
That seems to be because feelings act almost like an indexing mechanism - when you type "Frank Zappa" into google, it brings back all the websites sorted by which ones reference Frankie. When a person accesses the feeling called "fear of public speaking", the brain seems to sort for all the memories that go along with it.
This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective - those memories may hold valuable information on how to deal with the situation.
The "Change Personal History" technique takes advantage of this, accessing a number of these related memories along a timeline, then goes back to an early reference experience. Once there, the goal is to change the MEANING of the experience. The memory data (ie what "really" happened) remains unchanged, but we look for ways for the explorer to alter / upgrade / resource the meaning of the data - to make new meaning of it.
This then has a domino effect as successive memories are revisited "from this new perspective & bringing all this info with it".
This is, in essence, the nature of ALL timeline work as far as I can tell - changing the meaning of the data. Memory is archival - write once, read many times. The original data remains unchanged, but the meaning we make of that data is forever negotiable.
Of course, the specific methods & representations used to influence that meaning can vary from the very direct ("So, with all the resources of the adult you, what new meaning can you make of that now, from this new perspective!") to the less direct ("So, as you look to your past experience, notice which memories are glowing, & which are dark, & sprinkle healing fairy dust on all of them!").
That latter one may sound as though I'm being tongue in cheek, but I'm not really (well, maybe a little then), but the reality is that they are both just ways of getting someone to influence their internal meaning-making mechanism. One will work better for one person, the other for someone else, & all points in between & beyond too!