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Showing posts from May, 2014

New Perspectives Concerning Interpersonal Conflict and Repair

One of the key themes found in contemporary philosophy and psychology revolves around the recurrent idea, perhaps initiated by Saussure, that we do not employ language to express meaning or ideas, but rather that our meanings and experiences are actually creations of language. Our thoughts don't commence as something outside of words, which are subsequently placed into language to be communicated from one person to another, its the inverse: We have meaningful experiences, that we wish to exchange, because we live embedded in language. And this in turn means that our very consciousness is profoundly social, for language does not exist in the individual, it is transpersonal, arising between us, a set of communally established, self-referring realm of symbols.

This insight dovetails nicely with the profound evolutionary realization that the human brain's size and structure didn't precede societal organization, but rather was a result of the complex processing requirements of c…

Why We Need Each Other

Human beings need other humans to help us process and regulate our emotions; this is the primary 'intersubjectivity' we all seek from others, the underlying need that bonds us together. Starting at approximately 3 months of age, well before the acquisition of language, the right hemisphere of an infant's brain is employing the body—via gestures, sounds and facial expressions—to send out social cues indicating its basic states—excitement, fear, surprise, etc—which the primary caregiver reads and reflects back. This exchange is vital for the infant's social development and sense of security.

However, the primary caregiver does more than simply 'mirroring' back an infant's emotional state; a caregiver, as part of the empathetic, sustained, resonant exchange, helps the infant regulate its early emotional states. It's an unconscious process, where the caretaker either decreases or amplifies a mood via reassuring facial gestures and body language; even from th…