In a previous post (here), we defined idiotics to mean a combination of “idio” and “semiotics.” A person’s idiotics are unique to them and are not the same as the idioitcs of any other person.
Idiotics is a useful term as it allows us to denote the tangled web of meaning and symbology that underlies language and is woven into everything we say or do.
When there is no organic cause for mental illness, we would be right to strongly suspect that the source of the “illness” lies in the individual’s idiotics—the unique web of meaning and sensibility that gives rise to their perceptions, communicative acts, and self-awareness.
Since idiotics underlie language, cognition, and perception and give rise to virtually all acts of communication, a person with disturbed idiotics will also show disturbances in these areas.
Why do we need a separate term—idiotics—to describe mental/emotional problems when existing terms already work well enough?
The reason is the core problem in mental illness without an organic cause is not speech, not communication, not perception, and not cognition. It is a person’s idiotics. That is to say, their use of meaning and their perception of meaning—these bases of cognition and communication—are filled with mistakes.
If we investigate only a person’s experience and extrapolate from that “causes” of their mental illness, we will very often be led astray because we will be attempting to cure a fairly concrete malady by addressing the ambiguities of memory and the falsity of self-assessment through the use of a subjective system of appraisal. It doesn’t matter that vague statistics can and have been compiled on what kinds of experiences lead to what sorts of mental disturbances, because there are as many exceptions and deviations from these data as there are comformances to them. At best, data of this sort describes correlations. But correlations of what? No one can really say.
If we use a concept like idiotics, we can begin to work with good data that can be called objective by many standards. The gold standard for working with data of this sort is FIML practice and the gold standard of psychological objectivity between two people is the degree to which they can agree on what has just been said or communicated. If both partners agree on what was just said, their standard of objectivity is quite high, probably as good as can be achieved without very sophisticated brain scanning equipment, which does not yet even exist.
When a patient works with a professional analyst, this high degree of objectivity cannot be attained. This is so because the analyst, at best, can only rely on an extrinsic standard of objectivity and this standard is fully subject to the faulty idiotics of the analyst herself. If an analyst tries to avoid this problem by sticking strictly to “objective” extrinsic standards, she will fail to address the subjective, intrinsic idiotics of the patient she is trying to help. She can only communicate with her patient on a useful level by engaging the patient’s idiotics with her own. But there rarely is enough time for this and it is unlikely that patient and analyst will be compatible for this sort of practice.
So what’s an analyst to do? If the patient has a friend they can do FIML with or if such a friend can be found for them teach them how to do FIML. Check on them often enough to be sure they are doing it correctly. In some cases, advanced instruction can be given in areas of particular interest to the FIML partners if the analyst feels competent to do so.
What about patients who have no friends and for whom no friends can be found? Or patients who are not capable of doing FIML? Patients of this type can and should be treated by the other best practices of the day.