If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
The Gospel Of Thomas, Verse 70
An idiolect is the “dialect” of one person. It is unique to that person. We all speak an idiolect unique to us. No one else speaks in exactly the same way as you do. In fact, the varieties of idolects among speakers of even the same dialect can be quite pronounced, to say nothing of speakers who have been acculturated to different dialects.
Virtually, the same thing is true for our use and understanding of semiotics. Each one of us has a unique tangle of semiotics even if we share the same culture. Even if two people were born and raised in the same very strict cult, they will have different takes on their “shared” semiotics; they will see thier semiotics in individual and unique ways.
The term “idiolect” is a blend of the prefix idio, which means “own, personal, distinct to the individual” and the suffix lect, which is taken from the word “dialect.”
On this site we have generally been using the term semiotics to indicate the amalgam of a sign, its meaning, and the emotions associated with it.
The word semiotics literally means “the study of signs and how they are processed or understood.” Just as we can speak of the psychology of a person or activity, so we can speak of the semiotics of a person or activity or anything else that uses signs for thought, feeling, perception, or communication.
The purpose of FIML practice is the optimization of interpersonal communication. Communication cannot but use signs. Interpersonal communication cannot but include emotion. This is why we use the word semiotics as we do—to indicate the amalgam of a sign, its meaning, and the emotions associated with it.
On this site we use the word index to mean a small sign that may be associated with a vast library of meaning. When an index appears or arises during interpersonal communication it starts as nothing more than a small sign. If an index is not held in abeyance, it may “call up” a library of much more complicated meaning.
A jangle is an emotional response to an index. Jangles are often negative. FIML practice seeks to identify jangles and use them as indicators that an index has appeared and that that index must be held in abeyance; that is, it must be prevented from accessing the emotional library of meaning it is normally associated with.
Ideally, a FIML query should be initiated the moment a jangle and index are noticed by a FIML partner. Often this partner is the listener, though partners who are speaking may also observe indexes in the partner who is listening.
The FIML query is designed to stop the index from immediately referencing the library of feeling and meaning typically associated with it. Doing this allows the partner making the query to ask of the other if the index/jangle they have perceived is based on something that actually happened or is simply a mistake based on a library they are holding in their own mind which does not reference anything that the speaker actually meant.
In the Peircean (Charles Sanders Peirce) branch of semiotics there are three kinds of signs—symbolic, iconic, and indexical. When we use the word index on this site we do not mean a Peircean indexical sign.
FIML practice is designed to help partners deal with the great welter of semiotics that each of them uses to communicate, think, feel, and understand the world and each other.
The FIML term idiotics indicates the unique welter, or agglomeration, of semiotics held by each individual human being. Just as each of us speaks an idiolect, each of us thinks, feels, and communicates with a unique idiotics.
The FIML term sociotics indicates the basic social (or public) semiotics of a culture or subculture. Just as all human beings have a unique idiotics all cultures have sociotics. The sociotics of large groups tend to be fairly simple semiotics that effectively communicate with many people. Sociotics hold cultures together and make communication work well-enough in many situations. Strongly held group sociotics within interpersonal relations can be a disaster, though, because, by definition, they deny individuality, even as they may attempt to define it. FIML partners are encouraged to form their own sociotics unique to them, thus distancing themselves from unwholesome attachments to group sociotics that may not suit them.
FIML practice has great “reach”; that is, it can and will have beneficial effects on many areas of life—communication, psychology, our understanding of culture, other people, and so on.
The main substance of the linked piece is an interview with Sam Parnia, who practices resuscitation medicine. Below is a quote from the interview.
It takes time for cells to die after they’re deprived of oxygen. It doesn’t happen instantly. We have a longer period of time than people perceive. We know now that when you become a corpse, when the doctor declares you dead, there’s still a possibility, from a biological and medical perspective, of death being reversed. – Sam Parnia
In Buddhist traditions it is widely believed that consciousness stays with or near the body long after the point in time that standard Western medicine says this is not possible.
From the article:
DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. (Thomas R. Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health)
I think this is very good news. Notice how it changes the semiotics of mental illness. A better paradigm for mental illness is that intolerable stress causes a wide variety of symptoms in people. A major stressor of this type is, of course, interpersonal stress. FIML cannot by any stretch of the imagination fix all mental illness, but it can help suitable partners greatly reduce interpersonal stress.
Edit: Yesterday, I read reasonable objections to Insel’s statement to the effect that we are not able to obtain “laboratory measure(s),” or biological markers, for all mental illness. I completely agree with this objection.
The synthesis of the two points of view (Insel v/ the DSM) seems to me to be that drugs should only be very guardedly prescribed, if they are prescribed at all, in situations where there are no “laboratory measures” or biological markers (both are fairly vague terms).
Does interpersonal stress produce biological markers? I bet it does. Does interpersonal stress of the type that can probably be cured by FIML practice produce biological markers? I bet it does. But I also bet that it would be far better to try FIML, or something else, long before resorting to drug therapy.
Another point: I believe it is probably healthy to feel nervous, anxious, depressed, repulsed, etc. when around people who communicate dishonestly, manipulatively, or with strong ulterior motives. Since I also believe that most people communicate pretty badly, it actually seems to me that many psychological “problems” are thus healthy, valuable responses.
This piece is well-worth reading. I am posting it because it deals with current events, current semiotics, and current cultural/religious misperceptions. It is important that all of us frequently refresh our understanding of how we view the world around us. The linked article also relates to our post on FIML and sociotics. I hope that FIML partners will consider how deeply they are affected by sociotic information and how that information frames the ways they see the world.
Our understandings of each other at any point in time can, at best, be visualized as Venn diagrams. At worst, there is no overlap, no comprehension, no mutual understanding.
Each of us uses language in unique ways and each of us understands the semiotics that underlie speech differently. This is why we can never expect another person to entirely understand what we mean by any statement, even when we know that person very well and even when we are certain they are very well disposed toward us.
It is a fundamental characteristic of language, speech, semiotics, human biographies, and the human brain that two people will never be able to make perfectly overlapping Venn diagrams concerning any utterance spoken between them, no matter how trivial. You might guess correctly once in a while, especially if your context is very limited, but as a rule you can never be sure of your guess and you will very often be completely wrong, especially if the context is complex.
Interpersonal contexts are virtually always complex. FIML practice is designed to work in real time with complex interpersonal contexts. FIML helps partners understand where their Venn sets overlap and where they do not.
If you do not frequently pursue in real time where your Venn sets overlap and where they do not, you will have a bad time. It cannot be otherwise because the divergence in mutual understanding that accrues between many poorly understood Venn sets will snowball.
I can’t think of another way to pursue the Venn sets of interpersonal communication besides FIML practice or something very similar. If pursuit of these sets is left to “take care of itself” or done solely or mostly with extrinsic generalities, it can’t work. It can’t work because generalities are the enemy of interpersonal set analysis, while things “taking care of themselves” is the mother of all generalities.