The medium is the message, and language is foul! Marshall Rosenberg calls it Jackal language. Cognitive Behaviour therapy and Rational Emotive therapy, Imago as well as Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC non violent Communication all focus on what I am calling Clean Speech. Both in sending & receiving.
Embedded in our language are the forces of domination! It makes sense. The power structures of domination build a system of ideology to support them and the place for thoise controls to hide are in the cultue in many ways – and almost invisibly in the language. Changing language is potent!
Being non-exclusive in language has made a difference. Look at how we had to deal with the way he meant she in English, I say had, but the fight is not over, but we have come a long way.
Not so with language of love… all day in my work as a relationship therapist I listen to language that attributes blame to the other. The dicipline of the Imago dialogue is great, it handles a lot of it, but there is lots more to develop. This is a science.
What I have not heard anyone say, though they may have, is that “clean speech” is another road to the unconscious. So often the CBT and RET schools deny the efficacy of the relationship as a tool for healing and of the power of the unconscious. Clean speech is essentially to speak from experience, and to uncover its layers. To make the unconscious conscious… in a relationship! Clean speech is a way of working with the transference & counter transference.
QUESTION: What is nonviolent communication?
ANSWER: It’s the way of thinking, communicating and using power that helps us connect to one another in a way that we enjoy contributing to one another’s well-being. It’s an attempt to live in harmony with certain values. But since we’ve been educated for about 8,000 years in domination structures, that does not make contributing to one another’s well-being easy.
Great interview with Marshall Rosenberg http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=837
If I’m in conflict with people, I try to hear what needs they have. Now, “needs,” as we define the term, are universal; all human beings have the same needs. So if I connect to what people are needing, I’m one with them. I care about their needs. At the moment that they sense that I am as interested in their needs as my own, we can find a way to get everybody’s needs met.
So more concretely, what would that look like? This man might say, “Our work is not going to harm the environment. Our tests have demonstrated that this is not going to harm the environment.” So, this person shares the same needs that I have. I want to protect the environment. Apparently, he’s concerned about the environment also.
Now, where we might differ is in our ways of measuring whether something is harmful to the environment. But notice our needs are not in conflict. This person doesn’t want to destroy someone’s habitat, and he doesn’t want to be a menace. You see?
More excerpts follow.
Inquiring Mind: What do you mean by “enemy images”?
MR: If my child is not picking up the room and I say, “You are lazy,” lazy is an enemy image. If my life partner is not meeting my needs for intimacy and I say, “You are insensitive to my needs,” insensitive to my needs is an enemy image. When we say that some people are “terrorists,” that’s an enemy image. Enemy images turn people into things. When we see the other person as a monster, all we want to do is to punish them. This type of language disconnects us from what’s alive in one another, disconnects us from life
IM: Is the challenge of reconciliation a language problem?
MR: No. The language is part of a broader scheme of things. For about 8,000 years, we have been living under domination cultures in which a few people claim to be superior. Partner this with the belief that people are basically selfish and evil, then the people who claim to be beyond that feel as though they have to control the others. We’re educated to believe in authorities and their right to inflict punishment and suffering on us if we don’t do what they think is right. So this whole scheme requires a language.
IM: Does the enemy image have more to do with those who perceive it or those it is projected onto?
MR: An enemy image always has to do with the person who perceives it. It’s our thinking, not other people’s behavior, that makes us angry. Angry, judgmental and punitive thoughts are always an expression of our unmet needs. When people are out of touch with themselves they become good slaves to authority: loving women have “no needs” so they sacrifice themselves for their families; brave men have “no needs” so they’re willing to sacrifice their lives for the king or the president. If you want people to be docile and subservient, disconnect them from their needs. This shapes their brains to wonder how others are judging them instead of focusing on how to meet their unmet needs.