How groups influence us

On this site we have defined a neurosis as a “mistaken interpretation” and have frequently claimed that culturally sanctioned  interpretations are very often just as mistaken as individual ones. A new study from Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute provides evidence to support this claim.

According to coauthor Steven Quartz, the study “…suggests that the idea of a division between social and cognitive processing in the brain is really pretty artificial. The two deeply interact with each other.” (For a news report on the study see: Group settings can diminish expressions of intelligence, especially among women.)

A basic premise of FIML is that the way we think and feel is revealed in how we speak and how we hear others speak. Our dynamic beings, our dynamic minds, are affected at every moment by cultural semiotics, facial expressions, tones of voice, word associations, our own histories, and everything else that bears on how and why we use language. Of course, it is not just language that is affected, but all of that. Everything is affected by everything. FIML emphasizes language, though, because language, and how we use it, provides partners with good, sound data that they both can agree on. Language provides a clear, linear standard that both partners can use for deeper mutual understanding.

Of course, it would be next to impossible to mention this in a quickly formed group such as the ones in the study, or do anything about it. But as individuals we can access these levels and increase our understanding of them through FIML practice. Indeed, FIML practice was largely designed to do precisely that.

The linked article somewhat emphasizes gender differences, but the real nugget for FIML practitioners to take away is that all of us are deeply and dynamically influenced in the moment by cultural factors as well as individual ones. I cannot think of another way to tease apart the unique tangle of cultural and individual factors that all of us have except by doing FIML. We are dynamic beings. We need a dynamic method that can deal with the dynamic moment to fully understand that.

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