FIML is a specific semiotic, but it also says interesting things about the general semiotics of all languages and communication systems.
As a specific semiotic, FIML influences individual psychology, behavior, and thought. Since FIML rules can be generalized and taught, FIML also shows something about all languages and their uses.
FIML is a way that two people can check the specific semiotics that exists between them. Without FIML, or something like it, individuals cannot do this.
If an individual does not do FIML or something very similar in their primary relationship, that relationship will be characterized by semiotics extrinsic to the relationship and/or by illusions.
I don’t want to overemphasize the semiotic content of FIML practice, but a basic sense of how signs and symbols are interpreted can be a great help to understanding FIML.
In FIML practice, your partner can explain the “text” of what they said much better than you can interpret it. This can only happen if both partners are honest and trust each other and the interpretation/explanation of the “text” is brought up quickly enough that little or nothing has been forgotten by either partner.
As for honesty and trust, it is my guess that these areas can be a problem for people because we humans are almost always required to interpret what is said to us without any possible recourse to a better explanation. There are three major reasons for this: 1) convention, habit; 2) timing; and 3) emotion.
Taking the second reason first, timing makes it very difficult to get good information about what a speaker means because when we ask quickly enough for them to actually still be able to remember, we will appear confrontational or rude. The speaker will become flustered and often answer with an excuse rather than an explanation.
This happens due to factor three, emotion. Language evolved in hierarchical societies. To question someone quickly about what they said is to seem to question them, to doubt them. In hierarchies, we do not question the orders we are given. We wait our turn, we let the speaker finish, we don’t interrupt, etc. Yet, if we don’t act quickly—within a few seconds—the speaker will have forgotten the fullness of their mind at the moment they spoke. Their explanation for the “text,” for what they said, will be lost forever, even if we have a video recording of it.
Due to the quickness of human emotion, virtually all societies everywhere have constructed rules for listening and speaking that completely preclude a FIML-type inquiry. Most beginning FIML partners will, therefore, experience some difficulty getting used to FIML queries. Our moods, emotions, mental states, thoughts, and more have all been long conditioned by social forces that constrain us in the very place where we need more freedom—getting the real explanation from our partner to replace our interpretation.
You would never want to run a business or do an engineering project based on ambiguous interpretations, but most of us conduct our love lives and friendships in just that way.
FIML is a specific semiotic in that it deals with the communications between two specific individuals. FIML does not tell these individuals what to think, say, or believe. It merely provides a technique for them to fully explore the semiotics and all ramifications of those semiotics that occur between them. A general semiotic is one that says something about all languages. FIML fixes a general weakness that occurs, to the best of my knowledge, in all human languages.