Re: Language and non verbal constructs

Robert Parks (
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 17:40:21 -0400

John writes, regarding nonverbal constructs:
>Another possible identifier is in the physological reactions to events
>"goosebump" or the hairs on ones neck raising. Here we are seeing what
>could be
>an unconscious reaction to certain occurances whereby we do respond to
>situations by accessing hidden non verbal constructs which have a physical
>outward appearance.

Perhaps I could paraphrase your concern, by noting that it seems we have
physiological responses to phenomena we anticipate, without a conscious
resort to verbal labels. We anticipate an accident when we hear the squeal
of tires in emergency braking. We have a vague anticipation of
irritation/anger when we are late for a meeting, and the stress and tension
is felt in the muscles. If these are examples of your concerns, then I
understand your point, and agree that it is one of the most important to
grapple with. As a non-psychologist, I am ill prepared to deal with it
systematically. But the following reflections come to mind.

The psychoanalytic tradition has specialized in the interpretation of the
process by which we become aware of our bodies, and their reactions, and
learn to deal in a rational (cognitive?) manner with many/some of them.
Freud focuses attention particularly on concepts/constructs which involve
oral, anal and genital pleasures for an individual, but create
social/interpersonal problems. In that tradition, our psychodynamic
constructs/processes seem to be created to mediate between our
physiological responses and social demands. It seems that the unconscious
in in part created by the need to avoid an anticipated trauma (memory of an
event we were unable to construct/anticipate/interpret rationally as young
children), and the silences of our culture/language which appears to have
no words to speak to our dilemmas, or no situations to speak the words we

I guess I'm trying to focus in on one way of conceptualizing the importance
of the linkage between verbal and non-verbal anticipations/constructs.

Perhaps this is consistent with Dr. Catina's focus when she writes:

>Pre-verbal can be probably defined in these terms: with efforts, one could
>bring >such constructs in a verbal form (see the grid); usually they are
>applied >implicitely (?) - understood by the person in a very personal
>internal code. Non- >verbal could be different: much more like Jungian
>definition, although I think >that Tom refered more to what children
>intuitively construed beyond the language, >closer to "undeliberated"
>operatinal level.

For a social scientist, the important part of the process is to understand
why/how issues and solutions become verbalized in ways that make polity (or
civility) possible. For the psychologist, perhaps the important part is to
understand why/how the polity (family/community) verbalize in ways that
make personal development possible, or traumatize in ways that make
personal development difficult or impossible.

Perhaps the process of avoidance/suppression of topics (e.g., sex) is
comparable to the processes in intercultural interaction that Devi
Jancowicz refers to. When one culture attends to a matter in its "stories"
that lie behind words, perhaps the other culture neglects that matter in
its stories.

Enjoying the contributions.. .hope I have helped keep things going.....