Made some changes in How to do FIML. Mainly removed the word neurosis from the explanation. Using that term was convenient but also became confusing because our definition was quite specific; that is, by neurosis we only meant “ongoing mistaken interpretation.” I think we have also become less “neurotic” due to FIML practice and so feel less need for the term.
The other change in the How to do FIML article involves explaining that the basic explanation of FIML is deceptively simple. You could say a computer is very simple because it works with 0s and 1s, but that doesn’t say much about computers. Similarly, basic FIML can be seen as a very simple practice, but as soon as it is undertaken during a real-life exchange with someone you care about, it will quickly expand into something very complex that is wholly unique to you and your partner.
We use the word semiotics a good deal because it suits FIML practice. We could even call FIML Dynamic Interpersonal Semiotics, or DIS.
Semiotics has a long history, but basically it is the science or art of interpreting signs, symbols, and language. Many semiotic interpretations are formal; that is, they classify signs and symbols and seek to determine relations among these categories.
In FIML practice, our main semiotic focus is on how partners interpret each others’ signs, symbols, and language.
This is a dynamic practice as opposed to a strictly theoretical or classificatory one in that the meaning of the semiotics as they are discovered in practice between partners is the subject.
This subject can only be reliably interpreted if the mental state of each partner is clearly remembered; that is, if each partner can clearly remember the semiotics in his or her mind at the time of speaking or listening.
If their mental/semiotic states are clearly remembered, then both partners will have good data that is worth analyzing.
Discussion and analysis of this data provides partners with very reliable insights into how they are actually functioning together, how they are understanding each other.
Rather than rely on psychological theories or other generalities, FIML partners are able to work with reliably objective interpersonal data.
This helps them avoid long detours into ambiguous discussions that often are counterproductive.
To understand, we must have a “prior category.” If you have never seen a hammock (if you have no prior category of hammock), you won’t know what one is upon first seeing it.
In this vein, much of what we hear is understood by “prior categories” in our minds.
FIML helps us check our prior categories. If one or more of my prior categories is mistaken, I will mishear a great deal of what is said to me.
If my trusted partner tells me that the prior category that I used to interpret her statement is wrong, or not applicable to what she just said, I must accept her data. Her assessment of her state of mind is better than my assessment of her state of mind.
Once partners get used to this, they will find it is a great relief. Who wants mistaken prior categories that cause needless suffering?
When we clear away dysfunctional prior categories through FIML practice, we will notice many beneficial changes in our mental and emotional make-up.
The core of all our behaviors, beliefs, motives, and emotions is meaning and how we interpret it.
If we can see that an emotional prior category is dysfunctional (i.e. it is getting used when it does not apply), we will find it fairly easy to discard it.
Having a good partner that you trust and that trusts you is essential for FIML practice because the quality of the data you will be working with depends entirely on mutual trust, mutual caring.