Guest post by Patricia.

Since I was a child I discovered that the words were very important because all religions are made by stories. And nowadays I still thinking the same.

I share with you a radio program about words. Click here to listen.

I hope you enjoy it.


Sarah:  September 01, 2010

Sarah-Hughes 2

Sarah Hughes

I did enjoy this show.  I listened to it last week while I was doing dishes and thoughts about it have stayed with me every since.  My nephew is 2.5 years old and not talking.  Not even no or mama.  So people are concerned but I was just watching him take in the world in a different way.  I see him figuring out how things work like a door hinge.  He just watches and then tries reopening the door and watches again.  I am not sure if there is a problem or if he is just interested in different ways of understanding without words – for now.

It also made me just appreciate the magic and importance of words – how I use them when they are not enough.  SO thanks for this post.  I really appreciate when people put up interesting talks.



James:  October 29, 2010

James McCracken

James McCracken

Paty and Sarah,

OH, WORDS!  How Words have come up in conversations so often recently!  Thanks, Paty, for sharing the link… I’d like to listen to that.

As I’ve talked about in my other posts, I have been participating in a reading/study group nearby where I live with a bunch of philosophers, psychiatrists, sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, psychoanalysts, etc, where we are discussing ideas about the concept of “mental disorder.”  We’re currently reading a book by George Graham called “The Disordered Mind”, and it has given us quite a bit to chew on!  Last night we covered an early chapter where Graham posits that mental disorders are real things that require necessary and sufficient conditions in order to exist.  Pertaining to mentality is the condition of consciousness (not in the vernacular “knowing what something is” sense like Freudian consciousness, I don’t think) and Intentionality (not in the vernacular “goal-directedness” sense).  He speaks about consciousness (as in “something is experienced/felt”) and Intentionality (as in “aboutness” or “object-orientedness”) as essential qualities of mentality/mindedness, and this was a bit of a hang up for some of the group members  (someone challenged that generalized feelings like “non-specific depression” or “generalized anxiety” or “pain” are not Intentional in this sense… to which some countered that all things known are Intentional because, even if they are general, they are about life).

After the group, me and a colleague went for a few drinks and ponders some of this further, and somehow we got on the topic of if it is possible for other animals, say cats or dogs, can have mentality, and hence, mental disorders (as these animals do have social orders of their own and fit into our social orders… but getting into dis-orders as a concept is beside the point now).  So I brought up that some neuro-cognitive theories of the mind get so specific as to say that Mind is made up of language… words… so do animals without words (as far as we understand it anyways) have Intentionality as a condition of their experience?  Having a cat that I’ve known well for 14 years of our lives together, I’d say she certainly does (she is quite frightful around anyone other than me or my wife… and she knows the smell, sound, and sight of us… so her memory holds emotions about us, which have clearly conditioned her to be more social with us).  Anyways, this idea of Intentionality really got our gears going, and we started to examine together what then establishes qualities of a therapeutic presence that can tap into such Intentionality (if mental disorders do exist and they require such conditions as Graham suggested).  My cat and I are incredibly therapeutic for each other, and we certainly don’t share “words”, but we share communication for sure (she meows, stretches on her scratching post when she is excited, flops at my feet when she wants petting, and I blow at her to call her, extend my fist into the air for her to rub on me… it’s quite unique to our relationship, and it is quite well established so that others who she may normally be frightful around can emulate my behavior and she will test the waters with them).

Now, when I am with my clients, so much of what we focus on is Words.  Last night we were wondering about how much our specific attending to of Words is therapeutic, vs. are other communications (i.e. showing interest, being present, “sticking with” a person, mirroring emotional states, etc.) equally, if not moreso, important to being therapeutic.  Judging from my relationship with my cat, and the countless others who benefit from healing relationships with animals (i.e. “pet therapy”), Words maybe perhaps a preferred way of relating for us in human-human interactions, but not necessary.

Thoughts about this?  I think this is so important to examine, because it really speaks so much to what we all do as therapists and as persons-in-relationship to other humans in any capacity.  Goes back to that question of “what qualities make a good therapist?” or “what qualities make a good therapeutic relationship?”  (I think I’m also concerned about this because I am having trouble explaining some of what I do with people that just “feels right to do” and seems to be helpful).

James:  October 29, 2010

OH!  And thoughts about if Words are not necessary for healing, what then do they contribute beyond other communications/qualities in a relationship?  Or do they reinforce or clarify other qualities/communications in relationship?

Thanks!  Looking forward to your ideas!


Bonnie:  January 30, 2011

Bonnie Miller

Bonnie Miller

Re-joining the group and catching up on these interesting conversations!!

What is the connection between words and meaning-making? are there different kinds of meaning-making activities?

I live with cats, too- there is plenty of meaning-making going on all the time, as far as I can see. Not just me making sense of cat-talk, but also they making sense of people-talk (communication.)

I have a colleague who is very into attachment theory- she has got me reading Louis Cozolino- stuff about the social brain- The Neuroscience of Human Relationships- it is fascinating. Words create, shape concepts. Antonio Damasio is another- ‘The Feeling of What Happens: body and emotions in the making of consciousness’- investigates the question of consciousness and how the self is experienced…

the body is language, words are one aspect of it… that is my thought for today.